A writing retreat. 

IMG_7028Or at least pause.  Have been working on mmc since I walked through the door, after watering the lawn as Alice requested.  She in Monterey with my little Beatnik.  didn’t touch the novel today, but I will in the morrow.  Bought a bottle of my favored sparkling lemon water, large size, to rid my system of this wine before bed, or at least thin or dilute it.  Just opened a bottle of the 2012 Mikey Merlot, or Cuvée.  Pretty sure it’s the Merlot, as Alice took the unlabeled bottles from the labeled boxes and put them indiscriminately on the rack int he downstairs closet, my new mockcloset.  The house to myself and I don’t know how to react– my first night alone in this castle, this new abode and safeplace but I’m unsure, and uneasy, so I sip more wine and plan more prose and not in my journal or type– me the write, in love with wine and all the vineyard stories and calls, like today when Andy and I walked the Two Birds block and looked for veraison and didn’t find as much as we estimated would be there, or at least I didn’t, even at one time saying, “We should come back in a week, this is bullshit.” The vineyards are everything to me in my story and my relationship with what I sip, and my Beat and musical qualities as a wine scribbler and torrential terroir typist– on my Road, on my hike to equilibrium, and all through wine, should ask my sister how she came to where she is and her character and wine is to her now, which might seem like and obvious query with an even more estimated response but it’s not to me–

So many quick shot from after work and right before, the vineyard, where I should be writing after work.  I’m sure Al and Janice wouldn’t mind– sweet people like them and their sons would and have only encouraged the Beat and his writing about wine and where the grapes develop their stories and flavored ferocity–  The wine lowers in my glass, I sip and pour more and think about the days at Sonoma State, studying under Bob Coleman and coming home to my San Carlos house in the hills, Bayview, and sharing with Dad and Mom my new knowledge.  Only reason I could go there, and am here, in the Autumn Walk safe, because of them.  I must do the same and more for my children– yes I’m a dad with worry and with vision and with the story, a story of one wanting to rewrite his story.  So much on this kitchen counter again, the tightrope I walk, wait, careful– slow and rightly ridden.. slower…..

A writing retreat.  But there’s no retreat in this writing warrior– ever. No, my beat is one of high bpm and spoken word and confident recital looking down at the audience while I whirl rimes and songs and talk my convictions whether political or wine-coded.  Another sip…  Whichever it is, of my wine.. pretty sure the Merlot…..  Has me deciding the next path for mmc, my little boutique ad station. Me, in advertising and marketing, sales and PR– who knew.  Definitely not me, a novelist.. but this will allow me to do just that, finish the Massamen proyecto.


Finally, writing freely.

Drafts for articles submitted.  But only a couple minutes to type.  Have to go home, shower, then rush to campus to prep for class.  This day, one that tried me but I’m quite comfortable saying, “I won.” Next step, finish the last part of the novel I touched, and some short fiction, and another “track”.  Or poem.  Wish I could take a nap.  But no, I don’t.  I wouldn’t be writing then.  Not at all.  I see a police office walk into the café.  He looks unusually relaxed for an officer, not the mean type, just a guy doing his job and he has a couple seconds to spare for a coffee break.  “Good for him,” I think, nearly say, but I wouldn’t be able to tell how loud if I did say it to myself, with these earphones in.

Feels so lovely, and loving, to finally freewrite, write for myself and not some simplistic tourist script.  I think I might start one of my own, for people visiting, another blog yes but this one with more focus and direction– thinking big, for the world, for people loving wine and Napa/Sonoma, and anything associated with this area and culture.

2:53–  so I should leave, right?  Get ready for class, take a shower.. ugh, can’t I just relax?  No, not someone like me, not with this ambition.  So this new blog.. let’s plan… wine, resources, interviews, insight, new releases…  Food and Wine… information, resources and resources and visuals.. so where do I start?  How ‘bout Rosso Pizzeria & Wine Bar?  Like that Mutineer piece I did years ago?  So many ideas in my head, can’t stop them, but I see more for myself than just pouring wine and slaving as an adjunct–  At least I have my students.  How they ground me.  focus on them, making them proud, showing them that you can DO as well as teach.


MY Winery Story…..


Went tasting at a winery down the road from my winery–er, the one I work with–and experienced different interpretations, studies and soundings, of certain varietals. And I took away the impressions they left, or that some of them left. No names at the moment as it’s not important, just know I noticed what the wines said and I’m home now, much later, sorting out everything in my head– the thoughts and the musings of varietals and the interpretations of varietals.
First, I’m a writer, but now I’m a winemaker learning, and right now I’m exploring Pinot from the winery and remembering what I today tasted. But I’m in a bit of a mood, and this is the writer in me, how do winemakers do what they do if they’re in a mood? The ride to work today, with the music that I randomly collided with on Wohler Road, and what– I don’t know what. I’m in a mood. And I know winemakers can’t get like this, right? They don’t fall into these falls, do they? I need a morning session, and I need to be more organized like a winemaker– so today’s notes involve, so far: varietal appreciation (of interpretation), and battling mood, attitude; and organization of everything, EVERYTHING! If I can’t organize or better sort my affairs personal then how could I ever expect to run my own label?

Landed some contract writing beats today, by phone from a contact of a contact– so thankful, and this motivates the writer evermore to get to his wine label, know what hotels to refer to my guests– and the more I delineate reflectively, the more I want a tasting room, a centered place where I can show people what I’ve done with the grapes and from where I can endorse and recommend, and to other family businesses, like B&B’s, restaurants, cafés, what resounds with the community. And I make wine like I write, with the ethic and knowledge that I write more and with an un-mirrored vivacity.. and continuous and demonstrated.
Jackie’s Spiderman toy to my right, here on the kitchen island surface, reminding my that my label, my winemaking aims are for family, igniting a family business culture that will give my son and any other children the option of coming to the family business, to the story of wine–

Watching time evaporate like patience of an inmate and I’m indeed jailed

The Wohler Bridge, Russian River Valley
The Wohler Bridge, Russian River Valley
in this wine life– funny note: saw a car in front of me, at one of the stops, or the only stoplight on River Road, with a license plate that insinuate with such acronym, ‘Wine Life’. I had to smirk and know that was some sign from the story, telling the writer that he’s on the right winemaking path. Now I sip a Pinot, from where it doesn’t matter, just know I note and know it’s meant to be in the glass now for me to study and converse with– part of the story, my story as an adjudged winemaker.


I know I

should be working on the novel but the Story has thrown me a bit of a curveball, if you would– Nick sending me some information about a place where bloggers/writers may be compensated for content (what an idea!) and Jackie staying home with his writer-father to ensure he gets better and back to his ever-frenzied form. Going through these pictures of IMG_6238wine in glass and the vineyard, the tasting room and my notes even on wines I’ve tasted at the winery and elsewhere, I’m clear what my beat is, not just wine but ‘Wine Language”. And buy such I mean the communicative properties of wine, how it speaks and what its intent is, and what we say in response to wine, how it impacts and stamps our memory. Reading again Kerouac’s ‘Atop and Underwood’ piece “[One Sunday Afternoon in July]” I appreciate his sentiment “My eyes were glued on life./And they were full of tears.”, a reaction to a song, music, music associated with memory and Time and Life and our place in It. Kerouac remembered exactly where he was when he heard that song, the exact point in New York. Just as we remember the setting and Time and mood when we sipped a certain bottle, or walked a certain vineyard block. And that’s why I only stayed at that tasting room on the Healdsburg Square for a couple weeks– it wasn’t on a vineyard, they wanted me to recite from some hokey simplified and non-inventive scripts they wrote (at the fourth-grade level); no stimulation, no push, no curiosity to follow. I was dead there. That’s not wine. At the current estate with whom I’m working and writing about, there is only life, only the constant reiteration wine and the pours and the voice and Time and Literature to wine. It’s own story, and one I want to read. Kerouac later writes, toward the middle of the piece: “…I find myself the brethren of many other poets…what is my next move?” My next move, this writer, can only be with wine, this new winery (Arista, Westside Road in Healdsburg). And to what and to where, I don’t know, and I shouldn’t know, not now. The story will take and tell me, the wines and those Pinot Blocks in front of the tasting room will instruct me what to write while syncopatedly encouraging autonomy. Delicious duality in this wine, this wine scribblers life.

I push the ‘Underwood’ MS to the side, open some of JK’s poems, much of which I can’t understand but enjoy. And that’s more than lovely with me… So much to do today and I only want to write, escape into my wine fantasies, of when I have my own room and pouring out of state at some restaurant or hotel, explaining and showing my story and how the Literature and the Wine formed what they see, taste, hear– All five senses arrested, and that has to happen with what I produce.. so picture: The Cabernet chasm; dark, deep, opaque; you smell the chocolate darkness and espresso whirl and the subtext of charcoal and rich thick moist earth; you taste and feel a texture essentiality you never have, heavy and holistic, softly aggressive; and what you hear, your own thoughts and voice and the elatedness of learning a new character, a new reality; new Newness…


MOCK SOMM: Kosta Browne Winery, Giusti Ranch, Russian River Valley, Pinot Noir, 2013

IMG_6243So I opened it. Yes, I opened it. Because I wanted to. And I’m sooooo glad I did, elated actually, visibly fractionalized in my joy. The first Kosta Browne I’ve ever opened in my home– “Oh, Mike, you’re such a follower…” Yeah, so? Don’t you buy the wines you follow, or open the ones from the producers you admire? And I didn’t buy this enigmatically verbal bottle, actually. It was a gift from Mr. Michael Browne himself, and I drink this and feel inspired and moved and wanting more exploration of Pinot, but why, I think, none of them will be this good, with the amorous ebb of thick cherry and raspberry and a little Dutch chocolate.. not much pepper or spice but a marvelously meek terrestrial hug and herbaceous jab on “the finish”. But this wine doesn’t finish, it’s prose and poetry and a novel and a short narrative flash. And I couldn’t be more eased and in a wondrously warping Utopia oeno-coma with this bottle, this modernized yet integrity-checkered staple doing true to those imbued Burgundian roots.

Drank the remaining two glasses the following night, which is tonight. And it’s gone. And I’m lowered, with a reflectively slow but charged tide and cognitive seismology, and how, well it’s a Kosta Browne, what do you mean ‘how’? This Pinot makes more more a lover of the type but also more reserved– I mean, how many out there are with this fortitude and charm, allure, enchantment, bewitchedness? Honestly I’m not in my prowess usual to react to what I met in this gifted bottle– and Pinot, such a shapeshifting character and amebic transient of a wine structure I’m not at my most stalwart with the pen, this evening. I’m looking to the Kerouac ‘Book of Dreams’ for answers, since I feel and felt and still so much feel like I’m dreaming after finishing a KB Pinot in my new house, that I’m just a sipping wine-loving-writer-wandered, shamed, and humbled, and taught. And maybe that’s why he gave me the bottle, my new friend Michael, to teach me something; about wine and about Pinot and about me, my unionization of wine and Literature and about everything, some Postmodern pondering. For what? That’s the point: no “point”. Just the moment, the capturing of it in my wine journal, this dream, this new bottle Beat in Pinot’s pervasive pulse– cherishing the trenchant charm of what this is; wine and love and Art, all in Pinot, from a lagniappe, a chorded exhortation and discourse; a class, a notestream, and lecture and story and containing instructional and ambrosial hilarity. A wine that teaches and so much else in its verses, and that’s what I should have been writing about this entire oration; the musical tide of this RRV Pinot’s voice. It was like Michael told me, about the river of Life, riding it and seeing where it takes you, and at times it’s trying and turbulent, but the reward’s there. And I sipped one of them last night and this eve. So I’m sent, taught, reconciled.
Vino. And Literature. Like I’ve always lauded.



MOCK SOMM: VML Wines, Russian River Valley, Sauvignon Blanc, 2014

I forever have felt SB was a back-burner varietal, like it’s something you sip IMG_5785before something ‘serious’, like it’s the wine you sip before real wine, something red. Well, this white warrants more craze, more conviction and more vigor from sippers. And that’s what I’m writing for, here, in this entry, for the Bordeaux that tells the sipper to pay attention and demonstrate respect, make that respect and acknowledgment visible.. the nose and initial palate are rich and convincing, boasting its own phenolic geography with those wild melon wiles and tropic touches, the togetherness of the concluding orders of the sip. Nose, collectively, nearly pheromonal– There’s a striking lightening to this wine from sip one to last, in all segments and stages.. a general impression that I’ve never sipped in an SB. The acidic flex is understated but pragmatically vibrant and visceral.
IMG_5786 This bottle has more than just what I call ‘palate attendance’. There’s work that it has done before sliding along and attaching itself to your senses. The tropical lacings and honey suckle are suspended and strengthened by the alcohol content, which yes is a bit high for an SB, over 14.2, and the texture doesn’t blare stainless steel exclusivity nor neutral oak. In fact I don’t know what the treatment or regiment was concerning ferm’ and aging. And I don’t care. Again, the aims of these posts anchor themselves in divulging and writing about wines that I–me the over-spoken, passionate and tireless consumer–like, and love. This SB, closer to a love, undoubtedly. AND… easily the best ’14 Blanc I’ve sipped till now. Certainly the only one worth writing about.
So what does the Lit lover in me pair with a sturdy imbiber? Short stories, either by Tobias Wolff or the little-knowns by Capote.. something thoughtful and with an imaginative handle on form, tilt your glass as you turn pages.



Home, with night’s cap, a

vocally full glass of my sister’s red cuvée.. the one I mentioned earlier. Get-together at Bob’s, nice and diverse and communicative, all about wine. Didn’t get too far into the vertical, but I did encounter three vintages: ’95, ’97, and ’01. I didn’t know something that reprising and drawn could come from the Sonoma Valley AVA. But I learned, and I grew from tasting the wines year to year and now I have more material for ‘Krystal Vision’.. oh how I want to write that novel before the Massamen piece; and I had a thought, a lovely scope, flash just now, my whole literary and novelized career rounded from the lives of my sister and I; she, Krystal, and me Mike Massamen, and there it is, family on page, a “family business” as they love to say in the wine world but many times it’s just bullshit. But with my MSS it’d be truth, so truthful. The red tonight, more settled, more serene, more mirroring to my preferences, and what else am I supposed to look for? I’m a consumer just like anyone else and I want to sip wines I like, no? The effects of the red are staring to catch me, and I didn’t sip that much at Bob’s house, and I didn’t have a glass as day’s end, today, but I’m slowing, I see, but I’m fighting, potently. No distractions, just prose and stories and the people coming into the tasting room to taste but also some of them for answers, answers to what?… Who knows, it’s wine, that’s what I repeat to myself, but for someone from Iowa or South Dakota, say, it’s more; it’s mythic, it’s Gregorian, palatable Pantheon. And it’s only wine, that’s what I repeat to myself but I live here, it’s my life and I do see myself slowing, I have to type faster like Kerouac before he submitted his ‘Road’ manuscript.. how did he do that drunk? I’m barely bent and I keep having to delete and retype. Driving around the property with Sophie today reminded me of the spell and liturgy of the the vineyard and the Naturalism surrounding the commercial, the transactions, the wine club signings and all the ‘goals’. What? This is Heaven! And we trivialize it! We bastardize it! We reduce it to campaigns and banners and billboards on 12, or 29, or 128.. frustrated with what I see and in love at the same time, wine.. dividing my diligence, so sip whence…
Bed, sleep, sounding more than musical at moment. I need to finish this glass so I can close this night, the chapter that is.. and the bar, not full today, no as much as yesterday, and not as much material, disappointing. And the wine’s done, there, done, now I can close the day. Staring at the empty glass, I think of myself on the Road and having to give a lecture the next day and how I should be in trot of going to bed at more regular hour, like now, 9:23. Why am I not in bed? Tomorrow morning I’ll try to get little Kerouac to school early then to Kenwood to write, maybe some of that hit-and-miss coffee they have in the container in the back by the breakfast burritos. But I need to stay in this barreled bind, in wine, at all times, but tomorrow nothing of such sway! I’ll be running, then the next morning to ‘Road’ with 1A, then to ‘Sur’ with 1B.. I see completely all that’s me… Need sleep. Singular speedy shift, then I skip…

Back tomorrow, but


Today, one of a blazed pace.  Meeting with mortgage man, Kevin, and all went well, more than well, in fact there were no negatives to be heard anywhere in his dissection of our financials or possibilities or to-do’s.  The house is much closer than I ever thought it would or could be.  Then to errands, Costco and one other.  Then a somewhat celebratory lunch with Alice and I.  And now home, 2:03.  Maybe leaving something, or a couple turns out, but no matter.  The meeting with Kevin made me think of my career as a writer and what I want to do and my son and everything.  So I solidify.  I’ll be reading those 10 pages of the novel tonight, editing only when I absolutely have to, then print the next ten.  It frightens me that I’m dependent on wine’s industry for stability, for consistency in employment, that’s worthy to the bank, in its theoretical and intangible and obscurely collective mind.  I’m further consolidating everything so the move will be smooth and my career ever further forward.  Looking at yesterday’s pictures of the Matanzas Creek vineyard and knowing I can have my own business and some sovereign self-sustaining entity in the wine world, business, something, I just don’t know what ‘exactly’.  But I know I’m getting close.  One of the stops I left out was a shoe/boot repair shop on Mendocino Avenue.  Alice dropped off a pair, of boots, there the other day.  We went into this musty, old, obviously never-remodeled long narrow space and heard a man working on something to a talk radio station, and the machine, whatever it was, in operation.  Alice prompted the man to tend to us, gently, and he came to the counter.  After finding her boots, I asked him if he were the owner.  “Yes,” he said.  Then I thought, “Another owning their own business, having their own avocational nook.” Me, soon, I realize again, looking at the photos of these vineyard rows, the sun just stepping to stage, the autumnal set and constituents, and me there, only for observation.  I’m close, I tell myself, I’m close– starting over where I initially started with the first blog: wine, reacting, Literary approach to wine.  Responding to the images and letting them control and grab and garnish my writing as they feel I should.  This is a lecture directed at me, my typing, my pen.  I’m ‘owning it’, as that fool GM at the wine marketing firm said for us to do with out call lists.  Ugh, I could never be that again, in that office or any one like it, never, no way.. oh this last day off…  Can’t believe I’m going back to the tasting room tomorrow, but it’ll be beneficial to me and the pages more importantly.  And after work, dinner at Mom and Dads, for Denise’s, my aunt’s, birthday (which was really a couple days ago I think).  I’ll be able to ask Katie a couple of questions, for material, and leave it at that, just that, a couple questions– 3 tops.  And I’ll bring one of my Lancasters, or one of the Washington wines I received as a gift a while back.. what do you think?



Written Shot

One of those days where a local can’t believe this is their home. More than beautiful, it’s defiant in its total quality, making you appreciate the color scheme and air land hills or mountains. Wind, but you don’t mind. The gentle bluster centers you differently than other days. People sip their wine and just look around, they’ve never seen this, never, but we do all the time in theory. But not like this. Today we’re all tourists. Everything is new and untarnished by expectation, pitch. Only moments to log mentally and savor like the wine. It’s Sonoma, and we’re on our own time.