Children in wine country? Yeah… get over it, those of you who don’t think that children should be here.

I was just reminded of this, last weekend at the Bacigalupi 50th Anniversary celebration of the Judgment of Paris decision… Bacigalupi’s grapes were a portion of the Number One chosen wine from Chateau Montelena… Yeah, Sonoma ruled and Napa got the credit. (Easier for the French to say “Napa,” n’est ce pas?)

[Image of Senay Ryan and her two children, while David Ryan was exploring food and wine offerings.]

FROM Rusty Gaffney: In 1973, Mike Grgich of Chateau Montelena came to the Bacigalupi’s house and asked to buy some Chardonnay. He made 1,800 cases of the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay using 20 tons of grapes from Henry Dick in the Alexander Valley, 14 tons from the Bacigalupi’s, and the remaining 5 tons from Napa Valley growers John Hanna and Lee Paschich. The original weight tag from 1973 is displayed in the Bacigalupi’s tasting room.

So, anyway….

As I was walking around the grounds during their next back-to-back event that day, the Third Annual Vineyard Designate Tasting, immediately following their ceremony, I spied a lovely woman, sitting at a table with her two adorable kids, who were also very interesting and articulate, I might add. She waved, and I took their picture. Very friendly, I thought, so I struck up a conversation. I immediately knew she was really from away. It turned out that she’s from London. I had to ask, “What do you think of our food?” I know that it’s awful… GMO, pesticides, herbicides, artificial fertilizers, I eat organic, so I know the difference when I don’t. I also know the bloating when I’m eating gluten products. We’re a nation of bad eaters. I also know that Europe hasn’t followed in our footsteps. It’s not necessary to label foods as “organic” over there, unless they want to. They just don’t engage in our food crap regimes.

Her answer… “It’s horrible.” Yeah, I wasn’t surprised, so we had common ground. We also talked about a lot of other cultural differences. One especially… Her two kids were the only children at this event. I told her that it’s a crime that most Americans haven’t figured out that if children aren’t put into the culture, they’re not going to understand it.

This is coming from a former Girl Scout Day Camp director. For years I managed 200 kids for two weeks, with a staff of 50. I know that anything is possible with children, we just have to “care.”

Wine needn’t be taboo

Back to my Robert Mondavi Winery days on this one, because I gathered the best stories while working there.

This day delivered a tour with four overly rambunctious boys, Rumble, Tumble, Fumble, and Bumble, I dare say.

There were decidedly not happy about being in wine country with their parents; and frankly, if I were a 10-year old boy, I’d be jumping all over my buddies, too, instead of looking at an expertly positioned trellising system with stressed vines.

I began, not with my usual spcheel, but instead with….

“Well, what have we here? Four young men who are pretty awesome to let their parents do something other than Disneyland! Please help me, Ladies and Gentlemen, to welcome these wonderful young boys!”

I started applauding, encouraging with body language that everyone else join me… In others words, “Get your eyeballs back into your heads, please, or we’re all gonna wish we had stayed home today.” (Everyone’s eyeballs had shifted up and to the back of their eye sockets as they watched these kids, realizing they were all about to share the winery tour from hell.)

As an adult tour guide for adult subject matter, I had to do some really fast gear shifting. I reached way back into myself and returned as a former director of Androscoggin Girl Scout Day Camp, completely leaving the adults behind… for a few minutes, at least.

“Thank you, Young Men, I know how hard this is. There’s nothing here for you, and this is about to be so boring. But I have to thank you all for being on your absolute best behavior, giving this special day to your parents, who have given so much to you all of your lives.”

“Aren’t they wonderful, Ladies and Gentlemen? Please help me in thanking these adorable young men for being so selfless and generous to their parents!”

Lot’s of applause… and we hadn’t even started yet.

As we went form one place to the next, before I’d begin to talk about whatever segment of winemaking we were covering, I’d start with, “Ladies and Gentlemen, please help me again to thank these young men. Haven’t they just been the best kids you’ve ever met?”

Lots of applause, winking, and smiles.

Ah… we dodged the bullet!

When the adults were enjoying their wine tasting, I ran to the back room, got non-alcoholic grape juice, brought it out for Rumble, Tumble, Fumble, and Bumble, who had now collectively become Humble, and it was drinks all around.

At the end of the tour, when everyone had left, the parents and boys remained. One of the mothers said, “My sons and I want to thank you. They told me that this was the most fun they had had in a long time, and they learned some things, too!”

It’s amazing what a little spotlight can do…