How Hippies Make Fine Wine

I just read about the Summerhill Pyramid Winery in British Columbia, the first organic and bio-dynamic certified winery in BC.

Bio-dynamic. That’s an impressive word. I was captivated by it, as I often am by words I don’t really understand and want to toss around in conversations. However, as I’ve been known to use words incorrectly, I looked it up first.

According to Wikipedia, bio-dynamics is a method of organic farming that emphasizes the holistic development and interrelationships of the soil, plants and animals as a self-sustaining system. This means that I’d sound ignorant if I walked out of my yoga class and declared that I felt bio-dynamic, unless I was also coated in dirt and chicken poop.

But here’s the part of the article that really got my attention. Evidently one bio-dynamic technique this winery uses involves using rainwater mixed with the manure of a lactating cow that was harvested during a full moon, stuffed inside a cow horn and buried under the ground for around a year. Then it was dug up during certain astrological conditions. I’m fuzzy on the details, but I’m pretty sure that Uranus was in opposition to something.

“I smell something bio-dynamic.” (image via dreamstime)

I am not making this up. In fact, if you want to see cutting edge wine technology in action, click this link: dude digging up poo-stuffed cow horns.

This process produces a biologically-active fertilizer, which is then sprayed on the vines in order to suppress and resist mildew and fungal diseases, as well as enhance nutrients flowing to the roots. The fact that the cow is lactating makes all the difference. The manure of single cows who’ve decided to adopt is not desirable here. We’re not making a judgment on their lifestyle choices, just their manure.

“I’m really focused on my career right now.” (image via dreamstime)

I’m kicking myself because when I was lactating I flushed biologically-active fertilizer down our commode on a daily basis. I could have had my own vineyard and supplied myself with bottles of bio-dynamic stress reliever, plus made a boat load of cash! Then again, considering that I didn’t even brush my hair or apply body lotion the whole first year of my daughter’s life, maybe running a vineyard would have been aiming a little high.

They’re still calling this wine vegan-friendly because the animal byproducts never actually touch the wine. Though they do ferment herbs in stag bladders and cow intestines, but these things only touch the soil, which is a shame because if I’d gone to the trouble of fermenting some herbs in a stag’s bladder, I’d want to sprinkle it over some pasta or something. They do not use any fish bladders, gelatin, egg whites, milk, or milk byproducts in their winemaking, which is (attention my drunk, vegan friends) evidently a common practice among winemakers.

If you’d like to see the winemakers dig up some stag’s bladders, animal skulls stuffed with what looks like supernatural ectoplasm and other nifty items not found at your local butcher, click on this link dude digging up weird animal parts. You’re going to want a big old glass of grappa when you’re done watching it. Nothing goes with ectoplasm like a Riesling.

But wait, there’s more!

Did I mention that this winery has a genuine pyramid? Yessiree. But don’t expect a bunch of slot machines inside.  According to the proprietor, Stephen Cipes, “the knowingness of eternity awaits us in this sacred chamber.” You can’t get knowingness at the Luxor.

I bet Bartles & James never had a pyramid

As I understand it, the theory is that humans are mostly liquid, especially when they’re pumped full of wine, so when they enter the sacred chamber, it’s an opportunity to “clarify their own inner selves”. Like butter. The chamber helps them get to the “knowingness of who they are,” which may be just a bunch of cow turd-loving winos, but y’all know I don’t judge.

The chamber “enhances our receptiveness, opening the left and right sides of our brains, much like the dolphins, whales, and elephants” which are apparently all new age animals and “in touch with the all-one ‘soul of the world,'” even though you almost never see a dolphin getting a palm reading.

“I’m more of a numerology mammal.” (image via dreamstime)

Awe. Some. I love hippies. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m ready to climb into that pyramid with a bottle of bio-dynamic wine and some elephants and just get wrecked on clarity.

Tell me you wouldn’t go drinking with this cutie. (image via dreamstime)

Traveling With Women

I don’t really travel on my own per se. I went to a friend’s wedding when my daughter was one. I was gone for two days and the homestead went down in flames. Since then I’ve traveled with at least one child and/or a husband tethered to my side at all times. That is until a week ago when my book club took its first annual weekend retreat.

Females only. All adult. (Let’s try to ignore the fact that it sounds like I’m talking about a porn genre, okay? Thanks.)

Anyway, just so you know, traveling with grown women is very different from traveling with a husband and children. Shocked? Me too! Who would have imagined? Let me share my insights with you so that you can experience my wonderment.

  • The first thing I noticed was that no one needed me to suggest going to the potty before we left the condo. That didn’t stop me from doing it anyway. Every. Single. Time. The girls got me a shock collar to help me break the habit. Such a thoughtful gift. Also, no one suddenly leaped up, sprinted to the bathroom and then emerged, declaring, “I peed on the tub and a little in the potty” even after three glasses of wine.

Literate and potty trained

  • Everyone voluntarily bathed themselves and I didn’t have to wash anyone’s hair while listening to them whine, “Not in the eyes, not in the eeeeyes!” Nor did I have to comb the house for their special mermaid. I’m also pretty sure that no one yelled “I have to poop!” while in the shower, though it was hard to hear with my mouth full of wine.
  • The bathroom smelled unnaturally good the whole time we were there, leading me to believe that women defecate lavender and sunshine, which evaporates into a rainbow before ever touching the toilet bowl. Or perhaps they just knew the location of the air freshener. Whatever the case, it only served to reinforce my concerns for Hubs’s digestive system, because our commode at home consistently looks and smells like it lost an alien war.

What I imagine is happening behind our closed bathroom door. (image via

  • No one solved a crime, rescued anyone or helpfully pointed out potential criminals. There wasn’t any road rage or general irritability. One of the girls nearly threw down over some missing guacamole, but that’s totally understandable. Guacamole will do that to you.

Feeling despondent and about to jump? Not our problem.

  • There were extensive discussions about dietary restrictions, health obsessions and food in general. All of our dietary concerns made ordering meals a long process and in fact we were generally disliked by waitresses everywhere. On the upside, I didn’t have to take anyone for a walk during dinner, dig through my purse for something to entertain them or try to cajole them into eating more fiber.

On a quest for vegan, gluten-free, no-refined-sugar foods at the Farmer’s Market. Isn’t everybody?

  • The thing that made the single biggest impression on me, however, was the unearthly quiet at night. I slept in a room containing four other women and I woke up periodically thinking that everyone had left the room. Or died. And then I’d fall back asleep working on their eulogies. Also, the room didn’t smell like farts in the morning and nobody kicked me in the head or woke me up because they had a bad dream. This got me to thinking that there might be a whole subsection of women who are gay simply because they really want a good night’s sleep in a quiet room. Seriously, think about how fantastic a good night’s sleep is. Now look at any female on the street. She looks more attractive, doesn’t she?

Me and three delightfully quiet sleepers.

In conclusion I contend that traveling with women is all kinds of awesome. And since nothing imploded at home, I’m primed and ready for the next book club retreat. Only 51 weeks to go.