To “highlight the state’s rich wine history and all that its vintners and growers add to the lifestyle and economy of the Golden State,” Gov. Jerry Brown has declared September “California Wine Month.” In a calendrical calculation apparently devised to produce the most irony, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has also staked a claim on September, declaring it “Recovery Month.” Needless to say, such “collisions of the contrary” make this satirist’s heart go pitter-patter.
Let’s compare and contrast what this means for wine country versus the rest of the state throughout the 30 days that September hath. Sonoma County pops the cork on Wine Month with its annual tannic typhoon known as the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend. The shindig begins with some winemaker lunches (or “drunches” as we say in the industry) this very afternoon. Trodding close upon Sonoma’s well-heeled heels is the “Strut for Sobriety” at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina, which will walk the walk on the wagon (hey, in this context, mixed metaphors are better than mixed drinks, right?).
Mind you, Sonoma has its own “strut for sobriety,” or at least a sad simulacra that occurs every weekend night when certain drivers find themselves attempting to “walk a straight line” for the highway patrol. A canny fashion entrepreneur could turn these ersatz catwalks into roadside fashion shows by gussying up the drunks in haute couture. A breathalyzer could become this season’s hottest accessory.
Now, I’m not trying to make light of either cause, however, it might look a little bit like California is trying have its Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay and drink it too. Some might construe Gov. Brown’s conflicting California calendar as essentially saying, “We keep our drunks dry and our drinkers dripping.” Of course, these two extremes are subject to the law of averages, so in aggregate, instead of being blackout drunk or bone-dry, it works out to a kind of moderation. And it is in that cozy, ovoid space of the Venn diagram that I rest my weary head.
Perhaps September could be divvied between the responsible appreciation of wine and the very necessary community of dependency recovery that California is blessed to have. I’ve gotta hunch the winos will opt for Saturday and Sunday, perhaps Wednesday evenings and the latter half of Friday, starting around 11 a.m. Why Wednesday? Because Wednesday is the new Thursday, which used to be the new Friday. The “old Friday” is just “Friday” again but the “old Thursday” is the “new Tuesday.” Monday still sucks but Sundays have steadily improved since the advent of the mimosa.
It’s a puzzle. We should turn to precedent when it comes to September. Weighing in on the wet side is the fact that the ancient Anglo-Saxons called what is now known as September “Gerstmonath” or “barley month,” which is when they harvested their barley – for beer. The grape and grain are kissing cousins when it comes to getting “fermented and demented” so we’ll give it a pass. On the dry side is the sapphire, the birthstone of September, the gemstone often associated with “clarity of the mind.” So, there it is – a toss up between getting beer or getting stoned. What’s new?
Naturally, it follows that October is Hangover Awareness Month. As past participants can attest, it doesn’t take much to be aware of one’s hangover but it might take some doing to get the governor in on it. Let’s start a letter-writing campaign. Just send this column to the address below or email it here.
Gov. Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814.
• • •
Daedalus Howell will pour you a glass of sass at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 14 at Copperfield’s Books, 140 Kentucky St., Petaluma, when he reads and signs “I Heart Sonoma: How to Live & Drink in Wine Country.”