Keys, Ballad, Seat

IMG_E0570Travel with a loud orchestra of attention, his projects forward in unusually pronounced and rhetorical, ontological frames.  From the blending trials in his studio, lab, place where my friend of years gathers to see what character is truly the most expressive and punctuated assembly.  After tasting both the ’15 Devil Proof Malbec and the Aperture Right Bank Blend, it’s clear that blending is more than blending in this studio.  It’s conversation… with different lots and personalities, personifications and blocks.  Blending is not blending, but listening, to the orchestra in front of him, then conducting accordingly.  Well, and a synchrony of letting the lots steer him.  This is more than winemaking, or letting “terroir” speak.  It’s an intersection of intention and urgencies.

Like his father Andy with the camera, Jesse delivers images to us, with how the bottled entity goes composed.  Atmosphere and language, in the bottles “on the bench”, as winemakers will say.  But, once more, this is more.  And we taste more in the bottles, not just some colossal Bordeaux-intentioned growl or roar, but something more illustrative and euphonious.  Each note is a paragraph, each sip a standalone recital… all bottles, their own show.  When sipping the blend last night, I thought of the act of blending, selecting lots.  Of course, a writer, I could never know all the intricacies and belaboring specificities of such an act.  I have made a couple wines, and been in a few trials, but nothing that engendered something like my last night glass, or when I enjoyed the Malbec in a hotel room listening to Miles and staring out at the Sonoma County stages, streets.

Blending… putting something together.  Composition, a statement, a thesis, divulging a methodology, and what I taste isn’t just innovation, but defiance, astute alignment with intentions all— Bordeaux, California Cabernet, his oenological way, what consumers want.  He’s blending worlds, desired, time capsules.  Being an English Instructor, or Professor, whatever you want to call me, the instructional qualities of these bottles enrich the sipper and can only be wildly recognized and accepted, teach about wine’s prime aim, the apex of wine’s physiology.  I’m taught to not analyze, certainly don’t overanalyze as so many in wine’s proximity do.  But, enjoy, think, let go, enjoy the passion decided by wine.  I can sense not only elevated interest in Katz’s disseminations, but a need to produce wine the way he does, to translate Bordeaux and Sonoma County as he does.  A wine pursuer won’t find this anywhere else.  Concurrence with the labor, the fanatical keenness that materializes in that studio, in front of the glasses that are to be met, by him and then us.

Before the wine’s poured, I wonder what he’s measuring internally… what blend does he hope will be presented, what does he want to draw?  When with a glass, you stroll in this.  You hear his thoughts… the thoughts and notes of the vineyards from which he sources.  Each bottle on the bench, a section in the symphony.  Something’s to be proclaimed, played, learned from.  You can only welcome the multi-octave’d expedition of all the projects stemming from that table, in that studio, with the preeminent conductor.

***To learn more about the wines of Jesse Katz, visit and  To book a tasting, either post your information below, or call 707-200-7891.

wine sketchez: Three Fat Guys Wines

Three Guys, Two Wines, One Obsessed New Fan

Chardonnay.  Cabernet.  So how are you to be bedazzled or even a little taken by varietals that so many producers bottle?  Easy.  When they’re done to this stratospherically savory extent.  Before I get into the wines my and Three Fat Guys’ vin ami, Wes, sent me, you have to examine their story, which starts with genuine tempo and color.  The elevated interest and tireless curiosity for and in wine.  Tony Moll, one of the Guys and Owners of the this playful yet prominently tasty enclave of a label, tell me his fascination with wine started just before starting Three Fat Guys with partners Jason and Daryn.  He tells me that in the off-season he’d go to local wine bars in Sonoma and just immerse himself in everything about wine.  Oh and that’s another facet to this brand I find immeasurably interesting and encouraging as a wine consumer—  all three played professional football, and those journeys together on the Road for the game is what actuated their chasing a more oeno-centric story.  When home from the season, Tony would find his favorites, what he liked and didn’t like, and intensify his fondness and acuity in wine’s world.

He knew he wanted to create a “premium wine,” he tells me.  Well, if I’m to react to such a remark, he failed gloriously.  The Fat Guys’ wines are anything but premium, in my language—  Words I’d employ then immediate deploy to this page are ‘cosmic’, ‘inspiring’, ‘vocal’, ‘inter-dimensional’… inexplicably delicious.  The Chard and Cab Wes sent me were anything but template, anything but expected.  Yes, the common consumer would note their “premium-ness”, but I find myself in uncommon sphere and state tasting these wines.  What I tasted was something of a quality that we consumers wish for.  You can find a simple “premium” bottle on the shelf at Safeway.  This is different, another planet and page, story, narrative.  What was in the bottle was true fermented magic, a lively literary quality that educates a sipper’s senses, like I jotted in the Composition book, “Moriarty-esque reflective madness”…  But, again, more on that in a bit.

This is a small producer that’s not on the “I’m a small wine label” self-anointing chariot.  What you have in your glass with TFG is three gentlemen who love wine.  That’s it.  The fervor of their fondness translates to what you sip, exponentially.  You can only be smitten and seraphically instructed with their bottles.  Tony tells me that he loves the reaction when people taste his wines, when people merely look at him and utter in tremor, “WOW.” Remember, these are offensive lineman, put on the field to protect the quarterback, to block, to be firm and stern.  And how serendipitous in how they don’t care about notoriety, awards, scores, or any other kind of pseudo-prestige.  They just want to be known for wine, wine that is “damn good wine” as he tells me.  Well, with this motion, he and his Guys succeed ad nauseam.

I started with the Chardonnay as you might expect, the other night, hoping that I would taste something new from Chardonnay’s all-too-frequently harangued identity.  First nudge of fragrance after opening bottle, smelling cork and then into bottle’s neck, was pair and vanilla, apple and a cinnamon-sewn pie crust.  On palate, I was greeted with tame acidity coupled with the apple and pie crust, vanilla and almond, a little toast… lavender?  There was a that jazzy weather I dream I’ll one day taste in Chardonnay.  Finally encountered, finally taught something new.  And as the wine invited and later fully embracing the temperature of the room, the texture became more sensual, the apple and pair soupçons more immediate, more visible and believable.  The Chardonnay took on a haunting and persuasive, bewitching quality I’ve never experienced in a Cali’ white Burgundy.  This was a new experience, and I was renewed as a wine lover.

I’m a “Cabernet guy” you could say, so I’m exceptionally welcoming and nearly a bastard critic with Cabs I’m sent.  Like the Chardonnay, TFG’s Cab had a dark personality and widely-erotic electricity to every parcel of its palate.  This is the wine that had the personality of Dean Moriarty, his wild charisma and irresistible allure.  The fruit that spoke to me was in the purview of blackberry and dark chocolate-adorned cherry, then cocoa powder and espresso, a wink of mint and black licorice, smoke.  Doing both its vineyard site, vintage, and varietal a marathon of justice.  There was a rare coherence in this bottle, a bewildering synergy of all parts and personalities, measures and clefs.  If one of these wines sends these gentlemen to some unseen notoriety, whether they want it or not, their Napa Cabernet offering will cement such.

Three lessons learned for the writer, here.  1, Chardonnay is the most extraordinarily effusive and gorgeous white varietal, if done the way these lineman have ordered.  2, if all Cabernets were done this well, I would not drink anything else.  All other varietals would be hit with a preference asteroid which would tie them in certain extinction.  And, 3, the focus of any small label—rather than telling everyone they’re a small label, or artisanal label, or some cult wine producer—should be to just make some damn good wine.  Well decreed, Mr. Tony.  These wines are unlike any expected palate presence of Chardonnay and Cabernet.  Par conséquent, their unique beat, their instructional quality, their haunting stubbornness in anyone who sips.


10/18/16 – Tonight I’m writing freely, sipping

a new Cabernet from Napa, from a small but beneficent label.  One of those stories I only img_7711want to mimic.  Would have written earlier, but I thought it the need and the optimal for the writer to speed to vineyards, walk around an take pictures.  Be a photog’… or a writer that loves photography which is more the case.  I have thoughts in head and Mom told me not to be too wordy with my reactions to these wines so I won’t.  And she’s astute, my amiably-set mama.  She urges, more than her assertion of not being “too wordy”, to just be me.  More conversational about wine, no so syllabically analytical, or at least that’s what I read into and from her speak.  So these wines, like new characters on the stage— unexpected and theatrical, but not overstepping.  A Chardonnay, which I always have trouble listening to, no matter how it’s crafted and cared-for.  Then the Cabernet, which has that flex and broadness, but with unexpected Victorian angularity— romance, and a dactylic disposition you wouldn’t forecast for a Cab.

Tonight the writer’s in his wine mood and mode.  Wish I could play some Hutcherson, but the babies are asleep.  And wish I had the energy and concentration to get to a thousand words but the wine’s catching the writer.  Still, thought, this beatnik writeth.  I’m like Dean as he parks cars.  Sal, as he observes everything around him and listens to the jazz with Dean but doesn’t quite know what he’s seeing but looks anyway and writes about it later.  This is my maison, this book, this story, told in wine’s accompaniment— a movie and just a moment, not so Hollywood or theatrical but if you spent a couple days in a tasting room you’d see the stage, the act, the interaction, the dialogue that begs to be captured.  Yes, I’m more than liberated in this sitting with my Cabernet glass, here at the desk with barely any light above the writer.  Just the way I prefer it— like I’m in some dark bar, overseas, writing while everyone else connects to conversations that go nowhere, conversations I capture and use for my book— people in the corner playing pool, talking about what to drink next, but I’m writing, sipping wine and digging in my own brain for ways to make their speech more seraphic.

Evening, this, sovereign.  Still with a bit of Cabernet in glass.  Surprised and a bit proud of Self for not drinking it too speedily.  My book, narrative, begs wine’s involvement.  Stepping slow in that vineyard block today made it more than clear.  I’m under the lights with wine, in front of an audience, talking back and forth— wine trying to categorize me, me just sipping it but trying to sound like some expert or critic or voice that should be heard.  We frustrate each other, but can’t stay away from the other.  Odd love whirl.  Not so much wind, but ink from my urges rescinds.  Why.  Why need there be a restart?  Refocus on moment.  Look at images.  No act.

Facile (fluent)

Just finished shaving for following day, and I feel, I don’t know, off for some reason.  Like there’s something I should be doing but can’t remember what it is, and if it’s so important why can’t I remember that, so I continue in stress as to why I can’t remember.  I begin my re-read of ‘Moveable Feast’, but can’t find my copy.  Where’d I put it?  Walked around the office a bit looking for it but can’t find it and I’m too tired from the Fountaingrove run to pursue any search, “So fuck it.” I say to myself.

Sipping some Cabernet tonight, why not I think to myself as I don’t have to teach after the winery tomorrow, thank god.  Hit all corners today, I think— running, writing, fathering, adjuncting.  Well not quite the latter of latters but in my own way “taught”, or taught myself something about myself that I can do whatever I want, and that music need have a more roaring punctuatedness in my peregrination.

“Truthfully, when are you going to be honest with yourself?” I ask myself.

“About what?” I ask myself.

“About what you want to do.  When are you just going to fucking leap, and do something with your writing, and I mean really put yourself out there?  That’s the only way you’re going to be fucking noticed, you know…”

“Yeah, but, I don’t know.  I’m waiting.”

“Waiting.  For what.” The voice keeps with its virulent pester and interrogation but I don’t budge.  It seems to forget I have two kids, a wife.  I’m the dad, the household head.  So I can’t just act, do some crazy craziness, can I?  Maybe I can, just keep it all on page.  And no negativity, I know.  Be crazy in my positivity, nearly confrontational with it.  Okay.. fine…..  So tomorrow then will be the single best dat of my life.  Even better than my babies birth days.  How is THAT possible?  I don’t know, but tomorrow I learn.

After shaving I looked in the mirror, I know that trite contemplative moment, and usually when this happens I notice that I’m getting old.  But tonight I saw that I’m still quite young, and that I have so much to get done, I just need to chance a few things like when I get up, when I write, how I write, and what I write about to a degree.  Not depend on others’ reactions just keep with my narrative howitzer, blasting the blank page surface with honesty.  THAT, will get me to travel, seeing the world and lecturing on narrative and self-consideration and understanding through writing.  Have the ‘Writing in the Vineyard’ class approaching, and one of the first prompts I plan on putting before my “students”, or “colleagues” as I’ll refer to them as I do current matriculants, is just writing as crazily and carelessly, FREELY, as one’s able.  The only way to discover anything about your creative self is to be wild, free, lawless and with varying scopes.

Cabernet in the kitchen.  To make coffee for morning, and have glass final.  Je vais…

from today…

Certainly more understanding and connection with vineyards, where I work and what I can see out that window right next to my desk.  I finally did get that last walk in, taking a look at the veraison taking place in the Petite Sirah block.  Couldn’t help mySelf from taking loads of pictures.  Think I took more than I needed to.  Now I’m home and wish to be there, at work.  How many can say that?  Colleague in office said we’ll go out tomorrow morning with the office camera and shoot more stills of those rows.

Another lesson from the 21st was to use what you have, don’t look for New, even if you have to.  And this is only instruction for me from the day, not meant to discourage anyone from trying new things, or even telling myself not to try new approaches or attitudes.  What I’m referring to is getting another part-time job, or adding anything else onto my plate.  Mom the other day said “Make what you have work.” I just need to be more creative, I could feel that vineyard telling me.  And so I will.

Opened a 2004 Cab from a Sonoma Valley Winery, and although it’s lost much of its might and palate plight, it still very much interests me, and urges the creativity from this creative that wants more.  “What?” You might be thinking.  “I thought you just said no more New…” True.  I’m inferring more for my family, for me, more money coming into the home, and more travel (which wouldn’t be too arduous as now I’m not traveling at all).  I need more, more adventure and more trial, more material, more story…  The solution lies in the creative.  That’s how more will happen.  Being on the road, seeing the world and writing about it.  I will admit, though I don’t want to.. well…  I’m sick of certain facets of my writing.  My ways, consistencies in creating.  I need to change, DRASTICALLY.  This is difficult for the writer to concede, but I do.  Another lesson from the day, in this light and much to my assistance, is to work project to project, work quickly so it just gets DONE.  At my desk, I always make a list, and go straight down the list, item by item.  And there’s never more than 5 items per day, I would say.  In the past with my projects I make daily lists and there could be up to 12 or 15 yapping targets on it.  Today showed me, with situated and succinct intent, that my old methods need to die.  I sip the Cab, this nightcap I just poured myself, for a brief celebration.  There, done.  Didn’t last long… have to laugh with wine, its relationship with me.  When a wine connects with me, it really connects.  This ’04 is definitely showing its age, its exhaustion, but it’s an experience drinking it.  The wine and vineyard from which it was sourced is teaching me— don’t overthink wine, your writing, or ANYTHING.

Understanding… more of self, what I want from life, how I’ll get it.  Breaths, breaths here in the home office.  Celebration, and I don’t need any more wine.  Would love a glass of water, actually.  And, a look at those pictures again.

Still learning…

More creating…


me:  4/25/16, continuation to conclusion


Sipping a glass of the ’12 Taylor in my Passport glass.  Pain in right knee, and I’m pretty sure it’s from the long hours of the weekend, dashing back, forth, to bottles then to people sticking their glasses in the writer’s face.. me pouring, looking at the clock with everyone; R, C, M, D, all…  This Cabernet is telling me to let go, stop overthinking, stop thinking, and just write.  Don’t worry about the “theme” of your blog, the layout, any of that shit.  You’re a writer, not a web designer.. just write.  People will read—

And today I’ve decided, I need to sell Mon Petit Mise.  I need the money, and I’m tired of not making money, with as much as I write, type, sip and scribble, everything in effort.  Too quiet in this A-Walk Studio, making the writer uncomfortable.  Don’t want little Emma to wake, nor little Kerouac.  Been quite a night, I have to say, with Emma nearly inconsolable from exhaustion and Jackie sad and a bit dismissed from me having to help Alice with the weeping petit…  I deserve this glass.  And possibly one more after.

The quiet I experience now, and feel around me— this Zen, more depth and direction than the adjunct cell.

Going to kitchen to pour one more Taylor, then return here to desk and just enjoy the quiet, I may not even write.  I may not read, nor finish this post— I might NOT read.  But just meditate with Cabernet.  Feel like she and I haven’t had a conversation in some time, a meaningful one—  Back, and already sip one from glass last.  This morning in English 5, students read crEATive work.. one, ’N’, read a poem which was witty, cheery but critical and deconstructive, while another just read a collection of sayings and dialogues she’s captured over the semester.  I’ve this before noted, but:  I NEED TO BE MORE A STUDENT THAN PROF’!  With my eagerness and assignments, deadlines, printed pages, experimentation with words and scenes, the pathos formed in a page’s progression and contribution to larger work.  I’m a student.  Not an instructor.  Listening to the full-timers talk in the halls and talk to each other, their know-everything octave.. makes me sick.  I’m open about my dominant desire to learn, and my tiny-ing urge to “teach”.


This desk, my island, inlet, enclave, reflective farm, my most known Road.  The wine now laps me with concentration, tells me to hurry up but I yell back at it from my inaudible roar, “I can’t!  I’m talking with [meaning ‘drinking’] you!”  Wine still fascinates me with what it does and how it grows and expands and tells me in my writing to move certain ways; ow we skirmish and collaborate, collude then collide.  Wine will be nothing more than fun, a fractionally serious saunter.

READERS:  Do you drink wine?  And if you do.. what does it say to you?  Try to personify it, give it a voice, a tonality and disposition.

10:37PM.  With night’s cap. 

Planning to wake early to stretch, do other exercises downstairs, write more than anything.  1A lecture/session sequences, with Zenful forward.  Quite Zen myself, after this day.  A run, over 2k words.  Testing myself with this newsletter, deadline being this Sunday.. between 7 & 10PM.  Help people start their week, share what I have going on, or whatever.. but I have to wake early like Ms. Morrison.

Sipping the last of the Dutcher Cab, reading notes I took today, Monday, and over the semester.  Another semester logged, but I don’t want it measured that way, with that lens, tone.  This semester was, and will be seen, finally, as THE ONE.  Where I found myself as a writer, with the re-emphasis on bottledaux, the new newsletter ‘awks’— I’m just rambling, I know.  But know:  NO TV on, not music, just silent on this first floor of the A-Walk Studio.  My last glass of wine for the night which isn’t even near me.  In the kitchen, on counter.. realistic goal: wake at 5.  No?  3 more minutes budgeted for this sitting and these thoughts for the day, the frolic in words and teaching, the adjunct life, parenting, running, complete character coherence.  But is that even possible at this stage, in my day.  Nearly done with day, but I feel like I haven’t done a thing!  Why is that?  I always feel like that and I don’t fucking get it!  Alice messages me and tells me Em is already into her little peanut dreams.  I still say, “I wish I could sleep like her.” Totally a dad thought to think— need a sip of that DC Cab.  Been a few minutes since my last dip— I mean SIP.

A race to 3,000 words, I just sit here on the couch downstairs and think about the semester, those students in the ‘5’ class, and the fewer than few in the ‘1A’ that I envy, admire, want to mimic.  So very much want to be in their shoes, throwing around that word “transfer”.  When is this writer/student going to transfer to the Road, to other campuses to lecture, speak, share ideas?  Soon, I tell myself, this Cab tells me.

I’m tired, but don’t want to sleep.  Just want to think about the day I had, the conversations with students, how one student in the _ section tried to challenge me, challenge the assignment, and I didn’t back down.  I expressed sympathy, an urgency to meet the student where they were.  But student still challenged.  We reached an accord to write whatever they felt promising.  So now it’s up to student to do so.  So…  I’m here on the couch knowing the day was MINE.  The night and day are capped.  Soon, the wine in my circulation again me assures.  And what I do with that?  I don’t know.  Just keep writing, keep telling myself that I’ll be there soon, out there, on the Road, traveling and speaking to audiences and masses like I’m running for an office but I’m not.  I just want to share loving thoughts with Humans.  That’s all.

nouvelle rue

Thinking tonight’s a Cabernet night, and odd obscure words— poetry and recital.  Will have to with Jack’s friend sleeping over.  Nothing flawed about little Addie, just another child in the house unnerves the writer, that’s all.. so words, heaping loads of words, and intermittent applications de vin.. but not too much.  Can’t afford parapraxis at this point in the story.


quick sips


2012 – Balletto Vineyards & Winery – Sexton Hill – Chardonnay – Russian River Valley

More charm than you get from most Chardonnays, and I’m biased, I’ll concede.  I love Balletto, and all my experiences there have been resounding and inspiring as a wine writer.  But this Chardonnay, just considered objectively, says something different.  Not just about the winery, or even Chardonnay, or even as a standalone wine, but something to enjoy in life.  A story and voice that provides Zen, your needed peace.  There’s a charm and engagement in this ’12 Sexton Hill that’s absent in other RRV Chard interpretations.  Atmospheric fruit, not too much of an acidic roar; just a musical equilibrium that accompanies you from the sip’s start to last chapter, page.  It’s memorable and universal, with its own depth and sovereign direction.  Just what I hope to have in anything I sip.  (MM92)

img_10742012 – Stonestreet Estate Vineyards – Cabernet Sauvignon – Bear Point Vineyard

Cabernet.  What do you want?  The atypical Bordeaux bull or something a little more poised and passionate, more poetic and artfully crafted, representative of place, where the fruit’s birthed?  This Cabernet is far-reaching, to all Cab audiences.  Smoky and gritty, focused texture flavor arrangement boasts its confidence and syncopated ardor; lovely personality in principal, and after an hour or two (in preference two) of oxygen assimilation, you’ll be sung-to and caught by more taste-instrumented galaxies; black berries and dark chocolate, rich leather and espresso echoes design its own illustration.  The more romantic edge of this Cab, from Stonestreet, one of my loved tasting rooms on Healdsburg’s Square, comes with the fleshly floral ides in the nose.  Empirically relentless in its charm, its steps down your senses’ street.  (MM94)

Project A

Thought this evening: what if I were able to vend every piece I pen?  The rain outside like the other day writing in the Arista tasting room tells me to write faster and not think so much.. my typing speed now a bit hindered from the glasses of Cab, the ’13 from Sanglier, and tonight in the tasting room meeting two ladies, one from Boston the other living close (I think in the City), both with kids older than mine and both of them, the ladies, older than me, but still enjoying life and not stressing, seemingly, about anything.  I wholly enjoyed their collective and individual energies— they giving me short story ideas, talking and drinking what they did, one a glass of Grenache and the other some mixed drink with a dried apple (for fiction)—

Rain outside, quite audible, my coffee over to left far, cued for morning.  Two k-cups, and the wine, my last of the night glass, just to its left.  So, like in the condo, I have my wine in the kitchen so I have to rise to sip making the final pour longer last.  Musing now a bit meticulous and straining since I’ve been up since, well, right at 6 with little Kerouac.  At one point I wasn’t sure I’d make it through this day but somehow I did.  And now here.. wine and typing… budgeting.. for my business.. applying nowhere and trying to prove myself to not a single gargling gargoyle soulless soul.

And what if I did sell it all?  Well.. I don’t know.  But there’s no warrant for a piece longer than 300 words to be on this bloody blog.  Certainly nothing 500 words or more elevated.  I could sell that.  Should.  WILL.  This is the Cab talking, the wine writer, wound and windblown by the wine—

“So did you go tasting yesterday?”

“Yeah, just two spots.”


“On the Silverado Trail.”

“What?  Why?”