img_6446Finally I get to sit, write.  Friend from an old winery I used to work at, part-time and on-call, Arista, coming over.  Recorded note while driving on Stony Point, or Marlow, on way home— “Well I’m driving and I’m stressing about what I’m going to write as soon as I sit down to write, that’s how I know when it’s not a good time to start day’s writing, jest let it go, wait and the time will come for me to sit down and start writing.” Odd mood today, and not just me, but the whole county, fires and smoke and haze from whatever fires remain.. air telling me to stay home, don’t fear any looters as so many do, just drink the night’s wine (Cab from Paso and SB from NZ).  More notes than I know what to do with on past wines.  Still have to edit Hitching Post piece, the blend I pulled from the shelf… where was I?  Can’t remember, think El Dorado Hills with wife and kids, little time I had to self and went to store to get night’s writing assignment.  All offerings tasting different, post-fire.  Jesse bringing over a Dutcher Crossing Carignane, ’15, last night and the tune was contrasting what I associate with the winery, wine type, vintage, AVA, everything. Not that my senses are damaged— I mean, at least I hope not— but there was a morphing of something in me, or wine, or my interpretive lens.  Can just hear the wines for tonight over there by the knives and drying glasses, cleaning utensil (the one with the hard, pointy, painful bristles, pink and white), and bowl I had the cashews and almonds in for Jesse and I last night.


Had a meeting earlier with a wine blogger/startup buddy, but interrupted by false alarm of looters on our street.  I rush out of his office and into my car and here to Coffey Park… nothing.  No looters.  Yes, police, obvious presence to deter looters, post-fuego, but no threat.  So, out of breath, still, I try to collect.  And I don’t want these goddamn fires to dominate my 3,000 words for day.  No, not happening.  Not sure where Kevin is, my Arista friend.  Hope I didn’t scare him off, texting him “My neighbors will shoot you before the guard does.” After he asked if he’d get stopped by the Nat’l G’s.  Hope he knew I was joking.

img_6447Went by winery today.. still closed, but wanted to check on production crew.  I could tell they were busy and not at all interested in conversation so I backed off, took one picture, and left.  Not sure when we’re opening back up, but it doesn’t matter.  MY wine business continues, and my wined notes and jots, inward and outward persist.  Wine… should open that NZ SB.  Have a burrito from Oliver’s for dinner, will pair that with Cab.  Not really a wine-food pairing centered and/or intentioned guy, I’ve noticed.  I mean, I try, but I think that any wine goes with any food… well, for the most part I guess.  I have a grilled chicken burrito, and I’m paining it with a Cabernet.  I’m CERTAIN I’ll enjoy it.  Why wouldn’t I?  I guess if the burrito or the wine is irreparably flawed then yeah, it won’t be one for the books.  But wine and food-pairing is a convenient “science”, at best.

Poured first pulse of SB, just before Kevin arrived.  He’s now left, 18:53, he and I recalling days at Arista and career moved, and all involved.  Now into the Paso Cabernet, not yet heating up burrito, wanting to see 1,000 wine words here in kitchen at counter—  K and I talking about discrepancies in the wine industry with motivating staff to sell—  Why not pay them more or “incentivize” as they always say?  So many of the wine industry’s problems are easily solvable, I see and the words exchanged with K tonight cemented img_6441such.  Sb showing much more harmony and music and over smile than the one I had the other night.  I type without looking at keys, in fact looking around the room I’m in, the kitchen, into the living room and thinking about winemakers like John whom I saw today not he crush pad trying to function some machine to press whatever he was pressing— I’m guessing Cabernet… and me sipping this Cabernet and reminded there’s so much more story in the bottle than the consumer realizes.  I’m not anti-consumer… I’m the consummate consumer.  BUT, there need be more awareness of wine and it’s the winery’s job to do that.  So ME, as a “manager” of a property, I need to tell the Roth story.  Meeting on Wednesday, and I’m going to barrage the council with a vision.. I will be mimicked, copied.  I’m not bragging, just confident, eager, willing and creative, able.  Not sure what this is meant to state or assert but I’m in my house with radiant wines… and I have a house.  I HAVE A HOUSE.  I’m guilty, I feel guilty, I’m crippled in guilt and I can only drink more wine and write.  Wine is speaking to me now.  Before I opened the SB, before Kevin got here.

img_6448Finally, I’m sitting, and writing.  After this first thousand, I’m set to heat the burrito.  See how it “pairs” with the Paso Cab.  No music in the house, now, which is rare for me, if ever the reality.. the Cab now telling me to turn on music and heat up that burrito and get to real work.. ‘wine and food pairing’.  Part of me’s like ‘who cares’ but then the other parcel is partial to my perspective of ‘write about it’… okay.. Paso Cab with a burrito of grilled chicken… yeah, I’m sure it’ll be amazing, what do you want me to say?  I see a little left of the Cab, in my glass… sipped…. alc’ is more visible than I remember.  But there’s a stark vile and leather, smoke-set sinew to its physical palate presence.  I’m reminded of that morning, eight days ago… and I’m here, in my house, sitting, writing, sipping wine.  Something feels wrong.

A little over 90 minutes since I left Punchdown Cellars. 


Britt, checking in on some single-vineyard Syrah.

Here in class, writing notes for a short lecture, not even a lecture but more a meeting.  Seeing the wines I tasted and the barrels all around me, the fruit coming in and the men on the forklifts…. My first effort chasing anything ‘somm’ is to review basics…. Starting with regions, key varietals…. Should that be where I start?  May meet with friend Robert, a Master Sommelier on retainer at Foley, after work Saturday.  “But how do I prepare?” See everything as wine-told… a varietal… see everything in terms of character and whatever wine I open tonight get as far into its character and voice as you can.  500 words.  Or between 500 and 510.  On one wine.

Listening to my ami Britt, who I thought might be there but had no assurance I would run into him and taste through as many ‘bbls’ as I did, talk about the the two lots of Syrah and his CF, and the Pinots from the same vineyard but two separate clones…. I have to not only accelerate my wine learning but see it more as an exploration and not so much “learning”.  Yes, the goal is to learn so I can pass exams, get certified and what be, but more to have that initial shoves to get out there and explore.. see and taste and listen to everything.

This iced coffee has me remembering one of the Pinots, exhibiting a bit of that malolactic conversion “funk” as Britt and I called it, and as I’ve always seen it.  Not a disagreeable quality or suggestion, but entirely unavoidable, noticeable, integral in the wine’s current composition.

My head’s here, in this classroom, but not.  I can only see, hear, touch, talk, feel wine.  No the drinking or even tasting and spitting act, but everything at that facility— all the movements and sounds, people walking around with instruments, ready to sample…. I’m still there.  I’ll never leave.  The story won’t let me, and I won’t let it let me.


At winery.  Quiet.  No activity on crush pad, or room to my left, but that certainly doesn’t mean that there won’t be activity later.  Hoping for a busy day, hoping for sales, and taken by my idea this morning of my own wine retail business… not a new idea by any tilt, but certainly a relevant and provocative revisit of past ideation.  After work going to Bottle Barn and planning to buy a healthY amount, for research and writing purposes, tasting with Mom and Dad to solicit their insights and see what they measure the salability of the bottles to be.

All is poetry here, in this world, about wine and even in the dullest acts, like at EOD yesterday with all the cash counting and accounting, there is story and character development.. a curious mythology and functionality, story.  Luckily I had Thomas there to assist and talk me through the impact and gravity of each step.  I saw scenes… like I said, story, and character in what I was doing.  Education.

After his post, get on clock, start the day, pretend this winery is MY business (which in a way, it is), my wine shop, and note everything… from co-workers’ strengths, to reactions to wines, to how wines taste, to weather, to how appointments were booked and feedback from guests.  Note EVERYTHING.  And do so poetically.  Like:

Woman, Minnesota, loving Sauv

Blanc, but her

Mind can’t be changed on

Chardonnay.  Loved Merlot,

Thought Cab was okay…



Something like that.  This whole day will be a collection of standalone pieces and poems, songs and thoughts… for MY business and life.

Couple more sips of the 4-shot mocha I needed and off I go.  The poem of this sitting is in its low volume, its equanimity, zen.  Hear production crew, somewhere off to left.  Wonder what they’re up to.. let’s go see…

Tasting the Rooms. 

Every Room

Ides of September telling me something, this morning.  But I don’t want to keep writing the same thing about wine, and the same approach of linking wine and poetry, but poetry has been all I’ve thought of since last night seeing one of my ever-favorite poets holding a large format bottle of Lafite Rothschild.  Sure I misspelled that, but I’m not caring too much this morning.  Just want to write, be with wine in more creative ways… the more creative the more I’ll see.  Should go for a walk on the crush pad… see what I see.  OR, taste though the wines early this morning, take some notes… The Sauvignon Blanc was especially vocal the other day, as was the ’14 Sonoma Coast Pinot.  Last night’s wine, the Meeker Cab Franc, still on thought plate.  My plan today is to work hard, and sell as much wine as I can, and not in some cheesy way— but never mind that.  Get into the story of working in a tasting room, the people coming here to taste wine and maybe make a purchase or two and —  Just heard a long and large rumble from the crush pad, sounding like a barrel or something dropped.  The crush pad is especially dangerous this time of year, harvest, which is acutely why we don’t bring people back there— there’s another.  Just what I need to go check out.  I’m in wine mode today, wine writer and blogger mode, not adjunct English Prof’ form.  I want to see and taste and feel everything about wine.  There’s more here than what you see immediately.  More to a tasting room than just “working” in it, trying desperately or not so desperately to make sales.  It’s the counter, that border that separates the guests and us.  But if there that much difference aside from one of is the pourer?

Near taking my walk.  Want to taste the large crush pad rooms and all the activity that evolves and sounds when there.  There’s another border, them and us, but we’re working at the same winery.  Production, Tasting Room (or “TR” as we more often utter).  So much to take in from each room, each specific detail.  Before my travels I’ll travel to every corner and cranny and nook and plot, morsel and niche of this building, of the vineyards.  Take everything in, as I urge students—  And I’m a student, too.  So, I need study the surroundings if I’m to truly taste them and understand their empirical truths.  Right now, two of the production guys, Dave the Cellar Master and one other tireless bloke, move around some hoses, large CO2 (I think) tanks.  Wonder what they’re doing.  I could of course go ask, which I eventually will, but right now I enjoy wondering, the curiosity of it all, pretending I’m one of those on the bar’s other side.  Poetic… all poetic.  Need a sip of something.  Get into character.  Get into role.  Get more into the room, this room and all of them.


No writing today.  And I’m sour.  A flawed flower.  On lunch, I lunched, depending on certain things to happen.  Capturing my mood, and my wheels now race with served ferventness.  Come apocalypse or a certain atmospheric aptness…

I’m a sword with indiscriminate pulse, momentarily.  I have to fixate on the ideal.  And I will, with all wheels.  No way this can go on the blog, and I wouldn’t want it to— as now I hate everything and everybody and every smirk that wish boasted on social media.  At least I’m writing.  At least I’m true to this writer’s layer.  A certain writer, I guess you could say famous, receptive to my involvement in the stage interpretation of his “novel” if you could call it that all of a sudden to back out or complain in a text to me that he’s been up since 3.  And do I care… no.  Just what I expect from humans.  Notice I don’t anymore capitalize.

My mood and redolence is low.  What can I do but hope somehow I wake early… finish this fucking book and get on the Road… travel.  The whole entire wholeness of this goal, of these inward jots, is to travel.  And before you say it, yes, it’s definitively a selfish aim.

Want to keep writing but—  One more glass of the Meeker Malbec.  Why not.  I’ve had a long week and with a long semester ahead of the writer… again, why the fuck not.  I’m not sorry for this day to die if you need to know.  Nothing in particular persisted, just he voices of some make me wonder why I try to abide so kind.  Why not not care, I’m thinking.  HST said life was better once he was forces to stop taking it seriously, stop caring.  Oui?  Alors…. I’m here.  With my mood.  With all this, my life a writing father hoping these inward notes take me somewhere and tell me something… today, with all the grapes landing and the lady the other day saying something like ‘If you’re gonna dream you might as well have your druthers…’ Yeah…. YEAH.  So I’m here now on the couch, with my last glass of wine, in this beatnik/gonzo/lost mode…. Quiet in this house with two kids but that could change any minute.  Was going to turn on TV but then I thought “Why the fuck would I do that?” It’s quite in here.  I’m a writing/working/writing-working daddy, I need the zen, peace, still, soundless romance of my balance yet fiery and multi-layered scene.

I’m writing now.  And it’s sweet.  Sweeter than sweet.  Like the candy at Goody’s, in Sunriver— so many memories and thoughts of me as a kid there now I’m 30-fucking-8, an old fucking man wishing I was that age where I didn’t have to care about shit and…. Sip the rest of your wine, Irishman.  And now he doesn’t want this day to pass, this Irish kid, who’s so far from a “kid” it’s insulting and laughable and telling to merely type that.