before i worked at the winery i wrote about yesterday i had another winery job. it was at the winery my grandfather worked for many many years. if i’m not mistaken, it was the winery where he first got work when the family moved from the central valley to socal in 1929.
i did various jobs there. the main job was running an antique wine bottle labeling machine. the thing was ancient but it worked. you had to constantly tinker with the fucker to get it working just right but it ran ok. the major problem were the ladies at the end of the bottling line. always complaing about something or another. usually that the labels were crooked. they rarely were but it gave them a break because i had to go find my boss and get him to tell them the lables were ok. i was just the stooge who ran the machine.
that old bottling line was an amazing piece of antique winery machinery at work from the filling machine to the other end where the wine went into the cases. actually it wasn’t wine on that line but champagne. not very good champagne but the bubbley anyways. or it would either be cold duck or moscato. equally not one of my favorites.
on a side bar drift. when the line was humming along with the clinking of the bottles and the clink clank of the machines there was a rhythm to the whole affair that was very nice. a bit loud but musical in it’s own way. having been in and out of many a wine bottling area since i was a child i guess the noise/music grew on me. the closest i can come to it musically would be frank zappa and the mothers tune ‘weasels ripped my flesh’. most folks hate that tune and the entire lp of the same name. that would include most zappa heads like myself. not me though. ‘weasels ripped my flesh’ is one of my favorites. the uncanny drone of the tune is the rhythm of a bottling assembly line or probably any other assembly line.
the winery did make some really good champagne. the bottle fermented stuff. really good. not cheap either. i dreaded bottling the stuff. it had to be corked with another antique machine. a machine that was powered by me. an odd use of feet, hands and eye co-ordination. another rhythm deal. kinda like being a drummer. only trouble was if you missed a beat you might break the bottle and it happened a few times every time the stuff got bottled. once requiring a trip to the emergancy room due to glass shards bouncing off my eye. yeah, all this before osha and any sort of safety shit.
the winery’s other claim to fame was some of the best zinfandel ever put into a bottle. just amazing stuff. dago red at it’s all time finest. superb vino. this got bottled on another line which was a bit newer and easier to operate. the filling and labeling all done by one machine. pretty simple but a nasty hand and finger grabbing piece of equipment. another trip to the emergancy room for some stitches on my hand.
when things got slow i’d drive a small panel truck all over socal delivering champagne to hotels and restaurants from downtown los angeles to palm springs. a piece of shit truck that was so unstable with a load of vino in the back it would almost flip just driving straight down the freeway. on rain slick streets it was a fight just to keep it on the road and right side up. especially considering i’d go pick up a friend to keep me company on the driving days and we’d light up the whole time. yes, gracie, i know. not a sane thing to do but it was a long time ago in a job far far away.
music provided by, the mothers of invention, ‘weasels ripped my flesh’.