Patience and luck worked together to capture this view of the Blue Mountains east of Walla Walla. After a hot and smoky summer, cooler days with blue skies and white clouds are most welcome while the red leaves and pickup truck add a pop of color.
With all the tragedy lately from earthquakes and hurricanes to the most recent gun violence, it's comforting to know that there are still people in the world doing good for others. Such as Water From Wine, a non profit organization and winery that raises grapes, makes and sells wine, and donates all revenue from sales to non profits addressing the global water crisis.
I had a vague recollection of hearing something about it a year ago on Facebook, so when a friend and former teaching colleague asked me to join her to pick grapes last Saturday, I thought, why not? At that point I knew little about the non profit nor how intimately my friend was involved in this multi-generational family project.
Water From Wine partners with another non profit Water1st International who in turn work with one community at a time to implement high-quality water and sanitation projects that provide permanent solutions for the world’s poorest communities.
Water From Wine owns 6 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in Paterson, Washington as part of Sandpiper Farms
which was first farmed years ago by my friend's grandfather.
From these six acres squeezed in among larger circle irrigation fields of wheat and corn, they have the ability to produce 1000 cases of wine!
Also, 100% of the revenue from each bottle of wine sold is donated to nonprofits such as Water1st working to provide clean water around the world
Water From Wine depends on the support from 140+/- volunteers each year in September/October to hand-pick the grapes used in the winemaking. Between the two shifts of volunteers, morning and afternoon, the entire six acres can be harvested in a single day.
Before we began picking, Pat Tucker, manager of Sandpiper Farms and Water From Wine, hands Angele Hunskor, Water1st's representative for Partnerships and Corporate Relations, a sizable check from the sale of 14% of the 2014 vintage. That means there is more to come! This tidy sum will provide 580 people with clean water and toilets for life.
Pat also instructs those of us who are novice pickers in the hows and whys of harvesting a row of grapes.
Since this is the third year of harvest, many people have volunteered before.
Then we're off to our assigned row. Each picker is armed with a pair of sharp clippers and a blue lug,
which when full will make the equivalent of one case of wine.
This is a half-filled lug.
As the blue lugs are filled, they are dumped into a large bin which will be taken to the winery to be crushed as the first step of the wine-making process.
Each person supporting Water From Wine, through volunteering, donating or purchasing wine, makes it possible to support their partners working in areas of Honduras, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and India to provide clean water.
For more information about Water From Wine and Water1st International, follow these links:
Before I moved to eastern Washington state from the Puget Sound area (and from Michigan before that), I thought the eastern half of the Evergreen State was a wasteland. Dry, rocky and not particularly beautiful compared to the majestic vistas around Seattle of the Cascade Range with snow-capped Mt. Rainier to the east and the Olympic Mountains to the west. Still, on a sunny day, nothing is more beautiful.
But after a move to Walla Walla in the late 1980s, I soon came to realize that less can indeed be more. In particular, the hills that stretch from the Washington-Oregon border in the south all the way to Spokane in the north. This area is known as the Palouse Hills, and it is simply stunning and very sensual.
Regardless of the season, these gently rolling hills are like a harem of Rubenesque women with curves and crevices that collect the snow in winter, and from which sprout green shoots of wheat in the late winter and early spring, only to be covered in a blanket of golden corduroy after harvest. Plow lines and combine trails accentuate the curves and draw the eye through the vast landscape much like a contour map.
Normally, talking on the phone is not my thing. And I had enough of cold calling to last forever in my brief time in sales in the late 70s.
Add politics to the mix, and I have an even greater aversion.
But these are not normal times. And so, as a member of Indivisible Walla Walla, I nervously agreed to participate in today's phone bank calling peers in other states to encourage them to call their senators asking them to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill.
Despite a few hang ups and one "F-you," most of the voters I spoke with were friendly, and many had already contacted their senator. But the funny thing is, the more calls I made, the easier it became. That said, I don't see working in a call center anytime soon.