Late in the fall of 1983, John, an eccentric wine-business friend, insisted we join him and his wife, Jennifer, on a trip to Napa and Sonoma. The excursion included events that would ultimately change both our wine-stained lives forever. We flew into San Francisco and rented a white Lincoln Towne Car, the size of a small yacht. We cruised across the bay and into wine country. I was mesmerized. In November, with harvest completed many of the vineyards still had leaves of rustic red, yellow and harvest gold. The trip had many memorable moments, including the haunted San Francisco B&B’s where John insisted we stay. Lest we forget the corner sushi bar whose concept of hospitality was to curse in Japanese as you entered.
Donna spent the whole trip politely passing on any red wine tastings, limiting herself to whites. She had yet to develop a taste for rich red wines with their structured tannins. As if acting in unison, the red wines would begin to pour and her right hand would cover the wine glass. That was until the moment in the living area of our Healdsburg B&B when Donna lost her cabernet virginity. Around four in the afternoon we sat with a few other guests to share the day’s wine tasting bounty. John opened a bottle of Jordan Cabernet and insisted Donna give it a full-on chance. With much trepidation, she lifted the glass to her lips and took a sip, letting the wine settle on her palate. At that instant she knew what she had been missing all along.