Mountain Men vineyard, 1865
Mountain Men vineyard, 1865

[America, 1865] When the war broke out in the United States, the entire Bergmann family on the Rhine also feared for their relatives in America. Now Emil and Lena set out to helped with reconstruction.

Almost twenty years after his arrival in the USA, Lorenz, accompanied by his daughter Amber, stood again at the southern tip of Manhattan on the quay. He was waiting for his nephew Emil and his wife Lena, who had traveled to New York aboard one of the new steamships. His German relatives and friends had put all their money together, so that Emil and Lena could travel to America and help rebuild the Mountain Men Winery. Emil had also married into a winegrowing family.

Castle Garden, New York (1865, America)

Lorenz had stopped for a long time in front of Castle Garden. Here the ships from Europe docked, here the immigrants were registered. Now that the war was over, countless people would come. By now, emigration was quite well organized: The major shipping companies maintained emigration agencies in numerous cities; steamships with steerage set up for emigrants sailed from Hamburg and Bremerhaven to the United States on a schedule. Lorenz knew that there were emigration agencies in Cologne as well. “For some a life decision, for others a business,” he thought.

Emil and Lena

Now the passengers were coming off the steamer. Would Lorenz even recognize his nephew? Back then, at the time of his escape, Emil had been a small boy. While Lorenz was still looking for his nephew, Amber decided that a picture-perfect red-blond woman among the passengers must be Lena from Germany, and ran up to her, “Lena!” A double whoop was the response – and then Lorenz could finally able to embrace his nephew after so many years.

Family reunion (1865, America)

A few days later, Annelie stood in the bakehouse of the “Merry Dragon” Inn. Her hair was disheveled, flour stuck to her nose, and there was a thick stain on her apron. Yet, Annelie was happier than she had been in a long time. Finally, her family was together again. Amber and Lorenz had brought Lena and Emil, Niklas and Harvey were there, and Joseph and Ben with their families from the Shenandoah Valley. The day after next, they would go with them to the Mountain Men Winery. Amber too was eager to join them.

Work at the winery

On the way to Virginia, they saw devastation and destruction from the war everywhere. Emil and Lena were shocked. At the winery, the captain and his soldiers had repaired the house and the farm rooms. Now the vineyard had to be prepared anew, new vines had to be procured and planted. Emil and Lena knew enough English and got along with the Virginians right away. One particularly beautiful morning, one of them ran up to Emil. “Mountain Man, I’m going to the Blue Ridge Mountains,” he called cheerfully, “won’t you come with me? You work so hard, some change will do you good!” Amber laughed. “Yes, yes, here we are called Mountain Men” she explained cheerfully, “And you belong with us!”

Bringing a whole little world to life with just a few strokes of the pen

Niklas, however, was very depressed. He often sat there silently, staring into space. Lena stepped up to him. “I won’t be able to help anymore,” he said. Lena thought differently. “You have written with so much affection of your new and your old home,” she began, “and so much love is in your drawings. With just a few strokes you can bring a whole little world to life. When I look at your drawings of the “Merry Dragon”, I can almost hear the guests talking, smell the good food, and want to get my nose very close to the black-eyed susans to find out if they smell too.” That mad Niklas smile. “They have a demure, sweet scent, and they’re beautiful, aren’t they?” he said.

Niklas’ wine list (America, 1866)

“We’ll have wine again, wouldn’t you like to draw a wine list for the ‘Merry Dragon?'” Lena suggested. Amber brought pencils and held the paper when Niklas’ fingers became shaky. “We make Mountain Men’s Red Bliss from the Norton grape, which grows here in America,” he explained as he drew, “We need a picture of the Shenandoah Valley for that. Look, that’s the river, and those are the Blue Ridge Mountains. We press our white wine from Chardonnay and also from Riesling grapes. Those grow along the Rhine, too.” “Oh yes,” Lena confirmed, “we grow those a lot!” Then Niklas drew a scene on the Rhine. Lena was moved. “That’s home, the Rhine, and the Seven Mountains. Niklas, that you can still see it like this after all these years!” It turned out to be a beautiful wine list. Then Niklas gave them another drawing he had made in secret. It showed Amber and Lena. “You two are Mountain Men’s Bliss, too,” he said with a smile.

A few weeks later, Niklas passed away surrounded by his family. He found his final resting place next to his brother and sister-in-law. His wine list, however, was a promise that the winery and the “Merry Dragon” would go on.

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