Beneath the houses the men established their wine cellars, and every fall when the grapes came from California each man made the wine in his own way, some with sugar, some without, some adding heat and others letting the mash ferment in its own good time, some crushing the grapes with their feet as their fathers had done in the old country. The wine was important to them. Even when the men cut up tires and fastened pieces to their children’s shoes to replace the wornoutsoles, there was somehow always money for grapes. They say in Sopris that as long as they had the wine they felt lucky, and they drink a toast that goes, “A hundred years and then you die,” and they insist that three glasses are a minimum and that a drop spilled is a drop you do not get to drink. Because making it and drinking it together are secular sacraments to them, they are very careful with it. Joe Terry, at twenty-nine, is the only one of his generation making wine. In the cellar of his Sopris house are about one hundred gallons of muscatel and zinfandel quietly aging in the oaken barrels used by his grandfather. “The one thing I hate about leaving,” he said, “is that my wine barrels have to get stood up. The people who still live in Sopris or nearby sit around kitchen tables and drink the wine, remembering when the place was good and the people were a part of one another and the spirit that united them ran as strong as the wine.
Nancy Wood, December 1970