Originally published September 20, 2010
God led me tonight to read past stories that I have written, this is one of my favorite stories right on time for harvest. I have decided to leave it unedited and in its organic state. With that, I raise my glass and toast “to all that is good… to a good harvest 2022 in the vineyard of our hearts!”
Almost a year ago, I dined in San Francisco’s Mission District at an Italian neighborhood joint… Delfina. It was an amazing culinary experience and the treasure for me was the taste of luscious, creamy butter beans on my palette. These were the first butter beans I had tasted outside of my Granddad’s garden. Butter beans are my all time favorite bean… which is an influence of my Granddad’s Alabama upbringing… they are a true Southern staple!
I had just taken in a 49er’s game with my friends, Tom & Gustavo. We went to Delfina after our WIN to imbibe in great food, even better wine, and best of all… lots of laughter! During conversation, it came up that my mother’s wonderful friends, Amy Jo & Ab, were coming out to the wine country with their in-laws in tow… I couldn’t wait to see them! They both looked at each other, smiled, and made a deal that they were going to organize a day for me that my friends would never forget. Tom & Gustavo have been in the wine industry a long time… together they create magical wine in Napa. I was honored and delighted that they would take a day out of their week to do this for me. I will never forget the memories of that day.
We journeyed to special tastings … swirl, smell, sip & swirl, smell, sip… just like a well conducted waltz. I was elated as we arrived at Tom & Gustavo’s winery where the wine was patiently waiting inside for our enjoyment. Empty wine glasses were placed in our hands as Tom led the way with his wine thief to the 300 or so barrels laden with wine!! First, we sipped on Sauvignon Blanc from stainless steel tanks, and then tasted same vintage Cabernet Sauvignon out of various barrels… I learned about the amazing transformation of flavors and textures within the same vintage and varietal and how this was influenced by which barrel was used for aging. I was in wine geek heaven! Little did I know that I was about to be love struck at the most unpredictable hour.
The object of my affection manifested as I was standing in an aisle of wine barrels. Tom extracted my “first kiss” from the barrel. As the flavors of boldness, strength, charm, kindness, and chivalry hugged and kissed my palette, this wine inexplicably permeated my soul… I realized that I had never been romanced by a wine quite like this before and it startled me. My love affair had begun and I knew I would be back one day to taste this Syrah as it evolved over time. I have tasted many wines over the years thru experiences enjoyed in wine school, during my wine career, sharing wine with family, friends, and loves… nothing compared to my love, my amor… “My Syrah!” At this point, you might be saying, “Wow, lady, take it easy… it is just a wine.” I couldn’t explain the spiritual experience I had with that wine that day, however, a year later… I totally get it!
Last Thursday, Tom and I had meetings in Napa. After the meetings ended, we decided to take the rest of the day off and play in Napa. We started out at Rutherford Grill with a local microbrew in hand & lots of conversation! Tom and I are like siblings and we were enjoying catching up on each others’ lives. My friend, Autumn, who lives in Napa eventually met up with us and off we went to Tom’s winery for tasting. I was like a teenager giggling in anticipation and with flushed cheeks that I was about to see my Syrah again!! The Cabernets that I had tasted a year ago were bottled that same day and I was excited to taste the new Cabernet Sauvignon vintages in barrel. I also knew that “my syrah” was waiting for me in the barrel and couldn’t wait to experience that rush again! Throughout the year, I would ask Tom…”How is my syrah?” He would smile and say… “Waiting for you”! We tasted thru the Cabernet Sauvignons which were ridiculously good and then… it was time to taste the syrah. I was standing in an aisle with barrels surrounding us from every side. I did not know how to explain what I was experiencing, I did know that my spirit was definitely in the forefront and all senses were heightened and aware. I was laughing with joy that I was reunited with “My syrah”… as I was kissed by this wine again; it was much more intense and overwhelmingly perfect. I could sense God’s presence in me and “wine angels” surrounding me. I heard, “This is your wine.” I said to myself, “Am I going crazy or did God tell me that this is really “my wine”? I heard again, “This is YOUR wine” and I smiled as it sounded good to me!! Tom and Autumn were laughing at my love affair I was having in front of their eyes and Tom especially delighted in it because it was his creation.
As we were walking out… Tom turned to me and said… “This is your wine.” I looked at him in awe because I had been told this thru my spirit while tasting, and for Tom to tell me that without him knowing anything affirmed that this was my “soul wine”. I said, “Say that again”! He said… “This is your wine… I just feel that this wine was supposed to be made for you.” I laughed as Tom and I haven’t talked much about God openly together, just subtly. I laughed and said, “God told me that inside also and now straight from the winemaker’s mouth!” He laughed and said, “God has been doing that all day!” It opened a door for us to talk deeper about our relationships with God and we both affirmed that He was a major part of the atmosphere that day.
“My verse” in the Bible is… “New wine must be put into new wineskins.” I believe that God is symbolizing my love affair with Jesus and the growth I have experienced over the past year. It was about a year ago that transformation began in me… just around the time I first tasted the Syrah. Now, a year later, as I was delighting in the evolvement of that wine which had gone from really good to fantastic… I had a revelation that thru my planting and pruning the past year I am growing into a vine that produces good fruit. I am maturing and evolving into great wine… just as my syrah is still aging for another 6 months in the barrel… and will continue to mature and evolve in the bottle. I believe there is deeper revelation to that understanding… for now… I will delight in the simple pleasure of knowing that my winemaker, God, is delighting in His creation of me and that I am delighting dwelling in Him!!
Now, as the grape harvest is near… I am a new wine that must be placed into new wineskins, fresh and new! That is a harvest to celebrate and with that… I dance with “My Syrah” in hand and say, Que sera, sera… whatever will be, will be!!”