Drinking Over Fredo’s Grave

Fredosgrave I'm a sucker for traditions where wine is concerned. I like wine-related tradition and I like traditions that fortified with wine. I most recently continued a tradition using wine.

At a particular spot on Lake Tahoe in a 1962 Mahogany Coronado, I and friends stopped the boat, lifted a glass of Champagne and toasted the weakest of the three Corleone brothers, Fredo, who met his demise at the hands of his brother Michael's bodyguard, Al Neri, while saying the Hail Mary and letting his fishing line sink into the depths of the lake.

The toast that poor Fredo gets is simple: "To poor, weak, goodhearted Fredo. May he rest peacefully with the fish."

Fredo's Lake Tahoe grave rests offshore from a spot where you can see the compound used to film parts of Godfather II, the more complex and intricate of the two great Godfather films. From this spot where Fredo was shot in the head and dumped overboard at the behest of Michael for his brother's unwitting betrayal, you can glimpse the boathouse where Michael stood as he looked out on to the lake as Neri, sitting behind Fredo raised a pistol, shot Fredo and dumped the middle Corleone brother's body into the lake. It's a sad moment in the film, portraying not only the deep pathology of Michael Corleone, but also the consequence of being weak willed and weak minded in a world where both these qualities are likely to lead to your demise.

We drank 2003 Mayo Family Winery Laurel Hill Vineyard Estate Brut as we bobbed up and down over Fredo's grave at 9:30am. I'm willing to admit this is a pretty strange tradition: Toasting a fictional character while bobbing up and down on a boat on a lake. But I'm pretty sure that some of the best, or at least most memorable, moments in wine drinkers' lives are when they incorporate wine into their stranger pursuits. And this is the case with the toast to Fredo.

5 Responses

  1. Francesco - September 16, 2009

    But this is the beauty of wine. It just wouldnt feel right to do that sort of thing with another beverage. Like Ive said before, it doesn’t matter how good your nose is or how expensive a bottle of wine is, what’s important are the experiences and the conversations that the wine inspires.

  2. Dylan - September 16, 2009

    And this is a tradition you’ve carried on every year since 1962?

  3. el jefe - September 16, 2009

    I’d probably soil myself to go out on Tahoe in one of those beautiful boats! Which is to say, in one of those boats you are entitled to any tradition you want.
    ps: Next time you come that far east, please consider coming back over Ebbetts Pass and stopping by for a visit. It’s really not much farther.

  4. 1WineDude - September 17, 2009

    Just to make sure we’re clear, no one was shot in the head on *your* trip, right???

  5. Erol - September 17, 2009

    It is a pretty strange tradition, but very cool at the same time.
    In many ways you were toasting “The Godfather”, which certainly deserves special praise (in this case toasting Fredo’s demise).
    It just goes to show you, anything can be special when wine is involved!

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