The sun hangs over Sacramento like a paper lantern. We are holding hands, careening down a little two-lane road in the Volvo station-wagon that originally brought us west. Later, we will learn the road is named, officiously enough, Country Road 31. Every crevice is a bombshell . . . The car has no shocks, and for the last two years we have been weighing the question of whether to invest more money or just continue to bounce our way through life.
We bought the Volvo used shortly after our children were born. We did not know it then – it was not so very long ago – but one day in the not too distant future we would leave our jobs, pack the Volvo, and drive to California to start a new life. The truth is that if we had known it then, we might have bought a different car, but that if we had to do it all over again we wouldn’t do it any other way.
We are driving home from the airport, and we have two cases of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir in the rear. At that moment, the Suisun Valley is as good a place as any to lose ourselves in the sunset over the Vaca Mountains, and it is as good enough a time and place to admit — if only to ourselves — that we did not have anything to say last year. We did not have the energy. We did not have the stamina or the courage. We did not have the facility. We did not have the strength.
We started writing to you weeks ago from New Orleans. Sean was touring the city for the first time with our distributor, and reading Jorge Louis Borges and making frantic — “inspired” — scribbled notes on hotel napkins and restaurant receipts, in the margins of old books and discarded airline tickets. Translation was an issue. We continued writing from Portland, Oregon two weeks ago and then found ourselves sidetracked in the foothills of Willamette Valley drinking gorgeous wines with new friends and old acquaintances. These things happen. We have been writing for months, but what we wanted to say now feels like it’s been lost in a whirlwind of time, like we have been drifting in the wind, swiftly, gladly, afraid to break the spell, afraid to even speak each other’s names.
And now we want to say something.
We want to say that life often swells up around you like a wave and before you know it you are drifting aimlessly in the sea. We want to say that if you lie on the beach and listen to the gulls calling and the sounds of the waves crashing you can hear the voices of your children laughing from miles away. We want to say that the scent of the summer lavender is mesmerizing; the scent of the winter rains, intoxicating. We want to say that to experience these moments, quietly and alone, is to experience an “Infinite greatness of Place.” Leviathan, IV.46.
On a billboard near the crossing of the Willamette River in downtown Portland is written, in garish white spray-painted letters nothing less than 10-feet tall, “Everything is everything.” Like a lot of the street art in Portland it’s easy to dismiss, but it has drawn our attention to it over and over, which brings us back to Borges:
“Tennyson said that if we could but understand
a single flower we might know who we are and
what the world is. Perhaps he was trying to say that
there is nothing, however humble, that does not imply
the history of the world and its infinite concatenation of
causes and effects. Perhaps he was trying to say that
the visible world can be seen entire in every image,
just as Schopenhauer tells us that the Will expresses
itself entire in every man and woman. The Kabbalists
believed that man is a microcosm, a symbolic mirror of the
universe; if one were to believe Tennyson, everything
would be – everything . . . . ”
— Jorge Luis Borges, The Aleph and Other Stories, trans. Andrew Hurley (New York: Penguin Books, 1998), 87.
Part 2: Handmade Wines/the WAREHOUSE
A number of matters conspired within the short parameters of nine months to hurl us into the vinous unknown. Last April or May (time has become a maze) we purchased a warehouse in the industrial park south of the City of Napa. At the same time, due to forces completely beyond our control, we were forced out of the winery in which we had been operating for three years. Shortly thereafter we experienced a death in the family, an earthquake, a burglary, and a flood. The warehouse renovation stalled helplessly at the building department.
We moved our wines and winemaking for 2014 to a small location called Punk Dog Wines, just next door to our warehouse, as our renovation continued. We’ve now reached the final phase of renovation, pictured above (the application for the winery — our first solo operation — is now with the City of Napa) and we will begin pouring our current releases in the tasting salon at the warehouse shortly. These miniscule, handcrafted lots are exceptional. They are robust, full, velvety, and chocolicious. They are demanding, inquisitive, talented, and searching. They are unique. Some highlights . . .
2012 Chardonnay, Carneros, Napa Valley — from Adastra Vineyard, a CCOF certified organic vineyard in Carneros — whole cluster pressed and fermented in French and American oak barrels, 20% new, for 20 months. Super rich, ripe, and fleshy with notes of honeydew, melon, and pineapple.
2011 Cabernet Sauvingon, Napa Valley – from Wehr-Wagner vineyard, a blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon from a CCOF certified organic vineyard at the northern edge of the Rutherford appellation and 9% Merlot from the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, fermented and aged in 80% new French oak barrels for 20 months. Elegant and refined with soft fore-tannins and dried floral notes, semi-sweet raspberries, confectioner’s sugar, and a touch of briar.
Part 3: EVENTS
Our commitment for 2015 is to reconnect with you, our extended family of friends. We have been busy planning some amazing events. This week Sean will be presenting our wines at the Wilmington Country Club (SOLD OUT). Friday, February 27th Sean will be presenting at the deliciously hip 701 Restaurant on Capitol Hill. A five-course meal, paired with our wines (SOLD OUT).
We will be in New York the first week of April. Thursday, April 2nd we will be presenting our wines at a dinner at the Lotos Club in New York City (Members only). We are also tinkering with the idea of a follow-up dinner Friday, April 3, for 12-guests. If you would like to attend the April 3 dinner, please contact Juliana for details.
Back in California, stay tuned for details regarding a pop-up 7-course wine dinner April 7.
Juliana & Sean