Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

Archive for January 2012

Winter Sunset on Edward Street

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Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

January 10, 2012 at 5:04 PM


with 4 comments

I’m making wine. It’s not my first time. I’ve been making wine for years. In Toronto, I had the luxury of a basement. Here, in Southampton, there is no basement. Just a narrow laundry room. When you open the door and walk in the odor of fermenting grapes hits you in the face. It takes me back – back to when I was a child living in Sault Ste. Marie.

My grandfather owned a large corner lot not far from the employee entrance to the Algoma Steel Plant. He had enough land to build two houses separated by a courtyard with a big garden plot behind that ran the length of the property. We lived in the corner house that also had a candy store and my uncles’ barbershop. After school I would help out by sweeping the cut hair into a hole in the floor. On weekends I would shine shoes. Once I got caught stealing licorice pipes from the candy store. My uncles told me, ‘next time, just ask.’

Making wine reminds me of my grandfather’s wine cellar. As a child I remember it as a vast underground cave that ran deep under the houses and courtyard, long and cavernous, divided into locked rooms some with stacked barrels, another with a stained wine press, one with sausage, salami, bresaola and prosciutto dangling from racks like cobwebs, a room where shelves filled with jars of fruits, vegetables, jams, sausage in oil, and sugo (tomato sauce) covered the walls. Finally there was the room with a long stainless steel table and a rack of knives, cleavers and grinders, the room where I watched my father, grandfather and uncles turn lifeless carcasses into food for the family.

In the fall, rectangular cases of grapes, dripping juice and followed by fruit flies, where delivered and stacked next to the wine press. Soon the odor of fermenting wine from open barrels filled the underground cavern and seeped upstairs into our house. The smell lasted for weeks and only disappeared when the ‘purple pop’ (as I called it) was racked and sealed in aging barrels. Every week they would draw a sample, taste, shake their heads and hammer the bung back into the barrel. And then, months later, they would open the spigot, draw a glass, taste and smile. A pitcher would then be poured, a salami taken from the rack and sliced, fresh bread was ripped apart and the celebration began. I was allowed a glass of the winter wine mixed with 7Up and then sent upstairs. My grandfather, father and uncles wouldn’t leave that room for quite some time.

So now, in my mind, as my winter wine ferments away my adult imagination recalls those days. The magic of wine making in my house is not the same, though. There is no cavernous, multi-room cellar. My wine ferments in a plastic pail sitting beside the furnace…in my laundry room. Times change.

My Winter Wine ferments in a plastic tub. No gravitas there.

My Wine Cellar - a cold room under the stairs.

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

January 8, 2012 at 3:37 PM