Pine Hill Wine Works

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Welcome to Pine Hill Wine Works. I’m Rod Byers. I’ve been in the wine business all my adult life. I had my first wine related job at the age of 17, although at the time I had no idea it would become my future vocation. I was a grape picker in Europe. It wasn’t about love of wine, about flavors or aromas or any other part of the magic or mystery that is wine. I was broke. I needed the money.

It wasn’t a cushy internship with leisurely lunches with the vineyard owners discussing wine styles. No, we were in the vineyard from sunrise to sunset stopping only for nourishment. I had been hired on along with an extended migrant family of about 40 eastern Europeans who spent their summer traveling throughout Europe picking various crops.

The experience created a remarkable and indelible introduction to the world of wine. I had no knowledge of the quality or even th
e type of wine that those grapes would create. I don’t even remember if the grapes were white or red.

But there is much that I do remember. I recall standing among the rows of vines just as the first glimmer of light pierced the pre-dawn horizon, our gusts of breath visible in the damp morning air.

I remember the stickiness of the sweet grape juice gluing my fingers together as gnarled, bent women, three times my age, brushed past me picking at a pace I would never achieve. I remember the fascinating stories told to me by people who’s world was so foreign to me that they might as well have been from Mars.

I didn’t know it at the time but that was my first experience proving that the stories that happen around a bottle of wine are every bit as fascinating if not more so than what’s inside the bottle. Looking back, I think it was then and there, in that vineyard, where my life long affair with wine began. And it’s still the stories surrounding the wine that fascinate me the most.