Up early the next morning for meeting at one of the properties.  Decide to take a walk around the street, block, enjoy the quiet, the much-welcomed return of fog, and my zen.  Something oddly artful to the ruin across the tracks, on our side as well.  Still hard to believe it happened.  But I kept walking, took a couple pictures but not so many that I’d be one of those people that takes pictures of a disaster and posts it to whatever page.  I just needed a walk, I wanted to feel that fog, see how it shaped the environment here.  I’m a writer, right?  So I needed to see what I felt out there, how the mist and nourishing vapor added to what’s around me.

Today starts on a different note, chord.  Not sure what it’s promising, or if it’s pro Ising anything.  But I need be ready to record.  08:43 and I should be leaving soon, be in the position to launch, soon.  “What do you want from the day?” I ask myself, and rather aggressively.  Nothing specific.  To have a great meeting, to write, spend time with babies, listen to music, make my own music, hear French… be calm.  Not stress.  About anything.

On second cup of coffee, and the effects rattle me more than usual.  Not sure why.  Hear noises outside, flip up one of the blinds, just a neighbor bringing in garbage cans— not really cans but plastic bins on wheels.  Nearing 09:00, should leave, get ready to leave, be excited about meeting.  Yes…. Freedom on mind.  Creative freedom.  I’m not confined to wine as a topic, or subject, theme, whatever, but freed by it.  The wine itself, the vineyards, the Roads here in wine country, the houses around the vineyards and the smell of the air, morning and night.  Everything in what people call “wine country” envelops itself in so much not at all associated with wine or its industry.  Life… this county, this one and Napa, and Mendocino and other wine counties bring with it an educating angularity.

08:39.  Had FaceTime call with wife and babies…

miss them all, especially the babies, and my little girl with that self-understood smile of img_6459strength and goals, wanting to learn and touch everything around her (And throw, too, which I’m working on…).  Onto cup 2 for the tireless writer.. and everything need be documented.  Want to write more about my character, Kelly… thinking about her a lot these past few days, her life in the city and working in that office for the ad firm and never really being allowed to dwell in the creative.  Why, why she wonders and gently broached the topic but never gets any answers from management.  Her friend Sherry having her own creative outfit but no work for her friend, which kills her.  But what can she do.  They’ve been friends for over 20 years, since they were in preschool.  Both in their mid 20s and looking for their story.  Sherry closer to hers while Kelly technically knows but is blocked from attaining what she really wants.  But only in her head, and that’s where my novel starts, I guess… or sequence of stories… young artist needing to work but not liking her work, trying to make the best of her work but blocked even from doing that, by management.

These fires will only empower the wine world and animatedly bolster our businesses.  I know it.  That’s the attitude I’m embracing going forward.  Tempted to go for a drive now, but…. No.  Stay put.  I mean, where would you go?  Go go to Olivet Road, maybe, then to Guerneville Road and around RRV.  But what would I shoot?  Guess I won’t know till I get out there, right?  Later… not now.  Thinking a tasting’s called for, for today.  RRV, yes.. then maybe… don’t know.  I just know I have to stay in my wild wine character… write everything.  Carry my little black journal with me.  Looking at the notes I took the other day, before and after Justin came over— husband of Melissa’s friend.  Keeping it together, he was, but barely.  I poured him some of that first SB, New Zealand made, and we talked.  I gave him some of wife’s socks, shirts, a couple pairs of shoes for his wife.  I would have given him some of my wear, but he’s a bit bigger than the writer, so all I could offer him was my ear, wine, a hug before he got back in his car.  Taking notes of this all, not to trivialize but so that I adequately grow and learn from it.  People losing everything they have, had.  Kevin and I on our walk last night, seeing the fire actually touching our block here, by the mailboxes, even charring some of the fence behind wife’s friend Amanda’s place.  I keep telling myself I’ll stop talking about these goddamn fires, but I can’t.  What does it have to do with wine?  Everything.  Community.  Life.  Enjoying the moment and learning from the moment, and understanding the moment for its autonomous importance.  Life could change, in far less than ‘a heartbeat’.

Song ends, and onto a new one.  Need my office.  Need an office in the city.  Yes, SF.  See what my character sees, maybe go there three times a week.  Work from home and take what I produce here, bring it there.  Monday, Wednesday, Friday.. in the city.  Rest of time up here in wine country.  Need to get camera from car…. Got images and a dollar in quarters, dumped into baggie of coins.  Think the writer needs more coffee.. why not.  Keep the party going.  Will stay here while the cleaning crew does their thing.  Disport myself with Kelly, her story… supplementing her income by working in a tasting room in the financial district, one that pairs wine and music… she learns more about wine than she anticipated, starts drawing bottles on tables, hands holding bottles, pouring wine.. her art takes a new direction, yes, but tells new stories…. She sips wine in her studio apartment on a street I haven’t determined yet, sketches her last shift.. everything about it— the slimy businessman, probably late 50s, inviting her to his office so he can pour her some “real wine”, as he put it.  Kelly starts keeping a sketch journal, quickly jotting notes below some rushed illustration…

Thinking of my babies, up there in Sac’…. Have to work nothing short of obsessively while they’re gone.  Had the temptation to switch to coffee last night, but didn’t.  Why not.  Didn’t want to fuck up my sleep.  WHY NOT???????????  Should have stayed up all night, let the echoes of the wine fade like the smoke over San Miguel, Coffey, Autumn Walk, and work.  Well I’m here now, working.  Working and telling the wine story post-disaster.  This “disaster”, though, could be an anomalous mitzvah.  It is, as I’ve intoned.  Giving me all this time to write and taste however many wines I have and will, build new stories and approaches to wine.

Need another cup.  New song, new sights… wine, the vineyards.  I will be out there.  Before filling my little demitasse, I stare at it.  Yes, the obvious metaphor, wine and life, but I take a moment and all the moment sings, taking the moment for the moment it is.  Nothing is more ‘wine’ than just that, that act.  Not connecting the moment to anything necessarily, or even analyzing it.  Just accepting it, welcoming it, letting it speak or not speak to you.  This is Zen, this is composition of Personhood.  The cup tells me to back off, think about the day and what you’re going to do— the Kelly novel, notes for her, what she’s drawing… she doesn’t even live in wine country, and was raised on the Peninsula, and is wrapped and kept and told by the vineyard blocks and the bottles she pours in a way I could only hope to be.  My character in competitive quakes with MY character… huh, interesting.  What psychology.  Feeling like leaving now, walking a block.  But I can’t.  Would be constricted by time.  Need limitless time, for what I want to do today.

me now wine

img_645407:40.  Surprised I’m up this early, but I am.  No 3,000 words yesterday but today that won’t be the tangibility.  Meeting at Chalk Hill tomorrow, with other property managers.  Soon as I raised my lids this morrow, I thought about what I wanted from the day.  Aside from the 3,000 words I’m not sure— well, one thing, MUSIC.  Lots and lots, LOTS of music.  MY own music, poetry, and music from favorite artists.  Wine is entirely musical, especially the two bottles from last night, that Cabernet… oh…  Like a character I’d been hoping for, hoping to meet, and finally did.

Went outside to take some bottles out, beer bottles more specifically, and I could smell the burnt structures, the dead fire of the streets on the tracks’ other side.  I stopped and turned around then hurried inside as if there were a fire ghost chasing me.  Nine days since, and the days don’t matter.  They all blend together, they all are wine country cries and a choir of surprise.  Will need a drive today, when Ricardo and his cleaning crew arrive.  Not thinking about that now, only the quixotic day I have ahead of me— these fires, lighting new fire in the wild wine writer, and seeing life and its fragility and utter guarantee void as something of elevated promise and poise.. poetic like this Coltrane sax number.  Dollar bills at left, what am I going to do with them?  How much do I have in my account?  I was paid, wasn’t I?  See…?  These past days are indefinitely defined in an utter lack of definition.


Yesterday with Kevin, talking to me about the winery  where he presently works, how management is vehement in being that typical tyrannical oversee of everything, targeting him and his fellow employees and not motivating neither he nor his team.  I mean, financially.  No experiences that would encourage guests to tip, nor the wine club compensation…. I have to ask—  Why is this such a consistency in the wine industry?  Luckily, the Foley mindset is nothing like that, but most of the industry is.  I’ll never understand it, and I have to concede that one of my first thoughts when out of bed was Kevin’s and my conversations last night…. Wine is about community, right?  These first certainly reiterated that.  And kindness, support, generosity.. general enjoyment of life.

Euphony in everything this morning— in the jazz I have on, this cold coffee I made for myself, the cup I’m about to have in its veritable smolder and comforting blaze… the dollar bills at my left.  Put it toward the business, I tell myself.. my business, my Self as a “brand”.. okay, papa of all bloggers, the most tireless writer in the world.  Three thousand words should prove that, 3,000 a day— why not 5k a day?  Be reasonable, I tell myself… how ‘bout between 3 & 5k/ day?  Sounds fair.  Audited little stack… $33.  Not worrying about what that’s devoted or dedicated to.  Gas, more than likely, but I’m not committing, not yet.  Plus additional $13 in bag, then the change which is an utter pain in the ass and hope to convert to cash today.  Don’t care what cut the market’s coin machine takes, I really don’t.  Enough about money… today, drive around, take pictures of vineyards… where?  Along Westside Road, if I can get there— another reality of these goddamn silly-named conflagrations, you don’t know what road’s going to be open and before you even realize you’re being diverted, going some alternate route.

Wine reasons for me, tells me to keep the story the way it was— me tasting wines and img_6457walking vineyards, see the music, listen to the gusts sing through the cordons, now bare from harvest… Madleine Peyroux-like chime and charm to what I’ll hear out there, today.  Can’t get out to Kenwood, my sister’s winery St. Francis… maybe then up to Dry Creek, see my people at Dutcher Crossing, or Sanglier downtown.  I never have days off like this and yesterday me stressing about what I’m to do and money and how I spend my time— “What?” I thought.  “Wine is telling you to build YOU, right now.  Use this time, use these drives, use these wines you sip at might to build your story, to add to it, to be that father of all who blog, the writer who NEVER tires.” I had this thought while driving back too the house on Fulton and Guernville, by the Raley’s I’ve been frequenting more…. Unforeseen lagniappe in all this, starting with that ham and brie sand’ and the Sauvignon Blanc I paired with the Austin Powers sequel.  Wine tells me to have more moments like that— write about THAT.  You taking time to yourself to collect in all this and have a couple sips of SB or whatever and “pair” it with a movie, something to lighten and better brighten the collective mood-ebb of your character, the county.

I used to dream more regularly about my own winery, ‘whoso cellars’.  And looking at this change bag, a literal sandwich plastic baggie intended for food but now occupied by who knows how many coins from how many ever moments and where’s… could be the seeds to my tasting room, my wines, my label, or wine store… why not both, I think.  Have my store, and sell my wines in my store.  Does NO good to preoccupy or stress, worry about when the winery’s going to reopen, or when campus will let students and staff back on.  I have work to do right now, pushing self like locomotive toward a more grand goal.  Going by Schwab today to put some money in account for wine store/winery…. This morning, with this jazz, this coffee, the air purifier at right making this kitchen’s atmosphere forget what happened early-early 10/8, has a writer encouraged, emboldened, enlivened… aimer la vie!  08:24, and now I feel like I’m waking up.  Finally.  Me, now, here, wine country, new story and sense and aims… sprint.


img_6446Finally I get to sit, write.  Friend from an old winery I used to work at, part-time and on-call, Arista, coming over.  Recorded note while driving on Stony Point, or Marlow, on way home— “Well I’m driving and I’m stressing about what I’m going to write as soon as I sit down to write, that’s how I know when it’s not a good time to start day’s writing, jest let it go, wait and the time will come for me to sit down and start writing.” Odd mood today, and not just me, but the whole county, fires and smoke and haze from whatever fires remain.. air telling me to stay home, don’t fear any looters as so many do, just drink the night’s wine (Cab from Paso and SB from NZ).  More notes than I know what to do with on past wines.  Still have to edit Hitching Post piece, the blend I pulled from the shelf… where was I?  Can’t remember, think El Dorado Hills with wife and kids, little time I had to self and went to store to get night’s writing assignment.  All offerings tasting different, post-fire.  Jesse bringing over a Dutcher Crossing Carignane, ’15, last night and the tune was contrasting what I associate with the winery, wine type, vintage, AVA, everything. Not that my senses are damaged— I mean, at least I hope not— but there was a morphing of something in me, or wine, or my interpretive lens.  Can just hear the wines for tonight over there by the knives and drying glasses, cleaning utensil (the one with the hard, pointy, painful bristles, pink and white), and bowl I had the cashews and almonds in for Jesse and I last night.


Had a meeting earlier with a wine blogger/startup buddy, but interrupted by false alarm of looters on our street.  I rush out of his office and into my car and here to Coffey Park… nothing.  No looters.  Yes, police, obvious presence to deter looters, post-fuego, but no threat.  So, out of breath, still, I try to collect.  And I don’t want these goddamn fires to dominate my 3,000 words for day.  No, not happening.  Not sure where Kevin is, my Arista friend.  Hope I didn’t scare him off, texting him “My neighbors will shoot you before the guard does.” After he asked if he’d get stopped by the Nat’l G’s.  Hope he knew I was joking.

img_6447Went by winery today.. still closed, but wanted to check on production crew.  I could tell they were busy and not at all interested in conversation so I backed off, took one picture, and left.  Not sure when we’re opening back up, but it doesn’t matter.  MY wine business continues, and my wined notes and jots, inward and outward persist.  Wine… should open that NZ SB.  Have a burrito from Oliver’s for dinner, will pair that with Cab.  Not really a wine-food pairing centered and/or intentioned guy, I’ve noticed.  I mean, I try, but I think that any wine goes with any food… well, for the most part I guess.  I have a grilled chicken burrito, and I’m paining it with a Cabernet.  I’m CERTAIN I’ll enjoy it.  Why wouldn’t I?  I guess if the burrito or the wine is irreparably flawed then yeah, it won’t be one for the books.  But wine and food-pairing is a convenient “science”, at best.

Poured first pulse of SB, just before Kevin arrived.  He’s now left, 18:53, he and I recalling days at Arista and career moved, and all involved.  Now into the Paso Cabernet, not yet heating up burrito, wanting to see 1,000 wine words here in kitchen at counter—  K and I talking about discrepancies in the wine industry with motivating staff to sell—  Why not pay them more or “incentivize” as they always say?  So many of the wine industry’s problems are easily solvable, I see and the words exchanged with K tonight cemented img_6441such.  Sb showing much more harmony and music and over smile than the one I had the other night.  I type without looking at keys, in fact looking around the room I’m in, the kitchen, into the living room and thinking about winemakers like John whom I saw today not he crush pad trying to function some machine to press whatever he was pressing— I’m guessing Cabernet… and me sipping this Cabernet and reminded there’s so much more story in the bottle than the consumer realizes.  I’m not anti-consumer… I’m the consummate consumer.  BUT, there need be more awareness of wine and it’s the winery’s job to do that.  So ME, as a “manager” of a property, I need to tell the Roth story.  Meeting on Wednesday, and I’m going to barrage the council with a vision.. I will be mimicked, copied.  I’m not bragging, just confident, eager, willing and creative, able.  Not sure what this is meant to state or assert but I’m in my house with radiant wines… and I have a house.  I HAVE A HOUSE.  I’m guilty, I feel guilty, I’m crippled in guilt and I can only drink more wine and write.  Wine is speaking to me now.  Before I opened the SB, before Kevin got here.

img_6448Finally, I’m sitting, and writing.  After this first thousand, I’m set to heat the burrito.  See how it “pairs” with the Paso Cab.  No music in the house, now, which is rare for me, if ever the reality.. the Cab now telling me to turn on music and heat up that burrito and get to real work.. ‘wine and food pairing’.  Part of me’s like ‘who cares’ but then the other parcel is partial to my perspective of ‘write about it’… okay.. Paso Cab with a burrito of grilled chicken… yeah, I’m sure it’ll be amazing, what do you want me to say?  I see a little left of the Cab, in my glass… sipped…. alc’ is more visible than I remember.  But there’s a stark vile and leather, smoke-set sinew to its physical palate presence.  I’m reminded of that morning, eight days ago… and I’m here, in my house, sitting, writing, sipping wine.  Something feels wrong.


Back in Sacramento.  Just touched down, unloaded some things from car.  Tired of this fire nonsense, already.  But a project will come out of it.  I’ve been instructed and further reminded of life’s fragility and brevity.  So, a book soon.  From this blog, my life in wine and how wine teaches me that it’s only a minor factor.  It’s the people, the communities, the families, the stories.  The wine is ancillary, at best.

09:43.  Still have some clothes to unload, want to clean car a bit.  Hoping to get in a run around here, around this El Dorado Hills area.  We’ll see…

Done with all this fire

news.  Like my sister said the other night, watching something silly, something ridiculously, stupidly funny.

Sipping some of the Oyster Bay SB.  Think it’s Oyster Bay.  Either way, more relaxed.  Not thinking about it— but about this wine.. slightly spritzy, grapefruit and wild grass, herbs and thyme.  I’m just in the floor, sipping.  Just what the wine warrants in this time, post f—e.  No, not writing it, either.

Writing my way to some realization with this glass…  16:22.  The wine tells me not to care.  She tells me to smile, be thankful, laugh, and watch something like you said, something obnoxiously comical.

Wine is here for me.  She relaxes me and talks to me in her chords and echoing vocal colors.  I compose and listen more to the white Bordeaux cove— smitten and enamorius with her emotional topography.  Making the day and his time better, more rich and disclosing its tones and narratively music-set shifts.