Tasting the flavor of Maine in Bristol

Mon, 10/04/2021 - 3:30pm

About this blog:

  • Barnako, wiscasset, Maine Art Gallery

    Frank Barnako is a seasonal resident of Wiscasset at Clarks Point on the Sheepscot River.   His career in journalism included on air and news director positions with CBS and NBC Radio and TV stations.  He was a pioneer in the Internet, helping to create and co-found MarketWatch.com where he also developed a 200-station radio network and wrote daily columns focused on the stock market, business news, and technology. Barnako describes himself as “an aspiring photographer,” whose work can be seen at frankbarnako.com<http://frankbarnako.com>. He is a member of the town’s Investment Advisory Committee. Email him at wiscasset@barnako.com.


If someone asks you to dance, "I hope you'll dance"

That's advice from country singer Lee Ann Womack. And it's a lesson I carried away from last weekend. Friends, Ed and Michelle, invited us to a wine tasting in Bristol Saturday. 

Bristol is about half an hour away - and I know what wine tastes like already. Besides, Bristol is barely a bump in the road, population about 3,500. What am I going to learn? 

The Walpole Barn  (https://my-site-106380-102247.square.site/s/shop) is owned by Deb and Warren Storch.  Inside their 238-year-old former community meeting house is a tasteful, imaginative Crate-and-Barrel-inspired home furnishings, gifts and accessories store.  https://my-site-106380-102247.square.site/s/shop

Deb  oversees that while Warren curates a fine collection of wines priced from $10 to hundreds of dollars.

On Saturday, we were a group of 10. During the summer, Warren says dozens of people show up at this weekly event to taste and talk in an airy outdoor setting.  He poured four reds and a white for us - my favorite was the white, a Pecorino.

Wine tastings can be unpredictable.  Some people know more, and tell you, some know less. Some are curious, others are just looking for a place to sit.

What made this tasting special was, as my old poli sci professor at Northwestern used to say, "The peepul!"  In this case, the Mainers.  You could consider our group locals, no tourists. We all have warm feelings for Maine. And, as Art Linkletter might have said, "They say the darnedest things". In fact, they have the darnedest experiences to share.

One couple said when the pandemic started, they got an RV, packed it with necessities - and their elementary school child - and hit the road for a tour of America.  While the mother tutored her child a few hours daily, subsequent testing shows the child was now years ahead of 'normal',  Another couple included a social worker, who  works online, and a talented photographer who travels and shoots for The New York Times.

Our friends, Ed and Michelle, are also special.  He is a fine finish carpenter and home builder. She  spent the last few yers creating a contemporary post and beam barn-like event space in Wiscasset for weddings, parties and concerts.  And a couple who'd bought a $10 bottle of wine yesterday arrived returned for tasting and to tell Warren the vino was a bargain!

We talked about more than wine and Maine. Warren said business was good, very good.  During the year of Covid, the wine store did its best business ever, and this year is above that.  "People who like Maine came and stayed, and bought wine. Or they stayed longer than planned, and bought wine.  Or they moved here!"  Covid, he agreed, "changed the face of Midcoast Maine" by becoming home to many new people.

The point of this story is just to convey how good things happen unexpectedly, if you're open to them.  Donna and I often say we find Mainers 'resourceful'.   Our friend Ray has a  rock quarry.  He plows rocks all day. He can also fix anything, be the town's harbor master and fly his plane.

Being this far north, and feeling the arrival of colder weather already, Maine kind of tests your mettle.  Like "The Hawk" does in Chicago. We lived there during our first five years of marriage.  Loved the city. Love Maine.

The Walpole Barn is at 135 state route 129. Walpole