Friday, January 28, 2011

First of the shorts

Nathan here with a few words...

We were living on the coast in this little blue rental on a small ledge of stone and sand overlooking the ocean just South of Waldport. We had 3 walls of sliding glass doors in the house that would flex and pop during storms. All the glass made you feel like you were forever outside in those elements, the sheets of rain, being pushed onto the glass in thick layers by the wind.

In the Northeast corner of this little house, just off the entry way was a small room that we had made into an office. There, on a corner desk, the first of the stories were written. It was a good place for that kind of work, on a ledge, next to the ocean, in that house that sometimes felt more like a glass boat than a house, but just enough glass to hold back the storms, and just enough ledge to hold onto.

The first stories are novice and folksy. They were at the same time an escape back to a peaceful valley during an impossible time for both of us, and an attempt to understand and define this love of ours, the farm. The very first story was called Dirt, our humble takeoff on the notion of Terroir. The person named in this story, Dorothy Harris, was the one that made it possible for my family to live in Harris Valley. In 1976, she sold the original Harris family farmhouse to my parents, and my dad Troy took on the work of restoring it. Similar to the coast house, this structure sits on a ledge, just above the Mary's river. It overlooks a collection of small waterfalls, and in the winter those falls become a raging torrent, and in the winter of 1978 that ledge was also just enough to hold onto.

There were about 200 printings of this story on the bottles that left the winery. As I write this, and look back through the previous versions of this story before it was printed, and as I think about Dorothy, and Troy, I'm inclined to include one of the earlier versions of the story and toast that never made it to print. You will see it below.


In the early spring of 1998 I began to prep the field for planting grape-vines. Dorothy Harris of Harris Valley, Harris Bridge, and Harris Road had let me use her old, rusted out, single blade, scrap-metal plow to turn the soil. I remember that I spent all evening wrestling it out of the shed because it was buried 6 inches in 50 years of dust, and entangled with 5 other implements from the turn of the century.

The plow's first cut into the soil was my baptism into the church of the romantically inclined small time farmer. I had turned over a century of seasons to reveal the soil of another time. It was musty, organic, dark, rich, soft, moist, and virgin. Its composition was all the life and matter of the past centuries, fallen, and laid to rest, waiting to be consumed again in another form.

A toast to dirt,
Life's reflection pool


  1. Really beautiful, Nathan. It makes you appreciate the true complexity that goes into a bottle of wine, and all our food, for that matter.