'17 into '18: Inviting MORE.

Greetings wine lovers and supporters alike! A most Happy New Year to you all. I am determined that it shall be. As 2017 came to a close, I observed an onslaught of hashtags and general commentary about the perceived rottenness of 2017, and therefore eagerness to ceremoniously kiss it goodbye. Being an empathetic listener, I read, heard and took that in, psychically validating the experiences of others. I believe in everyone’s right to name their own experience. No amount of “mansplaining”, or if we are to speak of wine, “winesplaining” can replace what we have actually, truly, lived and felt. We get to name our own experience. However, we do each have the capacity to reflect and take in new information and ask more questions and sometimes arrive at a completely different place. As Tom Robbins is credited with saying, “It is never too late to have a happy childhood”. We have the power to reimagine our experiences and frame them in a new light, at any time on the journey. This knowledge nagged at me as I deciphered the disgruntled remarks on the year of 2017.


Vim and vigor.

Life is like a bottle of wine. Created from effort. From love. Hardship, growth and change. Always alive, evolving or stagnating to the point of unbearable. The goal is to get better. To continually improve. Though there is never a definitive point of “arriving”, there are peaks. All part of the miracle of living. Sometimes we just stay the same. Or we think we do, we might hold rigidly to that intention, but the joke is on us. We are always changing. It is by design. We are alive. As is wine.

The wine pictured to the right is a 2006 Late Harvest Gewurztraminer made by Castello di Amorosa in Napa. They opened for tasting and tours in 2008, the year I finished my Master of Arts at Saint Mary's College in Moraga, CA. My family traveled from Kentucky for the occasion and we took a day trip to Napa and visited the Castello. My mother, who hardly drinks, had held onto this special bottle, unknowingly, all these years, through a move and many, many life events. When I was home visiting Kentucky in the Fall, I stumbled upon it. I was floored. We had a birthday in the family that week and thus it seemed fitting to open it, with 11 years of accidental aging. How was it?! Gorgeous. Subdued white floral and baking spice notes with honeyed peaches on the palate and a crystalized citrus finish. It was a treat. And all the more special to share it with my family. How that wine must have changed since 2006! As have we, the humans who consumed it.

#lockitdown Photo by Rachel Capil. 

#lockitdown Photo by Rachel Capil. 

I do.

For me 2017, brought one of the most gigantic moments of my life to date. Cue that Pixies song: Gabe and I got married. At the formidable San Francisco City Hall. It was civil and brief, and the best part, binding. We did feel different. Champagne was consumed. Real Champagne, from the actual region of Champagne. For this alone, I cannot toss out 2017 as the year of the terrible. Note: to be clear I am referencing the marriage as my rationale and not the Champagne, though it all kind of goes together. This was but one moment. And there are numerous other memories, not to be shared on a public blog post, that also brought me that staggering, shake-you-to-the-core, seeing-stars kind of wonder and joy. I want more of that.



The scenic coast highway near Ensenada, Mexico.

The scenic coast highway near Ensenada, Mexico.

Mini-moon is the new Honeymoon.

A week after our nuptial vow professing, we took a proper mini-moon. I read recently that people travel now more than ever in the history of humanity. Also we are more prone to shorter trips with more frequency, as opposed to the months long voyages across the pond of yesteryear. Though that sounds fun too! I have long fantasized about a trip to begin in Champagne, working our way south, into Chablis, Burgundy, Beaujolais and The Rhone, sipping everything lovely along the way, ending up down in Provence for another month at a villa amidst lavender fields with a rotating glass of crisp and dry rosé, in hand, daily. Sounds blissful, right? Could that be a kickstarter campaign? In the meantime, we are keeping our day jobs and funding ourselves to taste wherever we can, in California and beyond.

Crossing the border. 

Crossing the border. 

Baja Moon.

Ever since reading about the Valley of Guadalupe in Baja California North, as Mexico’s premier wine region, we had been fixated. Dreamy. Looking up real estate in fact. Well that was Gabe, whilst I researched wine. It was being touted as the “next Napa”. Mexican Wine Country. We knew we had to check it out. Mini-moon was the perfect placement for this fated pilgrimage. Emblematic of Gabe’s Mexican heritage, my longtime connection with the country, our shared love of wine and an exploration of our future endeavors together. In March off we went, on the 10-hour drive in our Toyota Camry, all the way from The Monterey Peninsula to El Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico.


View out of the tasting room window at Encuentro Guadalupe. Photo by Gabe Manzo. 

View out of the tasting room window at Encuentro Guadalupe. Photo by Gabe Manzo. 

México Mágico.

Not to leave you hanging, we loved it. We went again in July. I wrote a blog post about it. And got a piece published about it in The Vacation Times. We went again in December and this time brought friends. Unsurprisingly, they also loved it. To sum it up, the place is magical. There is an energy there. The wine identity of El Valle de Guadalupe is one of experimentation, without regulation. Some of it driven by consumers but much of it by a spirit that welcomes creativity. Spending the last few days of 2017 there was delicious and restorative. I can’t wait to get back. 

2017 was a lot like all the years:





and all the gradients in between.

And there was wine. Lots and lots of wine.

2018 is my year for MORE.

Lately I have felt emboldened. Listless. Fervent for an evolution. I want to taste more wine but not just volume, I want difference. Divergence. I want to understand more from the vintner perspective. Why is it that some wine is touted as award winning and when I taste it, I am just kind of bored? It isn’t bad, it just doesn’t animate my senses. Predictable. I want to be electrified by the wine I taste. I want it to make me curious about it, about the winemaker, the farming practices, how much sun the grapes got and on and on. I want to try blends and varietals that are taboo, forgotten or have yet to be discovered. Remember: the rules were created by humans. Grapes are an offering of mother-nature, and since when has she given a hoot about our arbitrary rules? I am even looking forward to having an adverse reaction to a wine! That creates an attentiveness to detail, so I can be sure to avoid, OR keep trying until I find a profile I connect with. I seek more. Not just in wine, but in all of life. I am my own architect of such. The fun has already begun. Cheers!

What are your #winegoals for 2018?