What do you call the wine that comes from a barrel that fell 12 feet off a shelf, knocked you on the noggin and broke your cervical vertabrae, which ultimately led to doctors discovering you had lung cancer in time to save your life?
That’s the name that fans of Kief Manning and his Kief-Joshua Vineyards settled on in a marathon 24-hourish Facebook naming contest that included such suggestions as “Angels Breath Merlot,” “Fateful Merlot,” “DeVine Intervention” and “Serendipity.”
Manning went with the top nominee Barrelhead, which best sums up the six-month nightmarish ordeal he endured after a 600-pound barrel dislodged from a 12-foot-high shelf in his Elgin winery barrel room in early September 2015 and landed on his head.
Manning was able to get 270 bottles of Merlot from the barrel. He hopes to have it ready to sell in time for his Magdelena Bash Harvest Festival on Aug. 26 celebrating his grandmother Magdelena’s 98th birthday. He hasn’t set a bottle price for the limited edition release, but part of the proceeds will benefit cancer research, Manning said.
Manning said he is in remission from his lung cancer and is still being treated for skin cancer, which doctors diagnosed last January.
Manning’s medical nightmares began with that barrel on the head, which required him to spend 10 weeks in a neck brace and sidelined his activity to a bare minimum.
Days after he was given the all-clear in November 2015 to remove the neck brace, Manning was en route to Phoenix to see his neurologist and attend the annual Arizona Winegrowers Festival when a car traveling the windy, twisty Arizona 83 toward Elgin hit him head-on. Manning’s truck was totaled, but he escaped unscathed, and not a single bottle among the 24 cases packed into the truck bed was disturbed.
Manning made the Phoenix trip the next day and visited his doctor, who ran a CT scan that revealed a 3-inch tumor on his right lung. Two weeks later, doctors confirmed it was cancer and by early December 2015, he underwent surgery to remove 40 percent of his right lung.
By early summer 2016, doctors determined Manning was cancer-free. Earlier this week, Manning said an upcoming doctor’s visit is likely to show his skin cancer also is in remission.