Posted by: David Stewart | July 11, 2011

From Possibility to Reality: the unknown link between Running and Wine

There is nothing more amazing to me than to see invisible forces at work, turning common things into precious things. This kind of lead into gold alchemy is seen every season, as water, sunlight and yeast transform the berries of grapes into fine wine. It is recorded that Jesus performs his first miracle accelerating this process of water into wine at a marriage feast.

Running is much same process for most of us. Water, nutrition and daily work transmute common humans into athletes who can challenge the most difficult courses and come back time and again for more.

The Fueled by Fine Wine Half Marathon in Dundee, Oregon has the tag line "A Posse ad Esse" which basically means "From possibility to reality." They have consciously expressed this essential process which combines the making of wine with the making of a runner.

But the finest wines are not made from the most comfortable grapes. If the vines are given perfect soil, plenty of water and fertilizer, they will make flabby and uninteresting wines. When the grape must struggle to survive, the fruit produces complex and nuanced wines.

This same logic seems to be at work for running, because this race is far from comfortable. I would guess that this course is the hardest half marathon course I have ever run, and perhaps the hardest ever. Just check out the elevation chart:


Yes, there are some climbs which are at a very steep grade. And this year’s course led between the rows of three different vineyards, meaning the surface alternated between pavement, grassy trail, gravel, dusty fields and even a tiny bit of mud.

My own run on this horrible course produced an embarrassing time, but it was under two hours, and I came in third in my age group, which made me happy. I also had a fun time running often neck and neck with running friend Summer, and we raced together into the finisher’s chute.

After the race, there were twenty local wineries with beverages to taste. Deb came down and cheered us on, and afterwards we shared picnic foods with a number of our friends.

Food, after the wine tasting at the race

As usual, I swirled, sniffed, sipped, swished and spat. I didn’t swallow, so I could successfully drive home, and after a race, I didn’t figure the added dehydration would be a good thing.  However I enjoyed a number of interesting wines, and I will need to spend more time checking these out:

  • Stoller Vineyards
  • Domain Drouhin – Famous because a French winery decided years ago that the Willamette Valley could be an ideal place to grow French grapes and and make great Burgundy style wine.Their Pinot Noir is expensive, but occasionally available in Costco.
  • Winderlea
  • Torii Mor
  • Archery Summit – Although they have been around a relatively long time for Oregon wineries, I haven’t visited them yet. They had a couple of expensive Pinot Noirs, and when I tasted them, they were by far the best wine I tasted in the tent. Oddly, my friend JM thought their wine was terrible, which really surprised me. I gave them a second taste later in the day, and it didn’t impress as much. I wonder if the first bottles they opened were different somehow.

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