“Well, there you are,” smiled Maleah Pusz.
Co-owner of Bosu’s, Pusz stands proudly in the center of the room, surrounded by three tables full of curious and jovial souls from Haywood County and beyond. This evening was the 23rd annual “Noble Zin” tasting. “Zin” as in zinfandel, with eight wines ready to be tested, discussed and, most of all, enjoyed.
“So we ask, ‘Do you like it?’ ‘Does this wine make room for more happiness in your life right now?’” she said. “We offer the best kinds of signposts we’d appreciate on that journey or this one, all the while knowing that what we provide is as necessary as water, but as rudimentary as rain.”
Located on Miller Street, tucked away under a row of trees heading towards Frog Level, the shop has been an iconic space of celebration between the business and the community for over two decades — a two-way street of friendship and support.
“There’s something different here in Haywood County in how we treat each other,” Pusz said. “Though we are a community of natives and transplants, there is this cohesiveness that is found nowhere else.”
Seeing as I was a bit tardy to the tasting, it was easy to find my seat. It was one of the vacant chairs towards the back of the room. I sat down and scanned the crowd. A lot of older folks, where white hair and well-earned wrinkles dotted my field of vision. It appeared I was the youngest taster there, and by many years. But, the last three remaining seats at the table would soon be filled. A young couple and their friend/neighbor suddenly entered the shop.
“Ok, everybody is here — welcome to our ‘Noble Zin’ tasting,” Pusz said with her trademark cheerfulness, one that is as authentic in style and grace as the bottles stacked on the wine shelves.
Bosu’s co-owner Tony Gaddis then popped open the first bottle, walking around each table, introducing the vineyard and what to expect when the liquid hit your palette. Coming into their second year of ownership, Pusz and Gaddis are seamlessly filling the big shoes of previous owner Robert “Bob” Dune. It is a friendship of the utmost sincerity and pure intent, where the duo act as plate spinners with what needs to be attended to at every juncture of the tasting. It is that attention to detail and customer service that will ultimately propel Bosu’s into the next 23 years of operation.
“Wine should be fun and it should remain sacred. We exist because we believe the pleasure and joy in sharing wines exists without sacrifice,” Pusz said. “That is, without sacrificing exactly who you are and where you are at the moment, you join the table. The experience is sacred, yes, yet you arrive to receive it exactly as you are.”
And with that, I started opening up to those sitting nearby. The younger couple runs an organic farm just south of Canton. Their friend runs a coffee roastery in Whittier. And the older gentleman to my immediate right was a professor of communications at Western Carolina University. I was intrigued about how the farm was going, what Whittier is up to these days, and what the students were learning at WCU. They wanted to know what’s new in the paper, how we track down story leads, and what I have found to be the most interesting aspects of my profession.
“Wine invites you to pause and reflect on the beauty of just here and just now,” Pusz said. “Sacraments are passed through tradition not because we know what they mean, but because they allow us to become new each time. Who you become as a result of experience or education can change. In fact, we’re all changing all the time. White zinfandel drinkers become Riesling fans become fruit-forward merlot guzzlers become dusty Chianti sippers become Riesling fans again.”
Two hours later, I found myself exchanging contact information with everyone at my table. I truly did (do) look forward to crossing paths with them again. Perhaps even write a feature about the farm, which is planning to open a winery in the near future. The room was filled with laughter and hearty conversation — the exact reasons I think God gave us wine. And as I stood up to leave, I looked down at the name cards all around the table, all those faces I did not know before tonight. All friends were strangers at one time, I thought.
“It’s a very spiritual thing when I write a name down on a place card. It’s a prayer that the person is able to attend, that they have a great time, and feel as much a part of a family as we do to them,” Pusz said.
Editor’s Note: For more information about Bosu’s Wine Shop, upcoming tastings, and more, click on www.waynesvillewine.com.
1 The “Week of Rock” celebration will run at 8 p.m. June 26-July 4 at Nantahala Brewing Company in Bryson City.
2 The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ 40th annual Pow Wow will be held July 3-5 at the Acquoni Expo Center.
3 Bluegrass/country legend Ricky Skaggs will perform at 7:30 p.m. July 3 at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts in Franklin.
4 The “Art Uncorked” paint and wine-tasting event will be held at 5:30 p.m. June 26 at the Charles Heath Gallery in Bryson City.
5 The “Singing In The Smokies” Independence Weekend Festival will run from July 2-4 at Inspiration Park in Bryson City.