The Perfect Job

Maybe a Bit Hard, Though

Story and Photos by Mike Medberry

In January 2020, I ventured into the hills and river country of Canyon County’s Sunnyslope region to look for the perfect job. I had decided to become a winemaker, so I drove to the county’s American Viticultural Area (AVA), where conditions are amenable to growing grapes. There, I talked with three winemakers and to laborers in the vineyards, but they all just smiled. I told one man I was looking for the perfect job. He laughed and said come back when we’re hiring for any job, some time in late August, and you will learn what we do.

That seemed fair enough, because the truth was, I couldn’t qualify as a winemaker. Maybe as a wine drinker. Wait, I take that back: I did make some wine when I was in high school. My mother poured vinegar into one of the buckets so I would never get drunk. Little did she know…but that’s another story. From that experience, I realized it is but a small endeavor to make wine that will get you drunk, while making wine that can be savored for its delicate taste ventures into the realm of hard work: the work of bringing out all the flavors from the land.

As I wandered from here to there and thought more about my perfect job, it began to seem rather more competitive and difficult than I had hoped. Maybe rather than actually making wine, it would be better to grow and manage the grapevines—performing the viticulture of it all. Maybe that could provide me with the opportunity to secure a permanent job in the wine world. I imagined myself creating trellises for the vines to grow upon, pruning the vines, tending to their diseases and parasites, controlling the weeds, enduring the heat of summer and the cold of winter as I cleared each row for the vines to succeed, etcetera, etcetera. It began to sound exhausting. Still, I reasoned, the hard work would probably mean there would be less job competition in that phase of winemaking.

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Mike Medberry

About Mike Medberry

Mike Medberry has served as a senior environmentalist for several local and national conservation organizations. A Boise resident, he holds an MFA from the University of Washington. His book, Living in the Broken West: Essays, was published in 2022.

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