From the Check-In/Check-Out Diaries:
You are standing in line inside JFK looking down at your ticket. What zone am I? This is the question you are asking yourself when you get the call from your Dr. Your biopsy results are in. This could go either way. For me I was fortunate to have good biopsy news and I’m here to say, it is a great way to start off a trip to California wine country.
After a relatively uneventful flight on Delta (that’s a compliment). The only complaint I have is how is it possible that the movie, The Hangover 2 was the exactly the same as the first one? I guess I can’t pin this one on Delta. It’s as if someone had a script and did FIND/REPLACE with Child/Monkey, Las Vegas/Bangkok, and car/boat. Was there a writing deadline (or MANY deadlines) missed?
I arrive at SFO, meet Beth, get a car and after a brief detour of Oakland (ended up on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd) we are headed north. Given it is Thursday evening we head straight for a restaurant where we have a reservation named Compadres Rio Grill. Yes, a Mexican restaurant is our first stop in wine country. No one is in the restaurant leading us to quickly figure out that this area is over by 8pm. We eat fajitas, enchiladas, and dos Margaritas (each) by ourselves.
We are staying at the Napa Best Western Premier. For those unaware “Premier” equals “Fancy” and equals having an extra toothbrush when I realized I had forgot to bring mine (fancy). Unpacked, it is still early so we walk across the parking lot to the Red Hen Cantina. We drink good Margaritas and wonder where all of the people are. Overall the drinks were good, cleanliness, uh, well maybe there’s a little of work to do there. No worries, it’s not like we would be spending much (or any more) time at the Red Hen Cantina. For those keeping track, yes, our first night in wine country consisted of Mexican food and Margaritas.
The next morning we wake up early and begin our drive to the north side of Napa. For seasoned veterans (or for those, like us, that have watched the movie Sideways) you always want to start at the furthest point for your wine tasting, slowly making your way back to your hotel. It really doesn’t take a seasoned veteran to understand this very basic piece of drinking and driving etiquette. Our initial stop is Castello de Amorosa. The first thing you notice is the driveway, with the hills to the right and the vines to the left, it looks like Tuscany.
READ the FULL Narrative at INEEDAHOLIDAY.co.uk
Excerpt from "THE VINES", a short story inspired by the Napa Valley
Growing up with the name Penny was way better than you’d think. “Penny for your thoughts”, my mother would say right before she pulled my sheets up. Or “You sure are pretty, Penny”, from my father as he drove me to first grade. Yes, living in Napa and being named Penny was a lot like hitting the lottery for a little girl. Family picnics, road trips up and down the coast of California, and softball games were the norm. For anyone that lives in Napa would know, this was of course Pre-Vines. This is before the grapes moved in and the tourists trampled through our region. Yes, prior to this time everyone played the lottery with hope, looking for a big payout. Not after the first grapes arrived, well, there was no need for hope. There was enough money to go around. No need to play the lottery. No need for picnics. No more softball and definitely no more road trips. There were grapes to grow!
I must have been fourteen when our family started to plant their vines. You see, our last name is Champagne so once the boom started, well; obviously with our name we already had a leg up. Still, we weren’t alone. Just on our road, the Rivers, the Muellers, and the Berzinnis were all planting their vines, adhering to the wine process of GROW-HARVEST-CRUSH-FERMENT-BOTTLE. Eventually families would break out onto their own as if they were franchises. Some out of love, some hate: All for the love of money. Divorce and resentment turned from the exception to norm, expanding throughout the region. For those competing against each other the bumper sticker phrase “Hard Work is the Best Revenge” became the mantra for Napa. GROW-HARVEST-CRUSH-FERMENT-BOTTLE.
READ "THE VINES" HERE
David S. Grant is the author of several books. His latest, BLOOD: The New Red will be available 11-11-11. For more information go to http://www.davidsgrant.com. Follow David on Twitter .david_s_grant