Scarlett’s Letter August 4, 2013

I was awakened this morning by the sound of a closing door. It wasn’t the slamming of a door, but perhaps the slightly exaggerated closing of a door. Whether it was intended to wake me up, or not, I don’t know, I think it was, and it did. A request for attention, perhaps, a somewhat consistent theme in this household. And so my morning “ritual” began.

In my baggy sweats, I headed downstairs, first to the kitchen. Mom was in her chair, in her robe, eating her breakfast, one course at a time, reading a couple of newspapers. The newspapers are spread across about 75% of the table. Ads in one pile, the “news” in another. I say good morning and put some water on to heat up for coffee then go downstairs to the garage to collect the ingredients for my breakfast. My pantry and refrigerator are in the garage, and I really don’t mind. I figure segregating my organic, Whole Foods fare from the over-processed, pesticide laced, GMO, loss leaders upstairs is unnecessary, but gives me a certain peace of mind. Plus, that extra trip up and down those stairs a few times a day certainly must have some benefit.

Back up in the kitchen, I go about making my breakfast; berries, a shirred egg, a strip and a half of bacon, and oatmeal. I make my coffee in the coffee press once the water is boiling and sit down with my entire meal organized in front of me. One of my idiosyncrasies is to photograph all of the food I eat. I use it as a “journal” of sorts and I happen to think food is highly photogenic. So, I take the picture with my iPhone, trying ever so hard not to include any of the newspapers spread across the table.

Um, breakfast, isn't it beautiful?
Um, breakfast, isn’t it beautiful?

Before I head to the kitchen every morning, it is reasonably silent; just the sounds of the fixing of food and then, the shuffling and turning of newspaper pages. Once I enter the kitchen, though, thoughts are spoken out loud, every news article is commented on and the noteworthy sale items in the thirty-four pounds of advertising included with the paper are read aloud. Often, the more puzzling puzzles are discussed, for the purposes of collaboration. I busy myself with deleting ads from my email inbox, addressing any emails that may require my attention, sending my customary “good morning Love” text message and perusing Facebook, being certain to lustily acknowledge any birthdays. It has been brought to my attention, though, that I am not being conversational when my iPhone is present. I feel the same way about the newspaper, and, I don’t really consider reading the news, the ads, and, worst of all, my horoscope and the horoscope of everyone we know, the living and the dead, out loud, conversation. If I were in charge, we’d each read what we chose in silence. Then converse actively, engaged, on a topic of agreement. Clearly, I am not in charge. Out of respect, I guess I’m okay with that.

After breakfast, which has been taking way longer than it should lately, I make my way upstairs and get ready for whatever the day has to offer. With no real plans for the day, we’d discussed perhaps visiting a winery that has been on “our list”. My wine club selection of the month was ready to be picked up at V. Sattui Winery, which we could cross off the to-do list, as well. We made our “spontaneous” plan, grabbed a picnic basket and a few supplies and headed “up valley”, a few hours later, Mom and me.

We’ve been wanting to visit Grgich Hills Estate Winery in Rutherford. We’ve passed several times in the past few months and each time we say, “we need to go there some time.” Mike Grgich made wine history in 1976 when his Chardonnay won the Paris wine tasting. Recently, a movie was made about Mike and it has been on Mom’s movie list. Sadly, it isn’t available through Netflix, so she’s been wondering how she’d be able to see the movie without purchasing it.

Grgich Hills Estate Winery
Grgich Hills Estate Winery
Grgich Hills Estate Winery
Grgich Hills Estate Winery
The Napa Valley Wine Train stops at Grgich Hills Estate Winery. How cool is that?
The Napa Valley Wine Train stops at Grgich Hills Estate Winery. How cool is that?
Grgich Hills Estate Winery
Grgich Hills Estate Winery

We were among several visitors at Grgich Hills today, being a sunny Sunday in the Napa Valley and a couple of days after the harvest began. The winery and tasting room, compared to others in the area, is nice but not ostentatious. It reminded us both of the “old” Napa winery tasting rooms, dim, cool, concrete floor, simple rough, wood bar and forthright, well-informed sommeliers to assist. They offered a couple of tasting options, one of their Napa Valley wines, which are widely available, then another more expensive option, with more exclusive wines, not widely available. We went for the ordinary, since that is what was complimentary with the Napa Valley Vintners “Napa Neighbors” program. In other words, five samples of legendary, though widely available, Napa wines, for free. Of course, you have to ask for the Napa Neighbors discount, and for a 100% discount, I’m happy to do so. Our sommelier was very good, Simon, from Philadelphia. He was friendly and informative. Mom asked about the video, whether it was for sale at the winery. Simon said it was available, for free, with the purchase of six bottles of wine. I glanced at the price per bottle, at between $30 and $60 per bottle, the purchase of six in the next year is remote, in one day, impossible. Simon said sometimes he is able to work something out, though. I got the impression it was pretty much at his discretion.

Grgich Hills Estate Winery
Grgich Hills Estate Winery
Grgich Hills Estate Winery
Grgich Hills Estate Winery
Thank you Napa Vintners Napa Neighbors Discounts for the complimentary tasting!
Thank you Napa Vintners Napa Neighbors Discounts for the complimentary tasting!

We enjoyed our five wines, a Chardonnay, a Fume Blanc, Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. I prefer, much prefer, reds to whites, but found both white wines to be quite nice. In other words, I didn’t cringe or shudder when I swallowed them. The reds were all fantastic, and I would’ve loved to buy a bottle of each, but I do have to buy gas, groceries and make my car payment. With an upcoming trip to Alaska on my calendar, though, I did buy two bottles, and was given 10% off, again, for being a local. As my bottle of Zinfandel and Merlot were bagged I, emboldened, perhaps, by the red carpet “locals” treatment, and/or the five generous tastes, I asked if there might be a chance at snagging a copy of the video. But of course! And in the bag it went!

Our first tasting.
Our first tasting.
Our second tasting.
Our second tasting.
Our third tasting and one I purchased.
Our third tasting and one I purchased.
Our fourth tasting and another I purchased.
Our fourth tasting and another I purchased.
Our final tasting and one I wish I could've purchased.
Our final tasting and one I wish I could’ve purchased.

Triumphant after our conquest at Grgich Hills, we headed north to St. Helena to pick up my monthly club selections at V. Sattui. Two more zinfandels. Good thing I like Zinfandel! Mom and I decided not to taste wine, here, too. The cops are pretty thick on Sunday afternoons. We did spend some time at the cheese sample counter, though. We bought a sandwich, some strawberries and a small crème brulee for our picnic and headed out to the wooden tables on the grass in the shade of the trees. It was crowded, but several tables were only half full. We shared a table with a young family, a man, his wife and two children. They were chatty and we compared notes on the wines. Mom and I enjoyed our picnic and headed home quite content.

V. Sattui Winery. We come here at least monthly, to pick up my wine club selections. Always love the flowers.
V. Sattui Winery. We come here at least monthly, to pick up my wine club selections. Always love the flowers.
Mom at the cheese sampling counter at V. Sattui Winery.
Mom at the cheese sampling counter at V. Sattui Winery.
V. Sattui Winery. They have picnic fixings, which is good,  because you can't bring your own.
V. Sattui Winery. They have picnic fixings, which is good, because you can’t bring your own.
Who doesn't love a picnic? It seems to be a lost pastime. Replaced, perhaps, by the ever popular BBQ.
Who doesn’t love a picnic? It seems to be a lost pastime. Replaced, perhaps, by the ever popular BBQ.
A picnic without wine isn't actually a picnic. My opinion. But one that matters.
A picnic without wine isn’t actually a picnic. My opinion. But one that matters.
Requisite picture of my plate.
Requisite picture of my plate.
Our creme brulee.
Our creme brulee.
Me and Mom.
Me and Mom.

Really, a fantastic day for a day without plans! Cheers!

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