8.16pm, Wednesday 3rd March, Pleasanton, CA, USA
Well, I’m just glad to be home in one piece!
Folks, let me tell you about my day. Six and a half hours on the road, and six hours in the trade. Picture this. I go downstairs just before 7am this morning to get an early start, as it’s hard to judge traffic – I’m due to meet the HWG rep Jim in Monterey (95 miles away) at 10am – and it is raining cats and dogs. So I head out on the freeway, and within 5 minutes, we’re five lanes solid in driving rain at a complete stop. This is not good. So I switch the radio on and catch all the traffic advisories – there’s flooding across the whole Bay Area, collisions everywhere including two on the 680 South (which I’m on!), warnings about hydroplaning, and just for good measure – a high wind warning on the Bay Bridge! And I’m out in this for the forseeable future!
So eventually the traffic moves, and I sit behind a truck with a full trailer of cars to try and break the way a bit – and it makes a good shield. I go past a three-car pileup with one speared into the mud on the dividing strip, and the Fremont Fire Department Paramedic truck goes flying past – must be going to the accident just reported on the radio.Yep, a couple minutes later and there’s another two-car bangup, with one broadsided into the mud as well.
Then OOPS! There’s a four-wheel-drive spinning in the middle lane, and we all kind of move either side like in slow motion. This is not good.
I got about two-thirds of the way there and pulled off at Morgan Hill to fill up with petrol, grab a coffee, but mostly just to hide out for 5 minutes. It’s suicide out there on the road today. I lost my radio station about here, just before getting to the next town, which is Gilroy – Garlic Capital of the World. But I found another country music station 95.5 HANK FM – it’s all going to be OK.
I got to Monterey at 9.58am, technically on time, and jumped into Jim’s car and headed for our first call – at the picturesque world famous Pebble Beach Golf Course. Nerves still jangling we presented our wines to Wendy and her offsider Kathy, and karma must have stepped in as it all went really well, and I’m pleased to report that our 2008 Bush Vine Grenache and 2006 Barossa Shiraz Viognier are now on at the Pebble Beach Dining Room. Seeing as it is Oscar Week, with the big awards happening this Sunday, we finished our conversation on the movies, and I gave the girls my inside info on my pick for the actor on the rise – Canadian Nathan Fillion. Check out the independent release “Trucker” filmed in the outer northern suburbs of Los Angeles – this boy has kind of a permanent broken nose look going on, but is rivetting!
**Hey Sportsfans moment – I took a picture of the 18th hole at Pebble Beach for you, and it sits right on the bay, with Point Lobos in the backdrop. (Local legend has it that when Robert Louis Stevenson spent some time here, the lay of Point Lobos was his inspiration for Treasure Island.) (NOTE: We’ll ge the photo up soon!)
With a good start under our belt, it was off to the docks in Monterey, to the Sandbar Grill, which is part of the wharf , down at the waterline. We had lunch with owner, hockey fan and golf crazy Craig – and it was the Y Unwooded and the Eden Valley Wild Ferment Chardonnays that were the stars and will be flying here before long.
There has always been a really busy fishing industry here in Monterey, based historically on the sardine catch. This is why they had all the sardine canneries along the foreshore, which was the area that inspired the John Steinbeck novel “Cannery Row”. See, after such a dark start – what an interesting day.
I had the other local seafood speciality: sand dabs. These are like tiny flounder, and they take a tiny fillet off each side and lightly batter them. They remind me a bit of our garfish at home – quite sweet and great eating. And the day continues to improve.
Then off to Carmel to catch up with the gals Annalisa and Kerre at Southern Latitude, the Southern Hemisphere wine specialist store. They’ve had a stack of our wines on for ages and are our outpost in the Carmel and Monterey area. Nice to catch up and show the new vintages, and with any luck we’ll be back to do a show for their customers. So I’ve again kept to the highlights of the day – so by the time 4pm rolled around, I thought it best to hit the road – as I needed to be home at a reasonable time, as I have an 8am flight to Los Angeles tomorrow morning.
The highway lulled me into a false sense of security.
With only light drizzle, and after a couple of bottlenecks, I flew back up the 101, flew onto the 680 north, and then 22 miles from home – bang! Five solid lanes at a full stop. It took an hour to do 20 miles. But thankfully all is well and Jimmy the Jeep has done very well today and we’re both in one piece. He’s parked downstairs for a two-day spell and has earned it!
So after everything is cut and dried, we’ve got two wines on at one of the most prestigious sporting addresses in the USA, and I’m off to Los Angeles tomorrow for our first “work with” there, with Friday’s job being two sales meetings – one in LA and one in Orange County. Then it’s back up to San Francisco for the weekend. Yay!
See ya when the roads are drier!