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Winery Woes

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In the rolling and respectable wine regions lay the Merry Vinewreck Winery, oddly enough named after the majority of its staff, who were perpetually vine-wrecked, a result of the owner’s management style that could be described as a blend of feudal oppression with a hint of cheap accounting tactics, steeped in a barrel of indifference.

The winery was owned by a chap named Percy Bauckington, a man whose relentless pursuit of wealth was matched only by his distaste for parting with it. Percy was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, swallowed it at an early age, and had been aggressively regurgitating ever since. And thus, it was under his austere watch that Merry Vinewreck came to offer wines of legendary, some might say ‘mythical’, quality – each bottle a roulette of flavors, which could range from ‘slightly peaky nail-polish remover’ to very ‘adventurous compost heap’.

Then there’s Ivor Corkpuller, winemaker extraordinaire, whose attachment to the vineyard and its fruits of labor was like that of a devoted gardener to his rose bushes, lovingly pruned, nourished and abused in turn. Ivor was a master of the vines, a Mozart of Merlot, a Picasso of Pinot, and tragically, at the mercy of Percy’s relentless penny-pinching.

“Bauckington, you parsimonious old, miserly mucker!” Ivor frequently exclaimed, shaking a vine-ravaged fist at the opulent owner, “You’re churning out swill fit for pig’s breakfast!”

Percy would merely glance over the rim of his golden goblet, eyes glinting at the thought of another coin hoarded away, “Profit, dear Corkpuller, is the nectar that sweetens the sting of mediocrity.” He’d toast, wine sloshing dangerously close to the edge.

Now, whenever the wine-fancying folks asked why the varietals at Merry Vine wreck tasted less like symphonies of fruit-inspired harmony and more like a lone, melancholic turnip playing a kazoo in the rain, Ivor used to sigh deeply, shake his head and mutter something about ‘economics of scale’, ‘supply chain limitations’, and ‘ownership constraint realities’.

But things took a curious turn when Percy, not known for acute observation or common decency, saw Ivor doodling vine diagrams and little grape doodles in the margins of the vineyard accounts – presumably in a valiant effort to keep his sanity amidst the crushing wave of mundane cost calculations.

“You’ve an eye for art, Ivor,” Percy declared, “that, or this stuff is worse than I thought.” Picking up the doodled napkin, the owner’s face took on that intense focused expression typically reserved for counting stacks of pennies. “What if we put your doodle on a limited edition label?” Percy suggested, flashing a grin that reeked of ailing avarice.

“Can we look at quality grapes for it?” Ivor dared to venture, malnourished hope twinkling in his eyes.

Percy clapped him smartly on the back, “Call it artisanal, call it vintage and slap a whopping price tag on it – the well-heeled oenophiles won’t whine about the swill when it’s practically ‘hand-painted’.”

And thus began the peculiar enterprise of Merry Vinewreck’s ‘artisanal vintage collection’ – featuring idyllic vine sketches, a price that would make a king weep, and Ivor’s personal touch – hinting subtly at turnip-meets-compost, with leathery notes of despair.

As Percy counted his latest wave of ill-begotten wealth and Ivor toiled over his newest harvest of hope-crushed grape, one could only wonder… what havoc would their next vintage brew?

Whichever way it would turn out, one thing was for sure – in the intoxicating world of Merry Vinewreck, comedy, chaos, and catastrophe were always just a corkpull away.

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