After our adventures around Santa Rosa and Healdsburg, we were ready to let someone else do the driving. Things didn’t begin well. Our driver, Jon (somehow I’m sure he drops the “h” even though I never saw his name in writing) kept driving around the Sonoma town square. Picture three ladies, underdressed for the unexpected chill, clutching bags and bottles of water, waving and yelling “Stop!” as a Platypus tour van meanders through stop signs. When we finally got onboard Jon said, “hey, you’ve got good eyes!” and had me read to him the phone number of one of our missing members. He didn’t take kindly to being reminded that “good eyes” were actually a requirement for driving.
But let’s not dwell on the negative. Jon isn’t a full time driver, but a member of “the film industry.” (Requests for elaboration on this received mysterious answers.) And he hooked us up with some awesome wineries: Gundlach Bundschu; Benziger; Ravenswood, and Paradise Ridge. We tasted gewurtztraminer, chardonnay, rosé, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, pinot noir, and of course zinfandel. We ran through wine caves, rode behind a tractor past the insectary of a biodynamic winery, stole some glasses so that the drinking could continue back on the van, and most importantly, learned the true definition of the word “bunghole.”
Which brings me to Deke, the star of our little tourlet. A few words on the man: Deke has just passed the bar. He’s from Tennessee (with a tattoo of that state on his forearm to prove it) but went to college at NYU. His mother once dated a “shiner.” (That’s short for “moonshiner” for the rest of you Yanks.) He doesn’t care that his hairline’s receding “because I’m married now” but still takes “an AIDS cocktail of Propecia” to placate his beautiful and patient wife, Alice. He went as Lady Gaga for Halloween, and has the balls to wear a white button down shirt while drinking red wine on a van lurching up windy backcountry roads.
He also looked up “bunghole” in the dictionary when he was eight, and so was the only one of us prepared to hear Tim at Ravenswood explain that the little stopper in the wine barrel was called a “bung” which meant, of course, that the hole it was stopping was “the bunghole.” Yours truly caught a shot of Tim extracting some wine from this orifice, but what I really should have had my camera on was Mudpie, who lost it entirely at this point. The kind of laughing fit you usually only have in church or school, when you’re trying so hard to hold it back that it comes out in little breathless gulps. Awesome.