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Winemaker,Winery

Dancing with Wolves in Alexander Valley at Field Stone Winery

The Reverend Dr. John Staten, proprietor of Field Stone Winery (with his wife Katrina) responded immediately when I put the word out last February about an American soldier returning from Afghanistan, who wanted to come to wine country and only enjoy her favorite wine, Petite Sirah.

At that time, none of us knew that Sergeant First Class Cheryl Dupris is a Native American Sioux from South Dakota. I also didn’t know that John Staten has a tipi on his property, constructed by the same company that built all of the “Dances With Wolves” tipis.

All that and wine, too? This is an amazing business for unusual stories off the beaten wine paths.

I had a big day planned for Cheryl, so I asked my friend Jennifer Buffo of Pure Luxury Transportation if she’d give Cheryl the “ride of her life” for marathon day. It was so jammed packed with wining and dining that I wanted to be a responsible host, and hoped that Jennifer would make this day truly remarkable.

Jennifer never blinked, and selflessly gave Cheryl a really “Royal Welcome.” Before we went to Field Stone, we stopped at another “quick-to-respond” winemaker, Dan Teldeschi of F. Teldeschi Winery. Dan and I have a lot of history built around being on the road together all across the US with Petite Sirah, so when I asked him to jump in the limo with us as we headed to Field Stone, he abandoned his winery for the afternoon. Off we went to visit John, where John and winemaker Patrick Murray were waiting to greet us.

L to R: Patrick, John, Dan, Cheryl

Cheryl was able to taste John’s Petite Sirah, staying pretty focused on just tasting that variety, then off we went into John’s vineyards, where we’d learn about his tipi. Being John’s publicist, you’d think that I had taken the complete tour of his property, but I have to admit that I hadn’t. The tipi is located in a more private area of the winery, and I tend to respect property until welcomed to enjoy more of it.

So, not only was Cheryl totally surprised to see this amazing structure, but so was I. John Staten, a man of the cloth, has deep spirituality. It’s not built around dogma; it’s constructed from a mosaic of understandings and ecumenical beliefs. I should not, therefore, have been totally surprised… But, I delightfully was, just the same.

John invited us to enter that domain. It’s an amazing thing to go back in time to when Native Americans lived this way while hunting and gathering. I held a deep spirituality that connected me back to the time that I lived in the book, Seven Arrows, by Hyemeyohsts Storm, which remains to this day my favorite book. The book gave me a profound sense of purpose that I hadn’t yet understood in my life. Being in the tipi had a magical effect on me, as I continued to be amazed that visiting wine country isn’t all about running from one winery to the next to see how much wine can be consumed in a day.

John then took us out to view his field blend vineyard, head pruned vines, and all that jazz. Although this day was meant for Cheryl, what I gave to her in time was given back to me in enriched understandings for my own self. When you give, you don’t usually expect to get so much more back than you put out… This was one of those days.

If you have an interest in seeing this tipi, you should contact John Staten directly. You’ll feel, like I felt when on his property, that to get to it, you must be trespassing. So, it would be better to contact the winery before heading there to enjoy this beautiful structure. I know that John would love to arrange a visit for you, if you’re interested. His Email follows, and be patient, John’s pretty busy, but will get back to you. John Staten

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