On the very month I was born, sixty-four years ago, Allen Saunders (in Reader’s Digest magazine) published the maxim “life is what happens to us while we are making other plans”. He must have been an oracle, thinking ahead six decades about my annual trip to Ohio when he wrote that, as my original plans were to depart two days ago — but, alas, work and chores conspired to delay my start by one day. Undeterred, I finally got things in good enough order to be able to depart yesterday — but then the truck refused to start. One new battery later and I am now comfortably ensconced in the Little Guy with Harvest Hosts at Hummingbird Hills Winery, in pastoral Fultonville, NY just west of Albany (check out the “Misty Acres Alpaca Farm” post for a description of Harvest Hosts). Here is the view out my front window:

This winery is a mom-and-pop affair, owned and operated by Kimm and Ken Schick. Frankly, I don’t know how they do it, it seems like a huge property to manage, not to mention actually creating the wines. They have a lovely tasting room and will provide samples of their twenty-five vintages so that you can choose your favorites; the photo below shows one side of the room, which is mirrored with another long bar and tasting stations on the other:

Ken was (among other things) a general contractor in New Jersey, working big projects and, by his own admission, making bucketloads of money.  But in 1999 he tired of the seven-day workweeks and bought this farm in upstate New York. Born of German immigrants, he was assisting his father and grandfather in making wine by the age of six — and now, in his retirement, he has returned to his boyhood enterprise on this lovely farm.

These are baby grapes, just getting started to grow!

I must say that the word “retirement” really does not apply here, as Ken works twelve- to fifteen-hour days keeping up with the vineyards and gardens.  But he says he would never go back to New Jersey, and listening to the quiet of this place (he owns hundreds of acres of undeveloped land) I can understand why.  Last year, in the pandemic, their wine-tasting and vineyard business fell off precipitously; casting about for any means of generating income, they stumbled upon Harvest Hosts, gave it a try, and hosted 150 people between May and December — keeping the vineyard afloat.  So they are hosting again this year, and I’m grateful to have found my way here.

The goal tomorrow is to drive past Buffalo, NY and begin the trip down alongside Lake Erie, arriving at the CVI (see previous post) on Sunday.  Tomorrow I have reservations with another Harvest Host, this time a tree farm!  I hope to post again then!


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