I saw Syria through my wine glass

Trip Start Jun 27, 2011
Trip End Sep 04, 2011

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Where I stayed
Sama Vineyard
What I did
Drank award winning Jordanian vino

Flag of Jordan  , Mafraq,
Friday, July 15, 2011

Yesterday 20 of us rented a school bus and headed north to Sama Vineyard to celebrate Clare's birthday.  For 30 JD we had transportation to and from, wine, swimming, and lunch from 12pm until 10 pm!  It was absolutely amazing...one of the coolest things I have ever done.  As you can see from the map the vineyard is on the Syrian border.  We actually wound up at one of the border crossings and had to make a U-turn to head a bit west to the vineyard.  While at the vineyard you could see a Jordanian army outpost, a Syrian outpost, and a massive compound that is the "free zone" all only about a quarter mile in the distance.  It was a bit exciting and yet terrifying considering how close we were to Daraa.  This Syrian city is experiencing unrest and deadly clashes between protestors and police and yesterday after noon prayers there were massive protests. 

We didn't feel any unrest on the organic Sama vineyard where we were warmly greeted by three Jordanian men that worked the vineyard.  They ushered us in to the villa where we sat and tasted a Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, and Gewurztraminer as one talked about the grapes etc.  Just like any vineyard tour in the states right??....WRONG!  The man in charge was chain smoking as he poured rounds upon rounds...upon rounds of tastes.  Ruin the ability to taste and smell..nah.  Chardonnay has a smokey bouqut anyways.  I have to say I prefer Virginia wine over Jordanian, but it wasn't bad and essentially free!  After our white wine we headed to the backyard to enjoy the pool.  Slightly fearful of drowning we all jumped in and played an intense match of pick up water polo.  Afterwards the men cooked up some chicken for us and we started on the red wines.  We continued to drink wine, swim, play cards, and carry on until the sun went down and the full moon came up.  As I looked around the table I realized how lucky I am to have met such an amazing group of friends....even if they did pick me up in all my clothes and toss me in to the pool after dinner.  

As the moon came up I was talking with one of the vineyard staff about their change to running an organic operation.  Earlier in the day he showed us a pool of over 50,0000 carp on the property.  They use the Carp poop to fertilize the ground.  They release lady bugs to eat the virus that ruins the plants and release doves, owls, and falcons to control insects, small birds and rodents.  He said the idea initially came from some people in France.  They said they would sell the wine if it was organic.  While it is all very impressive I wonder if any of my Wagner food policy folks have thoughts on the issues that may come from introducing these outside predators to the area.  It isn't really regulated by the government and I saw what the ladybug population has become in Virginia where it too was brought in to control for viruses attacking the trees.  

Anyways, hands down best day in Jordan.
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