The Best Wine Comes from a Grape that Struggles

No. It is definitely not easy. But it is worth it.

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Photo by Kym Ellis on Unsplash

I learned something interesting several years ago, and it has stuck with me ever since. Especially in times of difficulty and frustration, I remember and I chant it to myself.

As a reminder.

When some vintners plant their harvest, they intentionally under-irrigate the vineyard. By keeping the soil dry, these winemakers know that their grape vines will work harder to grow. Vines that search for their water sink deeper into the earth. They plant themselves more firmly in the hopes of finding what they can rather than accepting what they’re given.

A well-watered grape makes a simple, uncomplicated wine.

The best, most interesting wine is made from a grape that has struggled.

No, I am not an expert. No, I have never made wine — though I’ll readily admit I’ve drunk my share of it.

I am merely a person who has attached herself to metaphors for the sake of feeling just a touch better about the state of the world.

And my own life, if we’re being fair.

When I learned that fun fact about dry farming, however, I began to look into how else the same theory is applied. Put obstacles in the way of a thing so that it will ultimately be better.

Dedicated baker that I am, I thought of the process of knocking back dough. When you bake bread, you must proof the dough to allow it to rise. Once it rises, you punch it back down again so you can shape it, then proof it again for another rise. The yeast has to be (literally) beaten down in order to reach its full potential. It waits, it is knocked back, and then it waits some more.

A process that forces the yeast to work, and eventually, make great bread.

I certainly won’t be arrogant enough to say that I have had it harder than most. I know I haven’t. There’s plenty I’ve been given for which I haven’t worked particularly hard. There’s plenty more I didn’t work for at all.

But I absolutely do know how it feels to dig deep, reaching, searching, desperately working toward something better, something more, something that will make me better, though it hurts to yearn for it and sometimes hurts yet more to get it.

And I have absolutely felt the surge of wonder and exhilaration when I finally grasp it and recognize how much I went through to get there.

Trust me, I have nothing at all against accepting a gift when it’s given. And I’ve learned the hard way (more than once) how impossible it can feel to acknowledge that I need help. Even more impossible to actually ask for it.

But I don’t want cheap victories. As much stress as it would alleviate for things to come just a little easier (something I pray for daily), I also see that the stress is the work. The near constant anxiety is the struggle and the lack of oxygen is the test. It’s the old “nothing good comes easy, and nothing that comes easy is worth having”. Despite my dislike of mindless platitudes intended for the sole purpose of placating restless minds, this one might ring with a little truth.

I’d love a few things to be, if not easy, perhaps not quite so insurmountably hard, but wishing them away hasn’t worked yet, and while I’m here…

I am not a vintner.

But maybe, if the metaphor holds…

I might make a pretty good wine.

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