On the eve of me leaving wine’s industry, I sip a Merlot.

img_6931The varietal that brought me into wine, that invited me into the collective compositions and narrative, luminous elucidation of it all.  After tomorrow, I’ll only write about wine.  Not be int he tasting room.  Not have to look at schedules and calendars, first thing in morning when the coffee’s barely taken its place in my pulse.  I’m sitting on the floor thinking about the past 12 years, in wine, the industry, the stories and people, everything.  Merlot, from Dutcher Crossing, inarguably the winery that made me the sales and marketing and wine storytelling expanse I am. Or that I think I am.  I’m nearly 40.  It’s time to leave. And more demanded, time to enjoy wine as a true consumer, not one saying they’re the consummate consumer, which yes I have from time to time to generate sales, which makes me feel like a slimy industry gargoyle.  But you do what you have to do.. to get that sale, oui?  Integrity.  I’m finding less and less of it, valley to valley, county to county.  I’m a consumer, now.  I write about wine.  I’m finally a wine writer.  Wow… I had to leave the business, or industry, the tasting room, whatever, to be what I’ve always wanted to… writer of wine.. translator of.

Haven’t taken my first sip yet.  I’m just staring at that Dutcher puddle, fruit from Napa, Atals Peak somewhere.  See it.. when I first arrived there, interviewing with two people now dearer than dear friends of mine.  Time, whatever it wants it just takes, and that’s my time, my life, this Now, that Now, every breath and second in a tasting room. Now, I fight back.  Tomorrow, my only plan is to thank everyone at Roth, at Foley, then start traveling.  Now I enjoy wine as a writer, a traveling wine writer who looks for any vineyard and cottage, any hut or terrace he can.  Why am I just being this, now?  I’m a wine writer, ‘cause I left the industry. There’s more than forecasted knowledge in that. I’m learning of my control, the nature of my dominance in my story.  Wine is part of it, but not everything.  So now, I sip to sip.  Imagine going to a tasting room and not identifying myself as ‘industry’.  Look at stemless plastic glass, cup, again, and breath, lean my head and neck back into the couches cushion.


First sip of the entity, and I’m in a tasting room.  I’m thinking of how I’d speak it, how I’d “describe it” if that’s what you want to say, to a guest.  I can’t tell, anymore.  I’m just into the wine.  Staring at her shade and shape, sense and poetic form, radiant rile and speak from dimensions theorized.  I’m lost, found, loving the delicious duality and dichotomy of not just this wine but my wine story, the past, since ’06….  No miss.  Only a cherishing tryst.  I think.  Again, I’m lost in this, not sure if celebration’s the word, but something to the tune and tilt, tone of.


img_0896Exactly 12 minutes left in my break.  Nothing to eat so I get more wild and freed in my writing ways, my sitting, here at work when I’d rather be anywhere else, if need know you now.  I need another pour, of something.  What… what does the writer do.  No— no pours.  More words… all recorded… lady waiting for her group of friends who told her to meet them there, that this winery’s a restaurant.  First time I’ve ever heard that.  OH… I told her… I wish there was a restaurant here, right here, so I don’t have to drive.

Everything posted to blog, from here forward.  Time nearly gone.. shit.  Will I have time for a vineyard walk?  Probably not.  OR, I can clock back in then go out to SB lot and walk around, take a couple shots of flowering vines and would-be clusters.  Maybe I should leave early.  Everyone else does, right?  No.. stay here.  This break, spent thinking of these thoughts, where they’re to take me… 

If you write, keep writing, write for you and the world and the page itself.  Just a thought I wanted to put in this “post” for you to, I don’t know.. think about, try, what have.

I’m getting bored in this office.  One of the cube people comes back from his break and works.  I can hear his key slaps over this Davis track.  Ugh… okay.  I need that vineyard walk.  Know just what the writer’s to do.  Keep writing, yes, but find new stories, new pictures, new walk routes, new…..

One of my lunch breaks, where I write, but

img_4747it’s more than that today.  Today, odd.  Making calls to invite club members to some party in 10 days, the biggest party of the year, and some would argue in all of wine country all year.  But I’m needing something else… forcing self to be creative with moments, sipping the SB, then Pinot Gris, then stainless Chard, then Cab, writing notes in little pages and they today take different shape.  More freed, more poetic and musical, more careless and separatist.  Me.. wild wine writer, needing more from this blog and my writing, from life and career, and I have everything I need to have what this bloody writer envisions.  No one in office with me, and this office bringing again those memories of the job I had in ’11/’12, at ‘the box’.  The box, the box… fuck that bloody box.  What did I learn there?  Well, I guess some selling approaches and facets, but not much more than that, if need you now know.

Forgot to pack a lunch as I always do so I snack on unsalted almonds, some crackers, a little cheese, and more almonds.  Could use some chocolate, some chocolate to pair with the single-vineyard Cabernet I was tasting earlier.  Working at a winery, me, and writing everything down… every goddamn thing, and finding humor in it all, as well as educating dimensions, and telling enrichment for my blog and pages, eventual and near projects.

This is more than a lunch, more than a break, this is me using the time as it’s mine, entirely mine, making wherever I am part of my manuscript… where I am and what I’m doing in this office is collection, in wine and from wine, but far, far beyond it.  A break, sans lunch, no lunching, just me and an empty room and a new life.

vinward jot

img_2168Cabernet, last night.  Always my varietal… why.  Don’t know.  The dark dote of her.. her thesis which envelops and romanticizes everything in my relationship with wine.  I don’t know exactly, but Cabernet has all parcels and tells of my heart, thinking, my poetic proclivity and she fits with me in my movement across page.  Cabernet is poetry, for me… jazz and spoken word, new lessons on the moment and how to appreciate it, through her, my gothic vixen of a Bordeaux varietal.  She commands and with apparition shifts moves from one side to other, with no pause, no flaw, and I just sit and scribble with taught awe.  She reminds me of singularity’s meteoric meaning and value.  All I need is her… in glass, talking to me in her slow then sped recital and verse rain, rile… I smile, then more note.  I’m careless, not appellation or winery, or even vintage specific with this paragraph.  Tryst, vertex, away in my smitten let.  She’s antithetically ‘industry’.  She’s art, a gallery, an escape, a flight and a stage, theatrically purposed for writers like me and others.  My amour, poured last night and in a few minutes when I walk to the tasting room to set up… wine isn’t an industry, she reminds me.  It’s art, it’s thought, it’s us, it’s not an ‘it’.  She tells me to stop writing that word.  It’s not a word.  Cabernet, WINE, is more than a word.  So be more illustrative and aflutter with mine.  I will. Instructed, across my notebook’s page I strutted in grins and love and new realizations with what I’m to do in ‘the industry’.  Be free… poet sipping then paginating reflections like the others don’t.  Las night, credit her, lively and eased.  She, my muse of muses for my manuscript musings, talking to me, still this morning, my memory of our conversation and what she me taught.

I fail with her, though, sometimes I feel.  With Cabernet, Wine principally.  Can’t allow self to use the same words yet I don’t want to shoot time away skipping through a thesaurus, or some synonym storm.  Wine demands truth from me… a stratospheric candor which need be read somewhere… He vintage last night, ’15.  Telling drought, elevated temperature readings and I need read with elevated volume and presence.  Wine asks me, “Where do you think you’re going?” I tell her I know where I’m headed, because of her. Then, quite.  More collection, meditation— blended repose.  Me, a character cuvée, new synthesis.

Philosophize Visualize Wine

img_2672Not hungover, but affirmatively and encouragingly tired.  Slept between 3 and 4 hours.  After going out with Jesse and bowling, talking about work and the fires, life and our ultimate of ultimate, apexing aims.  My business philosophy for day— Visual.  And, VISUALIZE.  Seeing self here in my office the Windsor Starbucks at which I always park and work.  Me, a student in the wine industry, of her language and tones, tone and dominant octave.

Not allowing self to think about how tired I am, nor how long the day is.  I have this book and all the wine meander in it. Last night, Jesse bringing over a Pinot I’ve never tasted, nor heard of, but precisely the musical shape and poetic posture I look for in Pinot Noir.  Atmospheric and Gothically romanced from first pulse and touch to last.

Visualizing me out of the tasting room and in Burgundy with little Kerouac, and Ms. Austen, wife, and other family presences tasting wine and sitting in that café we visited in ’09.  I’m back in Paris, in my head, in my eyes which have all but lost their pinkeye redness and rose petal tincture.  I see it, all of it.  The time… this morning, meaningless, if you must know.  Know exactly which wine will be my focus today…. I’ll recite her words and intentions from when we open to the last set of silly questions are asked.  Wine making herself more visual to me, this morning, this exhaustion unusually galvanizing—  Thinking about other wine writers that barely write at all but more have panache for outfits, taking selfies with other wine people and wine “celebrities”, or that they have some sommelier cert’.  They don’t write, and that’s fine, but when I see themselves self-anoint as a wine writer or wine journalist, I have to laugh.  I scratch my head, and here point to flaws, to the convenient contortion and pagination of the word “writer”.  I see self, different.  A contrast.  More honed on the act of writing, here in the ‘bucks with my journal open and revolving and circulating, meditating in the visual of wine and my story, my wined Road and sittings, days in the tasting room and, or, just walking the vineyard at day’s start.

Not sure how I landed on the wine writer and somm’ topic.  Hardly a topic at all, especially remembering the multi-purposed and pulsed character and sense, the novel of that Pinot last night.  Jesse was exceptionally kind in sharing such with his writing brother.  I think it may have tiled and slightly re-written my wine philosophy, why I love wine and why I spend so much time writing about it, why I took sister-in-law Jenn’s counsel so many years ago to have wine be my topic, to blog about it.  Wine is for words… my words. The only words I want to speak, frankly.  So thankful I’m not hungover, and that all I did last night was stay awake too late and not have too much.  Can’t say same for my brother…

Visualizing, see and feeling, sensing and breathing the vineyard before I’m even there.. my office in downtown Windsor or Healdsburg, helping wineries tell their story, tell my story while telling theirs.  Wine is for association and intersections, character blends and time, making time our own.  My channeling and blending and re-blending thoughts on wine and how I “sell” it even though I don’t see myself a sales chap at all.  At all.

Today… a standalone piece.  Short story, maybe, but a story.  Me, wine.  You.

from book

…peace in the airy atmospheric and island tones and talk of it.  Like I’m not so much on a beach but on some patio, writing, putting the last laces in a book.  Looking at the little puddle in the stemless plastic cup given to me by someone, or bought by me at some point, I see more story, more of me and my present.  Wine provokes me to write more and faster, tell more stories from the tasting room and what people see and say in those walls, from that side of the bar.


Now, I’m compelled to speak to people new in the wine industry.  Not as an expert, or some burgeoning business bloke, but as someone who’s seen so much, from inner-winery and inter-departmental skirmishes, to inventory discrepancies, to tasting new releases and my walks around the vineyard, and around the crush pad.  Working at a winery, hoping for more pay but really the only way to more weighty paychecks is to sell more.  And, you don’t want to hound management for more money.  Love your character more than that.  Make the experience your own… but it’s more than that as well.  Manage your story, note everything.  Tomorrow I get there then take a couple notes, count registers (which I bloody loathe), open doors, open cages, take out wines… 


IMG_E3998Sipping some of the Trentadue Rosé, and knowing I need to wake early.  And I will.  Had to put down phone and stop looking through emails and messages and loud invasive posts, like the voices from the street behind up, Gold Leaf, those neighbors that aren’t really neighbors just speaking loud and drinking and in some sort of party sorts, and me just wishing they’d silence.

This morning I asked one of the baristas what time they had to show for work and she said 04:30, which means they wake at around 04, I’m guessing.  Need to.  Will.  Tomorrow.  Have to remember to call Mom tomorrow and wish her a happy Mother’s [Day], and be in reflective reflection that my mother is much of the reason I’m here now writing and not just looking at my phone like some drone.

Tired from day.  Need to put day and self away, under sheets, into bed and then wake early, early… just fucking do it, already.  The backyard other-side-of-the-fence-ers, just get louder and louder.  What are they drinking?  Wine?  Doubt it.  And why do I care.  What does this have to do with the bottled ox?  Not a thing.  Nothing.  Thought about so much behind the bar today while pouring for whomever and looking out at the vineyard and wishing I could just walk around out there and roam and write and be with the day in my way.  But constant the penner poised, posed, professed.  Me now, Mikey-a-mess in thought and possibility.  But… thinking everywhere, new sentences and memories of day, what I saw and heard from people sipping their pours poured, reacting with some words and musings they think have to be shared, and me seeing more in my language and its application…. Tomorrow morning, I’ll on the treadmill be, soaring, then home with my words and keys, pages roaring—

Wine Industry…

Be more about the wine, less industry.  More genuine and selfless conversation and invitation… more thought and love, music and kind, unobtrusive instances.  


Wine is about love.  Wine is LITERATURE, and pages are turned when the reader wants to keep reading.  The wine is where the story is, where my story will always be.  Wine education?  Begin with wine conversation, human interaction…. That will elevate sales and guest experience.  Rather than approach me with a glass in your hand when I approach the tasting room, offer a smile, a word, your name, hello.  I want to meet you, know more about the winery, yes, but you as well.  Then, we can broach any ‘sell’.

Wine and the industry it begets has taken a turn, so I take a turn, to wildly refocus on the wine and the people, learn more about them and why they walked into my tasting room.  Why they want to take time from their life, spend monies they devoted months if not longer of saving to, to spend time with me, taste with me, have a conversation right here, in my room.  Here I am, here’s where I’m going in the industry.