Thursday, March 11, 2010

Chablis Celebration

Not sure if anyone has noticed but I have been stuck in one of my “What should I write about?” spirals. The interviews have been helping a great deal, they are fun for me and to be honest…it means very little writing on my part. I just ask my silly questions and wait for the cool ass folks to answer them. I really do enjoy doing them but it has been pointed out to me that while they are or can be funny, some people miss hearing my voice. I think part of it has been lack of sleep. I’ve been living a life of little catnaps lately; wake up at four of five in the morning wide awake and my mind going a mile a minute. I get out of bed because I cannot tolerate the whole tossing and turning thing, just pisses me off…and I spend my morning with MSNBC, coffee and my laptop. Go to work feeling wide awake and ready but find by around four I am starting to wind down, feel sleepy. Get home to make and eat dinner and then I find myself nodding out on the couch around nine, not sleepy enough to go to bed but not able to keep my eyes open. Little naps keep me awake until one of two in the morning, stumble into bed and sleep until….four or five, think it’s getting to me.

I will confess that I have let this blog consume me a bit, when I am not checking my counter thing I am responding or playing around on one of the other blogs I spend time on. Work is the one place I am able to just leave the blog alone…I’m still thinking about it but in a less than consuming way and I do allow myself to check stats or respond while I am eating my lunch but for the most part I’ve learned, (and this took some time) to just let my obsession with this place be something I indulge in when I get home. Once home I am in full on stat checking and wracking my brain for topics that people might be interested in, that might pertain to wine and I can write about mode.

So I had been struggling a bit already and then I saw the announcement of the Wine Blog Awards…sigh. Now last year I was painfully addicted to watching this thing unfold over at Fermentation. My dear friend Benito of Benito’s Wine Reviews was kind enough to nominate me last year for one of the writing categories, I was so flattered and so aching to be taken seriously in this whole wine blogging business that I let myself get swept away a bit. Now I knew I would never win but was hoping to make it to the finals…well I did not of course and this year, a year later I am not only aware of why I did not….I’m comfortable knowing that I should not. These awards are for blogs that are much more wine related than Samantha Sans Dosage, sure I write about wine but there are just as many posts here that have nothing or very little to do with wine and you know what, I’m comfortable with that. I no longer ache to be included and rather like the fact that my blog has become a place where people come to read about something other than wine reviews…they seem to come to visit me. In that I have found the true award/reward. No little badge to post on my sidebar, no my award is found in the comments section of my posts where people not only respond to my stories they share some of their own, love that.

I was talking to my husband the other day, telling him that while I love having this place, adore the people that visit me here…that this blog may have run its course. I was feeling guilty about the idea of shutting down but feeling even more guilty that I may not have anything compelling enough to give my loyal readers. Totally stuck and leaning towards shutting down for a couple weeks just to think it over, that’s when my husband sent me a link to a blog ranking sight and one of my posts was very high on the list…not even sure what that means by the way but it was a very sweet gesture. I was still pretty sure it was time for a break at the very least when I woke up to find a couple new followers and a couple new comments, one from a brand new reader…now what to do?

I gave myself a few more days to think it over, just to make sure it wasn’t PMS or me just feeling lonely or some other crazy chick behavior…posted my latest interview and told myself to just spend a day or two away to clear my head. So I was working yesterday afternoon and a fairly regular customer of ours came up to me with her cart, “Can you help me find this wine?” she asked and I took her to find it. “While I have you here can you help me find some everyday drinking wines? I love your French wines and you always find me the tastiest daily drinkers” feeling all flattered I pulled the end of her cart around my French section depositing my latest discoveries into her cart. Clink-clink-clink the bottles landing upon each other as I “Oh you have to try this” and moved on to the next stack. “Oh and I need a good bottle of Chablis” she told me with a serious but strangely lit up face. “I am celebrating and I want to do it with a great bottle of Chablis” she continued. Now I always assume when people tell you that they are celebrating that they want you to ask them why, I mean why else share that right? So I did, I asked what she was celebrating….so did not expect to hear what I did.

“I have breast Cancer. I had it ten years ago so this is my second occurrence and they are going to have to do a mastectomy” I stood there, heart thumping at my ribcage, eyes filling up and with no words. “Now I know it might sound weird that I want to celebrate but everyone had been telling me that I would have to give up my wine” still no words from me. “I just talked to my surgeon and he told me that even though the surgery is invasive I will still be allowed to drink my wines, I’m just so grateful that I can still have that” I didn’t know I had been holding my breath but when she said that I felt and heard a loud exhale escape my body. She gave me a very wise look and I helped her pick a Chablis worthy of her celebration, the celebration of true courage and finding a silver lining. When I was ringing her up she held the bottle in her hand and said, “I will drink this tonight and think of you” I stood there feeling like I had just found my fairy godmother. “I should buy one too and drink it thinking of you” I responded. Spent the rest of the afternoon with busy work, getting stuff ready for this weekend’s big Cheese & Wine Fest, preparing to go to a trade tasting and putting up wines that had arrived during my days off…the day got away from me but that woman’s words, the spirit with which they were delivered did not. I did not buy that same Chablis but pulled one that had been resting in my little wine fridge from the same producer, Herve Azo 1er Cru Vau de Vey. Last night an older woman drank a young Chablis to celebrate her good fortune in the face of enormous loss and this slightly younger one drank and older Chablis to celebrate courage and wisdom. Cannot think of anything more unifying…

Cheers to you dear woman. Thank you for sharing…your story and courageous attitude, and the glass of Chablis. Reminding me how profoundly powerful that combination can be.

Guess I'll keep plugging away, sharing with my readers and hoping I can inspire them to see that wine is about so much more than what's in the bottle....


Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

Wine Blog Awards are about as meaningless as anything I can imagine. All you have to do is look at the list of soulless winners to know that. You've touched on an important point here. Wine is about community, about embracing life and others, not about self-satisfaction and status and bragging rights and stats.

What you do here is write about wine as life, and life as wine. You tell stories, moving stories, in your inimitable voice. You are far too talented to win a Wine Blog Award. Let's put it this way, Darling, Samantha Sans Dosage winning a Wine Blog Award would do nothing for Samantha Sans Dosage, but it would do a LOT for the Wine Blog Awards.

I'll certainly open a Chablis tonight and send my best wishes and positive energy to your customer. And, My Love, I'll also raise a glass to you and your husband.

I so love you!

Your HoseMaster

vickibarkley said...

What Ron said.

And, I found myself welling up, also, reading this story about courage and joy. And, that's what your blog is for me. Your courage in the form of sometimes searing candor often makes me squirm. Then, I read the responses from my fellow readers, and I see that my discomfort is merely a defense against the world. And I can allow myself to let my guard down a little.

The joy is in the sensuality, the constant discovery that you let the rest of us experience with you.

Jessica said...


Ummm - crying, but in a good way. Ron is totally correct, you "get wine" and not in the techie way most people think they need to "get wine". It is fabulous, compelling and yes scintillating and it is why we all keep coming back and why we all consider you our friend and not some blogger we read.

I have said it before but will say it again - IT MAKES MY DAY TO OPEN MY READER and SEE SAMANTHA SANS DOSAGE at the top!!!

Thanks for making my Thursday and helping me to remember to appreciate life each and every day.


k2 said...

Sam, everything Ron said, I echo. Everyone wants to be validated, but what is most important is what you enjoy doing. If you no longer enjoy writing, then stop. But you obviously have an incredible talent and voice, and have more things relevant to say about wine than most of us schmucks out there. Wine is more than a commodity with you, and it is but one thing you write about, which is really what makes you one of the most interesting bloggers out there. Keep the faith!

Thomas said...

Yessir. Ron is right on. When I look at the award winners in almost any media I am reminded of the mediocrity that permeates.

It's much better not to view yourself either as a wine blogger or wine writer. Being storyteller is a much more lofty goal.

Thomas said...

Incidentally, Sam, thanks for letting me know that whenever I feel like giving up on my blog, it's probably just PMS talking...

K.Mahoney said...


I read the first half of this post in a flourish, worried at how it would end..."shutting down"!? You have got to be kidding me. You really know how to get to an addict reader, don't you.
Stuck on material..humm I am thinking you need a trip to visit us up in Healdsburg for some inspiration.

Please don't leave us!


Benito said...

I think you'd have a riot on your hands if you gave this thing up. :)

It's easy to get burned out, especially talking about one subject that also occupies your entire workday. But I think everyone has enjoyed your slice-of-life posts and musings about life outside of the bottle. Keep up the good work!

John M. Kelly said...

They give awards for this stuff? Well... whaddaya know. I suppose I must have seen one of those award stickies on at least one of the blogs I read. Can't say they correlate with compelling content - certainly nothing as compelling as you write, Sam.

I know from experience what it means to turn your back on your blog, both from burnout and from other things going on in your life. Your friends would miss you. Your friends would understand. Your friends would welcome you back when you start back up - and if you DO stop, I'd bet you a bottle of old Chablis that you WILL start back up.

Kimberly said...

I'm with Benito -- musing about life beyond the bottle on your blog is much appreciated, and one of the reasons I come back for more regularly.

Who is only interested in one thing, anyway? All this stuff in the blogosphere about choosing a niche and not veering off that path is fine for some, but I love wine and it touches my life in many and various ways, and I want to write about, and read others writing about, the whole of the experience, not just "what wine I had last night," which is beyond boring.

I say keep doing what you're doing, and of course you are allowed to take a break if you want to! : )

Charlie Olken said...

I am beginning to think that the Wine Blog Awards do not have the right categories.

Where is the category for the Wine Blog that most captures the human side of the wine equation?

Where is the category for the Wine Blog that makes us laugh out loud most often?

If Wine Blogging is only about who can be the best reporter, then it is doomed to failure because we cannot stand an endless string of "what is wrong with Viognier" or "My visit to Santa Barbara to taste 60 wines with the labels showing--but, of course, you don't get to do that" or "Loveliest vineyard photo of the week".

Now, believe me, there is nothing wrong with any of those topics. And if I ever do a blog in conjunction with my publication, it will certainly have lots of that kind of focus. But, honestly, is any of it great journalism? Is any of it literature?

We know the answer to those questions.

Here is why Samantha Sans Dosage cannot end. Yes, I can see you slowing down and writing less often because good topics of the type that you can write and move us all to deep, emotional reactions, laughter and tears, sympathy and celebration, sadness and joy are few and far between.

And I will tell you something else. There no wine writer anywhere who can tell a human story, whether yours or someone else's, the way you do.

Tears over a blog? I am not given to such things. Yet, this story was so incredibly moving, so beautiful in the way it is being lived and so incredible in its retelling that I found myself, as we all did, with tears flowing down my cheeks.

So, Samatha, I don't care if you give up the daily grind with this blog. Who wants to compete for silliest blog of the day anyhow? But, what I and most of us here hope you never do is give up on sharing the human side of our business. We live in this world 24/7 and yet we almost never let our souls loose.

You do that in a way that cannot be given up--only expanded, extended, and improved over time. It must be, and if giving up posting everyday or two is the price of your creativity, I for one will rejoice in the best of Samantha, not the daily laundry of Samantha.

Sara Louise said...

I love reading your blog, it's learning about wine in a fun way because you always have a story to tell. It's like a History class with a teacher who just gives you the dates and numbers (boring), or one who gives you the story with all the gritty bits. You're my wine teacher. Congratulation, you just one the 'Official Wine Teacher of Sara Louise' award. It's very prestigious

Samantha Dugan said...

Oh man, you people are killing me. Killing me in a way that makes my heart swell and takes my breath away. I come home from a day away from my computer to find all of this and I would be lying if I did not admit that I have tears streaming down my face...could still be PMS, (and Thomas, should you feel yourself slipping just squeeze the breasts...tender to the touch, don't make any rash decisions) but this feels much more like a warm embrace. The kind that includes little whispers in the ear and has all the fine hairs on ones body standing straight up.

I wrote this piece this morning before dashing out to a trade tasting. I felt like I needed to explain, (not that anyone was wondering or breaking my bawls) what I was dealing with and how a beautifully strong woman made me see how small and insignificant my issues really were. Yeah, I have a loyal legion of readers that seem to want to know me, like really know me and feel me with each story and exposing of my soul...each sip of wine that slips beneath my skin and commands that I pound away at my wheezing little laptop. Fuck, this is what was waking me up at the ass crack of the morning? Making me feel like I was being choked and feeling like I was letting everyone down?

Adoration, I was fearing adoration and that now sounds like the silliest thing ever. That woman yesterday, that richly textured and profoundly complex glass of Chablis...12 comments from my beloved readers, a shy wine slinger finding her voice and finding herself sobbing from an out pouring of acceptance.

I just ask one thing of all of you...please know and own the fact that you all touch me each and every single day. You move me to tears and remind me what is truly important.

I would type more but I am beyond speechless and these fucking tears are making it too hard.

Thank you
To all of you...
There really are not words big enough

Annie Browne said...

Hey lady, there's not much I can say that hasn't been said above, but I will tell you that as a 'new' reader here, I took to your words immediately. I'm a serial blog surfer, always looking for something that speaks to me, interests me, draws me in and makes me feel like I have a connection with something real. Funny how you can actually get all that via some cables, keyboards, and wireless connections, huh?

Well, Missy, you got all that!!! It's good stuff here. You've got all the right pieces that speak directly to the kind of people that you want to have as readers. We all need something to hang on to, something that resonates with us...and it's different for each person. I love your stories and the way that you put them out there and bare your heart, that's a rare and difficult skill.

It's pretty cool that you've got such a loyal, loving and snarky following here! Do your thang, do what you need to do, whatever that means. Then, get a good night's sleep, and revel in the knowledge that there's people out there that adore you! How very cool!!!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

OK, if I threaten to quit HoseMaster do you think I'll get all this love? Nope. More like an outpouring of gratitude.

I love you!

Your HoseMaster

Samantha Dugan said...

Aren't my readers the best? Dude, it's truly humbling and damn heartwarming. Thank you for adding to the overwhelmingly supportive pool, means a lot.

If you quit HoseMaster it will simply break my heart. One with such a broken heart might be inclined to say...give up her blog too. So you see everyone, if Ron quits making us laugh out loud, giggle and forcing some of to look up his fancy words and references, then I will be forced to quit too. So there, it's now on you My Love.

Nancy Deprez said...

Love this, Sam. As you already know, I think your blog is awesome and no one would want it to go away, ever. Thank you for sharing the story of meeting the woman who has the light and courage to deal with her life's challenges in such a thoughtful way. That's a great thing about working in the wine biz, we see and talk to interesting people with stories, and are touched by them. I also heard of a young woman earlier this year who got diagnosed with cancer. It can happen to anyone. It is such a humanizing experience to know that we are all vulnerable and we have to live life as it comes, hopefully with friends and family and other loved ones and a good wine in our glass. Cheers!

Ron Washam said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

Just wanted to let you know that even after four days I was still thinking about how much I loved your post, and, more importantly, how much I love the woman who wrote it.

Now kiss me.

I love you!

Your HoseMaster

Samantha Dugan said...


Really was one of those moments when I was grateful to be in this business, be a part of an industry that can inspire such passion....pleasure and community.


I beginning to wonder if you might have a crush on me or somethin'. Either way I am sending you a face full of virtual kisses!

Jo Diaz said...

Charlie Olken has given you his "Tuesday Tribute." Now I know why... You're a wonderful writer.


Samantha Dugan said...

Thank you so much for the compliment and for alerting me to Charlie's very sweet post about me and this blog. I am floored and terribly honored by his tribute and if I could wrap my arms around that man right now I would. Wow....honored.

Jo Diaz said...

Samantha, It's ironic. I've written about Charlie this morning on my I was checking his blog out (from my own link) and found you! Round and round we go.

By-the-way, I named my Siamese cat "Samantha" in the late 60s. I got the name from "I dream of Genie," and still love the name today. She was a great cat... You're a great writer, as I said.

Total abandon... You go, girl!