The colors and crisp weather make the upper Midwest a land many ought to envy. Something about the air in the autumn makes me feel more alive. In addition, harvest time is a recognition of a summer well done. I knew this fairly well as a boy due to my mother’s side of the family being farmers. Down here in the Metro, though, it takes drive to see the reap and the brilliance of autumn.
I’m lucky to have a brother living out west of Minneapolis in the smallish-sized town, Buffalo. I drive out to the quietness of his house a couple times a months to work on the book I’m eager to show all of you sometime soon! On the way out to Buffalo, city buildings turn into birch, pine, and maple.
Now enjoy this autumn story with a French twist…
Three weeks ago, I attended an international social event. It was simply a time for foreigners and traveling locals to commingle over a happy hour. I was talking to a few travel-friendly locals about their experiences abroad when two young women with accents came over to the group. Here’s a picture of them I’d snap later on:
These French women were French teachers for a French immersion school. (That’s right; for a few tuition dollars your child can learn all the basic subjects in French: )
These gals were eager to meet some people outside their school, so came this event. While there, they tried some wine which I don’t think knocked their socks off. I mentioned Minnesotan wines–knowing nothing about local wine quality, but figured they might be interested. (Fun fact: every state in the U.S. has at least one winery.) Minnesota actually has several, and the two French femmes were intrigued.
Soon after, while out at my brothers, I looked up a winery very close to his place: Woodland Hills just outside Delano. I called them up and mentioned I had two women from France eager see how Minnesota wines measured up. The winery was eager for the international audience. So two weeks later, Camille, Lucile, and I drove out for a Fondue Friday at the winery. The girls had yet to see the country and enjoyed the views west of town. They also enjoyed the vineyard:
Woodland Hills is a picturesque vineyard on an old farm property just west of Delano. The barn and other farm buildings have been renovated as wine-making facilities.
A homey architecture and decor filled the small restaurant. It doubled as a gift shop full of wine-inspired gear. It was also where the wine tasting was at:
The girls ordered a couple whites and we got our fondue. We sat outside to enjoy a quiet, calm night away from the traffic of central Minneapolis. The scene was great, and the weather that night couldn’t have been much better: clear skies, bright, full moon, and moderate temperature. Some acoustic musicians played relaxing, but upbeat and familiar tunes under the gazebo with lyrics such as: “It’s a one horse town, and that’s alright by me.” (Well, familiar to us, anyway. I explained to the girls what “one horse town” meant.)
The wine? Well, the French were hard to impress. It turns out Lucile grew up in a small village in surrounded by vineyards–one of which her grandfather founded. She sensed her white was lacking in how long the flavor lasts. (Anyone know the term for that?)
But the girls compensated for flavor with the elegant and subtle hints of…marshmallows:
A campfire burned as the centerpiece of the outdoor tables, and Woodland Hills gets an extra hat-tip from me for offering up the marshmallows, sticks, and graham crackers. The girls stared at one middle-aged Minnesotan man who purposefully turned his marshmallow-on-stick into a mini-torch. They told me burned food was carcinogenic and proceeded to perfect their browned-but-not-burnt versions.
Eventually, Mike, the owner of the joint, came over to talk to his guests:
They discussed the barrels the wine was aged in and all that jazz; then he offered them a glass of Woodland Hills red. Lucile and Camille liked it: )
As the night wore on, so did the cooling temps on us. Thankfully, we had that campfire aglow. The stars came out, and I half-jokingly told them their families could be staring at these very same skies right now. (Albeit at 3am their time.) They do miss home, but are excited for this chance to hone their English and experience life outside their country. I can relate as I taught English abroad myself.
We made for a good team this Friday night in the crisp, colorful autumn evening.
to new plateaus,