Quiet.  Tasting room. 

Photo on 3-17-18 at 8.28 AMBackpack to right, having its own chair, and me in this chair writing for the next 40 minutes or so, centering self in a tasting room, before a day that could do anything, and I anything in it.  Jazz… prompting me forward like those Tubbs gusts.  Wine, all around me in the tanks, barrels, wine I tasted last night, not moving me any one way, really.  Looking for the most seismic, cosmic, significant and instrumental inspiration I can pin.  Today, especially.  I need it.  Yesterday telling me how close to the shop I’m getting, but when I woke this morning I was thinking, “Why can’t I really speed things up?” Not that I’m in a rush, not that this writer’s impatient, I just want to be there, behind my counter, study wine and everything about it, everything the people drinking it, or tasting it, in this room and on the patio, in the cave, have to say about it.  Wine… wine… wine… I write about wine and everything it does.  To me, to everybody coming into this room.  The TR is a different world, this early, at this hour, at this long polished wood table with the glass all around me, sound of the heater actuating its spell, making the atmosphere more cozy for a writer.

In this quiet, the backpack and I collect, yes meditate, but envision MY tasting room, the shelves, seeing myself there early to count, inventory, move some bottle displays around.  The act of this, writing in the silent meditative cove of the tasting room is my meeting, my meeting with self, to start the day and only think of what I can do with the day.  Wine’s stage, its intrinsic and definite anatomy establishes in me a new rile, and centeredness as to what I’m to do.  With this day, with my wined life and with my wined books.  Singularity, diversity… the diversity and the array is the singularity, with wine.  At least for me.  Pinot, never distracting me from my Cabernet luminosity and joy, but always seducing me into and oddly intense attentiveness.

Writing about the tasting room, before and after people are in here, scurrying and hurrying to the counter to taste down the flight and then use the all-too-famous beg of “revisit”.  We always pour again, whatever it is they want.  But the room is my focus… as I try to define wine I the same attempt to conceptualize and wholly grasp this room and what it does.  Building my business from that, I guess.  Or maybe not.  But coupled with the writing act, writing everything I see from the front glass doors to the tanks in the room to my left, stacked barrels the people can see as they sit and talk to each other, asking us always if they can walk around in there and of course we tell them we can’t, most of the time pulling from their face-shape a scowl or minor mope.  Day continues, though, and they easily distract from what they can’t do and then subscribe to what they’re actually doing— tasting wine.  Wine they’ve never had before.


Tasting room.  The quiet.  I can see, though, the day ahead of me.  People walking in and looking around if for the first time they’re walking through those doors, and then if returning buyers or club members, they walk into their other abode.  I participate and observe, intimately and closely harnessing myself to all expressive facets around me— people, wine, the view, the wind if any and how it pushes the patio umbrellas from one side to other.  In the tasting room, I taste the room, over and over… one sip then reflect, don’t let self react yet, then sip again— the atmosphere and visual of characters surrounding the writer.  I’m here so early this morning not just looking for propulsion or some edge of “inspiration”, but more definition, understanding.

Backpack just looking back at me, wondering what I’m doing with the simplicity of the idea of a tasting room.  Where people taste wine.  It’s that simple and singular, I guess you could rule, but there’s more here.  So many in the wine business and industry quickly exhaust from the tasting room.  Not just from standing on soles all day, but from the constant front-and-center of it all, always talking to people, always talking about wine and explaining winery history and the property, what’s neighboring, and all else.  They surrender, utterly give up and become disenchanted and disconnected.  A writer, me, sees each interaction and moment and Newness.  A standalone piece.  Something contributing to my book.  It’s more than a yay-say disposition, but then that’s all it is.  I don’t know many that arrive to work as early as I do to write about work, work on own projects, work for self, and obsess so loudly in what’s around them, what they’re about to do for the next eight or so hours.  The tasting room, I’m seeing, now, a commanding symbol and thesis to my book jog, jaunt, life.

No reason not to write, and to not have a book done… and mine’s been done for a while, my first wine ms, I merely keep adding onto it, never collating.  But now, this wine industry penner has something, from this sitting, this sight.  I’m managing myself with clear objective, clear project delineation, making notes on calendar what I want done and by when.  Wine book, by EOM.  End of month.  Then another by May’s end, before this writer’s life-day, 5/29.  The tasting room, my classroom this morning, telling me to keep writing, write about wine more wildly and when of shortage for page presence, look around you.  Three girls yesterday coming in, with skittish and adorable pup, tasting wines and talking with me about what they liked, what the sipped outside of the room they were in.  Story intersection, education and material for me, in awe, in study, to embrace now in this page hike.

Not stopping.  Trapping everything this morning, in this room, this canvas, my stage and visual tablet.


My story is

here. Here. In this glass. In this room. In this breath and wink. Aware of all around me because of purple puddle, that reflection, how the tasted insinuations couple with the current track. She has me aware and into what I see, feel, sense, want to sing. Bring glass to just below my eyes and the notes appear, narrate their and my fate. Only coherence and collusion, no break.

Barrel tasting…

The more notorious and potentially scattered and volatile of the Wine Road events. But I’m optimistic this go-round. Up early this day, 05:21, not able to fall back into any form of sleep with anticipatory images jabbing at my thoughts. About what. Not quite sure…. How busy it could get in the tasting room, how the barrels will show, how much we’ll sell…. Wine Industry, my thoughts are everywhere. Everywhere. Opened a Napa blend last. One that didn’t want to say much to me, no matter how much a swirl I gave her, or how patient I was. Decided to return cork and let rest her for tonight after what’s more than likely going to be a ten-plus hour day. Still have to shave, find clothes that I don’t care if they get a little tattered, stained. Barrel Tasting. I literally can’t believe it’s here, already. And, the first seasonal party later in day, right after. Going to record everything. My job as the journalist is to be the who what why when where, and maybe a little how, gatherer. Wine story hunter and gatherer.

The last time I worked BT, let me think…. that’s right, 2011. At that shitshow of a Dry Creek winery. Was rather manageable, I remember. But this winery is a different dimension. No sense thinking and overthinking. I’m set on enjoying myself like any of the people with those bracelets, glasses. Just, and a penner, a capturer. Gatherer.

On the couch writing on my phone with a container full of iced coffee. Need to make these words fly faster. Delight and fold myself in this time to myself, wrap self around it. Later, my time belongs to the industry. No, I shouldn’t say that. No… it’s mine I’m just not composed like this, situated at my beckoning. I’ll be here, there, moving quicker, quickly, sped with my pouring abilities and talking about every offering we have to offer. Barrels…. people walking up to them, animated and agape. I wish I could just walk around and talk to people, ask them why they’re here and what they want from the event aside from futures, if they are actually buying futures. Then I understand I don’t have to. They come to me. My notes will have to be more than quick. I won’t have time for full sentences. Just little jots, singular words, if that. Maybe even some sort of symbol set, or wine journalist markings. Just write in between conversations and when I’m done pouring.

Seeing this as my assignment. The one. The one that will send me to others. I’m a soldier on the field with a notebook lashing at the little pages with details and sights, the sounds of people giggling as they get off the bus with their glasses and weird hats, costumes some of them. My assignment, to not just paint a picture of Barrel Tasting, but put myself there over and over every time I read through my notes. I’m Raul Duke, today. Not so much looking for any American Dream, but the ‘why’ to Barrel Tasting. Is it just a party, that show? Or, is there something else both business and consumer realize. My realization in this early early sitting is that wine makes its appearance and then sometimes is forgotten. The people don’t want wine at all, but an excuse to party, or be with no cares, or to be in wine country and forget about where they’re from… pretending this is their home and that every day is perfect, that all you have to do here is watch vines grow and drink wine, and if you work at a winery you do even less than that. Wine becomes only a scenic ingredient, if that. The wine becomes something other than wine with events like these, and I want to know why.

05:42. I’ll be out the door at around 0730. Head to the Windsor coffee shop and write a bit more for about 30 minutes then shoot to the scene. The scene of wine and barrels and those people with their ridiculous getups and bracelets… the groups that come off the bus with their chatter and smirks, giggles and stumbles. I said in a meeting the other night that Barrel Tasting is about buying futures, and education, wine education, after everyone around me after being asked what they think of when they hear Barrel Tasting voiced shit show, and getting drunk, throwing up in the parking lot, college kids, and other doom accounts. I was optimistic, in delusion. Truth is, I don’t care what I see today, long as I see the why. Why do they do this, seek this event principally.

Heater comes on in my house, I sip my coffee again and understand I won’t be back in home like this for well over 12 hours. Today, Barrel Tasting and the party directly after, will demand from me. A test, as a journalist. Not a blogger, today. Not a writer. But journalist. In the trenches of a winery on a wildly busy day, people surrounding me and me the one journaling either using my coded notation system or having to sentence more than so so much to inner board. A test, maybe not so much. I’m a tad of nerves, presently, but more eager to find, and SEE, the why. After they taste wine from a barrel, and even if they buy futures, or one of the bottles or even a case of the featured bottles, then what. I’m not even sure I’ll find an answer today or tomorrow or Sunday. Or next weekend. (Yes, it goes two weeks.). And if I don’t, I hopefully have something to record, report, what they all did tasting from the barrels and asking me the questions they did.

Relax, I tell myself. Have some coffee. Enjoy the quiet. It’s the last you’ll experience for over 12, 13, maybe more hours. Today’s the day, wine “journalist”. You’d better be in your character, tuned and primed and constructed for your composition.

Wine notes…

Tasting new wines last night and I had expectations that I found hard to shed, on a Petite Sirah. I forced myself to sip and pretend I didn’t know what it was at all. I had to convince myself of this, and it worked. I saw more in the PS, and was educated in the varietal. I feel that too often we are locked into our perceptions and set understandings when it comes to varietals. It tasted better, actually, with this mind I assumed, and I felt more of what the wine was trying to say. I felt closer to the wine, the act of sipping it.

Try it!