Thursday, November 04, 2004


I'm taking off tomorrow for a "destination wedding" up in Napa. I'd never heard that term before this past weekend when a girl in Victoria's Secret wings said that she and her fiance had wanted to have a destination wedding, but that he had such huge control issues they had to pick someplace that was close by.

At least she knows what she's getting into.

I am thrilled to be going to the wine country as it is one of my favorite places. I've been going there for years. Gary and I used to go all the time through the 80s when he started collecting wine. I will never forget when we stopped at Heitz Cellars and he asked for a tour. The winery isn't open to the public for tours, but Gary was the kind of guy that always got what he wanted. Probably because he asked for it. So, they made a phone call and said that someone would come and take us around if we could wait about 10 minutes. Sure, no problem. We tasted and bought some wine and then Joe Heitz himself came out and barked at us to come on back. He was probably in his mid-60s and he reminded me of a math teacher I once had who scared the shit out of me because he always sounded mad. Would that be crotchety or cantankerous? Gary was impervious to people like this - bless him, because he kept asking all kinds of interesting questions as I scurried along trying to avoid doing anything that would turn Joe's attention to me. He really was quite nice and a very good teacher. I still remember much of what he said about the wine business and how it had evolved.

Besides the wineries there are fabulous restaurants like the world famous French Laundry. Someday I will go eat there. And there are wonderful places to stay. There are also bed and breakfasts, but, you know, I'm not quite sure why people think that staying in an old house with super thin walls and strangers that you have to eat breakfast with, even when you're not feeling like a morning person, is fun. One of the few times I did the B&B things was up in St. Helena with Gary, when we stayed at the Ambrose Bearce house. I thought it would be very romantic, but it was a restored Victorian with loud plumbing. As someone who is not opposed to a little exhibitionist sex once in a while I have to say I just couldn't get in the mood. Maybe I'm a considerate exhibitionist but I was so aware that every little noise was traveling through the vents and I didn't want to have to sit at breakfast with people who were pissed off from lack of sleep. So we had silent, inhibited sex which, if you think about it, kind of goes with the Victorian theme.

B&B experience - over rated.

I usually stay up in Calistoga or St. Helena because my favorite wineries are up there - Clos Pegase, Chateau Montelena, Cuvaison, to name but a few. I love to stay at Indian Springs, a spa type place with little cottages that have back porches and bbqs and hammocks. They sit at the edge of a glider field. How cool is that? I go up to the Paradise Market and stock up on cheese and salami, apples and spicy nuts - a few bottles of wine, and I spend the majority of my time snacking and floating in the biggest pool I've ever seen which is fed with piping hot natural spring water. It's one of the oldest hot springs in the area, reportedly originally used by Indians back in the early 19th century. There's also shuffleboard and croquet if you'd like to partake. I thought about it once, but ended up taking a little nap on the shuffleboard court. I would deny it - but there are pictures. I was just super duper relaxed, you know? Okay I was majorly buzzed - but hey it was midnight and it was my birthday.

This weekend I will be going to visit friends who live in St. Helena and then wine tasting my way down the valley to Napa proper as the wedding will be at The Carneros Inn. It looks like a cool place to stay and I've never really explored the town of Napa. I am so looking forward to getting out of town. And celebrating at Kate's destination wedding. I'll probably feel a little sad because Gary and I spent so much time there and I can't help but think about him and the missing of him will sharpen some.

But I will discover and drink lots and lots of wonderful wine.

And make a toast to his memory.

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