The fun part of making new friends who also have a deep appreciation and joy for wine is finding out how they realized their passion. Did they taste something special? Was there wine on the table from the time they could sit up in their own chair? Or did they travel to a far off wine region and not want to return? The fun in learning the answer lies in the ability to immediately relate to or yearn for whatever their experience was: That perfect glass, the wonderful experience of sharing a bottle with someone special, an incredible trek through Burgundy vines.
So last night as I was getting to know a new friend, I found myself recalling key points in my own journey. Usually when I’m asked this question, I can’t necessarily point to a single bottle of wine that made me say ‘Wow!,’ or an event that put me on this path. But as we chatted, I began recalling some specific moments that led me in this direction.
These were some of the sign posts I remembered:
* Something was brewing in 2004/2005. All I knew about wine was that I enjoyed drinking it. But the best wine I could point to was a Kendall Jackson Chardonnay. I was going through an awful divorce and one of the vivid memories of the many cries to my close friends was: “The next guy better be willing and able to share a bottle of wine!” Obviously, that’s not what split us up. But there was something telling in that moment – the very simple bonding by the act of sharing – that I knew was important to me.
* Sometime soon after, I visited one of my best friends, who lives in Livermore, Calif., a wine region unto itself, but a very easy 45-minute car ride from Napa. She and her husband took a Friday off from work; we called up a driver who agreed to take us around in his town car all day; loaded it up with cheese, salami, and some rustic bread from Trader Joe’s and we were on our way. We tasted at five or six wineries along Rt. 29 and the Silverado Trail, and eventually stopped in Yountville for lunch, where we discovered Hope & Grace. Without gushing too much, this was my aha moment in the difference between a nice glass of Pinot Noir and an amazing (in my limited experience at the time) glass of Pinot. Their welcoming winery in a quaint village shopping center was helpful in feeling a sense of ‘this is where I should be.’ If I had to pick the moment of when I understood what it meant to appreciate wine, this would be it.
* At the end of December, 2013, an opportunity to head west came my way. So I did what any wine-loving girl would do and planned a wine trip before and after the event I was attending. By now, I had gained a fair amount of knowledge about wines. I planed the first few days in Napa, and the last part of my trip was spent in Sonoma. That trip, which I’ll most likely discuss in greater detail at a later time, solidified everything for me. I came home with a clarity and energy about wine that I never knew existed. Mentors and friends literally stopped me in my tracks when I would start talking about wine. They couldn’t believe (nor could I) the enthusiasm not just coming out of my mouth, but lighting up my whole face. They even encouraged me to start a blog. I ached to learn more, taste more and understand the differences and unique attributes that not just make a great wine, but creates the fabulous culture that transcends traditional cultures.
So those are my moments. There are many other smaller experiences that certainly answer the question of how I got to this obsession, and are important to this journey, but these are the biggies.
The greatest thing, is this journey will most likely never end: There’s still so much I can learn, and people to meet, and experiences to share, and wines to taste, and places to visit. I could go on and on.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for being a part of my journey. Tell me about yours! Cheers!