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Assisi & Brannan #11: Vineyards and Hills

Apr 8, 2014

The last winery was Savannah Chanelle Vineyard at the top of a hill. Tucked away from the road, it was secluded and sweet. The group was well into the late stage inebriation. They tempted me with a glass of wine since this was the last stop.

“C’mon Garnet, have a drink! One glass.”

Sam would fire me on the spot if I did. Friend or not.

I took a bottle of water and went for the mustard and crackers instead.

There were four men and three women. The guys in the group were friendlier than the women. Funny how that happens, right?

They had all come for their buddy’s wedding and were staying on a few days to visit with friends. The bride and groom had left on their honeymoon. They seemed to get along well, but after the third winery I wasn’t sure if friendship had anything to do with it.

Kevin, the best man at the wedding, was cool. I found out he was a policeman because he made a remark about my rolling stop. Just what I needed: to be ticketed by my passenger. But he was having fun and didn’t write me up. I would have left him behind.

Really.

We got talking after I dropped them at The Mountain Winery. Crawling up the narrow switchback to the top of the hill in a stretch was not what I had ever imagined I would be doing. The closest I had gotten to driving uphill was when I was riding the Peak Tram every time our relatives came to visit us in Hong Kong.

“So how long have you been doing this?” he asked.

We were standing by the rail overlooking the wide-open, spectacularly beautiful mountainside with all of the Santa Clara Valley and San Jose before us. The Santa Cruz Mountains are great—wineries, restaurants, shopping, hiking, biking, camping—hey, everything I need money for.

“I’ve been with them for three months.” I’ve only driven three months.

“Do you work weekdays?”

“I only drive weekends. This is my moonlight. I work at a local paper.”

He was the only local in the group. He lived in San Francisco. We ended up talking about his experience after we finished discussing me. While his friends sampled the cabs and blancs, we shared a pulled pork sandwich.

“I thought you were from New York,” I remarked. “You seem like them.”

“Loud, obnoxious and fun? That I am.”

I couldn’t help smiling, hoping I looked half way decent in my stupid uniform. I couldn’t help fantasizing about Kevin in his uniform.

“Things are always different. Not quite what they seem.”

We stood there watching the visitors. Some were dyed, branded and over-accessorized. And there were people like us, tasting the wine and enjoying the ambience for a few hours.

Kevin walked back to the tasting room to find the others.

Things are not quite what they seem. I’ve heard this often, but this time I understood it. Sarah Dinh. The man who took her home. Her husband. There was something buried in that lovely suburban life. I had written a thought in my notes. I needed to find it.

I heard laughter and turned to see them all walking out.

I brushed the crumbs off my face.

“This is for you.” He gave me a 2009 Pinot Noir, Armagh Vineyard.

It was time to drive them back to their hotel.

© Jocelyn Uma 2014. All Rights Reserved.