"Tale of the Cork"

When I was growing up, my parents had a cork board that was hung to the left of our kitchen door. And I should mention that this is not your ordinary cork board - what I mean by cork board is an actual "cork board"; as the story goes, it was a gift from their friends reflecting the wines that they had consumed. Here's a pic I found mimicking what I am talking about:

I don't know why I was so enamored with it as a child, but I do remember it so well. Probably a foresight into my future wine consumption, but that is entirely another story.

My parents never used it for posting things or hanging things; rather I remember it as something that just hung in our kitchen. I always stared at it and as I got taller I could actually read the wineries listed on the corks. I couldn't tell you any of the names now, but there was probably a Mondavi, Grgich, Opus One, Kendall-Jackson, and, quite possibly, a Silver Oak cork (or a few) that made up the board.

I don't know where that cork board is or if they ever saved it, but I thought about it through the years while enjoying a bottle, and thought it would be fun to make a cork trivet for my pans. Alas, I never did. Reason being at the time I was drinking wines that I didn't necessarily want to advertise (i.e. the Calloway Cab and Chardonnay that sufficed at $5.99 in college).

I can't tell you how many corks I have thrown away over the years, but it was recently that I discovered I wished I had held onto them. For some reason about 6 months ago, instead of throwing the corks away, I decided to keep them in a drawer in my kitchen. I don't know exactly what convinced me to do this, perhaps one too many glasses, but I started saving them.

On a recent driving trip from San Francisco to Southern California, Greg and I decided to do some wine tasting in Paso Robles. We stumbled upon a Pinot Noir boutique winery called Windward Vineyard. Having been in the car for a while I definitely needed to use the Ladies Room. I opened up the door to the winery restroom and was overcome with the musk scent of wine. My jaw dropped as I closed the door behind me -- the walls were covered with corks. Just like the "cork board" but free-form. It was still a work in progress, but it was inspiring.

It was like a light went off - birds and angels started singing (well, not really). I was going to continue to collect corks so one day I could do a wall like this:

I was thrilled, ecstatic, and yes, all of this emotion over a wall "paper" made of corks. I resent not taking any pics of the wall, but the images in my mind speak for themselves. There were vintages upon vintages, showing the history of when the wall probably started; there were many different wineries represented, showing a variety of memories. Perhaps some individuals added their own corks to the wall over the years. Whatever the history, it was a wall of wine stories to be told.

I continued to save my corks, and now, when I look at the labels of the wineries (even if it is $2.99 Trader Joes Chardonnay...) each cork does tell a story. Some bottles were opened to cook with, some to celebrate, some just to drink for the sake of it being 5 o'clock. But they are a tangible reminder of an experience. I have many more in a drawer, but here is one of my coffee table "focus points":

For my most recent birthday, my Mom saved one of the best, most original gifts for last:

She, along with my Dad and sister, along with our country club, had been saving corks for my future cork wall. The picture does not even do justice for just how many corks are in that bag.

We continue to save the corks for my future wall, and I know when I put it up finally I will be reminded of the original cork board that fascinated me so much growing up. It inspires me to visit wineries that I may not really think about and those I have yet to visit; because I know when I do go to put together that wall, I will look at each individual cork and be reminded of a bottle/glass/experience that has shaped my life.

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