Kukkula Wines

Friday September 1, 2017

fast cars

I like fast cars. I like dri­ving fast on wind­ing roads. Many of you who know me, know this, and some of you have expe­ri­enced my lead foot ten­den­cies. As long as I can remem­ber I’ve been drawn to speed. It’s in my DNA!

In my youth, I lived on my bike. I’d ride every­where. I’d jump curbs, build ramps to jump high­er, find pud­dles to prac­tice my brodies”, ride with no hands on the bars, prac­tice my wheel­ies”, or throw old 33s (LPs) on the street to prac­tice con­trolled skids with the brakes locked as soon as the back wheel would hit the LP.

As I got old­er, I rode mini-bikes, and then dirt bikes. My dad wouldn’t let me buy a dirt bike. I worked around that, though. He didn’t say I couldn’t build one. So, one day I bought a box of parts full of essen­tial­ly every­thing need­ed to build a CR-125 (a Hon­da dirt bike). I don’t recall him object­ing. Per­haps he was impressed with my inge­nu­ity. I know he loved it when I built things. He was a car­pen­ter and elec­tri­cian, and I learned to build at a young age. With his encour­age­ment, I built bikes, cars, a canoe, and ulti­mate­ly all of the homes we’ve lived in. I digress.

Once I was dri­ving, a fair amount of my free time was spent build­ing cars that would han­dle well, rid­ing my dirt bike, and ski­ing. Per­haps I shouldn’t admit this (at almost 58, it’s doubt­ful that my mom will ground me!), but I start­ed doing a lit­tle rac­ing on Mul­hol­land and Ange­les Crest Highway.

I grew up in a work­ing class com­mu­ni­ty, and many of my friends were kids of work­ing class Finns. My par­ents didn’t have a lot of mate­r­i­al pos­ses­sions. It didn’t seem to mat­ter. I had a fun, excit­ing child­hood. Yet I dreamed about mate­r­i­al things. As far back as I can remem­ber, one of my most per­sis­tent fan­tasies was to one day own a Porsche. That, to me, was the ulti­mate toy! Over the years I’ve dri­ven a num­ber of Porsches, come close to buy­ing them, yet I still have nev­er pulled the trigger.

Around 2002, when we were already tee­ter­ing on leav­ing L.A. but hadn’t yet artic­u­lat­ed the Paso move, a friend of mine who had just bought a new Porsche Car­rera, sug­gest­ed we swap our cars for a week­end. He knew how much I cov­et­ed his car! At that time I was dri­ving a Mer­cedes E430. Dur­ing that week­end, I took Adam and Anna, my two old­est, for a ride on the canyon roads near our home. One of them asked me why I don’t buy a Porsche. My response was that they were my Porsche”, but when they were off the pay­roll, I’d buy one. Well, Anna is more or less on her own. Adam is a year away, and Karl is a cou­ple of years from going away to col­lege, and it doesn’t look like there’s a Porsche on my near term horizon.

It’s fun­ny. I’ve nev­er been afraid to write a large check for some­thing I real­ly want­ed. Cer­tain­ly own­ing the win­ery is proof enough! I guess I’ve gen­er­al­ly lis­tened to the prag­mat­ic side of my brain. Case in point: For a time, Paula and I owned some land in Tel­luride. We came real­ly close to build­ing a ski home there. In the end we decid­ed to sell it (for a tidy prof­it!) to pay off the debt on our home in L.A. and to build a sum­mer cot­tage in Cana­da, close to my extend­ed fam­i­ly, and my birthplace.

Over the years, when the Porsche bug got a hold of me I’ve always yield­ed to a nice sec­ond choice and plowed those extra pen­nies into more vines, a new crawler, a bet­ter disc, sprayer, de-stem­mer, press, tanks, truck and trail­er…. You get the idea. There are a lot of toys” in this busi­ness! Expen­sive toys!

So, I don’t own a Porsche. I do, how­ev­er, dri­ve oth­er Ger­man cars at unnec­es­sar­i­ly fast speeds on coun­try roads. I don’t prac­tice my brodies” and wheel­ies” any­more. I would prob­a­bly kill myself hon­ing my slid­ing skills on old LPs. 

I do get to ride my New Hol­land crawler on the crazy steep hills I farm. I am con­stant­ly hon­ing my recov­ery skills when dri­ving over an unex­pect­ed boul­der or slid­ing side­ways on the steep hills, usu­al­ly at pre­cise­ly the point that I’m at a pre­car­i­ous angle. I get to play with all kinds of fan­cy imple­ments and move that heavy equip­ment around with my one-ton truck and hydraulic trail­er. It’s not the adren­a­line high of a Porsche. Or is it?

This has real­ly got me psy­cho-ana­lyz­ing myself now! Is it the speed that I’m addict­ed to, or is it being on the edge? Road rac­ing, ski­ing down steep shoots or in the trees, dri­ving a trac­tor side­ways across a rock strewn hill­side at a 30% grade, or ….. own­ing and oper­at­ing a vine­yard and win­ery, all seem to have an ele­ment of risk.

Okay, this is get­ting too deep! One of these days, I’m going to spring for a new Porsche. I’m going to put kukku­la plates on it, and I’m going to total­ly rev­el at its agili­ty on the wind­ing roads. So, if you find your­self in my neigh­bor­hood and see a Porsche with kukku­la plates com­ing up fast in your rear view mir­ror, might I sug­gest you pull over? I’m gonna pass you anyway!



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