As our boat pulled out of the Charleston Maritime Center I knew this would be no ordinary Mira Wine Club Event. This day, Mira Winery, with all its boldness and complexities had met its match with Mother Nature. Ahead were ominous skis with bolts of lightning, forty mile per hour winds and rough seas. Our mission was to retrieve four cases of 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon that had been sunk sixty feet below the Charleston Harbor for the past three months. The Mira team was testing the effects of pressurization, temperature and motion on submerged bottles of wine. Mira winery is pioneering this research in the United States and as such many questions remained unanswered as we headed into the heart of darkness.
Dr. Ron Teufel and I had the pleasure of joining Mira winemaker Gustavo Gonzalez on the 20’ Sea Pro headed up one of Charleston’s famous rivers. The exact destination had been kept top secret as to not turn the project into a scavenger hunt for bottles of Mira Cab. Media outlets from all around the world were covering this experiment and the thought of having it sabotaged in some way added to the mystery that lay ahead.
Ten minutes into the voyage Gustavo, Ron and I settled into conversation about the many benefits of being members of the Mira Wine Club. My mind raced back to the fine dining experiences at Hall’s Chophouse in Charleston having great food and enjoying Mira wine with friends. What was to come next was no dinner at Hall’s. Gusting winds turned grey skies to black. Torrential downpours blasted the river and lightning bolts echoed all around. Conversation went silent as we all braced for the pounding journey ahead.
As with fine wine, good results seem to come in time and so did our journey. We arrived at the destination and started the process of locating the wine. Sonar was used on the main vessel to find the yellow metal cages built specifically to protect the wine from the elements under the sea. The process was methodical and took hours. We were wet, cold and anxious for success. Finding these crates was paramount and the dive crew never gave way. It was a joy to finally see Mira Wine President Jim Dyke look over with a big smile and give the “thumbs up”. Mission accomplished – the Mira Wine had been located!
Heading back to Charleston Harbor was beautiful. The sun had come out and the ocean breeze was warm enough to dry our clothes as we watched sea dolphins break the water and many species of birds dip into the ocean to retrieve their dinner. The thoughts of being struck by lightning or not finding the cases of wine were long gone. All that remained to complete the day was to greet the many supporters of Mira Wine at the dock. After a celebratory press conference with the cases proudly displayed on the Charleston docks I could not help but to think that I had just experienced something that I would never forget. The process was a testament to the pursuit of making better wine. I am lucky to have been a small part of that process. Until the next event … Cheers!
Jody McAuley – Mira Wine Club Member