I was sent on another interesting assignment for Small Town Newspaper yesterday. I drove out to the middle of absolutely nowhere to tour a new winery.
A couple of adventuresome people have an alpaca farm and decided to open a winery on their property. They have about 75 acres not too far from here—30 minutes, assuming you don't get stuck behind one of those people who drives about as fast as I could walk. That happens sometimes. At a fairly decent clip, I drove about 7 miles down a narrow, curvy road and then turned onto an even narrower, curvier road and drove another two miles. That's where the winery is, Out There. It's so out there that when you stand on the back deck of the place, you look out at nothing but rolling hills as far as you can see, and the alpacas stand there with their mouths full of grass and watch you as you contemplate the wide-open spaces. The only sound you hear is your own breathing mixed with a faint wind chime hanging from a distant hook.
It was early in the day, so the winery owner didn't offer to let me taste the wines, but he was friendly enough, and we talked about his venture with grapes and the nature of alpacas. No two are alike, he said. I asked if someone with alpacas is a shepherd, and he didn't think so. He didn't know if there was a name at all for someone with alpacas. There should be, at least in Ohio where owning the animals is becoming a huge business. We're like the Peru of North America.
I asked if he missed living in the city because I know he used to live in Cleveland, and he pointed to the view with a just a few visible neighbor farms and said, "how could I?" We sat on the deck and talked about how when you own a business, you get new ideas every day, but not all of them are good ones. When so much is at stake, you dream big but plan and execute wisely. He invited me to return in an unofficial capacity—try the wine, have some dinner, spend some money—I'd be glad to.