Sunday, July 27, 2008


This week the California division of my little company (meaning, my boss and I) entertained Luca Tommasini, the bashful, handsome, kind, and quick to laugh owner of Sangervasio winery. He arrived to great fanfare last Saturday, when we picked him up at SFO and whisked him northward to his temporary home in the Napa Valley, where we would spend a week furiously calling on accounts, working consumer events, and squeezing in some fun here and there.

Notice a particular word in my last sentence - week. We entertained Luca for a working week. In my last job, working for the distributor, the most I ever had to entertain a visitor was for a day. I would pick them up in the morning, drive them around to various accounts all day, stop at some point for a leisurely lunch, maybe do an event in the evening, and then hand them over to the next rep the following morning. For me, this entertaining a supplier for a whole week was an entirely different beast. We worked all day at a flying pace, and were barely able to rest before starting again the next day. Beds went unmade in the morning and faces went unwashed at night as we put our routines on hold to accomplish two missions - show Luca a good time, and sell as much of his wine as possible.

Some highlights of the week were:

- Going to a Giants game on Wednesday. I love baseball, and this was my first chance to go to a game out here. Plus, it was Luca's first baseball game, period. We ate kielbasa, drank Sam Adams, and screamed our asses off when the Giants made a game-winning comeback in the 8th inning. It was Americana at it's best.

- Dinner at Perbacco on Tuesday. One of the best Italian restaurants in San Francisco, not to mention an account that I am fervently trying to win favor with, we were all looking forward to introducing Luca to their wine director, a handsome native of the Veneto, and a self proclaimed appreciator of beautiful women. The introduction went swimmingly, and in addition to a beautiful array of house cured meats and homemade pasta dishes, we consumed what is, up until this point, the most beautiful bottle of Barolo I have ever had. It was one of those meals of a lifetime that will be remembered not only because of the exquisite food and wine, but because of the stunning service, our being treated to the best table in the house overlooking the kitchen, and of course, the wonderful company. We learned from Luca that the word perbacco is used as a sort of exclamation in Italian. For instance, at the end of a great meal, one would throw up their hands and declare "Perbacco!" over the whole situation. Which we did.

- Turning Luca on to Peet's. Since my morning routine was so hurried and I was getting less sleep every night, a morning stop at Peet's became a very necessary part of every day. On our second morning together, Luca came with me. He had a double espresso and a vegan chocolate oat muffin, which he ate hurriedly at the sugar bar. Once back in the car, I was pleased when he pronounced the espresso molto bene. However, the ultimate satisfaction came later when we dropped him off at the end of the night, and he asked me what time I would be picking him up in the morning. "And we will stop at Peet's for breakfast?" he would ask before getting out of the car. "Si," I would declare with a smile. "Bene. Good night!" This exchange repeated every day for the rest of his trip.

- Touring Clos du Val on Friday. As wonderful as Italy is, there is definitely one place where we Americans have them beat - capturing and capitalizing on the tourism aspect of the wine industry. Here in California, almost every winery has a beautiful, new-looking tasting room where flocks of wine enthusiasts can gawk, taste, and experience the birthplace of their favorite libations. Very few wineries in Italy offer that sort of adventure unless you are an insider with serious industry connections. And a rental car. And a companion who is fluent in Italian. So for his final afternoon in California we decided to take Luca to a few of Napa Valley's finest so that he could get some ideas that perhaps he could take back to his own property.

I have always been a fan of Clos du Val - in fact of most Stag's Leap wineries that aren't Stag's Leap Winery themselves - so I was anxious to check them out. We were not disappointed. The property was beautiful, and our tour guide was a talkative, middle-aged farmer who was all too excited to let us know all about their processes. We walked through some of the vineyards and inspected the grapes at close range, which for me held a certain magical appeal. While I've made probably half a dozen trips to Napa before, and visited what feels like a ton of wineries, this is my first time actually seeing grapes on the vine. Before, I have always come in either spring or late fall - either right before the grapes have burst into action, or right after then have been plucked and fermented. So for me it was exciting to walk through the vines and inspect, touch, and nibble on the grapes for the first time. Plus, their 2006 Carneros Chardonnay was a surprise hit during the tasting. Very little oak, incredibly crisp and delicious.

All in all, it was a fantastic and exhausting week, from which all of us have spent the past two days indulgently recovering. The work was hard, but well worth it. It is weeks like these that drew us to this business, and that make this all so satisfying. The people, the events, the laughter, and the experiences are priceless. Luckily, it is a beautiful weekend and we can all retire to the poolside with a book or two to recharge for this coming (thankfully, Italian-free) week.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home