The Life of a Wine Grape

Grape. There you are, a tiny little bud amid a clump of other buds, like sextuplets in the womb, only lots more. The sun is shining, the view – if you had eyes – is spectacular, and all the nutrients needed to maintain health are transported through the vine to you and your green, bulbous siblings.

Wine Grape
Wine Grape. Ph. Donnie Nunley on flickr (

Days and weeks pass and you grow in size and richness of color. Soon you are a big, fat ball of purple, dangling in a carefree commune of other big, fat purple balls. Fat, dumb, and happy as they say – that’s you.

One morning, an enormous being appears in front of you. Huge and hairy and animated and definitely not a grape. What a wonderful creature this is before me, you think to yourself. If I had a mouth and any communication skills at all, I would wish this big, hairy being a fine morning. And I would say the same to the sharp, intimidating metal object he is menacingly wielding in his hand. Indeed, I would surely wish him well.

Without warning, the creature moves the sharp object in one swift, practiced motion and you and your sibling’s free fall, your umbilical irrevocably severed. Perhaps I wouldn’t wish him a fine morning after all, you say to yourself, albeit with limited cognitive ability. If you and your fellow newborns had a larynx you would scream in terror as your descent ends abruptly, cushioned by a basketful of fellow purple orbs. The basket is filled to the brim, like an overpopulated maternity ward. This is disconcerting, you again think to yourself.

wine grape

You and your fellow clump-dwellers bump along in the basket, being carried to who-knows-where. Time and place have little meaning to you since you are filled with pulp and not brains. After a bit, the basket tips and the whole maternity ward of purple clumps fall into a veritable stadium of other clumps. Maybe it’s a clump convention and we just haven’t received the formal invite? Then again, maybe not.

wine making

Another creature appears at the edge of the stadium. If I were aware of such things, you utter to yourself, I would imagine that the creature is sporting shorts and has the intention of joining us here in our filled-to-capacity stadium. And judging by the sheer volume present, shaving off the hair on its legs is not mandatory prior to entering these conventions.

Indeed, little grape friend, you are correct. In jumps the creature and the stomping begins. How barbaric, you, our protagonist think. Footfall after footfall, the little grapes are crushed all around you for their juices. Maybe it’s a mass blood-drive for my stricken fruity brethren, but if I were in possession of the ability to reason, I might think this somewhat excessive, says you. The creature continues relentlessly. Grape after grape is brought to its unnatural end. Closer he steps. Closer still. Then it happens.

I will spare you the gory details of what happens next. Suffice it to say that you would no longer be with the land of the bulbous. Before you, kind reader, succumb to sadness and regret for what you might have encountered, know what follows.

You, the little wine grape, have been altered into something magnificent. Your guts and fruity entrails have been used to create new life. Like a viticultural Doctor Frankenstein, the creature has resurrected you, little grape; metamorphosed like a fat, purple caterpillar into the splendid merlot Monarch. Think of it! You have transcended the bonds of your earthly existence and have risen to become the nectar of the gods! Your fermented fluids are raised to be admired in the finest crystal. You are sniffed, sipped and savored. You are the subject of innumerable cultured conversations. You are even lauded by medical experts for your ability to enhance overall health and well being – not for yourself of course – you have been crushed and mutilated and every drop of liquid in your body wrung out and bottled. But I digress.

The next time a glass of cabernet is raised in a toast, or a sparkling white is savored at a New Year’s celebration, I hope the journey of the little wine grape is remembered. The life of the wine grape is a life well spent.

By Bill Abbott


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