Latest St. Francis Visit, 9/29/15

IMG_8885So I finally had the opening in my schedule to visit St. Francis, the winery I’d argue that started everything.  And I mean EVERYTHING.  My passion for and relationship with wine, my family’s involvement with wine, and everything wine in my life.  I walked through those enigmatic doors through and under the bell tower, and to the bar, where my old friend Ronnie was pouring for two or three sizable groups and managing everything with a fluency and assiduous momentum that anyone in hospitality would envy.  My flight took off with the Sauvignon Blanc, a 2014 which showed all the versatile and vivacious qualities I look for in an SB, a bottle with not just a peculiar persistence to its form and fold, but as well food-pairing capabilities and a stern collusion of tropical qualities and texture.  Then the Estate Cuvée Blanc, a white Rhône blend which I’ve always enjoyed an not just from taking to white Rhônes perhaps more than others in Sonoma or Napa do– it’s just a finely revolving and musical white wine, with that acidic subtext and slight oak influence that grabs the sipper and instructs on a different way to converse with white wines.  Then the Chard which I always love, then a storm of reds Ronnie insisted I taste.  I tried to stop him but he wasn’t hearing it–  the IMG_8889RRV Pinot, then the ever-famous Behler Merlot, the Lagomarsino Cab, Rockpile Red– everything telling me I need to fall deeper in love with wine and its story and stay close to St. Francis as  a winery and why wouldn’t I as it’s always teaching me something new about wine and certain blends and varietals, and something even more rewarding about me as a wine-riled writer and how to see wine in my life.


St. Francis started out as a dream of founder Joe Martin and his wife Emma.  I’ve always found their story and path compelling and telling to me, one always scribbling alongside what I sip and intersecting me with magnetic and encouraging people like Ronnie, and all through this industry– only the positive and the love and family-sewn story that brings people over that small bridge from the parking lot and through the doors under the so-known tower.


Once the tasting was over I walked around a bit, out on the patio and to the lawn, and around the parking lot a couple times, just thinking and remembering all the family moments precipitated here, and where I am now with my wined life, and how it all started in that tasting room, on both sides of the bar.  When I used to pour with Ronnie and now just as an obsessed patron; one with a near-cult paradiddle to his ideations and speech whenever St. Francis lands in the conversation.


While finishing my entry here and remembering my latest elbow-on-bar scene I sip the Merlot, the ’12, one you’d find at several stores in this area and elsewhere.  Dad used to tell me whenever he was on a trip and he wanted a bottle of wine he’d go to a local wine shop, always look for a “Frannie red”, he’d say.  And it’s obvious why.  Nothing nears this phylum and forward of grape interpretations, red or white.  So I take another sip, find my Self in and on a new flight.


Friday My Friday

The war with tech on wages, and I type on my wife’s new laptop, the one issued by herIMG_8260school (they would never do that for adjunct at the JC or university… spit!).  Trying to stay focused on my mission tomorrow with Dad and not be befuddled even the slightest by this latest tech clash.  This is like Ukraine and Russia, or the Russian-supporters or what be.  Not sure what side be me, as as soon the writer thinks he’s ahead and in so many ways dominant, he’s set back, attacked, and…  Don’t want to talk about it.  Feels odd typing on someone else’s computer, and the writer tries to ignore it, re-focus on the wine I sipped tonight, the Kunde Family’s ’14 Magnolia Lane SB.  I texted Zach, their winemaker and tangential friend to the writer, that this SB translation show much more vintage congruency, much more texture and impact, impression.  Now the writer’s in his night’s cap, seeing the day come morrow, Dad’s and my first mission together; wine-honed and to only gather content content CONTENT.  For the startup and for this wined log of course.  No TV on, and me with my IPA wanting to makewine buinse wine, again today hearing Glenn talk about the Kick Ranch and the various clones present on the block sequences and how they need water and how there’s only so much water.. maybe I’ll take a couple IMG_8258classes.  Or maybe I shouldn’t.  I’ve been an academic all my life, what if I turned into one just fully living wine?  No formal schooling or any institutional stretches, just teach mySelf?  Yeah that IS what I’ll do.. so if I were to further deconstruct the SB from tonight, I’d affirm it had more almond and vanilla vertices about its strut.  The acidity was more understated than the ’13, and the overall fruit jargon of the wine was less-contrived.  And I think that’s from ’14 being a deliberately reduced crop, or at least that’s what I was told by —–.  But the consumer doesn’t care about that, they want to enjoy what their sipping and this SB has more universal elevation and speak to it than the ’13.

The weekend, or weekend-like for a writer like me.  Beginning my running again on Monday, Labor Day.  Only 5 miles, and more emphasis on weights in my routines.  And maybe even a bit of boxing, just for added cardio.  Have to be alive and quick my babies, and for the traveling I’m near to do.

IMG_8257        And then I notice the writing slow, and my attention wander and stray like one of the domestic cats on the Autumn Walk block.–  Reached down over arm of couch left for beer but it was right.  That’s exhaustion, not liquored effects.  Wish it were…  We all slept so brilliantly last night, especially Jack early in A.M. running into our room all chuckles and congealed humor, hopping over my stomach to lay next to me and tell me about the how Gra’pa and Magah (Mom) are coming back soon.  This more calculates the family winery aim.  And walking the blocks today with Glenn as I did, talking about Syrah clones and GSM’s and the Pinots he makes…  So much more to my story, my family’s story.. and it’ll be written, you’ll see.

Should get to bed soon.  Have a long day of wine IMG_8249study tomorrow with Dad– Want to show him ME on my A game, at my most precise and acute.  Again distracted by how Jackie’s cars litter the floor here in the family room of the Autumn Walk base.  His confidence of ownership is more than luminescent and proverbial, he’s of the founded and formed mind that he can do anything, that anything’s possible.  What an entrepreneur my little Artist would make…  WILL make, when a part of this mmc camp.


Mock Somm: St. Francis Winery, Dry Creek Valley, Petite Sirah, 2012

I’ve always loved Petite Sirah but this bottle contains more persuasive and IMG_5337proselytizing qualities than most PS interpretations I’ve tasted.. the inaugural contact is not just charming, it’s vocal and musical, with soft but thick and rich floral and chimes of cherubic chocolate framings. Or, lavender? Or violet. This wine is not just reflective of St. Francis’ prominent éclat throughout Sonoma Valley, and the wine world definitively, but as well the ’12 vintage, and the curious capacity that Petite Sirah carries. I, as do others, even the might master somms with all their accolades and menus they’ve designed and talks they’ve given, have always found the type itself a bit evasive, hard to define. But whatever it is, this bottle does more than the mere expected template judicature. Here I’m sipping innovation, a new interpretation.

IMG_5336And the traditional somm will strike! Move to protest and the self elevation inflammation.. “This isn’t Petite Sirah.. something so smooth.. where are the tannins? Why doesn’t it have more smokey notes? Why doesn’t it have…” Huh? Why does it “have” to have anything? Why not a new interpretation of the varietal and provide consumers with a new song? Again, I’ve always loved Petite Sirah, but this bottle by one of my favorite Sonoma County houses has me singing, has me thinking of what other reds they’ll provide me, the apotheosis of a ‘big red’, from the house of big reds. The texture I could carry on about for the entire entry. So what should I score it?… I have to score it something, grade it– “Aren’t you and English Professor? What grade would you give it?” It’s wine.. I don’t grade wine. I just enjoy. And the one’s I don’t, I don’t write about. This bottle, as stated, sings, captures, colludes. And I follow. In sip… Ok.. so….. 98 Points. Or do I write it “MM 98”?


Stay Sagacious

IMG_4436Knew right where I was going from the Petaluma Campus, I wanted something to sip of a Bordeaux bend and bravado and I had a certain centering in mind.  So I stopped at Bwise Vineyards, the little embracing tasting room right by Café Citti.  Started with the ’12 Pinot, insisted kindly by my longtime compadre Josh from around the AVA, Sonoma Valley.  Upon aromatic contact I was nudged by rich subtlety, almost to the point of befuddlement, but with a couple more swirls I was wooed by its inherent exposition; the story, the charm and the radiant roar of this Occidental Pinot, as Josh disclosed; 18 months 50% new French.  I this is what I know Bwise to show, tell, share.. so, no surprise for the ravishing start.  Then to the Wisdom, the bottle I nearly always take home when I visit the Bwise Room.  What is there to say but “loud engagement” in this bottle; provocative, voice, persuasion and sensory magic, beginning to finish.IMG_4439  Only reason I didn’t buy a bottle today, I had to get another notebook, as the current Comp Book heaps, and I have over 13 weeks left in the semester…  Then to the ’10 Trios blend, 59% Cab Sauv, 20 Syrah, 12 Cab Franc, and surplus split about PV & ME (Petite Verdot, Merlot).  And I could list and summarize everything else I tilted into my character but it was all uniquely resplendent and quite voluminous.  And approachable!  This is what anyone would deem a “luxury” or “boutique” winery, or “label”, and its approachability and universal feel and character, and song, make it inviting.  That’s why I stopped, right there, on the corner of 12 & Shaw, to have my connection, my appeasement, of Bordeaux interpretation–  “So why the pleasure with Pinot?” you might probe.  IMG_4438Well, curtly, they do it right.  In that ’12, there was assertiveness without the barbaric bravado you might meet from someone producing a Pinot but yet wanting to avoid its intended and inherent softness, ease, and artful acts.  I came to Bwise today to experience a wine producer with care, with respect for the varietals and that connects with sippers on a postmodern level, beyond simple definition and a dumbing-down of descriptor enumeration (and that’s how well-woven these wines are, and will present themselves to your sense and “palate”).
IMG_4440At the end of the visit, my good friends Josh and Sunshine poured me a flight of Bwise behemoths; the ’10 Monte Rosso, the ’10 Brion, the ’09 Napa Valley Cabernet, then as a show of welcome the ’03 Napa Valley Cab, to illustrate how the project will hold in cellar.  I was charmed, and not to much shock this was my leaner, or favorite, for the day, and to a writer/professor it blares character, all of these pours and the label inclusively.  I’m home now, in the nook as I always type in eve at day’s close, and think of what I should have tried again, again, and maybe taken a bottle of.  Next time, as I’m committed to again visit, and, again, if you know me you know I will.  I’m a Cab-chaser, and a Pinot-peruser, so maybe tomorrow or next week or sooner than soon.  We writers need be wise with our words and what better room than this little cove at 12 & Shaw.. do I have that right?  Who cares.  I know where it is, I know where IMG_4441I’m going…  Looking at my pictures, and can’t wait to they take me on that mountain/cave tour.. I find mySelf obsessed, consumed in thoughts of IMG_4442that entity and that bar and everything that Josh and Sunshine poured me.  Readying for bed thinking about these wines, and what I should have bought and that doesn’t happen too often; these wines, all of them, have voice and coercive qualities.  I’ll be there, at that bar, with Sunshine and Josh, or whomever’s behind that sleek counter, I don’t care, long as the Bwise wines are there… which of course they’d be.  I left rapt, devout, and thinking of my next visit, which could very well be next week, or sooner.

July Writing, Racing, Rotating

7/1–  10:53pm.  Over 1,500 words to book, finally completing 3PAGE effort from other day.  AC on, still.  Cold down here, really.  A bit uncomfortable.  No wine this eve.  Can’t afford, with 5am run planned.  Tired from day’s shift, and the bloody heat.  Took I think over ten decent pictures at lunch– now just repeating what I JUST wrote in 3PAGES.  Listening to Thievery radio, Pandora, obviously.  Sipping Lemon sparkling tonight.  I know, who cares– so stop reading, then.  I’m not worried about criticisms, analytical shrapnel.. I’m reporting my Now.  That’s truth, honest writing.  And the honesty in this sitting would be my drained state, that I’m not looking forward to the drive the Half Moon Bay cemetery tomorrow, to deliver Grandma to her final site.

Where am I running tomorrow?  Thinking just down Yulupa, then back to castle.  OR maybe I should go on some wandering run, through streets I’ve never seen.  No, the terrain has to antagonize me.  I’ll run to park, or in that direction, along Summerfield.

The pictures from today, reminding me how amazing this area is.  Especially Sonoma Valley.  Just hit 11pm.  Should I watch the news?  Or go to bed.  Thinking the latter’s the more responsible, lucrative option.  I don’t need to post tonight.  I’ve done enough capturing, posting, blogging today.  Why can’t I let mySelf just be lazy for a minute.. actually relax?

A little dazed from my 1,500 words I just decided to sit down & type–  Think I hate the ampersand sign as much if not more than “and.” So how do I get around that?  To tired to dwell.  I’m a mess, readers.. can you not tell?  MY consciousness stream has become glowing gutter flow.  I away from it run, sprint, dash like I will tomorrow against my 45 minute limit.  Hope it’s not even a wink of warm.. can’t take anymore temperature climbs.


7/2– 10:28pm.  3PAGES, done.  Now, readying for rest.  Need so after today.  Have2say, love the town of Half Moon Bay.  Need more new sights, tastes, like today at that restaurant.  When I’m on the road, my budget for dining out will be boundless.  I want to experience everything, all menu types.  For the writing, yes, but more so for me as an Artist, a Human.  And, no run yesterday.  Maybe tomorrow.  One short, useful.


7/3–  2:47pm.  3PAGES, just finished.  Ready for run tomorrow.  Think I’ve written 2much today.  Breaking.  2nd mocha.  Or frappuccino.  Not sure what strikes writer’s fancy.  A cinnamon latte, like I had the other morning at work?


8:53pm.  Going to try in a minute, 1 more time, to download the stills from the other day.  On mind, 10k in morning.  And the 3PAGESaDAY I’ve been rather good at completing for the last few days.  Just need to focus on pacing mySelf, maintaining form.  Want to be in bed soon.  10pm, latest.  And if I write at that point.. it’ll be pen2paper.  Shouldn’t even be freetyping right now.  “Free’typing’”.. huh.  Typing isn’t writing.  Never really thought it was.

Just thought of a goal, to start publishing end of business.  100 pages a month.  Eventually, I’ll stretch to 150.  Then 200.  And no more than that, for a while.  Want everything off this device– OH, forgot the memory stick upstairs.  And my running socks, shorts.  Plan on leaving at 6:30am.  I will be going in after, as I may have noted.. but that’s not anywhere in my meditative aqueduct.

Gathering all those Comp Books today while cleaning home office made me realize I really have to start taking the idea of consolidation as a writer seriously.  I’ve scattered mySelf; I am not necessarily scattered as an Artist.  Fixable.  Not worrying.  Going to force Self to change.  Less, I keep telling Self.  Less, less…  THERE!  The camera finally “synced” with this monster laptop.  Looking at the recent photos, from lunch the other day.. AND past pieces.  I definitely have a business, a livelihood, one incredibly profitably and fun, in all the moments I’m trapping.  Sorry, reader.. excessively excited.  Human, yes.  But a bit annoying for you as the reader, so I apologize.  Tempering.. sharing stills–


2012 Harvest, Revisited

IMG_2330    IMG_2319


 2012’s Harvest was huge.  I’d never seen anything like that before.  And then, before I knew it, before we all knew it, it was over.  What I’ve tasted from those vines, so far, whether newly-released whites from bottle or something pulled from barrel or tank, simply incomparable.  Again, never experienced anything like it.  It was odd, seeing those vines unoccupied, but I know another such vintage’ll happen.  Someday.  Till then, I can only look at the stills I shot.  -MM, 6/19/13


12:16pm.  Both barrels racked.  Cuvée topped with Syrah, Merlot with a little more of that Petit Verdot.  Nice of the winemaking team to let me use more that prized Estate varietal.  Still tired from yesterday’s run.  Want to do two miles or so later, just to put me over 10 miles ran for week.

What wine do I open tonight?  Has to be a red, thinking Merlot.  Mind in a million places right now.  Writing, music, wine, winemaking, little Kerouac, Grandma…  Have to somehow calm.  Exceptionally tired, after the rackings.  Feel like a nap.  No, need coffee, 2get2work on book.  Make some of the pieces shorter.  Want all standalones to be blunt, not overextended.

Yesterday’s walk, providing invaluable thought.  The path, telling me to follow my own.. keep everything simple, as in that “simplicity” there’s complexity, interest, readership.  Checking account balance.. all secure, right where I want it.  Definitely developing obsessive habits with running as I have already with writing.  Could be a positive, but could also serve negatively, leading me to overextend Self, lead to injury.  So, today, not going for distance, just time.  30 minutes.  Not more.  Walking after that.

Writer’s retreat this Saturday, with Alice & Kerouac headed down to Monterey for Father’s Day.  Not making ANY plans.  Staying in.  May do a re-do of the most recent Monti’s night alone, where I planned on having a Lancaster ’09 Estate Cab with the sirloin burger but wound up nearly assassinating a bottle of ’12 SB.  Not this time.  Writing, for that night.. whatever happens.  Not planning.  But I do want some progress on this diseased book.  3 nights before I’m seated in that session.  What if I could have it done by Sat night?  Imagining, for once being ahead of schedule.

Could use another coffee, already.  Sounds quite amazing right now, frankly.  Schedule Draft 1 for Sat: 6:30-8pm, dinner; 8:15-10:15pm, write; 10:16-10:30pm, break; 10:31-1am, WRITE & PRINT.  My kind of evening, where I’m only concerned with writing, printing.  And you know what, I’m printing all new material, that night.  Want the before-July project ready to print by 7/20.

Driving home from winery, again had the appreciative wave for where we are, here in Sonoma’s Valley.  Need to see what I have up there, in office stash, from SV.  My sister, in Portugal, business trip.  More motivation to get to Road.  Almost there, I know, but I have to push hard.. I’m getting indignantly, testily impatient.

Reading tonight.  Just started a little, on 2nd standalone, “IT.” After release of this book, a 50-something page chap.. going to keep them coming.  At this bloody point, I don’t care if anyone reads, or buys.  I just want the writing out, and the older writings resurrected.

Time for coffee, soon as this post is “posted.” I’ll sip & read.. that French Roast, calling the writer.

Just read a little from book.  Like the pages, how they sequence–

Grounds crew here in complex, starting their work just outside condo.  Know they’ll wake Kerouac.  Should grab that coffee now.



Still at home.  Jackie, asleep.  Haven’t had a chance to go out and write.  When I do, only bringing Comp Book.  And only writing verse, poetry.. three standalones in 2 hours.  My goal.

Tonight, opening something good, in wine’s way.  But what?  One of the championing Merlots.  I think the Duckhorn– no, the Trefethen.  Think it’s an ’09.

The 3 standalones today will go into book2, to be done before 7/20.  Topping that project, or I’m hoping to, at 101 pages.  Starting to feel the mocha’s scaffolding leave me.  Hard to continue writing with no momentum.  Have to remember to print pages at some point, today.  Should probably also do a backup of my work on this devilish laptop.  When out for coffee, will pretend I’m a tourist, traveling light, and can only speak in verse.  No sentences, no conventionality.. only written music.  Again, 3 pieces, standalones.. spoken word songs.

Hungry, but not in mood to eat.  How does that work itSelf out with any logic?  Bored…  Going to research travel targets.. Barcelona, Rome, Belgium, Thailand, Australia.  And on road, I’d only bring with me the Comp Book.  Or legal sheets.  But then I can’t post immediately.  And I think that’s why I find this blog so addictive– that I can record thoughts, instantly release, sent immediately to book/bottle.  No aging.

Thinking the next book SHOULD be 200+ pages.  And the next, next, the next…  Want to have ALL my writings in world when I’m gone.  Or at the horrible least: printed, bound, prepared.

The element of Travel in Literature.. possibly something to explore in Fall, especially with Capote.  And Faulkner.  Maybe wine, too, as an address.  Not as a beverage, but as a scene shifter.  Again, possibly.. just thinking about it.  Set on Fall being my best term to date.. especially after my conversation with the IL English Professor yesterday in tasting Room.

3:58pm.  Printing book.  All 120 pages.  Nervous, for some reason.  Well, no.. not “some.” It’s MY book.  Only doing 2 prints of this ms, or planning on it anyway.  This draft, and the final.  My assignment, 40 pages a night, read.  Keeping it as raw and rough as possible.  So you know: want to capture how I was feeling, precisely what I was thinking at the time.  Refuse to get frightened by this editing.  I’m looking forward it, really.  And when I get discouraged or exhausted.. I’m forcing Self to stay in that bloody chair.

This definitely calls for that bottle of Trefethen Merlot.  Radically warrants it.  Not leaving house, decided.  And three standlones… by night’s end.  Think that’s fair.  Yes, it’ll be spoken song.  Ready to start writing, now, soon as this printing’s done.

Maybe I should go get a mocha, then return.  Yes, that’d be okay.  Feeling alive, monstrously Literary, watching my book print.  Need to practice this more.  Know I sound silly, juvenile.  Book2.. can’t wait.  40 pages, 80 more…

Continuing in print.  Will get coffee downstairs after whole of book’s on paper.  Well, should really get fresh air.  Crazily stirred.. stirring in crazy.

And all this junk on my desk doesn’t help, tell you that.  Ugh, looks like ink fades already.  You know what, I’m only printing first 80 pages.  I’ll do the last 40 in two nights [again, as I’m setting on reading forty pages/night].  Yes, going to get a mocha.  May skip on the wine, so I can get through my 40 pages.  Or maybe I should do what I can tonight, then finish tomorrow– setting Self to go for long run AND edit.  What a V-Day that’d be.

5:09pm.  Back in home.  Edited first standalone in book, to get started.  Surprised how much I liked it.  Feeling unusually confident.  Will read another piece tonight, or two, so I can’t rush with the Trefethen.

IMG_32146:50pm.  Started sipping rest of ’08 Syrah I popped night before last.  Tastes a bit oxidized, but still with those darker notes I like, that I know pretty much all ’08 Sonoma Valley Syrahs to have.  Decided against opening the Trefethen, and rather elected unleashing the reverse GSM my immeasurably charming friend Sarah gifted me on the 29th, my birthday, at that Naked Wines & Tasting Lounge mixer.  Thinking of that event reminds me how disgustingly calescent it was, the weather in Sonoma’s homely valley.  If I were on vacation, at a resort with a pool nearby it wouldn’t have been so troubling.. but since I just clocked out, in familiar surroundings, it bothered me.  Anyway, back from tangent.. thanks to my sister Sarah, and I can’t wait to free this Rhône juice.  Oh, and to add even more specificity to this evening’s unfoldings: I’ll be pairing it with a Whole Foods burrito.  Humorous, or genius?

IMG_3215Revisiting Midnight in Paris tonight, for the first time in weeks.  Think its today’s printing of my book’s pages that has the writer so inclined to do so.  Thinking of Hemingway’s emphasis on truth, bravery.  That’s exactly what this book is, all 120 pages.  Disappointed I didn’t write even 1 of the standalones in Comp Book– no matter.. I’ll do so tonight.  One of my former students, texting how excited she is about Poe, for the 1A section come Fall.  I’ll again demonstrate honesty in this prose: Fall, 2B my strongest semester.  Ever.  For a number of reasons I’ll later disclose, when the term’s in tow, throw.

That Syrah, swirling my head a bit.  Looking at an old still I shot at the Dry Creek Winery, which I just learned is AGAIN for sale.  Serves them right, frankly.  But anyway, this picture of all the lined barrels, just after rain, makes me think of tasting in France.  Not where I did in ’09, but where I WILL taste, in futures near.

Little Kerouac, again asleep.  Complete quiet in condo.  But this music’s volume, barely breaking audible barrier, or “threshold” as winemakers love saying.  Finally in relaxed mode, mood.  No worries, I’m told.  Thankful.  Thinking of Grandma, what she must be thinking tonight.. what she today entertained.  Opening bottle.



8:45pm.  First glass, small pour.  Earthy, herbal red fruit, pepper, wild.. gorgeous.  Just the kind of wine I need tonight.  Thinking about Grandma.  Hope she’s comfortable.  Need to go visit her, tomorrow, before my run.  Part of me’s afraid, the other viciously eager.  She’s done so much for me, throughout Life.  She recalled the days in the Bayview house, when I visited her in the hospital the other night, how she used to care for my sister and I– prepare our lunches, provide for us when sick.  This is difficult, the present platform with her, my sweet grandmother.  Pouring a glass for Her.