In The Writer's World

Those of you who know me personally are aware that I, like my fictional heroine Emma Golden,  lived in Yamhill County for 20 years. Harry, Ian, Wynne, and I moved out there in 1986 after I found a ruin of a house in downtown Newberg and decided that it needed the kind of help only we could give it, and that moving out of Portland was a really good idea.

That latter premise proved false, but at the time it made sense. We were developing vineyard property, and Harry spent most of his waking hours out there–those times when he wasn’t at work. It just seemed right to place ourselves out there in the middle of things.

There was a learning curve to finding good vineyard help. First we tried to do it. Then, when we began planting in earnest, there were a couple of itinerant crews. One of them happened to be a bunch of bikers, who not only didn’t know squat about planting a vineyard and didn’t give a rip, but also managed to terrorize our neighbors up on Chehalem Mountain.

Harry doesn’t remember exactly how we found Salvador Ordaz, but that’s when our luck changed. Salvador knew how to put together a crew, plant a vineyard, find harvest crews, and manage a vineyard. Our original vineyard, Ridgecrest, up on Ribbon Ridge Road, and several that followed, are thanks to his oversight. Salvador, his brother Miti, and the entire crew worked their magic for us for many years. But off-stage Salvador struggled. After years and years with ChehalemSalvador et al ca. 1990, Salvador and Harry parted ways.

Salvador died last week, just two weeks after the death of his wife, Mary. He’s shown, in this 1990 photo by Andy Whipple, with the crew up at Ridgecrest. He’s the guy in the middle with the smile that lights up a room.

When Harry forwarded me this photo, I choked up. There are so many stories linked to those times. I especially remember the vineyard party where Salvador and his friends showed up and made carnitas for 100 or so guests. A tequila bottle circulated among the crew at the bonfire, and between organizing food and tending to guests, I checked in there several times to have a snort! We all were bullet-proof back then.

I no longer am a part of the world that is the Oregon wine industry. But like Emma, it got into my blood very early on. At times like this, remembering Salvador, and particularly at harvest time, I feel it still is a part of me. Perhaps that is why Emma can’t stay away, why she always lets Melody–her sidekick and siren–lure her back to solve mysteries.

I offer a toast to Salvador. And peace.

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  • Nadine Luther says:

    I’m am so sorry, Judy. Salvador was not only an important part of your winery, but a friend. I am so sorry for your loss. I look forward to meeting him in one of your books….

  • Jessie Thaten Allen says:

    Salvador saved the harvest and Chehalem more than once w/ his wisedom of the earth. Then again there were times he and a crew about destroyed a field. All in all he was a fine man who helped a couple of kids, green behind the ears, launch a dream in the form of the renown Chehalem Winery.
    Rest In Peace Salvador !

  • mary leatherman says:

    A lovely tribute to your friend.

  • Sorry to hear of your loss in Salvador’s passing. Sounds as if you were creating Emma the moment you moved to Yamhill County. What an adventure you had and are still having through your writing.

  • Leigh Adriance says:

    This just made me cry. I remember your vineyard parties and the good times I had spending the night with Ian & Win in the vineyard. Teaching Ian dirty words in Spanish. How sweet they were.

  • Judy…
    Such a lovely tribute to both Salvador and Harry, and to you. It sounds like a good man helped to create a good vineyard for good people. No coincidences here, a series was born right in your own backyard.
    Blessings…

  • vannesa ordaz says:

    Thank you so much for remembering and sharing these precious memories of my father Salvador I really do thank you from the bottom of my heart the memories of my mother and father will always be with me all the precious moments we shared as a family I always keep so close Mary and Salvador where such great people I have nothing negative to say about them they where not my biological parents but they took me into there home when I was just 9 months old and they treated me as if I where there own, treated me no different then the rest I’m truly blessed and proud that I can call them my parents thank you so much. 🙂

  • Tabitha Mcormick says:

    Judy…
    Thank you so much about saying these kind words about my father. My sister Vanessa sent this to me yesterday and I cried this morning reading it. My father was such an amazing man. So smart when it came to farming and knowing the grapes. I love the picture that you put in, his smile is amazing. He looks truly happy.
    Thank you

  • paloma says:

    Que Dios les de la fortaleza a cada uno de su familia siempre ba a estar en nuestros corazones

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