May 112009
 

A Land of Limestone Ledges and Red Sandy Soil: Part 1

The Beginnings

Eons ago its genesis was in a vast and desolate inland sea predating human consciousness; a wet and hostile place. At an unhurriedly, nearly immeasurable pace over millions of years, the shells of countless creatures were deposited. I see their vestigial remains in fossil records at my feet. They are often conjoined with red sandy minerals brought from estuarial flows from even older continental shores. From time unfathomable, the land of limestone ledges and red sandy soils were exuded from their murky depths by powerful forces into the light of the Texas sun as if looking for purpose.

A half a world away in a similar geological time, an equivalent process was occurring over parts of Europe and Asia. The Mediterranean Sea, enlarged greatly from its present size provided its own incubator for geographical birth over France as did the ancient sea over Texas.   Then, a millennium ago, the Phoenician Greeks landed on the rocky Mediterranean shore near Marseilles in southern France. The Greeks brought their civilization, commerce, and their grape vines starting a new human age.

In a flash of time compared to what had happened before, Romans and then the Catholic clergy continued vine cultivation. The overlay of empires and kingdoms pushed vineyards farther inland through France and Europe looking for just the right conditions: Soil, climate and more. For a thousand years of modern history, humans made slow progress by trial and error, honing artisanal crafts of grape growing and winemaking, into a distinct and definable wine culture. They derived the land-man conjunction that we now call “Terroir”, the sense of place that describes the local essence of wine.

Much later, a similar human event came to Texas. In 1659, Spanish missionaries and a hand full of Christianized native families made their trek into uncharted regions northward from Mexico. The Spanish were driven by the forces of exploration and conquest overlaid on a foundation of Catholicism that brought waves of Europeans to the Americas. Hot, dusty missionaries arrived with carefully protected vines from which they would prepare their sacramental wine.

Continued at: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=802

The complete assay can be read in the Russ Kane’s new book The Wineslinger Chronicles schedule for release March 2012. See The Winesliner Chronicles website at: http://www.wineslinger.net

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