Vinlandia - Wine & Spirits Magazine


illustrations by Greg Betza

In the chaotic days following the World Naked Bike Ride, Stumptown freelancer Katherine Cole discovered a half-torn manuscript under an earthenware kombucha jug at her collective urban-sprout-farm-cum-writer’s-community. When no one claimed authorship during the group goat-grooming session, Cole sent it to the Wine & Spirits offices, believing that the powerful voice of a clearly visionary auteur should be heard. Thus, we give you the unedited treatments for a groundbreaking new sketch-drama show, tentatively titled Vinlandia.


Brawny-yet-feminine Nina and diminutive-yet-macho Lance have re-ignited their love while touring the RURAL ROADS of Willamette Valley wine country on Lance’s motorcycle. (MONTAGE to John Denver/Olivia Newton-John duet, “Fly Away”: Lance, in leather jacket and with cigarette, á la James Dean, pouting and steering; vineyard rows; Nina’s hair blowing in the wind as she laughs and throws out her arms in reckless abandon; a picturesque winery; Nina sipping a glass of pinot noir and smiling as Lance glowers and surreptitiously swigs Bourbon from a flask; a sunset shot of the happy couple riding over a rolling hillside.)
Back at HOME, Nina rebuffs her man’s advances, proclaiming that her newfound love is actually for wine, not Lance. She begins madly photographing bottles and typing tasting notes, reading them aloud to a disinterested Lance, who is busy oiling his bike’s transmission. (Her favorite verbal flourishes: “Sultry, soggy and sensational!” and “Oozing, like sweet, sweet man juice.”

After connecting with a like-minded community of wine bloggers online, Nina goes to the wine bar du jour, PLUS SAUVAGE QUE VOUS. Upon arriving at the underground lair (interior walls: taxidermied foxes and albino deer), she meets the tattooed Dionysian Proprietors (Patton Oswalt and Joanna Newsom), wearing only loincloths and grape leaves, “to be as intimate as possible with the divine nectar.” The Proprietors confiscate Nina’s phone, laptop and, finally, her pen and notepad, as the only way to reach true union with the “spirit beverage” is through one’s “animal sound.” Nina notices that the other enophiles at the bar—ranging in age from four to 85—are tasting “blind,” with fur blindfolds tied around their eyes, and responding to the wines by growling, snarling, hissing, mewing and purring, with accompanying clawing and gyrating motions. Caught up in the moment, Nina dons a blindfold and reverentially holds a rough-hewn pewter chalice to her lips. The background noise fades away and we feel certain she’s about to have an epiphanic moment. But instead, she makes a sour face and asks, “Umm, do you have anything, like, sweeter?” Enraged, the Dionysian Proprietors and Wine Tasters begin slashing at her and howling. Then we see, backlit in the doorframe, Lance. He saunters in, cigarette dangling out of the corner of his mouth, grabs Nina’s laptop and points at her. She holds her hands to her heart and smiles coquettishly at her hero.

Hemp Pouches

QUILTED TEA KETTLE INN owners/embroidered vest enthusiasts Peter and Nance see that Erykah Badu, Chrissie Hynde and Thom Yorke have all registered as guests. Googling the vaguely familiar names, they learn that the musicians are coming to town for a benefit concert. Plus, all three are vegan. While Nance gives herself a crash course in Tofurky sausages, egg substitutes and black-eyed pea pancakes, Peter sets out for THE GREEN TREE PEACE LOVE WINE SHOP on NE Alberta (interior: molded plastic moose and wolf heads in lieu of actual taxidermy). The tattooed Wine Merchant (Jeff Goldblum, with Tarzan hair) explains that the shop only sells bottles topped with alternative closures, because the cork-harvesting process “is painful to the tree.” He also sells wines in woven hemp pouches for those who object to glass, plastic, aseptic packaging, aluminum and barrels (of course). The hemp pouches tend to drip…just a bit. Oh, and the Wine Merchant’s favorite wines are Txakoli and Trockenbeerenauslese, because they both start with T, just like his beloved Trees. Peter, stymied, tries to repeat after the Wine Merchant but fails.

The Wine Merchant extols the various ways a wine can be green-certified in Oregon (Organic, Sustainable, LIVE, Carbon-Reduction Challenge, Salmon-Safe, Biodynamic, Unlikely to Irritate Your Red-State Relatives, and Of Dubitable Quality at Least According to a Group of Critics Bickering Among Themselves on Twitter) while Peter tries to stay focused. Finally, in his trademark slow-stammering manner, he inquires about vegan wines. The merchant leads him to the section of bottles “certified by the Portland Vegan Advisory Board” and goes into another lecture about the fine points of fining and filtering, including the intricacies of a breakthrough new fining agent, quinoa. Which is another word that Peter really struggles with.

Cut to QUILTED TEA KETTLE INN: Peter arrives home looking like he’s been shot. The hemp pouches have leaked vegan red wine all over him, and is that a light dusting of quinoa on his face and hair? He helps Nance set up for the wine-tasting hour; she has made a platter of rock-hard vegan biscuits, which turn into a pile of crumbs when you bite into them, and homemade vegan cheese, which is gray and limp.

The Musicians breeze through on their way to their performance. They drink and eat nothing, and announce that they’ll leave before breakfast the following day. Peter and Nance look at each other, dazed. Peter takes a bite of a vegan biscuit, grimaces, then pretends to like it and smiles at Nance. Nance takes a sip of vegan wine from the dripping hemp pouch, spilling it down the front of her shirt. She grimaces, pretends to like it, and smiles at Peter.

Vacation Vocation

Bumbling outdoor-enthusiasts/gear-collectors Kath and Dave sign up for a “Vacation Vocation” to work at a winery in the Willamette Valley. (It’s kind of like an internship, except that they pay to participate.) They get online and order all the essentials: rubber Wellies, Carhartts (they pronounce both T’s), fuzzy vests, work gloves, pruning shears, wool hats, plus a rust-orange Vanagon camper, to sleep in.

They arrive at the luxurious, stone castle–like WINERY (interior walls: taxidermied pheasants, elk, trout, ermine, etc.). Roberta Hurley, the vigneron (Roseanne Barr, tattooed, bespectacled, with long blonde hair) greets them, wearing a dramatic cape and brandishing an alpenstock, which she uses to point at things, and people, for emphasis. Hurley is all sweetness as she whisks Kath and Dave past staffers in smart pantsuits, pouring tastes of wine and processing shipment orders.

Hurley leads Kath and Dave to the underground “cahhhhhhv,” then screams at them to scrub the insides of 12 tanks and 36 barrels. She slams the heavy oak door shut with a cackle; trying the iron handle, the two realize they’re locked in. As their eyes adjust to the darkness, they see that they’re actually in a dungeon, where the skeleton of a former cellar hand, attached to a ball-and-chain, still holds a wine thief, and Steampunk Cinderella (Aimee Mann) mournfully sweeps out a fireplace. The next few days are a blur of scrubbing: tanks, barrels, floors, walls, ceilings, the undersides of Ms. Hurley’s boots, each other. When they’re allowed OUTSIDE, in the pouring rain, it’s to turn over the compost piles of cow manure, which they both end up falling into.

The end of the week finally arrives. Unexpectedly, Hurley invites Kath and Dave into her DRAWING ROOM. She puts an opera record on the turntable and pours wines for the couple as they settle into a couch by a roaring fire, looking awkward in their muddy togs. Hurley sits in her throne and strokes her pet kunekune boar, large gold rings sparkling on her fingers. Kath and Dave begin to reflect on their week. Kath: “It was tough, but we learned so much! And most of all, we learned that we never want to be winemakers!” The peace is shattered, however, when Dave makes a passing reference to Burgundy. Suddenly, the final scene of Salomé is playing in the background, all violent and disjointed, and Hurley is standing and waving her staff around, screaming about the “offensive stemminess of La Tâche,” the “jihadist anti-pleasure police” and the “the loss of flavor in favor of esoterica.” Dave and Kath look at each other, tiptoe out of the room, sprint to their Vanagon, peel out and speed off. Just as they’re turning out of the long, winding driveway, they hear a gravelly voice instructing them to “Put the pedal to the metal, guys.” They turn around and see that the boar has stowed away in the back seat of their van (and, apparently, can talk). They smile, pat him on the head, and keep driving.

This story was featured in W&S Fall 2013.
illustrations by Greg Betza

This story appears in the print issue of fal 2013.
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