As many of you know, Tablas Creek's history begins in Vermont. In the small town of Chester, Vineyard Brands grew up in an old barn, finished bit by bit into modern offices yet still even at the end with file cabinets fit in between cow stanchions. It was from this headquarters that my dad built up Vineyard Brands, and to this remote, pastoral place that salespeople, suppliers and journalists would trek annually to compare notes, plan strategy, and learn the plans for the upcoming year. I still remember coming back from little league games and walking through sales meeting dinners, cooked by my mom and hosted in our dining room, on my way up to the my bedroom. The barn, in winter clothing that will be familiar to anyone who came for the annual January sales meetings:
Although Vineyard Brands moved to Birmingham, Alabama in the last 1990's my parents still spend their summers in that same Vermont house and my sister has converted (re-converted?) the old barn into a home for her and her family. So it was with personal concern that I followed the reports of devastating flooding throughout southeastern Vermont caused by the passage of Hurricane Irene over the weekend. Fortunately, all the family up on the hill was fine. They lost power, but there was no significant damage as the winds never came through with the force everyone had feared. I got the following note from my dad this morning:
There are signs of plenty of flood damage around but all highway bridges in and out of Chester seem to be intact, although the road and railway bridges in lower Bartonsville are out. Downtown Chester also seems ok. Lovers Lane Road beyond us is a mess but passable. Route 11 west is blocked for the moment but 103 both ways seems ok.
Amazingly, here up on the hill there is hardly even a limb down. We still do not have power as of 11 AM but the generator is working and we have scheduled a delivery of more propane tomorrow.
My sister took some great pictures of the local area that she has posted on her blog. Two of the most impressive are below. First, a bridge on Lovers Lane Road (our road) that shows evidence of how much water was rushing over and across the road:
Second, a photo of the field in town where Lovers Lane Brook exits the woods and heads toward the Williams River. Normally, the brook here is quiet and narrow enough to jump across if you're feeling daring. It's clear that the entire field was a river last night:
Of course, this is nothing compared to the huge damage sustained in nearby towns like Grafton, Quechee, Brattleboro and Rockingham. There are lots of Vermont flood videos that have been posted on YouTube, but one of the best is a slideshow put together by the Brattleboro Reformer. It's below.
Our thoughts are with the thousands of people displaced by these floods, and with everyone in Vermont who will be rebuilding over the coming weeks as we prepare for harvest here in California.