Anyone who has ever lost someone they love knows how difficult it is to find the right spiritual shelf on which to keep those memories: A place of prominence so we never forget, a place of seclusion so we can live in peace, or a place by the wine rack so that we might celebrate life -- a beautiful life -- so worth living that it illuminated every other life it touched. And so it is when I look to the shelf where I keep my most special books, reaching for a volume that Jen gave me, A Hedonist in the Cellar, the faded portent of adventures in wine and across so many other memories she shared with all who loved her. She would have celebrated another birthday this week.
I recall that Jen was with me from nearly the first moment I grew serious about wine, and over time we grew serious about wine together. I have the most wonderful memories from the time I worked at The Wine Seller in Williamsburg, VA, picking a different wine and cheese pair each night, and excitedly bringing them home for the two of us to try. She had a particular predilection for Chardonnay, never my favorite, but rather a varietal whose best editions I grew to appreciate. There were other adventures, careers, a new city, and bottles of wine that followed, but I will forever count among my most treasured moments those spent with Jen near the beginning of the journey through wine and through life.
At her memorial, several years ago, I spoke of every 30th day of March that was to follow.
We keep Jen in our memories not just with a glass of Chardonnay to celebrate her birthday, but year-round through her scholarship at The College of William and Mary. I hope you'll consider contributing if you share memories of her, or if you might have bought her a drink on her birthday, if you care about supporting The College or college students in general, or if you just enjoy reading this blog. Your donations will support students who, like Jen, demonstrate intellectual curiosity, industriousness, and a well-rounded approach to taking on the world. Tomorrow, 28 March 2017, is the annual One Tribe One Day event, so to our fellow alumni, this is the moment to make your donation count.
I'll close with a tasting note that we put together for this occassion with several friends.
2015 Jax Vineyards Chardonnay Dutton Ranch (Napa, California, USA)
At only 175 cases produced, there is very little of this high-quality quintessential California Chardonnay available in the market. We like it, though, as a fine example of what this style of Chardonnay should be. Golden straw in color, there is honey, hay, and floral blossom in the nose. Buttery wood and cream is balanced by an apricot fruit thrust in the palate, and a bit of acidity that adds some sharpness. It finishes with notes of vanilla and subtly mild tea in the back.
Raise a glass to Jen on her birthday.