Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sexy Ass Sauvignon Blanc. Cheese & Wine Feature

Featured Wine:

2010 Russiz Superiore Collio Sauvignon $24.99

Ronnie and I share a real passion for the white wines of Northern Italy and while I have several that drive me wild from Friuli, Collio and Alto Adige, it is this Sauvignon Blanc, (Just called Sauvignon there) that makes my heart pound away in my chest. The floral and ultra-tropical notes remind me of the wines from Loire Valley’s famed Dagueneau, the texture and length do as well. A big wine loaded with guava, grapefruit, lemon rind but the floral notes are the thing that take your mind away from this just being Sauvignon Blanc and elevate this to remarkable white wine. Quite simply one of the best Sauvignons we have in the store and one you owe it to yourself to try.

Featured Cheese:

Taleggio Italian Cow’s Milk

It’s very rare to walk into The Wine Country and not find Taleggio in our cheese case and there’s a reason for that, we love it! A fairly pungent washed rind cheese from Northern Italy that has a lovely creamy, fatty texture, salty, fruity and an almost mushroom like meatiness to the flavor, this is another one of those cheeses that was built for wine. It melts wonderfully and should you wish to wow your guests and or spouse, try melting it atop a pizza with some sautéed mushrooms and once pulled from the oven or grill, sprinkle a handful of lemon and olive oil dressed greens.


While Taleggio loves to be paired with red wine, (one of the few cheeses that is great with most reds) I wanted to share this pairing to feed the inner wine geek in many of you. The fullness of the wine keeps it from being buried or overpowered by that thick, creaminess of the cheese so textually the two play nice with one another but it’s the flavors, together, that kind of spin your top. The tropical notes in the wine dig into the fruitiness of the cheese and pull it forward, taming some of the more meaty flavors which is lovely but the finish, oh man, the finish goes a little wild, in a good way. You are left with this freshness from the wine but the finish has been changed into something savory, almost truffle-like, with a blast of fresh cut herbs. Pretty untamed pairing and sometimes, well sometimes that is just what you need.    

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Processing It All

“Sam! Welcome home!” I could just barely make out the voices over the whirling of my hairdryer this morning. After flipping the switch into the off position I scurried to my open screen to see, just across the way, my wee neighbor boyfriend and his even wee-er brother, their little heads sporting massive blonde spikes of bedhead, in their jammies belting out their joy that I had returned, palpable through the volume of their greeting….and the sweet grins on their little faces. We exchanged jammie comments and upon the completion of that, the littlest one, Drew, filled up his big lungs and offered his standard farewell, “Bye Dam!” a toddle back inside and the forceful slam of the front door. A shake of my head, the wet hair spilling across my forehead and a grin that was impossible to rid myself of I shuffled back to my bedroom to finish drying my hair before heading into work.

“So? How was it?” the comment that hit me nearly fifteen times today. My customers, staff, my boss, everyone adorably anxious to hear how things went at the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, thing was, I didn’t quite know what to tell them. Even now I’m sitting here, trying to process the whole thing. The short answer is it went great. The Meadowood Resort is absolutely stunning. The rooms, the grounds, the fact that they came to retrieve me from my miles-away-from-where-I-needed-to-be palatial mountain perch of a room with its private balcony….complete with ashtray, bed that must have contained some form of heroin for how quickly I nodded out the second my head hit the mound of pillows, yeah, there were like ten. The far from shitty in room coffee, the fireplace, the quiet that both snuggled me and made me shiver as I sipped on my end of the evening glass of wine, in my jammies, alone on that balcony trying to fit all that I had heard into the life I have now, maybe the one I might want someday. The sips of white wine from Friuli, Burgundy and Loire like slipping into my most comfy pair of jeans, the splash of tangy fruit and fierce acid filling my mouth, flicking at my tongue, causing me to groan as if there were familiar fingers tracing my flesh.  Knowing all the while that many of the real journalists that were there were likely either writing or getting their rest to prepare for the next day while I melted into another glass of flicking and fingertips….

I did have one very old friend with me the whole time, one that has been by my side with each and every step and new adventure…my insecurity. Felt like the square peg most of the time I was there. Not anyone’s fault but my own and even though I knew that, didn’t make it any easier on me. It just seemed as if everyone attending the symposium was already a writer. Sure many of them were just learning about wine but they had been writing far longer than I have and had the chops or stance, the willingness to stand and read their work before the crowd, pitch ideas to editors and ask countless questions. I sat nearly mute, scribbling notes but not sure what to ask, pitchless knowing that if I ever wanted to really be a writer I would have to crack open the lock I have on my voice in these kind of situations. Intimidated and frankly, a little ashamed of that.

I learned so freaking much. There is a Grand Canyon sized crater of shit that I didn’t know about the print business. What editors are looking for, talking about and finding trends in a business where honestly, there is nothing all that new to truly talk about. I listened as things like Slovenia were tossed about…obviously a nod to the orange wine movement and crowd that likes to be in the know on new hot thing in wine, and while I dig that kind of sense of adventure I also know just how quickly shit like that dies in the market place after real people, not wine geeks…of which I proudly profess to being, taste them. I just can’t help but wonder where our state of wine would be if people like Kermit Lynch, Michael Sullivan, (Beaune Imports) Becky Wasserman, Rudi Wiest, Terry Theise and Neil Rosenthal had tasted nothing but wines from like Croatia or Austria. I mean, on the world stage of wines there are really only a few countries that have that sweet combination of soil, weather and tradition to hold up over the long haul and no matter how many articles are written about this hot spot and that, they will continue to rise to the top. My very real conflict in wanting to encourage people to try as much as they can, to teach, inspire and invite more wine drinkers into our world and knowing that tossing weird wines at them isn’t likely going to keep them there. Thinking the only thing that I firmly took away from the symposium is I don’t think wine magazines and I are a good fit. 

I met some truly inspiring people. I found Antonio Galloni of The Wine Advocate, (one of my most loathed of publications for their lust for wines that quite frankly make me gag) a warm, commanding, fiercely charming and passionate human. Someone that I honestly believe can elevate many to the next level of wine consumerism…should they like those kind of wines. He was so open and frank and I could have listened to him for hours upon hours. Guy Woodward of Decanter magazine was probably the hardest on the hopeful writers that came to pitch ideas to the panel of editors but he was honest and I dug his no bullshit delivery. He would hate everything I do here and that’s fine, he and I won’t likely ever cross paths other than at that symposium. He is a stanch professional and the fact that he was not willing to sugar-coat anything was refreshing as hell. Jim Gordon of Wines and Vines, not to mention the cat that runs the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers was remarkably calm and collected, present at every event and engaged in a way that makes me want to return. Cool as hell, just this sexy confidence that solidified his “I’m running this thing” status. He was engaging, serious but would crack a smile when warranted and made a special point of telling me that he had not only read my junk before I got there but paired me with a winery with a literary connection which puddled me in a way that I’m still trying to get my legs from.  Then, then there was Eric Asimov….

Eric Asimov of The New York Times…Jesus just typing that now makes this feel even cooler. I’d found out years ago that Eric had not only read my stupid blog but actually liked it and had made comments to the fact that I was doing something different here, something of the more literary nature and upon hearing that, and calling on it each and every time I was feeling deflated I somewhat sheepishly but proudly called him a friend. Anyone that knows my palate knows that Eric and I agree more often than not and I wholeheartedly admire his writing talent. He has this professional yet unassuming voice that I not only respect but secretly covet. A journalist and critic, not a job I want but one that even when I don’t agree I admire, reading Eric has always felt to me like he was talking to me, and maybe because of our shared love of certain wines and styles, he was but meeting him face to face, getting a big, deep hug from him, one of the most important guys in the room for sure, well it was one of those moments I shall not forget. His, “Can I join you?” when I was seated alone at a table at lunch making me sit just a little higher, a hug even deeper and more profound in some way. The way his face lit up, the grin broad and proud making another appearance when I found us some Riesling to drink. He and I both know that he was part of the reason I was given that fellowship, (yeah, Jim spilled on you Eric…and thank you sweet man) and his support humbles me in a way that I find myself at a loss of words to articulate. You sir made me proud, proud of myself and for that there are no words. I can only tell you that it was a true pleasure meeting you and I’ve got a bottle of Sherry, Grower Champagne and Arbois waiting should you ever be out this way. I find myself with tears in my eyes thinking of how selflessly you have embraced this weird chick that rants about Food & Wine magazine and underpants and once in awhile waxes rhapsodic about wine. Thank you.

I boarded my flight home with a head full of information that I’m still trying to sort through, a fire in my belly to share it all with The Wine Country, the store that set me on the path that broke open this loud mouth voice in the first place, contemplating where that voice might fit in the world of wine exploration…knowing that I want to do something and nuzzled into the fact that a handful of others think I ought to be. 

My wees  welcoming me home , the curious and vested questions from everyone upon my return. Never could have dreamed of such a heart thumping out pour of affection and adoration, not ever. If I were the type to toss my hat, (don't wear one) in the air and make a spinning, arm out-stretched gesture this would be the time but seeing as I'm not I can only say

A little overwhelmed but eternally grateful…
Thank you all for riding this wave with me and allowing me to stretch my vocal cords

A special thanks to Alfonso Cevola, you are a wickedly cool cat and without you, none of this would have even happened. I adore you “Gigante”.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rescue Me Part II (re-post)

“What the fuck am I doing here?” familiar words once again swirling around in my head as I found myself slightly terrified and alone in a place I didn’t know. They were quickly followed by, “Don’t fall asleep. Just rest for a….” and I was out. Clothes and shoes still on my body went into a post travel, hours of travel complete with navigating foreign airports and procuring a taxi for the 45 minute drive from the final airport to my hotel….with me unable to speak the language and having a “conversation” that consisted of a series of nods, pointing, showing of papers and grunts, coma.

This was not my first trip to France but it was the first time that I left LAX without at least one person at my side and the first time that I was to be on my own for a couple of days before my fellow travelers arrived. Randy found a great deal on airfare for the trip, one that would have me flying business class….another first and fuck can I just say, makes all the difference, on the way there but I had to leave a couple days before my scheduled meeting time. Randy was of course thrilled about the fact that I would have some free time, I on the other hand, knowing myself the way I did/do was a total wreck. So you know how people make fun of their “high school French” yeah, well I’m an infant, cannot speak a word…shameful but true. Well okay I can order a glass of Champagne and ask for the toilets so I could live there and junk but directions, suggestions, dinner, well I’m pretty much screwed.

I had pep-talked the hell out of myself before the trip. This shy thing of mine is not useful in these types of scenarios, traveling with people I didn’t know around a country full of people I couldn’t understand…had to muster up any ounce of courage and charm I could find. I was going to make friends dammit and I was going to start with the one place I try to avoid even making eye contact, the airplane. I told myself that I was going to make friends with the person that was going to be sitting beside me for the ten hour flight. Now this might not sound like much but I assure you, for me this was a very big deal. I even recited a little chant in my head, a mustering of courage chant to light my fire and keep me on my path of friend making, a playful ditty that was a cross between The Little Engine That Could and Run DMC. Had one cocktail before the flight and climbed aboard, tucked myself into my luxurious seat, arranged my ipod….that I was not going to need seeing as I was going to be talking up a storm but pulled it out just in case. As we got nearer our departure time I felt a little pang in my gut, my seat mate had yet to arrive, the business class section was completely full aside from the big empty seat next to me, awesome. Here I was using this one big step to set the tone for my trip and my test patient was missing, fuck.

About ten minutes before the doors closed a tall, thin, rather built man in tight jeans and with a shinny shaved head approached my row and deftly slipped into the seat beside mine preparing his reading material and electronic devices just as I had done thirty minutes before. I didn’t want to pounce the poor bastard so I just sat sipping my Champagne, (Um yeah, once again business class rules) and flipping through a magazine. Once the tardy gentleman was situated he looked in my direction and flashed me the biggest, blindingly white smile I had ever seen, I of course gave him my ever adorable scrunched face and raised eyebrows, yeah super charming that. Not to worry I thought, I can still strike up some kind of conversation that might kill that first impression and that was when I heard the flight attendant offer him something to drink….in English of which he did not speak a word. Fantastic.

I woke from my ten minute nap five hours later, shoes still on and my fatigued body in the same place I had first rested it upon making it to my spacious hotel room at the Hotel le Menestrel in Ribeauville, a very tiny but utterly charming town in Alsace. I once again felt a gnawing in my gut, this time a mix of anxiety and hunger, both justified seeing it had been about thirteen hours since the last bit of airplane food passed my lips and peering out the sliding doors of my little terrace I could see that the tiny town had long since closed up for the evening.

I had noticed a dining room adjacent to the lobby, (read check in desk) when I had first arrived and this time with hunger pushing me rather than a friend making chant, I grabbed my borrowed, “Seriously cold weather” jacket and the scarf I was sure I would never use and my room key….the one that had almost brought me to tears hours before, its doorknob sized holder smacking against my frozen knuckles as I turned the key over and over again in the centuries old lock. Took a deep breath and heard my stomach rumbling so loud I felt like I had smuggled a wild cat into the country and the fucker was pissed. I made my way down the wide staircase at the back of the hotel and stopped at each platform to look out the massive windows that looked out upon rows upon rows of rather frigid looking vines, the vineyard dormant and shivering in the cold January air…I felt for those lonely fruitless vines as they braved the cold wet weather and searched deep below the surface for the strength, warmth and the nourishment they needed.

When I reached the lobby level I was struck by how quiet it was, no sound of people sharing a glass of wine at the tiny bar. No chatting over plates of cheese, ham and tearing of crusty bread. Nothing. I heard absolutely nothing but the growling cat in my tummy and the clumsy thump of a thick bodied girl’s shoes as she walked the long hallway to the door that lead into the lobby and dining room. As I feared there was not a single soul in the dining area, the lights out and even the bar was closed, fuck. I sheepishly walked to the front desk and had to ring a tiny silver bell before anyone appeared. The same tall blonde man that had checked me in and walked me through getting internet access in my room smiled at me while wiping his hands and face on a thick cloth napkin. Dinner, he had been in the back having his dinner, the smell of pork and buttery potatoes drifted across the counter and spun around me, so real and intense that I could almost feel my teeth piercing sausage flesh and taste the pungent mustard that I would have dipped it in. I stood there devouring my meal, eyes almost closed and heart racing but was snapped away from my imaginary dinner table when I heard, Yes?”

A brief and rather stumbling couple exchanges later I was to learn that I would not find a restaurant open at that hour on a Sunday, at least not one within walking distance of the hotel, the wildcat in my tummy fooled for the moment by the aromas of someone else’s dinner I stood there, alone, terrified and longing for anything that might be familiar. “Where might I be able to buy a bottle of wine?” the words fell out of my mouth without my even thinking of them. A series of hand gestures and cold weather warnings, the potato saturated man pointing to my scarf and doing a twirling motion with his hand above his head….either the international sign for “Put on your scarf” or yet another miss-communication and he was calling me a crazy American…and I was on the front steps of the hotel making the left turn and beginning my march down the barely lit street in search of what had brought me there in the first place.

Not a soul, there was not another soul on the icy sidewalk that evening, my thumping footsteps and the sound of my lungs taking in freezing cold air was all I had to keep me company as I passed the storybook houses. Their big temple shaped frames, shutters…closed of course, and chimneys huffing out plumes of white smoke laced with the smell of wood and chicken stock. I tried to picture the inside of the homes as I walked by, made up stories of the families that lived there and laughed at myself as I removed the dreaded scarf from the crook of my arm and began wrapping it around my neck. It was so frigid that I didn’t care how fat the scarf made my face look, didn’t care that I looked like a roided out Jerry Lewis, it was freezing and I still had a few more blocks to go before I would find anything to fill and warm me.

“Jesus, how much longer?!” I whined, my lungs now burning with cold, feet beginning to slip on the sidewalk that was just starting to be covered with a thin layer of ice and my nose, that would have been running had my snot not frozen, bright red and beginning to sting. Just when I was about to give up I saw it, a tiny little house with one of upside down L posts, the ones the real estate dealers use to hang for sale signs, with a wooden plaque in which was carved a wine glass and a tall slender bottle of wine. I swear I heard angels singing…might have been a few harps too.

I made my way up the stoop and saw that there were in fact lights on inside, very good sign I thought and still with a little fear I reached for the icy cold metal handle and literally cringed as pressed the latch with my thumb and gave the door a little push….it opened. (Insert angles and harps again here) Two steps inside and it was my first bit of familiar, hot! The French always overheat their rooms in the winter, this was something I knew well from my first trip and as I stood there removing the fat-face-making scarf and starting to melt I noticed something just to the right of the wine shop slash tasting room….a dinner table, a full dinner table. I was once again interrupting someone’s meal.

At this point while I was very sorry I was intruding, I kind of didn’t care. I took in the glorious aromas and let my eyes fall upon the pink with warmth faces of those around the table and shot a pathetic smile at the woman with the tight curly hair that jumped up from the table and hurried over to save me. We struggled a bit with the understanding of each other; me just wanting to purchase a couple bottles of wine and she wanting me to taste through everything. We compromised, I tasted three wines and she snatched a small piece of bread from the table for me to chew between sips. That warm, soft, chewy morsel and the racy, faintly sweet, oh so familiar Alsatian Riesling with which I washed it down were the first in what would be a series of unforgettable meals over the next eleven days. This one however, by far the sweetest. I bought all three of the wines I tasted, thanked my gracious hostess profusely and made the icy trek back past the lines of huffing chimneys’, the barely moving streams, the barren vines and bid a quiet good night to the families whose stories I had made up to keep me company along the way.

I slipped into the still hotel, the only creature stirring and made my way up wide staircase, past the windows that framed the sleepy town I had just left and carefully spun the key in the “vintage” lock to the door of my room. I kicked off my shoes, pulled my jammies from my suitcase, washed my face and popped the cork on a dear friend. Let the liquid fill my palate, the flavors reminding me of home….of standing in the tasting room with Randy, of “getting it” for the first time. This, this was why I was here in this strange place. This magical liquid that danced across my palate and sang to my soul had done once again on this night what it had done so many years before…it had once again rescued me.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rescue Me... (a re-post)

“God, what the fuck am I doing here?” the voice in my head, out of breath and accusatory as I stood in an alley, sweat rolling down my back, body scuffed and limping on an ankle that was twisted from a jump off a 2nd story balcony. Fourteen years old and thinking there was nothing quite as cool as breaking into a vacant apartment with three “friends” to drink icy cold forties, fool around and act like we were hard. Mario, it was Mario that enticed me to slip out the bedroom window that night. My bedroom next to my mother’s but my life, the one I was determined to stuff myself into…a world away from anything she could even begin to comprehend. The whisper from a gorgeous boy; long lean body, dark skin, big brown eyes, full sexy lips, big loopy curls that begged for my fingers to slip inside them. The tap on my window that I suspected was coming and me flipping the covers off my fully clothed body and wiggling myself out the window that never fully opened for the shitty paint job of the low rent management company that ran our complex….the semi-permanent scrapes that marred the little patch of skin right above my ass for years.

One in the morning I was on a bus with people that I was sure were cool as hell and for an adventure that would rescue me from the milky white world that made my skin feel slippery and foreign to me no matter how long I marinated in it. As the nearly vacant bus rumbled along MLK Blvd my heart started pounding, the tips of my fingers tracing the hard plastic of the seat beneath me….Mario’s fifteen year old sexuality thick and clumsy but utterly irresistible to a girl that was trying so hard to find a little slice of cool. A piece of vibrant, a way to feel or understand the conflict between trying to be a good daughter, a rock for her mother but still ached for a life that was hers and hers alone. The wee morning hours, this was where I found part of me, the me that loathed sleep, the me that longed to be touched so badly that when I was it was almost as if I could hear my skin moan….the me that would do things that haunt me to this day just to push back the sadness, the flaccid life that I observed, felt, and vowed never to let myself succumb to.

“Open the goddamn door!” the police pounding and screaming, making me jump up off the newly carpeted floor that felt soft against my shirtless skin as Mario fumbled at my bits and sent me running for the bedroom where my girlfriend was doing her thang. “Cops are here, get dressed. We need to get out of here” I snarled between my clinched teeth. My friend and her dude of the day pulling on their clothes and with panicked faces looking at me of all people as to what to do. These cool ass bastards that were so craveable, so cool and unflappable that I slipped out my bedroom window and was now here, in the worst part of town, topless, drunk and terrified. I tossed my shirt over my head, (left my bra nestled on the floor) and said, “This is the only way out that won’t end with us going to jail” as I slid open the sliding door to the balcony. I stretched my neck and looked at the drop as the pounding on the door was echoing in my ears. “Fuck. What do you guys want to do?” I asked, nothing….not one voice was willing to make the call. I found the beginning of mine, “Whatever assholes, I’m jumping” I said as I slipped one leg and then the other over the bars and tried my best to lower myself as much as I could before just letting go and plummeting to the ground.

I heard two thumps land beside me before, “Hey! Stop!” and that was when I started running. No idea where I was, where I was going and as I passed the piss smelling drunks that lined the streets, their ammonia stank filling my lungs causing my eyes to water even more than they already were from fear, I slipped down an alley and heard my own voice in my head, “What the fuck are you doing here?”

I would love to say that was the end of my scuffles with the police and friends that would urge me to misbehave, wasn’t…not even close but I learned that cold night that no one; not my friend, not Mario, not even the fear of displeasing my mother was going to stop me from seeking a life that lit me up, made me vibrate, made me find my voice and no one was coming to rescue me…

“Sam come try this” Randy once again making me taste a wine. I wore my discomfort on my sleeve as I slowly made my way to the tasting room where Randy stood….beaming and extending his arm, glass of golden wine being waved in my direction.
As I slowly walked into the tasting room I felt that same fear that I felt as I dangled from that balcony, I don’t get this, I don’t belong here and no one is coming to rescue me. I shot Randy one of my looks, the ones that let one know that I am pissed, annoyed and you are threatening me. His big beautiful grin, his hope that I might catch on, his belief in me shone back at me and I took the glass…begrudgingly. I shifted my weight from one foot to the next, felt the heat gathering in my cheeks as I stuck my nose in the glass….peaches and spice.

I let my eyes briefly rest upon Randy but my head was spinning. This, this thing that was slipping into my body, making me dizzy and feeling like a tap on my window…the draw was as powerful as those full lips, big loopy curls. I would scrape my backside, ride a bus, run past ammonia smelling lumps of life’s lessons to have, smell and taste more of this. My voice was silent but my heart….wide open. This was what I was seeking, what I needed, what those self punishing women that raised me could never do, would never allow themselves to do….my nose, my palate, my ache and the me that was just waiting came alive that day and I have never looked back.

“Where can I purchase a bottle of wine?” the first of two nights alone in Alsace, the region whose wines flipped me, awoken this fire, spoke to me loud enough to pull my misfit head out of my ass. I was there two days before the rest of my group….alone to wander, smell, taste…live in the cuddle of a tiny town and the people that shuffled past me. The wonder, the cold air, the giggle of a tiny child running from the butcher to the baker. Again so far removed from the life that had been offered me before that deep soul tapping sniff that would forever change my life, legs dangling off whatever story…me willing to let go.

To be continued….

Monday, February 20, 2012

Who Would Have Thunk?

About to hop in the shower and finish packing before lugging my...baggage, to the car and heading out to LAX for my flight to Santa Rosa. There I will be met by one of the most amazingly talented and remarkably supportive people I've ever met, someone that I met through this blog and now simply cannot imagine my life without. Unreal....

He will then drive me to Napa where after tasting some wines I will be checking in at the breathtakingly beautiful Meadowood resort, change and get ready for a dinner with two other astoundingly brilliant writers that encourage me to keep pushing myself, both through their own talent and through their, "Keep doing what you're doing" words of support. One I was lucky enough to spend some time in Italy with last year and one I will be meeting face to face for the first time tonight. Unreal....

Tuesday morning the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers begins and I'm there. I was invited and awarded a spot to taste, learn, be coached and stand amongst people that make a living doing what hundreds upon hundreds of bloggers can only dream about, write about wine. And I'm there....me. Unreal...

I keep thinking about those long summer days as a kid, standing on my porch in my shorts and dirty bare feet, taking big breaths with my eyes closed, holding a dripping wand of soapy bubbles to my lips, dreaming of all the things I wanted when I was old enough to take charge of my life, pursing my lips and with short little breaths whispering those dreams onto the wand. Watching the bubbles form, full of hope, desire and longing before they floated off down the street further than I was allowed to go. Can't remember everything that I wished for then, I know I ached to be loved, wanted more friends and hoped to one day be good at something. Looks like a few of those bubbles drifted far beyond my block and when I step off that plane this morning, see Ron Washam, (that would be The HoseMaster of Wine to some of you) walk into the Meadowood and say, "Hi, I'm here for the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers", hug Alfonso Cevola and get to shake hands with Eric Asimov tonight before dinner, I'll know....those bubbles went further than I could have ever dreamed. 


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Pretty Sure I'm The Only One I know That Can Fail Panties....Sigh

“Wine Country Casual? What the hell is that?!” My slightly panicked mutterings when I finally received my FedEx package from the Wine Writer’s Symposium detailing all the doings that will be going on while I’m there. “Well whatever it is I’m sure I don’t have it” I told my husband and began planting the seed, in my own head, about having to get some shopping done. I think I had seen on the website that there were a couple nights when we would be required to swank it up a little but, well I’d inconveniently forgotten that smidgen of a detail thinking there was weeks and weeks to find something, maybe have it tailored even. Yeah, utter horseshit. I loathe shopping, especially for anything fancy, so I was delaying it…you know, the way you do with the dentist. It’s that dreadful for me and even though I knew I was running out of time I simply choose not to think about it. That ignore it and it might go away kind of thinking that always, always ends up being a very fine, and wicked smart idea. Fuck me.

Got my packet on Thursday night didn’t even really look at it until Saturday evening and that was when it hit me, I had basically screwed myself out of any meaningful shopping, (if there is such a thing) and due to prior commitments had only one day to try and dress myself for a couple fancy dinners and meeting one of my favorite wine writers, face to face, for the first time. Perfect. Today was that day. Today, fucking Valentine’s Day. I had to go, (insert doom-doom-doom music here) to the goddamn mall on fucking Valentine’s Day. Brilliant. 

Put it off as long as I could this afternoon. I had been foolishly waiting for an email that never really came, but made myself feel better with whispered assurances that the chicks getting their hair did, partaking of free makeovers and spraying themselves, heavily, with the counter samples of perfume would be long gone, and hoping that the, “Holy shit I need a gift” dudes were probably filtering out and making their stress sweaty drive home. Checked my empty email box one last time, poured myself a glass of courage and pouted before slipping my gray hoodie over my head, begrudgingly shoving my feet into my Vans and heading for the door. “Two things; one you don’t need ANY new pajamas and two, you’ve been complaining about needing new underwear for months now, get yourself a few pair while you’re there.”  The husband’s parting words, (the pajama bit like a dagger in my heart) before I flipped the latch on the screen and shuffled to my car.

Ladies, feel free to yank my card or whatever but this one thing kept looping in my head all the way to the mall, “Girl clothes. I have to continue dressing like Ellen Degeneres and wonder why chicks keep hitting on me, or I have to buy girl clothes.” One scan of the offerings that greeted me from store to store and I was feeling more comfortable with the whole lesbian thing. Gawd I hate the clothes they make for women. It’s not even about comfort, well okay maybe it is but what up with the ruffles, big splashy patterns, fucking sequins and either itsy bitsy or big loopy sleeves?! That shit right there aint practical and having that much crap hanging off of me will do nothing but make me way too aware of my clothes. Who needs that noise? I flipped through the racks of frilly shirts made out of material I’m sure was designed to cling to my every…nook and cranny, and when I happened upon a shelf full of folded, crisp, white button down shirts my excitement was smacked down when I unfolded one to find a big ass dangly buckle hanging from the waist. 

A sweet woman who apparently sensed my anxiety, that or saw the, “This fucking blows!” face I was sporting offered to help. Fantastic plan that, having someone that doesn’t know anything about you pick out clothes for you. I stood in the dressing room, comfy jeans and sweatshirt in a pile on the floor, in my undies and socks as this woman brought me shirts she thought would, “Play nicely off the pattern in that jacket you picked out” yay, whimper. I needed only try on the first of the five brightly colored, low-cut and puckered with ruffles “blouses” (why can’t they just be shirts? I just don’t get this) she brought me, my breasts looking like they were a bowl holding a pile of oddly colored kale, the material lying flat against my hips and waist, my face aghast and deeply wrinkled looking at myself, this poor woman cooing about how I cute I looked…me trying my best not to call her a name. “Look at how nicely it shows off your shape” she grinned. “Yup, and the second I sit down lots more shapes are gonna show. No way. Not for me” I said through a pained smile, “I’ll just take the jacket and I need some underwear” I told her while wiggling back into my jeans and hoodie. Underwear I know. Underwear I can do. I buy one kind in varying shades and colors, easy. 

Um…what the hell?! I got to the crunders table, it was in the same place I left it, like a year ago, and there where all the bikini briefs used to be where piles and piles of undies but in shapes unlike those I’d known before. Oh sure they always had the butt floss and lacy shit, I just never went there and those were in fact still hung on little hangers in another area but MY crunders were now missing and in their place were things like, Hipsters, String Bikini (oh and I say this as a fat girl, they should not make those for fat girls. Ever seen pork roast wrapped in twine? Just sayin’) Full Briefs, (aka Granny Panties) and Seamless Boy Cut. I was frozen. What to do? I’d ventured off my panty path before and ended up with lace crawling up my butt cheeks and although designed to do so, most uncomfortable I assure you. I walked round and round the table looking like a puppy that is trying to settle on a place to lie down before just grabbing fistfuls, and no, I’m not exaggerating, of stoopid crunders and marching for the register. Failing at panties is pretty bad no? Ugh. Tossed over my credit card, took my sack of undies and shitty attitude to the final stop…the makeup counter. Grrrr

Now remember when I had told myself that all the gift seekers were probably gone already? Yeah, wrong once again. They were there, hundreds of them, standing helpless and pale in the makeup department of the Macy’s. Fuck!! I pulled the little slip from my pocket, the one that has the kind, shade and item number of the makeup and powder I wear. The ones, much like my undies, that I’ve been wearing for like ever but can’t be bothered to remember the name of, and stood there like a fucking day trader trying to flag someone down. “Buy! I wanna buy!” Another very sweet woman came to my rescue. She took the slip from my hand, gave my sour face and sweatshirt clad frame a once over, (I don’t see this as bitchy, just what makeup counter girls do) slipped me a, “Awe, poor you” grin and bounced off for my goods. I stood there watching these poor men trying to navigate the makeup counters, getting sprayed with this fragrance and that, thinking, “Well they ought not be spraying these poor bastards with perfume on Valentine’s Day” when my helpful assistant returned. “Congratulations! You’ve spent enough to get a free gift” she chirped. Oh goddamn it….

“So if you ring up everything together you get both of these gifts along with a free set of brushes” she told me through her big, ultra-white grin. “Okay, so what would be the benefit of ringing them up separately?” not trying to be an ass, just trying to figure this out. “Nothing” she replied. “So I’m sorry, why would you ask me that?” nerves were rubbed to their final layer of dealing, just wanted my face crud and wanted to go home already. She gave me a quick shrug and began ringing my purchase, together. 

“Now which travel makeup case would you like? The black with pink bow or pink with black bow?”

“Let’s go with the black bag”

“Would you like the black eyeliner or mascara?"

“Eyeliner I guess….”

“Which pink lip shimmer?”

“The pink one?”

“I’m sorry? Which shade of pink?”

“Which one will play nicely with this jacket?” pulling the sleeve from my bag.

“I think with your skin tone you should go with this one”


“Now, which moisturizer? Age defying or the one that adds elasticity?”

“Really? Can I go soon? You’re the one giving me the gift, you pick it”

Got home, kicked off my shoes and walked into my bedroom with bags in hand. “How’d it go?” my husband trying to be chipper knowing that I loathe the whole shopping experience. I lifted both bags over my head and let the weird sample bottles, pink tubes and black travel bag, the nearly twenty pairs of crunders spill onto the bed.

 “Cute jacket, did you get a shirt to go with it? And what’s up with these undies, they have lace on them?”

I am now on my fourth glass of Camille Saves Carte d’Or. Letting the rich fruit, powerful nuttiness, the sexy as fuck stain of a remarkable wine wash this craptastic day off of me. 

The knowing that there is a bottle of 2006 Jose Dhondt Blanc de Blanc awaiting my touch…might just pull this Valentine’s Day out yet. 
Not going to worry about creeping crunders until tomorrow….

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Getting Your Goat. Cheese & Wine Pairing

In my attempt to get as much work done for the shop as I possibly can before hopping a plane on the 20th I've fallen a bit short on time, and seeing as I have a house guest over the next two nights I doubt I'll have much more to bust anything out for this here blog....although I might try. So I am kind of cheating again here by posting one of my Cheese & Wine features that I do for The Wine Country website.  I had been running them weekly but confess to feeling like I was taking the easy way out, and maybe watering down the...punch of some of my other posts but, well like I said, short on time and I've actually had a couple people ask about these pairing posts. Don't think I will be posting them weekly here, may just store a couple up for times like this, or if I'm choking during newsletter deadline....so when I'm desperate, but for those of you that are truly into these they are posted weekly on our store website and you can find them at http://www.thewinecountry.com/

See what I did there?! A freebee post and a store plug! At the very least this might be a bit "lighter" than my last post, sure as  hell shorter.

Featured Wine:

2010 Roland Schmitt Pinot Gris $19.99

We’ve had an on again off again relationship with the wines from Alsace here at The Wine Country over the years. We were all huge fans of the classic food friendly wines from the region, in fact I fell in love with wine because of those wines but, after one estate received some press for their heavy, sweet and uber-rich style wines the rest of Alsace had a momentary loss of sanity. So many producers jumped on the “style” train and began making these thick, rich, gooey wines that lacked any real acidity and were nowhere near food friendly. In fact, (and yes this is a tad ironic) the only foods Randy and I could think of to pair them with were big, rich and gooey cheeses. Too many of the wines were like cartoon renditions of themselves and to top it all off, they were falling apart after only a couple years in the cellar. We ended up simply shrinking the department and waiting out the storm.

The good news is there seems to have been a collective, “What were we thinking?!” and now the wines are back to being more restrained, focused, refined and back to being geared for food. It has been thrilling for us to rediscover all the glorious things we fell in love with Alsace for and what all the best French bistros have known for years, Alsace makes some of the most versatile and food compatible wines on the planet. The wines from Roland Schmitt have been gracing our shelves for quite a few years now, and with each vintage the wines just get better. Pinot Gris can be tricky, getting that precise balance of ripe tropical fruit without heading into over-ripeness, but this brilliant 2010 from Schmitt is nearly perfect. A beautifully dry expression of Pinot Gris with layers of citrus and mango tinged with a nutty, almost almond like flavor and finish is a mouthful of freshness. 

Featured Cheese:

Patacabra Spanish Goat’s Milk

This washed rind semi-soft Spanish cheese is on the assertive side of goat’s milk cheeses. Not that light, not sure what kind of milk it is kind, one bite and you know you are most assuredly eating a goat’s milk cheese.  Smooth, creamy, stark white interior with an eatable earthy rind. The aroma reminds me of sweet warm cream and fresh cut grass along with the tell-tale goaty tang. In the mouth you are first struck by the luscious creaminess but then this tangy lemon rind zingy flavor emerges and the finish is beautifully salty which actually makes the cheese appear almost refreshing in a way. One of those cheese you pull out and think, “I’ll just have a slice or two” and before you know it, half the piece is gone!


My instinct on this pairing was to pick a wine that would play off the grassy notes in the cheese, something from the Loire, either Sancerre or Menetou-Salon but the more I fell in love with the texture, that creaminess of the cheese I wanted a wine that would enhance that rather than highlight the tang. The Roland Schmitt, with all of its lovely tropical fruit, takes the aggressive cheese in hand and the saltiness in the cheese simply makes the fruit in the wine explode. A light and elegant pairing that would be a fantastic start to any meal, is perfect for porch or backyard picking and when served to guests can solidify your, "That cat knows their shit" status.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Stranger In This Night...

Found myself restless the other evening. Just out of sorts and unable to find the right shift of my hip, curl of my spine or rhythmic swoosh of my knife. This “out of sorts” deal has been plaguing far too much lately. It’s as if I’m only halfway doing things; food, wine, sex, passion, writing, listening, feeling…halfway. Total bullshit and not at all me. Not sure when or why it started but I’ve grown not only bored but weary of feeling like I’m rolling around on the kiddie lane of the bowling alley. I hit the puffy bumper guards and keep rolling along. Fuck. I need to slam against something, feel that jarring smack of life and laugh, cry, scream, cum, dance, stumble and gather my vibrating self for the next hit. Feels like I’m eating a steak with a condom on my tongue and living in a bubble of make believe and disinfectant spray.

That feeling was sitting heavy on my shoulders as I poured myself a glass of wine, chopped veggies, seared chicken and tossed little bits of savory into a pot for dinner. Not upset or not wanting to do it, just wishing it was bringing me more…something. Made my way through dinner, smiled and tried my best to be charming, or at the very least funny, the whole time feeling like I was just one vacuous comment away from ripping my clothes off and running naked from the comfort and quiet of my own home. Missing, feels like something is so missing from my life right now and I find myself so turned around, spun, that I’m beginning to realize that I don’t quite know how to navigate without it….whatever it is. Not even assured enough in my own step and over-flooded head to sort through the possibilities. Thus I’ve been waking, showering, working, cooking, making my husband laugh, (still sharp enough to remember to make him laugh, hard, at least once a day) cleaning, climbing into my jammies, crashing and starting all over again the next day. A dull loop that just keeps replaying and doesn’t feed the me that needs more to keep stomping, biting, tasting, crying, laughing. 

After dinner I found myself once again at my laptop. Part of me running, the other part searching and neither making me feel any more vibrant in my skin. The internet, with all its promise, hope, energy, fast talk and connecting was staring back at me, blank and hollow. My “friends” on Facebook posting pictures of their kids, political links, ranting about the lines at the market but not one of them talking to me. To Me. The lonely making my back shrink, my face age, my green eyes fill with tears. My thoughts flashed to my mother, her mother and how sad and alone they were their whole lives. How their proper and approved behavior, acceptance of things they really didn’t want in order to make things simple, smooth, wave-less, showed when I would look in those unfulfilled eyes and frown damaged faces. Their ingrained need to paint the, “everything is fine” picture truly told by the deep valleys of discontent that ran along the sides of their mouths and the bite with which they would punish me should I ever laugh too hard, stay out too late, question or cause a ruckus.

Reflecting on that from the sweetly safe confines of my empty dining room table, knowing that those two would be so satisfied with seeing me “settle” and live quietly I felt that same bubble of “fuck this” that I used to feel when I’d look into my mother’s raging eyes, her venom frothing at her lips as she hissed, “I wouldn’t fuck you with someone else's body!” or “you think he loves you? You’re a bigger fool than I thought you were”. She may have been right, I might have been a fool but at least I was alive. More than she could say and no matter how guilty I felt for making her feel uncomfortable, how angry I was at her, there was always part of me that knew I held the upper hand. Could have been the arrogance of youth, the pride that mistakenly graces a sixteen year old, my own rage at feeling like she should have done more to protect and nurture me. I didn’t learn to be a woman from my mother, I learned in spite of her. And now, now I found myself, unsatisfied and pissed about it. Fuck that…

Tried the usual fix, bigger glass of wine and Dave Matthews, (for the love of God dude, turn on your Google alert. I’m dying here waiting for you to realize how in love we are) to try and make my skin stretch tight, make my tiny hairs stand ready….make me feel something. Dave, (Seriously? C’mon man) making my eyes heavy with want, my ears swallowing each sensually strung together line inspiring that same feeling that used to make me slither out my bedroom window. That promise of sin, kisses, escaping the confines of, “right” for the immeasurable pleasure of “Oh, this is so right”. I know, now, that it wasn’t the touches of fumbling boys, men, it was the way I felt knowing I was breaking the rules…and making them break them as well.

“I just need to be outside” I told my husband as I slipped my toes into my flip-flops and headed out the door. Shoved my cigarettes into my pocket and began my walk down the street to, wherever. No plan other than filling my lungs with cool air and breaking the work, come home, cook and watch tv cycle I’ve been in. The idea of settling into other people’s ideas of proper behavior making me put one foot in front of the other, this missing chunk of vibrancy, my vibrancy, quickening my pace. Passed the gas stations, closed shops and nearly empty fast food joints that line my street, wandered into a sleepy, blaringly silent housing tract, all the doors closed, most of the lights out, not one car parked along the curb, waiting for visiting guests to pile inside before making the drive home. Just blank, desolate, far too quiet for me. 

Made my way through the tract and found a street that dumped me back on the large street on which my apartment complex sits. No one else on foot and barely any cars on the road. I looked at my watch, 12:13 AM. I settled myself on a bus stop bench, looked up at the moon then back to the wide empty lanes of my normally busy street. I was feeling something alright, I was feeling really fucking alone. Sure I could go home, there was a man there that has loved me for nearly 20 years and, as it turns out, loves me even more now than when we met. And while my love for him is just as pure and real as ever, this settling into “Oh it’s Tuesday so we do this” routine is just not the woman I am cut out to be, and I’m sure if I let myself tumble any further down that shallow hole, I would lose part of what he, or anyone else that is nutty enough to love me for that matter, is drawn to.  Not ready to go home, just yet…

I looked down at my exposed forearms and wondered why I hadn’t thought to grab my sweatshirt on my way out the door. Not sure if it was the chill in the air or the one running through me that was causing it but I was covered in goose bumps. Lit a cigarette and leaned back on the damp bench, taking drags so deep that I could feel the insides of my cheeks slipping between my back teeth. My neck arching and head back against my shoulders as I exhaled the poison from my lungs, an extra push through pursed lips trying to rid myself of the complacency that was robbing me of my energy, desire, passion, palate, drive. “Enough” I told myself as I took the last puff of my cigarette and looked for a trash can to dispose of the spent butt. Saw an ashtray across the street and hoisted my thick ass off the bench, grabbed the waistband of my too-big-jeans and darted across the empty street. 

“Goddamn it!” I muttered as I felt the slap of wet denim whipping along my heels. I’d stepped in a puddle in my dash across the street and my baggy jeans were now even heavier as the frayed white shreds of wear were now soaked in dirty street water. Made a rather awkward “Hold my pants up” walk on my tippy toes, feeling even colder than before and now skeeved out by having my beloved not fitting jeans covered in wet street yuck, walk to the trash receptacle. So yeah, tippy toes, extended cigarette butt pinched between my fingers and the , “Dude, ewe” face all over me as I made my way to the ashtray that was sitting just outside the lit and covered with, “We cash food stamps and have cold beer” handwritten posters of a rather depressing liquor store. Tossed the smokers evidence in the bin and stood there under the grotesque blue lighting, big beer posters and Lotto ticket signs making me feel even smaller and more helpless.

“I go out walking, after midnight, out in the moonlight” fucking Patsy Cline. If I were a believer in things such as fate and paths, well I might have dropped down to my knees. Instead I tilted my head much like puppies do, trying to figure out where the sound was coming from, my eyebrow arched as I walked the barely lit, aside from the creepy liquor store, strip mall. The slurp and splat of the bottom of my jeans sticking to my heels with each step, my hands still full of gathered denim as I tip-toed past the dark windows, the boating shop, game store and trading card depot. I approached each door with anticipation, my ears peeled and wondering if somewhere in there someone was playing the song that seemed to be tugging me along. Was met with still desks and registers in the dark each time I peered in the windows as I made my way down the line of half a dozen stores. Thinking that I must have finally cracked I crossed the little birth of pavement and asphalt that separated the strip mall from the main drag of that big street. My right foot on the curb, just about to dart back across the quiet big street and, “Real love, I’m searching for a real love. Someone to set my heart free” Mary J. Blige. I took one last look over my shoulder to see that there was one more door, an open and lit one that was emitting both a warm hum of music and the whips of illegal smoking. Shoved my cold hands in my pockets, my fingers resting upon a ten dollar bill left over from my lunch, my wet heels spun around and I found myself pushing back a flap of cigarette saturated cloth and stepping into a sparsely populated bar. 

My heart was rattling away in my chest as I scanned the faintly lit room. Pool tables with twenty-somethings gathered around them, a couple at the end of the bar that had probably been there since 1989, still drunk, old and pissed at one another. Guys in sideways caps and wife-beaters, huffing at one another and chugging beers. I wasn’t sure what I was doing there, moreover wasn’t sure I wanted to stay. My chest full and struggling with which was more powerful, the awkwardness or fear of that shallow rabbit hole, I took one more scan and saw a harmless, rather “business class” looking cat sipping something brown and over ice at the far right of the bar. “I’ll have a Sapphire martini, straight up” I gurgled as I sat beside him.

“You want olives?” the weathered bartender asked. “Um, no…do you have onion?” my voice cracking and the shifting in my seat making it very clear to everyone that I was not a regular. “Onion? No. We don’t got any onions” my face hot and red as her words made it clear that I was out of place. Felt something…”Lime will be fine” I told her and waited for my drink. “My wife orders those too. I tell you this for two reasons. One, because it’s true and second, so you know I’m married and am not just hitting on you” the business class guy. Dockers, white dress shirt, one sleeve rolled up, wavy head of salt and pepper hair and a face that reminded me of Patrick Dempsey…older, more life worn and tired. I cracked a smile in his direction and gave him the, “Dude, I know you aren’t trying to mack on me” nod. We both laughed as my drink arrived with a half a lime floating in it.

Fished the citrus carcass from my cocktail and rested it upon the napkin that sat beneath the sleek stem of my glass. Was three sips in when the warm began to scurry down my spine. The soothing  purr of alcohol slipping into my belly and loosening the rest of me. I let my eyes turn back to the gentleman beside me, his rolled up sleeve revealing rough and gnarled skin, a scar of serious proportion. “Motorcycle accident” my neighbor told me, my eyes reverting back to my icy and statuesque glass before looking back at him only to be met with warm brown eyes and a smile. “I’m sorry” I said with a sheepish grin, “Just doesn’t fit the…uniform?” he laughed before leaning closer and whispering, “Don’t let the uniform fool you”.

Anthony. His name was Anthony and he too had happened upon this sad little bar full of lonely souls…ours included, looking for something just a little more. He and his martini drinking wife in yet another tiff. He in disbelief that he had become too much like his father, she wishing he were even more so. Me watching as he let the ice melt and he puddled into becoming him; bright, beautiful, intellectual, soul searching, big wage earing hot shot….listened as he told me stories of riding off on his motorcycle for months at a time and never, even once, dreaming his life would end up like this. There was an honesty to his words, a raw and painful sadness in his confessions to a blonde stranger that just happened to sit beside him, wearing the same, “how did we get here?” face. I listened, asked questions, urged him to keep talking and before I knew what was happening I was letting my fingers run along the bumpy surface of his exposed and monumental scar. I knew what I was doing. I was not trying to seduce him, just trying to encourage him to tell me everything. The deep lines in his face softened, he dropped his head, looked at me, ordered us both another drink and said, “I came in here for a drink and to hear Patsy Cline’s voice make me believe someone understood me” his fingers now holding my jaw and tugging on my earlobes, “How weird is this?” I laughed and hung my head before looking up at him, his warm and rough hands still cradling my jaw as I admitted, “I only came in here because I heard Pasty. Had this ten dollars and a gnawing in my belly”

Two hours later we were on last call. We had discussed so much, laughed as if we’d known each other for decades, trusted in a way that would seem unnatural if it weren’t so…natural. As the bartender shut off the lights to the back half of the bar we sipped slowly on the last little bits of our drinks. Eyes locked and knowing that there could be nothing better added to this night. We would not exchange emails or cell numbers and once we said goodbye it would be like twisting a cap on this one perfect evening. “Can I drive you home?” even as he said it I knew there was a cheapening of what we both found so enriching. I cocked my head, held his handsome face in my hands and said, “No. I should do this on my own. Thank you though. Hey, I can’t let you leave without hearing what happened here” my palms running along the marred and textured flesh on his arm. He chuckled while rolling down his sleeve, “It’s so stupid. I was working at a winery in Napa in the 70’s. I got really shitfaced one night and there was an incident involving a tractor and I lost. What happened to that guy?” he said with a grin that nearly made me rethink that drive home, “Well, I think I just met him” I said before kissing him on the cheek, shaking my head and beginning my walk home. 

Twisted the doorknob of my quiet little apartment and flipped on the lights. My husband long ago gone to bed, trusting that I would be safe, knowing the woman I am and understanding that sometimes, walking after midnight is what I need to keep being the woman he is so madly in love with. Slipped into the bedroom, flicker of ESPN greeting me along with the subtle sawing of my beloved’s snore. I wiggled from my now dry but still too big jeans, reached around and unhooked my bra, let out an audible groan as my heavy breasts were freed and let he goose bumps of rejuvenation ripple over my exposed body. Had to chuckle at myself and gathered my pajamas before quietly slipping off to the other bathroom to wash my face and brush my gin stained teeth. 

Not quite ready for bed I nestled into my couch, Law & Order keeping me company as I sipped on a glass of 2006 Westwood Winery Tennat. Letting the gamey, flinty, rugged fruit melt across my tongue. Thinking of the passionate man that makes that wine, a dear friend and someone I can say, without hesitation, that I love. One that I met through being that woman, the one my mother and grandmother would have snarled at and been disappointed with. The feral wine speaking to my wild and untamed heart that no matter how much I try to ignore, is the core of who I am and drives me to do what it is I do.

No more complacency….

I raised my glass
To Anthony, to John Kelly at Westwood, to everyone I know that is in the pursuit of happiness...one glass at a time.

Ready for Napa and those wine writers who will assuredly tell me I’m doing it wrong
I’m sure I am,
But I’m doing what I have to, what I need to
To be me….