a thousand wines project



Another wine gem, delicious discovery from my vino family at K&L.  Whimsy blend, teaching me about red wine and stylistics.  I sit at home and sip slow, after dinner, the optimal after-dinner sipper.  Waiting on my next sip, still feeling and sensing its sitting and teach on palate.  Okay, I think, time to cite notes specific and actual.  Have nothing.  Only enjoying its order and commanding narrative, presence and poetry about me and this room, epistolary like and Austen novel.  On the floor of my home office, listening to a Hutcherson track, and leaning back, hearing the wine even above his notes.  Situated in my meditation, this bottle and its unexpected offerings, gift from my oeno-allies, I collect and assemble in Plath-like intimacy.  Not a confession but candid communication, the puddle professing its architect and amiable holistic.  Intersections like this saunter far beyond the industry, any wine business edifice, but center the character, and me here with this whimsy-told peripatetic poem-bottle.  Swirling her in glass, ‘round, tango or flamenco-found.


No time for one

of those extended prose progressions that I’d like to do, but I sit with img_0343wine, red, a single-vineyard Pinot taken home, only poured from a couple times and knowledge of certain winery operational specificities.  I think and think and think about my winery, the professor’s winery and how I’ll sell my bottles through narrative, through words, the radiant realism from the vineyard’s stakes, rows and cover crops.  I’m going everywhere right now, I admit, as this is glass 3, but I’m composed and writing where others might just vegetate in front of a screen, or just fall asleep or go to some bar— no time for such with my inner paragraphs that I can’t catch, that I can’t replicate, and I find I miss the weather, that weather we just had which Hem quickly dubbed as “bad”, I long for— the rain on the Autumn Walk pavement, and my travels to other states lecturing on literature and theory and journal practice.

I sip the Pinot, a ’13 Anderson Valley, and look ahead, just over the top of the laptop’s screen and see a bottle of the cuvée Blair and I made in ’12.. next vintage, my second Merlot, but I have to sell some of these writings, and yet no budget wiggleroom for printing— so, dilemma, crux of conflict and disposition of stall— what now, WHAT— my mood, favonian, but not for long, I’m sure.  I’m certain money and the reality of reality will have some way of scalpeling that from my sitting, walking or strolling through whatever block I tomorrow walk.  Had the vision of walking those crisped frozen rows on Wohler Road, off to left and right.  Why didn’t I stop?

Glasses and bottles today, a heavier crowd than any of us measured or saw coming through the doors, but it felt like a circle of sun around my senses being in the Room again, pouring and talking about the wines and the various Pinots and the ways they might talk to a sipper— the different sites reflected, and then again wine tells me to push onward, be both professor and writing, and winemaker, then the big brother in this writer shouts, “Yeah, teach your winemaker sister a thing or two…”

Both babies asleep, and I hope they enjoy, as I want them to be rested for the days they have to charm people in the tasting room.  And yes, part of me’s joking but the other quite punctuated in my purpose and purposeful poise in the end-game of a winery.  And so many call me crazy, even my sister, the other night when I asked her “So when are you starting your own label?” She back-jabbed, “Never.  I don’t want to pay my own bills.  I have someone else paying my bills now, and it’s nice.” I understand, she’s timid in the entrepreneurial wingspread, and so many are.  But not me.  I don’t want my little Beats to see me as a hesitater or some figure who talks but jamais walks.

This is more than I expected to write and I have to thank this Pinot and Arista, and Tony for letting me take this bottle.  These people don’t know that little echoes and ripple in the peregrination pond so much affect and push, shove the writer.  Especially a writer like me.  I stare at what’s left tin the glass, this Pinot.  Probably a 2-3 ounce pour.  And I just look at it, the low light of the office with Gothic suggestion and a certain grimly cloaked layer to its nuance roster, profile or whatever, and get lost in my stare.  And it marvels a certain sound, song, talking to me in its visual, and it knows I’m a writer staring at it, this ’13 Ferrington, telling me to walk the rows and see such frost and breath the Anderson Valley air.  Forget obligation and bills and schedules.  This is why wine is such a lens in my writing, and like today in the tasting room watching first-time visitors walk in and not knowing what to expect but are pleasurably confronted by wines that say something, that have a distinguishable voice and narrative, that tell a story and cement a certain savory thesis.  Again, more than I thought I’d be greeted with.  I peek around the corner, see my daughter resting on Alice’s chest.  The winery’s near.  I just need certain wheels to turn a certain way.  Then all from the dream’s to be obeyed.

But I need that rain again.


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.


lushy librarian

Sipping a ’99 Merlot-dominated blend. In much better mental and mood form tonight.  Could only vent to this poor Comp Book, 24 hours ago.  It was that bad, yesterday.  But, now new.  A new Now, for this vinoLit penner.  Need a couple sips before checking account balance.  Still haven’t touched business stash.  Be right back…  9:55pm.  This morning, before landing on AV Winery’s grounds, I filled 4 pages in the Comp Book.  Four!  Have never done that before.  Not even close.  Much thanks to the morning mocha, but also to the budding AV vines around me.  And, that little parking bay, off road, off 128, towards Calistoga.  This bottle, tasting better last night, definitely.  But back to the pages, what do I do with them?  This was a momentous session.  Can’t let them just rot in the Comp Book, same as a winemaker never ignoring her barrels.  Not one.  Thinking I have to put together a book.  For real this time.  Speed-write it.  Not much free time of late, as I told you.  Listening to a Wined beats station on Pandora, but I’m thinking I need character inspiration.  Yes, I do.  But whom?  Capote, Shakur, Austen, King…?

Going in tomorrow to AV, even though it’s my day off.  Want to tie up some ends still quite loose.  Couldn’t believe how busy it was today.  It was surprising, actually.  But I still found a couple, and only a couple (2 or a couple more), blinks to make a note cluster in the little notepad.  Characters coming to a winery to tour and taste, be they wine club members or tourists from Kansas, will always beg a page from me.  Free novels, so why haven’t I finished one?  Decided, need Capote’s help.  He didn’t stop till ‘Cold Blood’ was finished, till he saw how it would all end.  He sacrificed everything.  Everything.  He knew what the book would be, what it would do to him.  He also had no idea how he would be at its end, which I find even more inspiring.  However tragic.  This, envelopingly, is the purist form of Literature, Art.  When success delivers, destroys, you.  Make you You.

Time, 10:09 now.  Thinking of how my experiences at SSU, living on campus, shaped my writing habits, trots in experimentation with form, genre.  Now, I think of, look forward to, traveling around the country, world, and how that will shape my manuscripts.  Missing the rain tonight, beautiful and summer-like as it was on Chalk Hill Road today.  Envied the tourists walking through the door.  A great deal, actually.  Tomorrow, setting alarm for 6:20am.  Box time.  Am I looking to write before I land on winery grounds?  Not really.  But the Comp Book’s frame will be near, promised.  And this ’99, in its specious stammer, revives itself for more consideration.  But what if my interpretation’s wrong?  And, yes, Kelly chimes in, from my journal’s depth.  “You need to stop doing that, Mikey.  Second-guessing yourself will hold you in the same place.  Is that what you want?” So I’d have to ask her, “Then what should I do?  And how should I do it?” She returns, “Just do.  Write.  And stop thinking so much.  It’s inartistic.”

I sip the ’99 again, hoping for an idea.  Then I realize, or Mike realizes, he already had one.


He looked at his clock, the same way a coyote would look for whatever trotting prey he could see in a stretched meadow.  Hated its unavoidable veracity.  The desk’s surface, littered as always, reminding him of that picture he took of his dining room table in his San Ramon apartment, cramming the first quarter’s final work into 72 hours.  If only he could find that photo, he thought.  He wanted study again, something to anticipate.

[4/15/12, Sunday]

2/19/12, entry’d

Now I feel better.  Typed a poem I wrote yesterday, while walking in St. Francis’ Wild Oak Vineyard, into this chapbook project I’ve started.  Working today at Kaz, and having Mr. Jack here at home with us, shows me I can’t change my mind.  And I shouldn’t.  Creative Wine Writing, in chapbook form, could lead me somewhere.  No, IT WILL.  Jack tells his father to go forward.  Don’t turn around.  Press peddle, forcefully.  Nice guests in the tasting Room today, a shift unusually busy this time of year.  Met a lot of people from my old neighborhood, all over the Bay Area, notably San Francisco, and all over the country, world.  Met a couple from Morocco/France (he: Moroccan; she: French).  Everyone came to sip, talk, learn.  Positive, peaceful.  The pace, not as overwhelming as yesterday’s, but still impressively consistent.

Tonight, no wine for me.  May have enjoyed a bit 2much for my first sipNscribble in a while, last night.  Either way, I’m here at the keys, tired from these days back at the bar.  Not even listening to music.  But that’ll change when I open the Comp Book to scribble some rimes.  Going to check on Sir Jack, fetch Self a Ginger Ale.  Do I have any in the fridge?  Was my mocktail of choice at the hospital.  Looking at the sessions titled “Nonfiction” I wrote in earlier than early hours, both before and after he was born, all on that 3rd hospital floor.  Life has remolded for me, beneficially.  Joyously.  Calls for a toast.  Ginger Ale…

Raising can…  Tomorrow, back behind St. Francis’ counter.  Was smitten by all the new releases, other wines I hadn’t tried.  I do plan on another vineyard walk, carrying the little notepad, taking pictures.  As I with the Literary Lunches in downtown Napa, I’ll so sequence with the block saunters during my 30.

Kate and Joy, from San Francisco, with their new Kaz bottle ...

Not trying for 1000 words tonight.  And honestly, I don’t want that count.  Not aiming for it.  Don’t need it.  Don’t see a need for it.  Want to just leap from this device to the incomparably organic Literary process–ink, paper.  Even the Comp Book’s lines unsettle me a little.  Next journal, just a brick of blank canvas.  A boldly inviting page stack.  Lines, emblematic of strict direction.  Don’t want my writing to be ordered to excessive pattern, or any routine, map.  That’s ridiculous.  Want these pages boldly, even obnoxiously, ARTful.  I see my paragraphs at their truest when cubist.

coffee #2

This time, just a straight black coffee after my visit to the bookstore, drive up/over Fountaingrove.  Thought about drawing, painting, while speeding to the shelves.  Looked through a couple drawing magazines, books on art.  Not leaving the idea, at all really.  Putting it on hold, though.  But maybe I shouldn’t.  What makes me think I can’t paint, draw?  When a child, you just do it, and don’t really have concern for the finished product, if ever.  You just draw, submit to your teacher, or parents, and it’s displayed, be the gallery your classRoom, or refrigerator.  You draw, you leap.  Need to leap all I can, with time’s determination in aging me.  Saw an elderly man on my drive, on Brookwood & 2nd, barely able to walk with his walker’s support.  Right by the hospital.  Ironically, or not.  That’ll be me one day.  Or not.  Either way, I’m fighting time with art, one medium or another.  Or a blend of several.  Maybe that’s the right attitude, attack on several fronts, from multitudinous vantages.

This coffee, beyond strong.  It’s angry, ordering me to continue in types.  “Don’t stop!” it throws.  So I won’t.  Drawing…  What would I draw?  Trees?  Vineyards?  Wine bottles?  Full glasses, empty ones?  Back at my house now, wondering how to spend the day’s rest.  I can’t even covey how gorgeous it is on the other side of this window.  Perfect for drawing, painting.  I often see artists on the side of the road, usually between Kenwood and Glen Ellen, either snapping pictures, or painting.  The other day, I saw two older ladies across the street from the Pagani Vineyard, moving brushes under a shared umbrella.  Think I need to go back out.  Just one more time.  I could drive up the street, into the heart of the Bennett Valley AVA, see what I can capture.

Back in the tasting Room tomorrow, for the first time in weeks.  Eager, I guess.  Nervous, not nearly.  Hopefully my brother sees some traffic, can help him sell some of that amazing purist wine.  Have to temper my sips while behind the counter, keep the pen moving.  I find that many times sips take me away from writing fluidly, focused.  That doesn’t help at all in completing a manuscript.  So, tomorrow, no sips…

Okay, so I’m going out.  Where did I put that camera that camera that Mom and Dad bought me?  Think it’s in this top drawer…found it.  Off to be artistic.  As much as I can be pushing a button, stealing nature’s fruition.  [1/7/2012, Saturday]

8:18p.  Before I post, letting you know I have a beautifully smoky, rich, luminous ’09 Carneros Pinot in my glass again.  It just looks like a dark seductress, ready to be kissed.  What is she thinking, with her returning glare?  I’ll learn, when I sip, with palate swoon.  She’s Literary, cinematic, dramatic.  She tells me to never forget wine, especially her varietal.