Mr. Lou’s vineyard* wasn’t located in the wine country of France, Germany or in his native country in Eastern Europe. It wasn’t in the Sacramento Valley, either. His vineyard was located in the McKinley Park Community on the southwest side of Chicago.
A half-hour ride from Downtown Chicago on the Archer Express bus and a two-block walk revealed the wonderful world of Mr. Lou’s vineyard. Two-flat apartment buildings on the east side of the avenue disclosed nothing to passersby. But, a walkway between his building and his neighbor’s led to his amazing vineyard on a small garden space between his home and garage.
Mr. Lou, a plumber, built a sturdy framework of pipes that covered his entire yard like a grid. Under this seven-foot tall frame, he planted his delicious crimson, golden and purple grapes. The vines climbed their way up the pipes and over the top of the framework, hiding its very existence. In summer, huge clusters of grapes hung from the strong, healthy vines, waiting for him to harvest them. In late autumn, he pruned and dressed the vines. In spring, the pale green leaves would appear, and once again the vines climbed their arbor.
Mr. Lou maintained a vineyard, and he owned a wine press. In his basement, he stored barrels of fermenting and aging grapes. When the aging was complete, he siphoned the liquid into bottles. After the desired bottle age, the wine was ready to be enjoyed.
The days of Mr. Lou’s vineyard ended many years ago. His vineyard was dismantled after his death. His apartment building and wine press were sold. Only cherished memories linger to inspire and delight those who remember him.
*This true story contains minor fictionalized details.
Live long and well—garden.
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