Early childhood memories
Riding in the back of my dad’s bicycle:
Playing with Marvin the cat:
The Halloween that my brother dressed up as a duck:
First learning the difference between Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at a Cambria meeting:
I was around five years old, and we had flown down to Santa Maria for a couple of days. My mom and dad let me hang out by the hotel swimming pool the first day instead of taking me to their meeting, because they probably knew that I would be bored. However, the second day that we were there they brought me to the last meeting, which ended in a tasting of Cambria wines.
This is what I remember:
We were seated at a long, dark wooden table whose surface was above my head, and the people in the meeting were looking at thick stacks of paper with colorful charts on them and lots of indecipherable writing. The room was dimly lit by fluorescent lights which were making me feel sleepy, and as I sat in my chair waiting for the adults to finish, I became more and more bored. To entertain myself, I started picking out all the letters that I could recognize on the wine labels, because I’d just been learning the alphabet in school. I remember thinking that the cursive script on the label was really pretty.
After going through all of their charts and figures, everyone started pouring wines to be tasted. My mom brought me over to the chair next to hers and asked if I wanted to learn what Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were. I said yes, so she picked out the one that she had named after me, the Katherine’s Vineyard Chardonnay, and the one named after my sister, the Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir. She carefully let me smell both the Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir, and then let me take a tiny taste of each one. I wanted to try the Pinot first, because somebody had mentioned strawberries and cherries when they had tasted it, and I loved both of those things. When I tried it, though, I didn’t notice cherry because I was too busy registering how weird it felt on my tongue.
I didn’t like it, and didn’t want to try the Chardonnay until my mom mentioned that it was named after me. “Look, there’s your name,” she told me, pointing at label, where “Katherine’s Vineyard” was written. I took a sip and immediately decided that I liked it a lot better. For one thing, when I put my nose into the glass, I noticed that it had a slight pineapple aroma. For the five-year-old version of me, this was a serious advantage, because I absolutely loved all things pineapple. For another thing, it had a rich, golden color that reminded me of pineapple too, but also made me think of liquid sunlight. When put up against a wine with the powerful combination of yellow coloring, pineapple aromas, and my name, the Pinot Noir didn’t stand a chance.
Twenty years later, I still tend to prefer Chardonnay to Pinot Noir, while my sister really likes Pinot. Is this coincidence, or does it all come down to having a personal connection with the wine because of its name? I’ll probably never know.