What a Little Circle Man’s Experience Is


Our harvest of red grapes began today with a few picking bins of Sangiovese. And three days ago I became a grandfather for the second time. These two events are bound up in my head and batting around them are words I remember from a Willa Cather book about the circle of one’s experiences and how small and intimate those circles tend to be.

I’m the sixth in a line of winemakers in California that stretch back to before Abraham Lincoln was president, and it will hit me at odd moments that what I’m doing in the cellar on a particular day was the

Papa & Calvin

same thing my great-great-great grandfather was doing a sesquicentennial before. There exists in this business a strange phasing in and out of Time…at one moment I’m pressing off grapes in the Livermore Valley in 2018 and the next I’m my own ancestor racking finished wine to barrel in 1910 San Jose. This sense of existing across Time is mirrored in our cellars every year too. We are never working on just one vintage of wine…one day I’m tasting through fermentation bins in the morning and in the afternoon, I’m making blends of wine that came to life 2 years before.

April, Autumn, & Calvin

And that night, I’m topping barrels from the previous year…when so much…and so little were different.

My daughter, April, had a son (Calvin Patrick Coffey) on September 18, 2018. He is a beautiful child and will be, along with his sister, Autumn, rightly cherished and loved by his entire family. He is both start and finish of that most intimate of circles – the one that ties him inextricably to all of those that gave him life and to all of those to whom he will give it. Many are no longer here, and we feel that loss dearly. At the same time we understand that they will always be there, moving in Calvin’s blood.

WE ARE to whom and to what we are most connected, I think. I take great solace in the notion that my years revolve reassuringly around an axis that connects me to a family lineage extending (in real time) forward and back and in my work, to the very heart of the earth itself.

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