I drove downtown yesterday for a variety of errands and had several stimulating interactions. The power brick for my macbook broke and I needed to buy a replacement, and I had also special ordered an unusual dongle. Arriving at the Apple store I found it bustling as usual. Customers are chatting away with the Apple people or finger painting on all the shiny glass screens. I’m trying to find an unoccupied employee, something that’s difficult even though half the room is filled with blue shirts. The first person who is free happens to be a guy I talked to last time I was there, by the name of Theo! He’s an attractive looking guy with a haircut somewhere between a crew cut and a mohawk. He taps away on his little ipod touch with the credit card slider and laser bar code scanner built in. Man those are cool! He alerts the backroom people to bring out the ordered dongle, rings me up for the powerbrick, and emails me a receipt. The whole time we are having a leisurely conversation next to a table full of laptops. I mention to him that what with the new pragmatism at Apple, perhaps they will make an ipad with a keyboard. Afterall, I’m amazed at the amount of people I see at coffee shops and airports with an ipad propped up with a keyboard. He seemed doubtfull, mentioning the desire for simplicity. I asked if he reads Gruber, the prophet of the Apple way. He did not. But then he says that what he is passionate about in his spare time is liquor! So we then spent about 15 minutes discussing Scotch and other spirits. (Ironically enough, also a passion of Grubers). His desire is to intern at House Spirits helping Matthew Mount do his thing. I mentioned the recent story I read in the New Yorker about Bruichladdich distillery and he then lists off several blogs he reads, of which I took note of on my iphone. The Malt Imposter offers absurdist reviews of good whiskeys. Jeffery Morgenthaler is a bartender at Clyde Commons. Camper English is a San Francisco blogger about whiskeys.
Then I was off to lunch. I wandered towards Picnic’s old location, at 10th and Washington. It’s been nostalgic for me now that Todd has moved Ole Latte there. From Addie’s I got a bacon jam and apple sandwich on a Little t baguette. The seating is not so good downtown, especially since Randy Leonard smacked down on the unlicensed structures, thus making Addie’s wonderfull little porch an illegal seating area! I remembered the cantilevered grate attatched to 808 Grinds and walked down there to eat. To my great surprise, on my old corner, was my favorite street musician singing away to the accompanyment of his keyboard and drum machine! I felt lifted with joy! This is why I love Portland, moments like these.
Now, my mission at the lot was actually to find GW and ask him to spread the word about a project I’m trying to see if I can make work. I would also be interested in feedback from readers of this site to let me know their moral opinions about it. I’m wondering if I can get the bottle collectors, the ones with the shopping carts, to collect used bottles for my wine. I am determinied to bottle all my wine in reused bottles. I have done this ever since I started making wine 7 years ago. In the past the amounts I needed were small, 100 bottles or so per year. Last year I needed 350 bottles. So in those quantities it was easy just saving what I drank and having a few friends who saved for me as well. But in October I will need 3000 bottles! As I’ve mentioned before, me and Jen were collecting the bottles ourselves with increasing success as we gained some knowledge of the right places to look. The idea came to me one day last summer when a guy with a shopping cart full of cans asked me if I had any work he could do for me, such as rake leaves. I asked him if he could collect wine bottles of a Burgundy shape and I would pay him twice the going rate of a beer bottle. He didn’t seem very interested but he took my card and I asked him to think about it. A few days later his wife April calls me very excited and says she can collect thousands for me. They come by later that day with a shopping cart full of wine bottles, about 50 if I remember correctly. April is surprisingly responsive, showing me bottles she has suspected were not usefull. Champagne, apple cider style bottles with a crown cap, riesling bottles. These are all not usable by me, yet I surprise her by saying that I do not care about the color. After this display of eagerness on Aprils part I never hear from her again. Currently I am collecting all my bottles myself, but I am pursuing collaborations with these bottle collectors.
First of all, I find it amazing that the above string of numbers can identify, from a span of 10,000 years, a moment in time to within a minute!
OK, I realize I didn’t end the story. I did meet GW. He passed in front of me while I was eating my sandwich. He looked, I thought, a little worse for the wear since I last saw him, perhaps 3 months ago. He’s pretty old to be living on the streets, he’s in his 50′s. But I asked him if he could ask around and see if anyone was interested in this idea of mine. He said he could collect a lot for me, but I tried to talk him out of that. I wanted him to get me a connection with some people who collect bottles as a daily routine. I had brought along a bottle of my 2011 pinot, with wine, to give to show him the size. I wanted also to show him an example of a wine bottle that I cannot use for rebottling purposes. Some regions in France and elsewhere require all the licensed DOC wineries of that district to use a common sized branded bottle, which is of course copyrighted. I didn’t have a bottle of this type at my house, nor did I have a bottle at the winery, as I throw these ones away or don’t collect them. Before lunch I walked to Vinopolis and bought a Chateuneuf du Pape to show to GW as an example of a branded bottle that is nonetheless in the Burgundy shape. After we had chatted for a bit and he seemed eager to go I said he should keep the bottle of my wine. He initially demurred, but I insisted. Then he said that perhaps he should take the Chateuneuf instead, assuming it to be less expensive then my wine. That was charming and made me happy, but of course my wine for me is very cheap and Chateuneuf is not.