At the Winery….

img_009609:00.  Exactly thirty minutes to meditate, writing, write something I can either post or sell or…. Why not just write.  Don’t worry about the end-game, any end at all.  This morning I find myself at an intersection of decisions, coming closer to 39.  Simplify.  Less.  I’m expanding from and in and toward the meta of all things, all places.  Me.  Walking into the Windsor Starbucks to get coffee, thinking to self and posting somewhere that “…it’s literally that simple, that fancy.” A winery person, me, on the way to the winery thinking down the Road, down my wine business and industry path, as so many of us in the industry do.  Want a shop, of course… my retail business, and here at Roth I learn more than I ever have at any winery.

The wine industry is a template, a “platform” as much I hate that word from its recent and still overuse, and ground of training and practice, creative experimentation.  Co-worker walks in and trots to her desk, and I look at phone, wife messaging me to see if drop-off went okay with babies.  Before I can answer her, I think ‘career’.  A career in the wine industry and how so many want one, and how few think about planning before going into it.  What do you want your focus to be?  Sales?  Winemaking?  Hospitality?  Just some of the thoughts in my head this morning.  No mood, just meditation.  Not trying to be aesopian, just everywhere in the morning and what a winery day wants me to do.  I’m going to taste through the wines as I always do, but take no notes, unless I perfectly have to.

Wine industry, me….  What do I want?  Well…. Lots of layers to that answer.  Much of what I want I already do, have, here at this winery.  But, money’s a concern.  Not so much a concern, really, I just want more of it, as so many do.  So, rather than listing problems, let’s catalogue solutions.  Start with self, with where you are, the “meta” as I noted, but more than that.  With the crush pad and the barrels they have out on the flat, the bottles behind the bar, any appointments we have, the people in those appointments, what they ask and what they want…. Wine, bringing us all together and rowing us closer to a fine collectedness.  I see wine with a poet’s lens, the literary retinae.  Here, in the office where I can see no vines or bottles but if I go downstairs I can see everything.  Music in every image and promise from the winery.

Before coming here to Roth to help manage, Dad said “Make it yours.” What I need do more.  Do… don’t just primrose and vow.  So, like now, I’m in the chair looking at my friend’s bag on the ground, she’s in her cube doing I don’t know what.  Doesn’t matter but it does, but it doesn’t to what I want to write about wine— the floors of the tasting room, the windows, the Bison on the hill, there’s something strange about that but then oddly romantic.  Words in my skin, fingernails and in each sip of the 4-shot mocha I bought a few miles away.  Chalk Hill Road, music all the turns and other contours to the Road which would make the car-sick car-sick.  But me, I sway, fly, lean and enjoy the wind of the cement, how my vehicle moves with its driver encouraged and emboldened by the vines’ image.

If in the industry, make it yours.  Don’t let a thing discourage or down or sink you.  You and you, and you are wine.  It’s more than a matter of making it your own, or “yours”, but giving your story to wine’s story.  Having them blend.  It’s business, it’s an industry, but not at all…. It’s you.  Speaking the language and syncopation of each offering, each bottle, the voice and decision of you and the wine, the decisions you make together.  What you say to those people that walk into the tasting room….  A room of tasting and of life, of discover and music, poetry and realization that wine is much more than a business or industry, or even You.  It’s all of us… the clock and life, the clock reminding us that we only have so much life.  Wine musings from me, writing freely before my day starts, yes, as well as a promise even though I said I would write any in this chair, this morning.  I’m going outside any and all containments, boxes with these next eight or so hours.

There should never be a loss for me, of what to paginate, when writing about wine at a winery.  Even over this music in my ears, I can hear the crush pad bangs and crashed, barrels being tossed one way or the other even drowning out co-worker running down those outside steel or metal, loud stairs to do something.  Here at a winery, me, a day, not a shift but a peripatetic pulse and sprint through images all.  I can see the clock from my eye’s corner.  I try to ignore it, the little bastard, but I can’t really.  I know I have to clock in soon and it’s not something I dread but something I very much anticipate with fervent eagerness.

Want words…. Words from people, people visiting for the first time.  And yes, from pour to pour they’ll say something that’ll make me or myself and someone behind the bar avec moi laugh, sometimes visibly.  But that’s what I can use… that’s what will be, I don’t know, entertaining?  Educational?  Don’t need to know, now.  I need to get to work.  To work, writing.  Capturing everything I see here, at a winery.  I’m not just another winery worker, or tasting room what-have…. I’m recording, trapping, studying what I see for me and anyone else in the industry… hmmm…. And, those wanting into the industry.

(2/13/18)

MOCK SOMM:  2015 Malbec – Farrow Ranch – Devil Proof Vineyards – Alexander Valley, Sonoma County

img_7638Where do I start with the latest Devil Proof dissemination…. First word I wrote the other night was “indescribable”.  And essentially it is.  But I’ll try, remembering not only that initial meteoric octave in the olfactory sway and romance of her smokey, leather-pulsed, and wildly rich tell and grip.  But then, everything after that…. I didn’t want to pair it with dinner, but I did, just from my inability to resist her, further, with the poetic molding of my senses to the way she posed in the glass— vampiric hue, simplified and prolix winks and suggestion.  Only letting self have a small kiss from bottle, to align with dish, then after consider the enrapturing apparition more closely.

Pouring full glass, spin, watch her motions, the wait driving me mad but the wait as well giving me time to think about my approach.  Last time I had Devil Proof, I was bewitched, smitten, interested beyond any other label interest I’ve logged.  First…. Immediate impact, a swarm of notes that I don’t know how to reconcile… I just sat there in my hotel room agog with what spoke to me… she, again… my smiling seraph, the woman encouraging me to not think so hard about the act of glass-tilt, not with this bottle, not with the ’15…. “Just let me sing to you.” She apprised.  Dark chocolate covered cherry scales and separated notes, a Coltrane tune that keeps me in my seat, listening, tasting, feeling.  More than with any other Malbec.

I’ve always seen Malbec as that varietal that so many winemakers want to say they’ve img_7639made.  “Oh, I did a single vineyard Malbec from Dry Creek…” My reaction is always, “Really.” Why actuate and release such an effort if the thesis isn’t clear, innovative?  With this ’15, even more than the last bottle I had, which I think may have been from 2013, has me closer—  Listening, writing, seeing it on every table if I could.  I sat in a helix of stratospheric interest, love, and a bit of anxiety.  Should I just be sipping this Cubist and ravishingly ideological bottle as I am, just sipping and scribbling?  Again she told me, “Stop.”

More into her roll and stroll, telling what she wished told, I noticed more prominence to the fruit, smoke, coy but kindly assertive vanilla, maybe a little illusory, ostensible lavender.  Becoming more an encircling atmosphere, presence.  This is where I found myself scribbling madly as I do when with a wine like this, which isn’t often, not in this intensity, extremity, poetic immensity.  Everything from the structure to the organization and mobile assembly of piquant punctuation… oh, there was just amour.  All geometries and equations, theses and declarative hits from her… I smiled with her, leaned my head slightly to look out the window at Sonoma County and herald the vineyard blocks for composing something like her.  More than ‘something’, but a deconstructive revelation, affirmation, aptly singing to me, right there, in that hotel room.  “Nothing can harm me.  She’s here.” I thought .  “We smile together, sip symphonically.”

NaNoWriMo

img_693211:18.  Been a day so far but finally I can sit, go through the few pictures I was able to pocket and store earlier from a vineyard off Guerneville Road.  Sometimes you need to take yourself out of the picture to understand it better.  That’s where my head is, presently.  Could have woke just before 5 this morning but didn’t.  No dwelling, just staring.  At my pictures… the one of the leaf, the one of that wheel or jagged pulley.  Wish I could have stayed out there all day.  Wish the whole day could have been out there then it wouldn’t have been as it was.

Can’t upload one of my photos, or any of them with the reception here on campus so I img_6942just write.  Refusing to be pinned and penned in that shared adjunct office I come here to the conference room.  Have thirty minutes to write, and I have no idea about what.  Today has shown me a harsh side to days, principally.  But I’ll write through it.  Out of it.  What if I gave the best lectures of my career over the next few hours?  I could do that, right?  I will.  Just talking to them.  Will be in Room in 27 minutes.  Which means logically I have 17 to write.  But write about what.  I’m an adjunct instructor of English here in the conference room of the English department fulfilling no part of my contractual duties.  Should be grading, but no.  Why.  Want to feel free.  Free from the day.  Just for a minute.  I know… this isn’t very wine writer-y of me.  Not sure I care or even want to talk about that dimension of my direction, if it’s a direction.

All this change in my pocket.  Every time I move it jingles and annoys to infinite annoyance.  Write on.  Write past.  Or better, write further into.  Ignore the annoyances not, but rather take them head-on.  Defy them.  Challenge them.

img_6946-1I’ll slightly edit and post shots later.  Right now I need a meditation.  A separation.  Not so much a release, but reason, reasoning.  Getting distracted by life and bills, obligations, appointments, and all compounded by certain ingredients since the fires.  Nothing I can do now, and why get annoyed with what you see on the drive up ‘SM’, then on Coffey?  Just drive, keep going.  Focus on the vineyards as you did this morning.  Look through my old photos for something of focus.  And I find something… leaf during fall transformation.  Need a walk, now… well, you’re going to get one.  Across campus.  To class.  My mood falls, tailspins, just want the day to walk vineyards in France, Spain, Portugal, anywhere but here—  Not right what I’m feeling but it’s what I’m ping-ponging, tirelessly back and forth in my total totality.

Reminding self that all I need is what I have in front of me— watered-down cold press coffee, which is still working and this typing speed is evidence of. My fire, my untitled syllabic tidal wave over and from, through and past my own thoughts.  Since yesterday at the Windsor coffee spot, I don’t want to write around others.  At all.  May type a bit in Maggini Hall once I get there.  I can tell the day is infecting my decisions, actions, perceptions of what’s around me.  Take more pictures… even this plastic cup has an artful value and voice, presence and code.  Just took a picture.. not sure if it’s worth anything but— of course it is.  It’s my moment, now, here, me in this restless rile and tussle with my own ideation.

Know I should leave now, but don’t want to.  Want to take time for me, ME.  Why not.  This whole day has been attacking me and insisting I do this, that, not get to my pages or work on book, this writing father, part-time teacher and winery person, wanna-be photog’… but maybe I don’t have to wanna-wanna.  No… why should I?  Going to note in Composition Book what’s to be done in class.. first.  Conversation, Creativity… solving everything.

Maybe this is a talk with self that I needed to have.  Feels that way.  Mom always said that would work, has been for years.  Need some sparkling water to dilute this caffeine impact, even me a bit.  Print role sheets… shit, should probably do that now.  But I don’t want to stop.  Want to go through more of these vineyard pics, visit and revisit them as tasting room guests say.

Many times I feel I’m writing about nothing but then I see I’m writing me and I estimate this author as a bit more than a ‘nothing’.  Oui?  Time to go, I know.  But don’t want to.  Here, all’s clear.  No— go give the lecture of your life.  Print role sheets first.  Do it now, before you forget.  You always forget to do that or mismanage your time to a point where you just fucking can’t.  Yeah… this isn’t a wine blog.  Well, maybe it could be, like … wine is life.  Doesn’t everyone think and say and suggest that?  Too m any people around me now.  So leave… leave!  I will.

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Much later in the day, evening, I sip a glass of some Pinot, think from ’12, and look at more pictures.  Photog’ is now me, coinciding with my written vivacity…. Another shot, another, one from today along G-ville Rd.  Want to take pictures of everything, write about them.  If a picture’s worth a thousand words, what are the thousand words worth, if compiled?  A book.  BOOKS.  A career.  Took three pictures of my glass, Pinot with its light red/magenta/floral brown sugar shade.  Only thoughts and thought going through my veins and circuitry, a distilling of poise and dereliction, commingled in fruition fission.  A book.  A career.  Then, I’m fearless.  Tireless.  Today’s lectures and my pen-to-paper pulses, cardiac and synaptic in voice.

A day.  Now, ending.  But I want it to keep going.  More images.  Lower level, emptier, me calm, in visually chameleonic Equilibrium.  Pinot knocking on my inhibitions, then merely opening the door— no resistance.  No more ruin, only rebuild, only color, greens and blues and bright cinnamon browns.  I sit on the knoll, writing, corner of Coffey and Hopper.

inward jot

A cemetery on the grounds… an amazing vineyard walk at new property, actually more than one… selling four cases to a couple from the South Bay, people with whom I spent a lot of time, talking about everything from the Peninsula where I grew up, the drive up to Ridge Winery in the Cupertino hills… the views… walking around on the grass just realizing where I am and the new wine story ahead of me…. And, of course, dinner tonight at a soft opening of a restaurant owned by the family that owns this new winery for me…. I’m reflective, contemplative, measured.  Sitting on the floor in the home office, realizing more my current reality and its currency, how I didn’t really write all day, just took notes and shot some still pics and videos with phone (which could later be translated into pages), the writer echoes inwardly, more, telling himself to not stress about times where he can’t write.  Like with dinner this evening with these new co-workers of mine— would I have rather been writing while at the table with them or enjoying their company, the various bottles opened, all the new plates put before us… the oysters, that squid, the burrata, the burger I elected then the desserts, my French Press coffee.  As writers we have to let the moment pervade and land, we study, then paginate later.

Dishwasher in kitchen, I take a break from my types to look at my photo’d record of the day.. wines, views, cemetery, food, friends— new co-worker’s birthday, mine ten days from now.  38.  Have to not think so much about writing and who I write about, and when I write, and WHAT about— just fucking write.  Right?  Tannat open, glass in kitchen and not by me so I can drink slower, and less, focus more on the page and my book.  Hoping to wake early, but just a hope.. but I hope not that it’s jut a hope.  Make it not just a hope, Mike.  And yes, the ‘NO WINE’ lament isn’t going to work, not now anyway.  I need to study wine, react to wine’s character, narrate it as I told that man and his wife at day’s end.  Tangled in my musings, that I’m not even sure are mine anymore but more possessions of the elements around me catalyzing them, if that makes sense.  My sensibilities caution me, against me.. this overly tenacious Self that wants everything and everything in the same timedrop, plated pretty like those oysters and that colorful and cubist burrata.

The stroll around the cemetery with Nic early warned me, reminded me, that this isn’t always.  That the morrow is anything but assured.  That all frames and standalone moment-pieces need be appreciated and examined and written about—  “That’s a lot of work.” Someone might say.  “Exactly.” I return.  That’s why I’m here.  Now, I can have a Tannat lot.  And after that what?  What do you mean, “What?” Whatever the moment is is what’s to be written.  There’s nothing of null gravity.

Writing in Hill-Chalk

img_1997Had a tasting today, unexpected a bit, that shifted my view on wine, surprisingly.  Two SB’s, two Chards, two reds, and I’m sitting here on the floor of the home office knowing something seismic is about to realize.  Just finished a glass of from a Cab bottle in my cellar I was convinced would be shit however it decided to be defiant.  And I loved, love, it. It professes structure and sense, architecture and an autonomous varietal lecture.  I’m in that HST wine-writing fashion— not caring about the destination but only the ride— remembering and intimately recalling what I hated at Chalk Hill, from the two SB’s to the Chards, reds…. I’m reborn in a sort of perceptive ports.. here in a meditative selectivity, measuring my Personhood from where I am and what I did only ours ago at that Chalk Hill rung.

Wine jousts with me this evening.  It challenges my embrace of convention, even when I img_1998tout and flout how rebellious I am, calls me out, tell me I need further go.  There I was, and here I am, thinking about what I saw and tasted in that hidden facet of wine idolatry.  I walked around, just staring at the hills, even while I was poured the 4 whites, 2 reds, noting in my head and in my inner-tablet what to do next with what I was experiencing.  A new Roman Candle, the counter, that hall, that balcony, the pours and I mean all of them in how they uniquely translated varieties while purposing something for consumers like me—  I had more than a tasting, today.  My oenological conception is re-shaped, definitively.  And it goes beyond whites and reds, it’s realizing timing.  Chalk Hill instructed a reiteration of intention, an observed statement—  There is always something to be learned, and what more advantageous instrument for such than wine?  I’m with new intention and thesis about everything.. new Dharma, new path, new Roads— a renewed Beatnik, me.  Solitary poetry, stalking only my electric syllabary.

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wine sketchez

A Pinot purity of wine music you won’t often palate–  Universal while not being that pushover Pinot that so many expect.  Formidable and confident, ardent while concurrently maintaining a poetic femininity, soft and symphonious.  What others would call “light-bodied”, I dub ‘charming and instructional’.  Just the first sip had the writer jovial, thinking of sipping it on a New York hotel balcony somewhere in Manhattan, looking down at the traffic thinking about my life in wine and with wine, why I live in Sonoma County and why I can’t wait to get back–  Why I love Russian River as I do, Pinot as I do.  St. Francis, known to more than a few as the “house of big reds” demonstrates through the alchemical astute and angelically innovative winemaker with her unwavering intent on varietal translation and expansiveness, decides another direction for the Burgundian voice that all sippers can hear and speak, have connection with.  Taking another sip, when I know I should be finishing another article I have due…  I assume its subtle intonation and edge.  It has me space-bound and terrestrially sound at the same time.  One of my favorite sketched wines, so far, easily.  Writing this in the year I turn 38 and St. Francis’ RRV Pinot has me with a pugilistic tilt, like I can take on the wine indistry with subtlety and not image or luxury-obsessed pretension.  This bottle speaks to everyone loving wine, and everyone loving a truly Human wined frame like Sonoma County, like Russian River, like St. Francis.  Like a movie I had always hoped to see, on that changed my consciousness, and I finally viewed it, kind of by chance and some from gift result (parents getting me a bottle, sister the winemaker), but I’m being objective, I swear.  I’m already on my “next trip”.  Don’t worry.  Don’t worry about my relationship with wine and my county.  MY county.  Sonoma.  Not “the other county”, as they say.  They’re only a they, and they need us for comparison, for self-state stature.  But there is no mirroring.  Especially when you sip Sonoma County wines like this.  Nowhere near amiss.

wine sketchez

Is this the best Grenache I’ve ever had?  I don’t know.  I want to say yes but I’m hesitant–  why the balk?  Why?  Okay, it is.  Met Steve, the winemaker and owner of Les Caves Roties de Pente, the other day at an event at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds and he was convivial enough to trade a bottle with me.  This purposive of Grenache has more palate push and texture, communicate fruit and completion than other Grenache scenes I’ve seen.. Metamorphic and metered, more verse in the glass, prompting me to be more free and riled in my literary lean.  This wine is perfect for a poet/essayist/songwriter like I.  So, I fly into this wine further, more conversation code, rattled, from its fruit yodel as oxygen swings and digs into its tasty luminary.  Les Caves Roties de Pente, catching me with its storytelling stride and tasty candor.  So many I’ve heard call Grenache “the poor man’s Pinot”.  Well, they haven’t had this.  This bottle is defiant, delicious, something the over-heralded winemakers should study.  Interested in a way I am NEVER with other varietals.  I nearly feel indebted to Steve, for providing the most enriching wine education I’ve embraced in years.  Need another glass–

wine sketchez

Amphora Winery – 2012 – Mourvèdre – Clarksburg

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Fun and funky little Rhône razzmatazz.  Earthy and rustic, raw berry and spice waves surround your senses.  This is not meant to be for the one who wants the regular, mainstream wine song.  The beauty of this wine resides in its innovative precision and defined defiance.  I found myself sipping this throughout the evening, last night, and it aligned like a swift jazz tune with the pasta with red sauce and blackened chicken.  I’ll be back by the twee little tasting room off of Dry Creek Road any day, to pick up some more.  Nice sipping wine— just what I would sip on a quite early evening to some Thievery Corporation, Miles Davis, The Doors— something to put me on edge a bit, make me think as this bottle does.

wine sketchez

Ramey Wine Cellars – 2014 – Syrah – Sonoma Coast

Laid-back Syrah…  Just what I needed after a long day.  Light, foggy, coastal fruit with that flirtatious ghostly edge.  Something you need to just speak to you with light blueberry and caramel carousels.  I sipped and just thought about the day, honestly, and I have this wine to credit for that.  One of the few times where the wine made me forget about the wine–  It ORDERED me to forget, just resign myself to the Now I was in.  I heard the bottle’s dialogue sing and speak to me through light but convincing texture.  It’s a song, a saunter, charm and atmosphere to itself.  There was something there in that bottle, in that translation of Syrah, that calculated my consciousness and flew past and around my rationale with unusually understated but poignant dynamism and capability.  After three sips I noticed a cherry-like subtle smatter but then it away skipped like a coquettishly phantasmic vixen.  I kept sipping.  I was done with my day and more relaxed than I could have measured.