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Awakenings Prologue: Origins, Page 2

Carlo and his family made wine from the grapes of their vineyard and sold this to the thirsty gold miners. He would bring bottles of wine to the saloons of the nearby town and return with empty bottles to refill. His young daughter Sonja would often accompany him. One August day, a group of escaped convicts turned gold miners were passing through town and stopped to refresh themselves at one of the saloons. There, they overheard two patrons talking about the Italian wine maker alchemist who supplied the town with exceptionally fine wines. This just happened to be a day when Carlo was making a wine delivery to this very saloon with his daughter Sonja.

The convicts grabbed Sonja as a hostage and demanded that Carlo accompany them to help them find gold. Carlo agreed only if they released Sonja to the owner of the Saloon, which they did. Carlo was then taken at gun point by the convicts and forced onto the back of one their horses. Meanwhile, the local sheriff had found out that this group was in town and came riding up with his gun drawn. The convict group decided to run rather than fight and galloped off with Carlo as a prisoner and the sheriff in hot pursuit.

Here the story gets very vague. Some say that there was a gunfight and Carlo was killed in the crossfire. Some say that the sheriff was killed and the convicts took Carlo to Mexico. Whatever happened, none of these people were ever seen again. The location of Carlo’s secret wine making tunnel was lost.

Joe discovers the tunnel Years passed. The winery was shut down by prohibition. The Gambaro family made wine for themselves but had to grow apples and pears to make a living, and to later pay the property taxes during the Great Depression. World War II came and two of Carlo’s grandsons gave the ultimate sacrifice on the islands of the pacific. The legend of Carlo faded.

One late summer day Joe was walking with his black labrador along one of the ridges in a very rocky and heavily wooded part of the property where vineyards had never been planted. There had been exceptionally heavy rains that winter. Suddenly, he saw his dog disappear into a hole in the ground ahead of him. With the dog yelping from the bottom of the hole, Joe peered into the roof of a dark tunnel barely visible in the August sunlight. The collapse was broad enough that he could just barely descend into the tunnel to retrieve his dog. In doing so, he discovered that the tunnel led off in two directions from the area of the roof cave-in. In the dim light, he could just barely make out some shapes, “mining implements?” After Tunnel Doorrescuing his dog, he returned home to get a flashlight so that he could more thoroughly explore the tunnel.

That evening was a full moon, and with great curiosity, Joe descended back into the tunnel. After scrambling down a rubble pile from the collapsed section, his flashlight shined onto a rotted, but intact wooden door built into the tunnel that was just barely high enough to stand in. An ancient hasp lock with a rusted lock prevented casual access, but Joe twisted and pulled on the hasp and it came free from the rotted wood. Opening the door, the door fell off its rusted hinges. Behind the door, he discovered a second door constructed of some kind of hardwood but in almost perfect condition. Pushing on this door, he found it was not locked and it swung back on massive wooden hinges into a dark chamber. Swinging the beam of his flashlight into the chamber, what he discovered was not mining implements, but long racks of wine bottles, barrels and old-fashioned wine making implements in a multi-chambered room. Continued ...