There are over 50 wineries in the Livermore Valley wine region today. In 1995, there were only 15. I had been living in California for 3 years, and I'd been to the Napa wine region multiple times. I'd even visited wineries in Sonoma and the Santa Cruz mountains. All these areas were more than an hour's drive away from my house. The closest Livermore wineries were only 20 minutes away and yet I'd never gone. It's not that I didn't want to go, it just never came up until August of 1995.
I'd been single for awhile and not into dating at all. The last breakup had been hard, and I was still in my "I hate men" stage. I'd been playing third wheel with my closest friends, Barry and Michele, a couple I had met in the summer of '93. We planned to go to the annual Livermore Fall Festival on Labor Day weekend. I was excited to finally explore new wineries so close to home.
Then tragedy struck - Michele's father passed away. He had been ill so it wasn't completely unexpected, but now there was no way for her to attend the event as she would be in southern California with her family. Barry couldn't go with her (work reasons, I think.. hey, this was 16 years ago) and so he figured on going to the festival... did I still want to go?
Every day we make decisions. Some are monumental, life-changing decisions: yes, take the job and move across country. Others, not so: yep, I will have fries with that. Some seem trivial when you make them. It's only years later that you realize just how important that one choice was. "Yes," I told Barry. "I'll go along."
And so I found myself experiencing the tastes and sights of the Livermore wine region on September 3, 1995. We visited Garre (http://garrewinery.com/), which had just opened the weekend before. Also, Cedar Mountain (www.cedarmountainwinery.com) and Concannon (http://www.concannonvineyard.com/). Fenestra (http://fenestrawinery.com/) was our last stop. The picture at the start of this post is of Fenestra.
During the Harvest Festival, each winery offers their own particular spin on crafts, art, music and food for purchase. You might hear bluegrass, see artistic photography and chow down on pulled pork sandwiches at one winery, then catch rock-n-roll, burgers and hand-crafted jewelry at another. It's actually grown a bit too big to be enjoyable nowadays, but in 1995 it was absolutely delightful.
By tasting and not gulping, and by nibbling at each stop, it's not that hard to still be standing after 3 wineries. I was in line for some of the free appetizers when someone who had been drinking WAY too much tried to talk to me about this wonnnnerfulll weenerie we were at. Ugh. I needed an escape route. "Um, thanks..gotta go!" I took my plate and stepped out of line. Mr. Sloshed didn't seem to notice. Whew.
Wine in one hand, munchies in the other, I looked for a group to join. I've never been a wallflower; put a little vino in me and I'm even more chatty. I saw a guy wearing a KKSF Smooth Jazz tee shirt. Hey! I listen to KKSF!
"Where did you get that shirt? Do you like Smooth Jazz, too?"
The guy wearing the shirt smiled. He had a nice smile. His eyes were warm hazel; they were friendly eyes. It turned out that he did like Smooth Jazz. He was with a group of friends, and we were soon talking about all kinds of things - the winery, the wines, the weather. Soon, it was 5pm and the winery was closing. We exchanged phone numbers, said our goodbyes and left.
As Barry and I drove off, I told him "I LIKE that guy." Barry said he seemed nice.
His name was Jim.
I won't go so far as to say it was love at first sight. I was still hurting. Tabitha (my only cat at the time) got her ears talked off for weeks - should I go out with him? Should I try again? And why isn't he calling me anyway?! Our first date happened over a month after we met. And I was the one who called him!
But I did call. And we did go out. And there was a second date.. after Tabitha convinced me to go. Dates led to more dates. Adventures. Carmel. Yosemite. Trips back east to meet parents. Moving in together. We even had a brief breakup. And then finally 15 years later, the flash-mob wedding.
You never know when you'll find love. You may think you're ready. You make think you're not. In the end it doesn't really matter what you think - what really matters is what you feel. Love isn't logical. Love doesn't follow rules. Love just is.