Tobacco Road

One of the best jobs I’ve ever had was when I was a teenager working on the tobacco farms in northern Connecticut. Back in those days many of the tobacco farms were owned by individual small farmers and you got the sense the owners cared for their employees and the community. The majority of the tobacco grown in Connecticut were either broad leaf or shade tobacco and was used as the outer wrapper for cigars. I’m not going to get into the morality or health issues of what smoking does to you nor am I going to lecture anyone. I’ve seen it first hand and it isn’t pretty. Enough said.

Back to the fun part of working on tobacco which reminds me of the camaraderie you gain from working with others your own age and others that were over the age of thirty and part of that group you didn’t trust as a teenager. Overall, I finally came to realize the over thirty crowd were pretty neat people.

I was able to work just about every aspect of tobacco from hoeing, to suckering the young plants (a dirty, nasty job) to picking ripe leaves, to laying irrigation pipes, preparing the hoses and lanterns for firing up sheds, to picking up the tobacco baskets and loading them on the rigs for transport to the sewing sheds. This was the best part – the tobacco sheds. This is where all the teenage girls worked (ooh, I hope my wife isn’t reading this post). But this was the gathering place for us guys to talk about anything as long as we could steal a few looks at girls of our age and let our minds wander. Well, while our minds are wandering we forget some very basic fundamentals like setting the parking brake on the tobacco rigs we used for hauling around the green stuff. That is, if we didn’t take the turns in the dirt road too fast and have a bunch (you remember my definition of bunch?) of the tobacco baskets jump off the rig without telling us. We usually found out when the owners would come to the tobacco sheds and explain the finer points of driving in the tobacco fields.

Anyway, one day us guys were chatting and waiting for the shed crew to unload our rigs so we could get back to Nascar tobacco racing whilst we were checking out all the teenage girls sewing the tobacco. One of our compadres forgot to set the parking brake on his rig. Lo and behold, when it was his turn to drive the rig up the the shed to have it unloaded he hinted that one of us took his truck and “where was it now!”. Well, did I tell you there was an irrigation pond just down the slope from the tobacco shed? Maybe I should mention that here. You wouldn’t believe the site as the entire back side of the rig was immersed in the irrigation pond and this episode of Tobacco Road was known as truckey in the lakey as we had a lot of non-English speaking people working on the farm and I’m sure something got lost in the translation, but hilarious nonetheless. These are stories you won’t forget and some of us wish it were forgotten altogether. Well, I hope you remember what I said about memories.

What was your favorite job? Okay, on with the wine reviews.

Raymond 2008 R Collection Lot # 7 Field Blend. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel. Notes of cherry, white pepper with hints of smoked bacon aroused the snozzola leading into red and black raspberries with a hint of clove flavors on the palate. Great tannins with a velvety blueberry finish. $9.99, 91 rating. You can bring this to any party you are invited to and you’ll be the topic of discussion when it comes to picking the right wine. You’ll be an instant hit with the host and hostess. Especially if you’re at a cookout in the summer or cooking this in the winter over the gas stove, as I paired this with a black Angus beef burger with red onion, lettuce and tomato on a whole grain white hamburger bun. Nothing else, no fries, no baked potato, no coleslaw, no potato salad, no nothin’. You can add cheese if you want. Really, I can’t believe the good fortune I’m having lately with wines that fit into Cousin Carl’s low priced reds category. Buy this, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Next time I get back to the wine merchant I’ll probably get half a case of this to keep on hand.

Trimbach 2007 Gewurztraminer. This white wine opens with floral aromas with rose and ginger being the more dominant aromas. The palate found citrus flavors with nectarine and grapefruit nuances. A nice pleasing finish. $14.99, 87 rating. Pair this wine with spicy, Cajun, Thai, or Indian dishes.

Concha Y Toro 2009 Frontera Carmenere. Plum, vanilla, and toast aromas preceded a red raspberry flavor with a bit of a coffee and mocha finish. I did not find this wine to be as intense as some of the other Carmeneres I’ve tried in the past although it is a decent wine for the price. $7.99 for a 1.5 liter bottle, 77 rating. This goes well with stir-fry, vegetable or meat, using teriyaki sauce.

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends…