The Big Wine-0: My Mother’s 50th Birthday and Wine-Getaway Weekend

Some things really do get better with age. Wine, cheese, and especially people become more robust with flavor. My mother is the perfect proof for this cliche.

My mother is one of those people who always does for others. So much so that it’s enough to make me feel guilty knowing I come from the most generous of persons, and maybe, just maybe, I should be more generous than I am.

The drawback to being overly generous, I think, is not knowing when or how to get what you need. Case in point, my mother does for others, and so I think she has a difficult time doing for herself. As you can imagine, this makes birthdays a little tricky. On my mother’s birthdays, she’ll deflect attention.

It’s endearing that she doesn’t need the attention, but for once I wanted her to have it. She’s so important to so many people, and I wanted all these people to celebrate her for a change–myself included.

So a few months out, we started planning a celebration for her. She was in on it, of course, but there were a lot of surprises to be had.

After dozens of internet searches, phone inquiries, and an awful lot of schedule coordinating, we were able to plan a short weekend getaway to Hermann, MO, a little German-immigrant establishment unknown to most of the world, but a favorite wine country retreat for St. Louisans.

We loaded up three cars with 12 of my mother’s favorite people: grandma, the aunts, old work friends, old neighborhood gals, and the daughters in tow. We drove around windy backroads ’til we happened across Oak Glen Winery.

That little winery was a nice, quaint way to start, but we had to venture out to bigger name winery due in large part to the fact that my mother’s group tends to be the rowdiest of crowds. By no means do I exaggerate when I say that my job was to play babysitter more than anything to a group of very loud, opinionated, wild women who received looks at every winery, bar, and restaurant we ventured into. They’re a little hard to handle. Fortunately, they tip well. 

So we made our way to Hermanhoff for more wine. This was probably my favorite spot visited because the old German architecture and history tug at my heart strings. I love all things German, and this trip brought me back to traipsing along the outskirts of Berlin. Plus, a little German ambiance mixes well with the chilliness of the season (oh, and wine).

Wined out for only a while, we made our way to our residence for the evening, the DeFlorin Cottage near St. George Church. From the outside, it’s the tiniest cottage you could imagine, but on the inside it has spindly staircases and hidden routes taking you through all three stories. It was sort of like a clown car of cottage sorts. We were amazed at how it could sleep 12 in 4 good-sized bedrooms with 3 baths. No bathroom fights ensued.

What did, though, came shortly after an outrageously loud meal of cackling at a local Inn. Karaoke followed. In protective summation, dancing, spirits galore, and even a chipped tooth ensued before ye olde Dammrich women made it back safely to DeFlorin for more rowdiness.

The details of the night are best kept with the group, but I will share with the bloggerverse is that these old women keep me young. I might be younger in age, but some of these gals might be younger at heart. I love that.

So does my mom. She had so much fun smiling the whole time and celebrating her 50 years that she didn’t have a second to be sad about 50. How could anyone be when they have a big group of friends and family with them to celebrate over half a century’s worth of living. “Living well” means different things to different people. But where I come from, the people you keep in your life define “living well.” My family is big, loud, Catholic, sometimes embarrassing  but always a committed, tight-knit bunch. It’s nice to come home and be reminded of this. It’s even nicer looking out from a back room in a restaurant trying to assauge other diners with apologetic looks, but knowing secretly that you really don’t care what they think. Normally, I would, but when I’m with these women, I don’t.

The next morning a lot of no-longer-imbibed ladies rolled out of bed and down to a local diner for hangover-curing comfort food. They recovered remnants of their evening, scratched their toasts with butter, and said their goodbyes. They were all so kind in how much they thanked us for planning this. Even though they see each other most weekends it seems, they still loved the getaway, the wine-themed goodie-bags, and the most wonderful lady who brought them all together, my very sweet momma, Ms. Donna Davis.