From Then to Now

As I reflect upon my own life’s extensive work, it’s been one that’s opened impressive doors to a lot of privilege and honor. Why did I get to be the one backstage with rock n’roll’s brightest stars, in Portland Maine, and be allowed to photograph them for national trade magazine submissions?

There were very few exceptions, during the 80s. Some, like Sting, just wanted to meet and greet the six of us (arranged through a record company). This was at the end of his US tour, before he headed to Montreal’s Amnesty International Concert (which is where we were also headed).  Rod Stewart just allowed us to watch him warm up, but not before he looked me up and down, from head to toe and back up to head. (I theorize that it was the pants I had just bought in NYC. The were made in Turkey, very baggy in the leg. They would have looked great on stage. He must have been wondering where he could also get them. Saks. Rod... on a bargain rack, no less.)

Now living in wine country, having swapped one focus for another, I’m humbled by this view every morning, and the people whom I’m meeting any day of the week I’d like.  And, my stars are now winemakers and proprietors of wine companies. Here’s some of the story for the…

Taylor Family Vineyards ~ Stags Leap District Vineyard to Vintner 2017

Invited to the “Stags Leap District Vineyard to Vintner” event. Most assuredly I’ll return. I went last year, and the doors that were available were like the ones lining the corridor, where Alice in Wonderland stood looking and deciding; adventures in magic awaiting behind each door, for curious minds to enter. Then, the party begins.

So, “where do you want to go this year?” He asked. “I really want to see some caves this time, and I want to go to the Taylor Family Vineyard. They only have one day each year, when they open their winery to the public.” As we drove past Silverado Vineyards, “Hey, what about Silverado Vineyards? I’ve always been curious about that one.” Jose admitted that he had, too.

“Okay, we have a plan, ” he said.

This story is Part 2. Pine Ridge Vineyards ~ Stags Leap District Vineyard to Vintner 2017 was my first, in this series. I got my caves fix at Pine Ridge, hosted by Michael Beaulac, who was standing right there, as I checked in and said I’d love to see caves this year. With no hesitation, Michael said… “We’ve got caves. Want to see caves? Let’s go!” I had forgotten that the book Into the Earth ~ A Wine Cave Renaissance had Pine Ridge as one of their featured caves. And, now I was going to begin my own journey, thanks to Michael’s natural joie de vivre.

From Pine Ridge, we then traveled to Taylor.

Taylor Family Vineyard Opens Its Doors ! Only Once a Year

~ and it’s fabulous ~

From the Taylor Family Vineyard Website:

We believe in celebrating both the finer things in life and its simple pleasures.
Family dinners and big celebrations. New recipes and tried-and-true favorites. An old dog on the porch. Small children keeping the screen door in constant motion. Filet mignon. Homemade ice cream. Dancing. Cheering on our favorite team—although we disagree on which team that is. Sharing a good story—the taller, the better.

Good one, the taller, the better…

So, This was my second year, at the Stags Leap District Vineyard to Vintner event. I was really jazzed about it, because last year’s event was a 2016 highlight. Admittedly, I don’t get out much. Unlike those who come to California wine country as tourists, the day I moved to California, my tourist days ended, and my writing career took off. Writing is a solitary, day-to-day life, creating those tall tales that the Taylor Family loves so much. Stags Leap really does attract me fro some tales.

Opening its doors only once a year… I dig it.

My pictures are telling the story of this lovely family visit. Again, from their Web About Us page:

In 1980, Napa Valley residents Jerry and Pat Taylor, along with their children Scott, Sandy, and Mike, took on the ultimate do-it-yourself project: converting ten acres of the family’s 23-acre ranch in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley to vineyard. This experience of the five family members, on their hands and knees planting and tending young vines, was a dream come true for Jerry, a fifth-generation Napa County resident who had grown up on his family’s farm.

I gravitated toward Pat, knowing that she must have wonderful details of their lives on the ranch, in the hills of the Stags Leap AVA District. I learned that she’s now a matriarch, having lost her husband Jerry, on February 11, 2015. (I didn’t know, but felt empathy.) As she stood there, tall and strong, I couldn’t help but marvel. The love of her family exudes from every pore in her body. I can see her pulling weeds in her gardens, when they pop up. The family tree house is a respite, from the crowded valley floor. It’s a perfect setting.

The Taylor Family annual open vineyard gathering… Don’t miss it. At the homestead, you’re away from the hustle and bustle below. You’ll have a bird’s eye view, over the valley floor, which extends to the Silverado Mountain range. Peace and tranquility, it just fits.

Pat shared a sweet family story. When her granddaughter Danielle was a very small child, she told Pat, “When I grow up, I want to get married here.” (Backdrop: the Silverados with a sweeping Stags Leap Valley floor) Hum… She’s going to be such a beautiful bride, fulfilling her heart’s desire, childhood memory.

What a great family.

Fun Facts

Patriarch Jerry Taylor was a fifth generation farmer in Napa Valley. After they married, Pat and Jerry purchased an estate, with the original vineyards being then planted in 1980. First they were grape growers, who sold their wine grapes to wineries. When their daughter Sandy and her husband Phil approached Pat and Jerry, to create a winery, legacy was secured. As time went on, everyone became maxed out, just as the next generation was ready to be part of the family business. It truly is a family affair, with employees who are all connected via DNA. They do, however, pay homage to their professional winemakers Gustavo Brambila and Kristy Melton. All goodhearted people.

Taylor Family Vineyards’ Wines

  • 2015 Sauvignon Blanc ~ Crisp, clean, sparkling on that spring day. As free as the air we were breathing. What a wonderful greeting, as we walked toward the party on the deck and lawn.
  • 2015 Hillside Chardonnay ~ Well rounded body, sensual and sexy
  • 2013 St. Helena Cabernet ~ Richly elegant, ruby red, like a velvet robe the queen might wear… just arrives with tannins that slid right down my palate
  • 2012 Five, Six, Seven Bland ~ I didn’t get to it
  • 2013 Reserve Cabernet ~ Nor did I get to this one

I do believe that the consistent quality that I experiences in an over-all way, speaks well to – I will love any of them, when the next opportunity arises.