I breezed across the lawn of the St. Michelle Winery today and paused at the entrance of a building I haven’t seen in nearly four years. Something reminded me of those old halls in Jane Austen novels, possibly the design of the building, at any rate there was no butler to greet me as I swept in like a sailor home from many years at sea. I’m in the Northwest so I was equally damp. It was as surreal as a dream to step in as if the time hadn’t passed and announce firmly to the hostess that it was no longer necessary to send my quarterly shipments on the opposite side of the country, I was back. “Good for you,” the hostess nodded, without sarcasm. Everyone goes back eventually. She suggested I go to the tasting room and I don’t know why I went, which was obvious by the time I got to the counter, because the woman pouring wine within asked me a question and I gave such an off-kilter answer she suspected I didn’t belong there. She asked me some leading questions to see if I was truly in the Reserve Club, and satisfied that I was just weird, poured me a glass. “I don’t care for Gervertz usually,” I shrugged. “Too sweet.” She assured me this one wasn’t in a tone that was quite defensive, I shrugged again. She didn’t warm up to me until I told her it had more of a mineral flavor than I expected. I meant that it tasted like licking the side of a rock, which I kind of like in a wine, but she exhaled with relief that I really did know something about wine after all, poured me a Syrah and directed me to the cheese. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast so I may have scarfed a little more of the free cheese than she was expecting. All in all I think I made my presence known.

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