A performance artist friend out of my past was often extremely entertaining. I used to like to watch her brain work especially when, without any salutation, she would start up a conversation with something like.. Would a doctor advise lopping someone's head off to avoid their genetic disposition to brain cancer? Breasts don't get the same respect. Of course I mangled this. Her delivery and carefully chosen words were searing and very funny. Her Do No Harm piece was/is brilliant. But what she was doing on the phone with me had nothing to do with dialogue but using me to work out new material. Going on to unsuspecting listeners while working out ideas, words, the next big piece? Yup. I can fess up, I'm guilty of the same behavior. In fact, I should have warned the five last night, who over dinner, fell victim to my latest rant on the New World WInemaking Disconnect. Before I headed on over to Avenue C for the evening, I took a call from a friend who was in between punch down on hardened pinot noir caps. He, a winemaker in Sonoma, told me he just finished shipping off some other pinot to another winery, who had farmed out their grapes to Keben for alcoholic fermentation. I let it sink in. Some one from an established winery shipped their grapes over to him so he could turn their sugars into alcohol. They had a winemaker. They had a winery. I didn't really get it. I paced in my apartment, I said, 'You're kidding.' No, he wasn't kidding. Why, I wonder do you have a winemaker and even a winery and ship your wine to another winemaker to do the alcoholic, something that I liken to having a surrogate mother. Keben thought for a bit and then agreed, It is strange. Does anyone else think this strange?. But I do. I do. That other winery has a new winemaker. How could he/she give up control to someone else, even if Keben IS good? I expected my dining companions to understand my take on it. None of them know me very well, but I thought it was possible they would have sympathetic inclinations to my take on life, love, wine and politics. As we talked, and I talked, and I talked, I realized that they had no idea that most of the wines we were drinking that night (2002 Cazin, Romo, 2003 Cousin Pur Breton, Pierre et Catherine Breton Chinon) were made by people who worked their own soil and calluses on their hands and then made their own wine. Revelation. But. But. But. One person who designs wine labels told me of the winemaker of Coppola spends time in the vineyards. Right. I know him. He walks the vineyards. He might taste the grapes. But he doesn't prune. He doesn’t plow. He doesn't clip. He has a soft handshake. Really. I had to go further. The New World Winemaking process is like surrogate motherhood, induced labor, wet nursing and finally deliverance into the arms of a nanny, maybe even boarding school. Our host Scott said, Eric Asimov just wrote a story about California winemakers who are hands on. He retrieved the story which talked about Cathy Corison and John Williams, both who I like a lot, both who make commendable wine, both who have vineyard managers, even if they are involved.. You mean, Scott said, they don’t do what this guy Olivier Cousin does? Did Eric mislead us in the story? No, he didn’t mislead, but the vigneron concept doesn’t compute in this country—or in much of the world. Here the disconnect is the norm. Here one doesn't expect a winemaker to work in the vineyards. I also didn't expect the concept of my paradigm to be so foreign. It seemed as difficult for them to grasp as the concept of x being the unknown when I was studying algebra eons ago. Yet, when I had my revelation in June I felt I had been staring at a purple sweater for a year and then saying, “Oh, this sweater is purple!” Or that I was in France, and after a week said, “You’re speaking French!” But it finally dawned on me that their perception of the norm in winemaking--the God given norm of winemaking, the accepted paradigm for winemaking--was representative of what most people think. I'm not saying that all wine must be made by vigneron, but wouldn't it be great if some of the huge business in California (etc.) got out of the business and ten-twenty acre plots were used by winemakers to work on and make wine from? If that piece became emotionally connected, if winemakers in America were emotionally connected to the soil as well as to the wine, if they viewed the link as something that should not be broken, wouldn't that just change the very nature of wine in this country? But, one person exclaimed, draining the dregs of the Chinon, 'This wine cost $18 and they do all of that work themselves? That’s not much of a business model.' 'Most of these guys make a living but a business model doesn’t come into it. They make wine. It is a métier, not a business model. None of the wines we are drinking tonight are loving come from a business model.' Funny. There we were a table full of people with twists and bents, none of us lived life according to a business model.