Laura Haley-McNeil

11/5/17, Napa Valley

Hello, Everyone!

We’re entering that part of the year when we start thinking about the Christmas holidays and planning for the new year. I’m a terrible procrastinator when it comes to shopping. I wait for the last minute, which used to have its financial benefit. Just before the holiday, many vendors reduced their prices to increase their year-end bottom line, but now it seems as if there’s a sale every day. I still look for bargains and try to gage my shopping when I think an item has reached its lowest price, but I have to remember the gift I’ve purchased and for whom, because when Christmas approaches I’ll buy another gift and then someone on my list receives two gifts, which I give anyway because it’s the giving season.

I’ve been shocked and stunned with the devastation of the California fires. California is such a beautiful state and I can’t imagine what the wine country must look like after these terrible fires. Thinking back to when I would visit this area, I remember a visit that was memorable because of our host—a very handsome and charismatic man. He was romance novel handsome. No, he and I didn’t steel away to make a memory of our own, though to this day I can remember every detail about him.

At the time I worked for a stock brokerage firm, which is a story in itself, but the firm worked with a travel agent who would arrange inexpensive trips for her clients. One trip was to San Francisco—such an incredible, beautiful and exciting city. We ate fabulous food, stayed up way too late, and had a fabulous time. We planned a trip to one of the vineyards and traveled by train to Napa Valley. Our host gave us a tour. Later, we sat in the tasting room and shopped in the vineyard’s store. Our host helped us shop and would ask us what sort of wine we liked and helped us make our selections. Many of us lugged several bottles of wine back on the plane. Yes, we were permitted to carry wine bottles onto the plane. That’s how long ago this trip was.

After the tour and the shopping, we were treated to the most wonderful lunch of wine and cheese and a variety of sliced meats and bread and, of course, San Francisco’s famous sourdough bread. Our host was a very handsome young man. He was average height, but well-built with expensively cut masses of dark curly hair and trendy glasses. He wore an Oxford shirt and trousers which looked tailor made. He was outgoing and gave a wonderful talk about the vineyard and the wine. I’m assuming it was wonderful because I remember none of it. The women in the group fell in love with him. They gathered around him and asked him questions. One of the women asked how he became involved in the wine business. He said he’d been a member of a rock band, which broke up and though he tried to find other work in the music business, he took a position at the vineyard to pay the bills. Though it had to be disappointing not to make money doing what he loved, he was the consummate professional as the vineyard’s representative. And he would be the perfect hero in a novel—handsome, charming with a ready-made inner conflict. Little did he know he would be memorialized in a writer’s blog and maybe someday in a book.

I pray that California’s wine country will rise above the ashes of this devastating fire and resume its role in our nation. My heart and prayers go out to those who have lost precious possessions and more. California is a state of strong, forward-thinking people. I have faith that they will rise again.

My wish for you is to have a wonderful week and I wish you peace, joy and love as we enter our holiday season.