Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Picard’s Vineyard Pays Off One Of TNG’s Best Episodes

The first teaser for Star Trek: Picard dropped this week, and it featured the titular character walking the vines of his family's vineyard - Château Picard. The Picard's history as a family of vintners is a well-established part of Star Trek canon and Jean-Luc Picard's backstory, but the images of the trailer and the bittersweet voiceover specifically called back to one of Star Trek: The Next Generation's most memorable episodes.

The trailer opens with a montage of a man walking through a vineyard, checking vines, washing his hands at outdoor pump, and finally setting down a case of Château Picard burgundy. It's obvious the man is Jean-Luc Picard, and the voiceover tells us he's left Starfleet after leading the largest rescue armada in history. The events surrounding the mission are cloudy, but speculation based on details released about the new series imply it had something to do with the destruction of Romulus that kicked off 2009's Star Trek. Regardless, it's clear Picard has returned to his family's estate after becoming disillusioned with Starfleet or himself. And it's not the first time.

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In "Family," the episode immediately following TNG'siconic episode "The Best of Both Worlds," Jean-Luc returns to the vineyard on shore leave in an effort to process his traumatic experience of assimilation at the hands of the Borg. The episode marked one of the first times TNG was blatantly serialized, as it followed several members of the crew dealing with different family members or events while the Enterprise orbited Earth in spacedock undergoing repairs. We learn that he and his brother Robert have been estranged for years, mostly due to Jean-Luc's rejection of the family business and Robert's jealousy over what he perceived to be his brother's arrogance and preferential treatment at the hands of their father.

At one point Picard also gets a visit from an old friend who invites him to leave Starfleet and join an oceanic project on Earth, which Picard heavily considers. As for the brothers, the tension between the two explodes in a mud fight that ends with Picard breaking down and revealing he feels responsible for the deaths of everyone at the hands of the Borg after they used his knowledge of Starfleet and their capabilities to murder thousands. Robert softens and simply says, "So, my brother is a human being after all. This is going to be with you a long time, Jean-Luc. A long time. You have to learn to live with it. You have a simple choice now. Live with it below the sea with Louis, or above the clouds with the Enterprise."

It's worth noting that we also see the vineyard in the TNG series finale, "All Good Things." Picard has retired to his family's estate after his Starfleet career ends and he starts showing signs of Irumodic Syndrome, a degenerative neurological disorder that resembles dementia. But his home is also the site of a major tragedy featured in Star Trek: Generations, when Picard learns that Robert and his son Rene have perished in a fire there. In a bittersweet image, the first shot of the teaser features Picard's hand checking one of the vines, which is exactly the same position in which he encounters his brother when they meet again in "Family." He's finally returned home the way his brother might have wished, for better or for worse.

Château Picard has always served as a symbol of how much the iconic captain had sacrificed for his career in Starfleet. His own loneliness and lack of immediate family is highlighted in Generations when he enters the Nexus and is faced with the wife and children he could've had, but didn't. Many of his romantic relationships are derailed by his devotion to duty as seen in the cases of Beverly Crusher and Neela Darrin ("Lessons"). Unfortunately, the Star Trek: Picard trailer seems to imply that despite his commitment to an all-encompassing career, perhaps he's once more questioning his choice to leave his family behind for a life in the stars that ultimately proved unfulfilling?

Either way, Picard is and always has been a man dedicated to duty, whether that's manifested in his work in Starfleet or carefully tending to his family's vines. It remains to be seen how much time he'll remain at Château Picard in the new series, though we can't imagine it'll be long. It certainly seems that, at some point, Star Trek: Picard will see him face the same choice his brother put to him in "Family" - live with whatever's happened to him on Earth or above the clouds.