My Religion

20 09 2009

Visiting John Williams at Frog’s Leap is like religion for me.  I am not always the most overtly religious person you may have met despite growing up Catholic, but I have always felt that I am very spiritual.  That said, although I appreciate the ritual that goes on every Sunday, and can stand to attend every now and then, there were numerous times that stick out from my childhood where I was either a) fainting b) bored or c) listening to a sermon about a frog and how its kinder to put douse a frog in boiling water than to put a frog in cold water and bring it to a boil (what!?).  Seriously, that was the Homily one day.  I thought that was for lobsters.

So I have found peace by finding my “religion” or inspiration in other ways.  Sometimes it entails a walk on the beach, sometimes a long drive (amazingly that puts me in the mind frame to thank a greater being every time) sometimes just crying or singing or strumming or feeling.  And, long story shortened, there are certain people who accomplish the task for me effortlessly.

John Williams is religion for me.  While his own spirituality is immensely uplifting, and I am almost afraid to delve into that further, his day to day way of operating his business is an incredible inspiration.  I have visited John almost too many times to mention, but each and every time I go he preaches to me, but not in a way that is condescending or authoritarian.  He acknowledges the universe and its magic while being realistic.  He gives back to the planet and he is here to serve.

We joke when we meet that by now I’ve heard the tour at Frog’s Leap so many times that I could give the tour myself.  Truly I have bought into 100% of the “schtick” and totally believe in it.  I find comfort in knowing the direction he is going, in silently nodding while he lets out the line and reels the crowd in.  He makes arguments without being competitive and always has supporting evidence.  He gives good tour.  And don’t get me wrong, he has an entourage of folks that he has groomed with his philosophy that give equally great tours.  The flock gets it.  Other wineries should take notice.

But as you sit or walk or sip through the experience, something becomes innately clear.  He totally buys into it himself.  He is not a preacher that fails to recognize or abide by his gospel.  He lives it daily.  You know when you talk to him that he is only giving you as much information as he feels you need today, and he will share more with you as your relationship and devotion and readiness increases.  He is imminently patient and never one to call someone out for doing the wrong thing, but he asks questions and allows you to determine for yourself what is right and what is wrong.  He lets you choose your own path.  And isn’t that what we should aspire towards?

What in the world does this have to do with wine?  I think everything.  I am convinced that although it may be hard to prove, human energy is distilled into all that we do.  An incredible work of art is not always just technique, I feel that a piece of that artist and their inspiration rest in that art forever.  For John and other select winemakers, you can taste their craft and their passion in each and every bottle.

John’s 1991 Frog’s Leap Merlot was opened on our last visit as a special treat.  You could taste raw inspiration, hope, fear, and bravery in his second vintage of red wine.  Find that one or go for the 2005 Frog’s Leap Rutherford which is a blend of pride, honor, respect and humility.



One response

27 09 2009

I like the Rush lyric:

“I don’t have faith in faith,
I don’t believe in belief.
You can call me faithless…
But I still cling to hope,
and I believe in love,
and that’s faith enough for me.”


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