On lunch break, in kitchen, thinking of what wine to open later. 

Not sipping during day.  Anticipating what wine… what wine to taste, the wine’s philosophy and language scoping my immediacy, me right here in the kitchen writing about wine, while not tasting it at all today.  Not sipping with guests, making the writer more focused, more observant, more creatively defiant in the tasting room— noting everything that everyone says.  May go back to winemakers’ kitchen and see if any coffee remains.  Care less if it’s cold.  I really don’t care.  You should see how speedy the fingers gallop and pervasively prance on the black keys of this laptop that sits atop a stainless steel island counter.  I snack on leftover snacks from a private tasting group from last weekend.  Women who graduated from Harvard business school or something, all living in Bay Area.  Nice group.  Didn’t much touch the food component.  Boon for me, and this sitting.  The island surface is a bit higher than a normal desktop surface, at which I can only make jokes in my head, like I’m sitting at a kids’ table during a family gathering, or I’ve shrunk at my old age, or I took one of my daughter’s or son’s chairs from their room with me to work and needed it for this winery, tasting room, freewrite.

Group of seven with co-worker now, dropping names telling her, my co-worker, ‘Yeah I know so and so, and they I could get this and that, and yeah I’m so happy to be here so please start giving me free shit….’ Not the first time I’ve seen this.  You just go along with it.  Me, in my pages and pages of wine, I have to laugh at the tasting room dimension and tangibility.  If you don’t, and you’re just getting into this industry or are new to it, you’ll go berserk if you don’t see everything humorously.  You have to laugh, even when you don’t have to for survival.  Like the groups or just couples, or even singular person, that take forever to get through five wines, one flight.  You notice on the first pour they took a while, then wait to see it the same happens with wine #2.  It does, so you pour a little less for 3, and it doesn’t help.  Then, at end, they buy nothing.  What were they looking for, you have to ask.  And if they were taking notes, what do they do with them.  I mean, I’m a writer, and I don’t write that much when at the bar, when someone’s hosting me.  I take abbreviated captures, and develop later if I warrant.

Can hear the group out there. Guess the wind made them escape to the Room.  Feel bad for co-worker, Brittany.  Should have waited to take this literary lunch till after they broke from property.  Well, I’m here, in the kitchen, at the winery, dreaming of wine I’ll after work sip and scribble about, note in which ever journal I can on my hands get.  Just heard one of them say, “This is a more greasy Chardonnay, is it not?”, in a thick and somewhat slow, congealed British speech.  How many wineries have they been to before this one?  Should clock in early, help her behind bar, get them out of here.  And if you’re in the industry, and you have groups that show up unannounced and start name-dropping and just want a “revisit” of this one and that one and then the other wine again, you can’t wait for them to file out and get the fuck back into their cars.

Going back out there.  Eat the rest of the cheese, hazelnuts, olives… gone.

But, coffee first.


IMG_1423Didn’t plan on writing this morning, while here in house, before heading out to errands, but I couldn’t resist the keys.  Taking day off from class, after barrel tasting.  I’m not complaining and no I’m not too exhausted to work, I just needed a day to self.  Thinking of my wine shop this morning, driving the kids to school and listening to music on the way home, seeing people sipping their wine or even having an espresso, writing or reading, or talking to each other.  Anything… the point of the shop is a positive place, a place for meditation, collection, to be healthy, alive, in their own place of peace.

10:01, and I don’t want today to get away from me.  I won’t let it.  First to bank, then to get haircut.. then…. Boring.  Could use a vineyard walk.  A run.  Need to run.  Rain’s to be on its way, I’m told, so I should head to gym.  The writer this morning doesn’t know what to do with himself.  No interest in wine tasting, or even being around a winery, which is to be expected after BT.  So… I write freely here in home, no music, just quiet, the slight hum of the fridge.  Didn’t wake when alarm sounds this morning, shamefully, but I can recover.  Or try.

Pictures…. Vineyards…. Bottles.  The Roth cave.  Everything on my phone, camera.  My wine life, or much of it placed in image form, in two devices.  More, if you count the old phones in the file box.  More images than I have time to sort through, but many place me in a vineyard, near wine, near wine’s story and voice.  The scene and imagery, poetry and education, its encouragement and existential echo and variables.

Now not even the fridge makes a sound.  I’m only here with my words, with my wine shop thoughts, and seeing my story compound and expand from one point on several maps to several other dimensions— several, severe love for wine and the people in its contemplative table.

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.