These sketches, asides, postcards, notes to friends, captions from notebooks and file sheets (by nature photographic caps a repeat as each requires full information without depending on the other … most will be unpublished) all these pieces of stories contain WINE wine as a presence in our lives. A circumstance of adulthood that accompanies our relationships.

Also the aspect of entering another world, with that carefully made wine… complete with character and personality … key of sorts … taken from the pocket to open that door. Within wine is a certain emotion, safer times that are not entirely ordinary, or maybe a talisman, to remind us that both adventure and the mundane can be adjusted.

Wine arrives from somewhere out of the ordinary, with special wrapping, inherent ritual … that accompanies all of our moods… And very frequently those with a degree of magic; family, friends, celebration and an ability to transform the ordinary. We sing, we dance, we think. And alchemy of sorts. From the planting of the vines to the gathering of friends.

Memories in a Glass of Wine … gently aging, a work in progress,  we could say: Reflections … on the “Character (s) in the Vines”.

I’ll get back to this …. fortunately I’ve done considerable work in Vineyards, myself. Exactly what began the journeys. An essay on Pinot Noir Grapes grown to wine on both coasts and harvested on both coasts.

The beginning of the conversation

Began with wine & vineyard stories … as story on the Pinot Noir Grape on both coasts. Very different means to a similar end. During most of my career … I’ve been involved with art & craft …. native of the Arts Region of Bucks County, educated in Greenwich Village, working New York, Paris and San Francisco. ( Know all the subways.) Where wine was as present as music. Wine like all art is fuzzy logic … its view , best appreciate in aspect.

Most of this material is from magazine work. Parts are work done during other publications assignments. It’s the nature of good journalism to have a material survive its editing. I’ve run into editors, mostly have read the work edited, then added something, an order, a consistency that took good work and made a beautiful. But not all that often. Takes a long time working to develop that talent… editing or feature location production. Remember Jay Maisel, with whom I served on the Magazine Photographers board, remarking : “work makes talent; not the other way around.”

To many magazines are marketing scrap books, features formed by the material. Many of the actual features are posted (for this group check the wine section). These were produced by folks who learned the hard way to make real magazines … by making them, and seeing how it all fits.

So these are short pieces of information, postcards, in which humanity lives in the cracks, like jazz piano. Not features nor full essays but, stories about features. Stuff from the note books written in short hand, caption sheets of unpublished visuals, remarks mostly made during the work itself. Creating a longer experience and reationship with the wine itself.

The copy here is the postcards, like the ones sent every day to my son … Something imperfect from the cracks between the keys. But personally remarkable enough to write down and in the old days put a stamp on it.

Rough notes, travel reminiscences, realizations … for an eventual dinner conversation sharing a good bottle of wine. Hope you will open one. Those Wine post cards are inserted between the bi-coastal Pinot Noir story at beginning & through to the end.

Not surprising the characters (people) in these vine stories, will be met repeatedly throughout the website. Often we became friendly sharing glasses of wine.

Journals are about discovery, most of which is people.

From Splinter Cottage chronicles,3/23/14 the view from splinter cottage

The Characters in the vines….

Smiles appeared to be waiting somewhere in the hip pocket, waiting to make an entrance.

Over the years, worked in lots of vineyards. For that matter, a lot of work with people who grow things. In our present period of terrible mentality and destruction, it came to me, in a vineyard in Idaho, how pleasant it was to work with people who grow things. There can be no greater respect for life and beauty. Certain rules require keeping.
In the vineyards, I remembered how easy it was to get people to smile. Smiles appeared to be waiting somewhere in the hip pocket, waiting to make an entrance.

Hope to spend more time among the vines.  I’ve always considered good wine and its way of life an art form. The photographs are a parallel universe beside pieces of conversation. Where we live in the art. Breeze through them like a brisk walk though a gallery. Later I’ll break the stories apart. Tendency to grow like vines.

Skip the memories if you like. They are not in order.

They’ll be here later. Most of the copy is from years of private dinners , correspondence from friends and winemakers, thoughts while traveling. Scraps written on enveolpes that the hotel maid was kind enough not to throw away. Not a narrative. Amusements and observations. Usually, I’m the guy who finally got home or into town. Who the cat dragged in. Midway down the glass some one says: “REMEMBER WHEN….”
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This is Eric Miller .. at the time the winemaker at Chaddsford Winery. I was teasing him about the ten dollar bottle of wine. That expression comes later … when I needed serious contemplation. 
Thinking an idiot is going to write about you is true terror.
Suddenly, he realized I was having him on.
These are serious folks working the entire year for exactly the right moment.

Just before one smells “the perfume” in the vineyard.
As Eric said; “That is exactly what we want to put in the bottle.”
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My dad had an orchard. He taught school during the year, the cold part of the year that is, which I’m sure was something to do with using his education until the orchard started growing again. Mostly he grew fruit, some grapes, but not the European-style grapes and the wine he made was too sweet. We did not drink it. He drank nothing alcoholic at all. Myself,I practiced fractional distillation, again utilizing my education, and made a reasonable brandy. But for the most part, any knowledge of wine I would acquire occurred somewhere further on, down the road. (where I reaped what they had sown.)

(It is ) A story of fruit. Berries, seeds &c. Combination of water soil, climate, heat, cold, vine culture … skill and intentions.

Or as the French call it: TERRIER … a combination of effort when all comes together. Creates a culture. Something very special. On the table, in society, and in our collective mind. WE know it, without words.

Eventually, I came to know wine, like a coffee and food … good food, to be a social art, a gift to be shared, like all valuable work among others, with the decided intention, as in all good art, to communicate some of one’s self.

The better the wine the more obvious the difference ….


Ron Bitner’s outfit near Boise, Idaho …

the dancing vines.

From Splinter Cottage chronicles,3/23/14the view from splinter cottage
Like many wine regions, it’s fairly arid country where the vines are fed by mountain snows. The snow melts in the mountains and drains to the rivers. Anyone farming those areas can look to the mountains, see the whitecaps to know a lot about coming growing season. In general it’s been dry, while being tortured by the airlines I looked over my carried granola on my lap, ( if someone hasn’t been sold a seat on it) , and out the window at hell of a lot very dry lakes and dams. They are where the mountain’s’ snow caps melt, enter the rivers and are stored.

These dancing vines are watered by a drip system, a series of plastic pipes, that trickles water to their base. You can see it, grass will always grow around water. Often used in addition to the sprinkler systems. Much less water is used and much less lost to evaporation.

Many people of Basque heritage in Boise , Idaho.

Ron Bitner mentioned that they have begun using some of the older Basque vineyard methods … kind of an amazing transplant. Their wines had a Basque flavor to them. My experience with the Basque folks in southern France in northern Spain was entirely sympathetic. As in the Italian “simpatico” & French “sympathe”. Great pleasure sharing food and wine. Kindness to strangers.

Here the Rockies feed the Snake River … It winds through cowboy country … And although whoever named it, didn’t see it from airplane, flying proved them right. So like most everything it’s all about water. The combination of water preservation, used to hydrate grapes as well as in an emergency keep them from freezing, is a large part of the modern vineyard is an evenness of production, needed to service its financial debt.
From Splinter Cottage chronicles,3/23/14the view from splinter cottage
the way a wine clings to the glass says lots about the way it feels in the mouth ….

The lovely Vineyards of Bitner Wines, Caldwell Idaho began in the 80’s, reminding me of those in the Dry Creek area of California and some in France just the north of Spain. That area of Idaho has a lot of Basque folks and Ron has begun to plant some of the vines in the manner used in Basque Country.  “God willin’ and the Crick don’t rise” perhaps I’ll get back both to Idaho and to Basque Country in Europe. Those folks always kind to me too.

Some of my favorite wines, deep dark and spicy, lots of Grenache grape, similar in my taste to Cahors & maybe Maderian. But frequently unoaked. Maybe we should have cooked a lamb stew in the field pot. Like Elzueard Bouffier in Giono’s Man who Planted Trees. Had that South of France feel to it.

The “Dancing Vines” above,’ also from Bitners.

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Ron spoke of Auberge the French County Inn.

Sort of safe place to find one’s self. The French speak of terrier … that complete circumstance that produces the wine …the Auberge is sort of that to us folks … the complete place to enjoy the wine, food and countryside. Not perfect like an advert or a Hollywood set. But simply right. And clearly, on a good day, the way life should be. Pleasant people, the cat in the corner …. sun over head, the dog, again in Giono’s words: “obedient yet not servile.” En double entente: its all about taste … in the broadest comprehension.

Sort of safe place to find one’s self. The French speak of terrier … that complete circumstance that produces the wine …the Auberge is sort of that to us folks … the complete place to enjoy the wine, food and countryside. Not perfect like an advert or a Hollywood set. But simply right. And clearly, on a good day, the way life should be. Pleasant people, the cat in the corner …. sun over head, the dog, again in Giono’s words: “obedient yet not servile.” En double entente: its all about taste … in the broadest comprehension.


…. in my experience, a place that belongs exactly where its found. A house wine at its best… just belongs.

From Splinter Cottage chronicles,3/23/14 the view from splinter cottage
All that sun and earth in one small glass reminded me
of my dear friend Les Whitten’s book: A DAY WITHOUT SUNSHINE …a French comment on a day without wine
and of course his better half: Phyllis. It was a big deal to bring them wine. Les … some one admired since I was a kid from his reporting. And later Phyllis on pure dignity and elegance.

It occurred to me that matching the wine to a food is sometimes unnecessarily difficult. … if the wine is good enough …. seems better to cook for the wine

. … if the wine is good enough …. better to cook for the wine … add fresh tomatoes to a fish soup and the red wine wraps around it … oncein another century- in Milano , ordered a Cabernet franc (my non stop favorite in the Vento) with the fish soup , the waiter said: “Red with the fish?” “Yes, I’m feeling a chill!” clutching my chest.. he nodded in comprehension. … as he left …”Signor …. perhaps some fresh tomato and fresh onion with salt and olive oil with the soup … for the wine?” We both nodded again in complicity … all was in order … neither of us dealing with a fool. The wine and food also needed complicity.

So I began a series cooking for the wine. Having in mind how as climate changed and wine grapes were planted in differing terriers, our local cuisine would change … perhaps the easiest why for us to make changes is by desire.

My Brunch Photo project … alas had no caviar. half teaspoon on the egg in place of salt.

a FRIENDLY VISIT, old white shirts & dark glasses STORY 2 part 1

This was in early summer, maybe before summer was official. The weather was lovely; the Windows were open. Pollen had passed. Bird still singing. In those days I had an unlisted number for the studio. Which was really my cottage, and atelier .. Were projects became a part of life. I answered the phone the second ring, the elegance of being able to choose who makes noises in your direction. A very dear friend from Paris, in New York for a bit. She was wondering after me. Why don’t you come down? Can’t tell you how many times I thought of you in the past two weeks. You I remember the way, about two hours? How long can you stay, a little while if that’s okay. It is … One traveler often passing through to another.

Absolutely, I’m doing a shoot with southern French wine, nearly basque … And cooked the thick tomato seafood stew … For the photograph, I’ll keep it simmering. A chuckle, her grandmother still lived in Basque country. The weather was like California and the Pennsylvania woods. I was so pleased, the day so nice, was certain things would go well.

The wine was Cuvee du Pena, being built was a section for magazine dummy … On Auberge country food to share with friends. Some days… there is magic.

And that’s the way it went … About 2 1/2 hours later , we moved outside in the gentle evening, ate, talked, drank the open wine. Opened another. Skipping after dinner coffee … We sat outside as the dusk rolled over us. Becoming night. Cool, full moon, an owl saying something without translation and once I heard an singer song write who waited tables, singing her songs carrying pasta. A night to sleep with the Windows open.

Next morning, Left her to sleep off the the jet-lag… while I cleared the night before, boiled my neighbors eggs, cut some cheese, sliced bread, poured Pena into champagne glasses with cold seltzer. The vacuum coffee, sound and smell, did the rest . She came down the old winding stairs, on silent bare feet in one of the over sized worn out white shirts that hang behind the bathroom door. Used most mornings as jackets. As we did today, the remains of yesterdays set up still on the kitchen table. The fish soup was good. So was the company Who would’ve guessed.

Better? A smile returned a smile beyond the jet lag beating …. Across the Atlantic, across the states, and then back again to New York … I knew that stuff and what it really meant to have about much as you can take. Lost in the same airline seat been in for hours. We ate outside again. Sunglasses; white shirts. At ease with each other for so many years, takes practice…
comfortable with quiet. Listening to the cool wind.
Without the owl.

I’ll lie in the sun .. a little, maybe….I think?. Go ahead … It’s the last year for the chaise but it will hold you. Another smile. Relax, I’ll clean this up. You rest in the sun. I’ll watch so you don’t burn. Her white shirt from the door across the top of chaise , the Fedora from the kitchen chair on the grass … Asleep before I could fetch a towel. One of my cats, watched from the outside breakfast table, stared at her a bit and began washing. A French Chartreau …
Nasty to everyone she didn’t like.

Last nites lighting was still in place, so I re-created breakfast in a photograph, the remnants of a short story. Casual notes of a remarkable day. Written in red fountain pen on the back of a billing envelope. From the window I checked So she wouldn’t burn… as she slept on the chaise … Long and tan … she’d been working in the middle east, the last card from Beirut. A returning memory from Beirut… a thought of the wine, from the Becka Valley … with which we sat , the tile hotel veranda in the wee hours, some 20 years before. The fruit ladden sent of a flower I didn’t recognize. Little thinner, but in good shape, sleeping in the sunlight like my chartreaux who moved from the table to her back. Immensely complemented that my friends were so peaceful and comfortable. We could talk along the river, if we felt like it.

I like adult stuff, without a trace of Hollywood. Was a good day.

Always hoped to do a series of “author” recipes …. not as the standard “food” but as the ambiance of an elegant well written book. James & Mary Salter & Len Dieghton … Alexander Dumas for that matter.

Most of Auberge .. the French Country Inn …is “Country”. Story #3

Or as my friend Gernot, (Ji-No) on Bleeker street by way of Germany, used to pronounce country as “count tree” for some reason … sort of like notches on an oak , which is neither “here” but actually “over there” in a distant past. Since a kid I’ve been a traveler rather than a tourist. Rating cafes and hotels not by subservience but their omelets. Anyone can be careful with a 21 buck filet … but 3 eggs and a splash of water, salt & pepper … that takes character. Did a tour at NYU but, never respected the place until I found the omelets at the Loeb Dinning Room were the equal of any in Greenwich Village. Right up there with Paris and San Francisco. I nearly got expelled for bringing my Greenwich Village friends. Would have if I brought the wine.

There was my aggravation with oblivious academia … I paid a lot of their exorbitant book charges winning bets on the quality of those Omelets. George made the best. And I knew his shift. With George on my side … I could just fold the bills over, once then twice into the right front pocket of my 501XX’s. Just beneath the watch pocket with the selvedge red line.

America was more of a class act then. We manufactured things for each other. Of course I learned about cafes: omelets … with provolone … or smoked cheese as a kid in New Hope, Bucks County. Where my beloved friend Robert Dager would cook them … at Toad Hall .. . and wait, very still, hands clasped together, Navy Identity Bracelet on his left wrist … from the miserable South Pacific in the last numbered war .. Robert stood there, frozen, watching: “Is it wonderful?”.

Like a proper editor, he tolerated no lies or self delusion. And I sure loved him for it. He believed omelets should be eaten with a triple gin for a chaser. And a Camel burning beside, I disagreed. I thought Chardonnay, with a splash of vodka. And a Disc Bleu. Twenty years apart … Robert with a white ’55 Jag with red wheels and I in a white ’50 MG TD, of course, with red wheels … I think perhaps we were kids together, a generation and a decade apart.

A quality analysis of every thing … we were not counting, and yes Robert, there is a Santa Claus. It was so wonderful, I’ll never forget it. Ya see? I haven’t. The Art was in the brown lace at the omelet edges, from the eggs in sweet butter.

And later, much later, indeed many years, after a decent billing on an IBM job, I called Robert saying: “I have a few bucks, please let me take you to dinner at Jimmy Hamilton’s. So we went to Hamilton’s Grill with all the glory of their menu. Where Robert ordered Scrambled Eggs. Not on the menu …. Jimmy was famous for them. 

Chambourcin grapes, that American French hybrid, waiting for harvest. That day. Buckingham Valley Vineyards, Pennsylvania. This might well become the American wine grape as climate and water availability changes.

Life has valuable rituals... STORY #4

And from my dearest Cousin Jane Pelland , (the illustrator & teacher … do look up her drawn grapes on her website) who I remember in my minds eye, sitting with her husband. Paul with a beer and Jane with wine:

I am reminded of the wealthy landowner in the Middle Ages who gave a fourth of his extensive vineyard to the Church in exchange for a copy of the Bible.  It was of course before Guttenberg, and as you know, according to the laws of primogeniture, the only way land could be subdivided.  It was deemed by historians that the Church got the better end of the deal by far, as the vineyard was priceless. I rifled through some notes on the High Middle Ages but could not find the man’s name. … but it does underscore the rich value of the land and of vineculture.  Puts much into perspective …”

& the church continued its affair… with wine STORY #5

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arriving in San Francisco on the West Coast part of the Pinot Noir story …. it’s far from unlikely that the church’s European culture & wines part as a sacrament joined hand to preserve one of the worlds great wine regions in California. Driving over Dry Creek and up the dirt road to the Everett Ridge Winery … it was Belle-Rose when I first visited… these waited at the beginning of the drive. Liking planted near the beginning of the century.

Indeed, these Zins were most likely protected by the Catholic Church during prohibition. Considerable amount of communion sips.

These are those old Zinfandel vines complimented by mustard flowers .

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In the dry Creek area of California wine country, Vines were saved during prohibition by the church requiring wine for its communions. The constructional protection of religion , leading to fine wine becoming a way of life in America and a major industry.

As old vines no longer produce the quantity but develop a discernible quality many growers grow mustard flowers in the rows, later turned under, to provide nutrients supporting the aged vines, planted nearly a century ago. Old Vine Zinfandel are labeled as such and sold at a premium, rarely mixed with the berries of the newer vines. Zinfandels are now labeled and cellar aged by vintage, gaining increased value as traditional vintage wines.

Sunrise in the California Mountains overlooking the Russian River… …4:30 AM STORY#6

(back to where our post cards began …the series & spreads from the magazine essay some years back. Comparing the Pinot Noir Grapes on the East Coast to the West. )
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The Pinot Noir about to crush is at Bellerose in Dry Creek, Ca. … Later renamed: Everett Ridge.
Bellrose Pinot Noir. triple gold at the California State Fair

Comparing an East Coast harvest… to one on the West Coast Harvest is often a matter of scale.

A return to the Chadds Ford Pinot Noir vines, and their harvest. Everyone is called to harvest, it’s important to get the grapes at precisely the right time. 

As Eric said: “before we smell the perfume we harvest… its that we want to put in the bottle.” Unlike concentrated grape growing regions, the hands available for harvest are moderate. In California and in France, there was tremendous amusement at manicured hands harvesting berries. These hands normally work in the Chadd’s Ford Offices. (Always enjoyed this photograph immensely. )

A back story on the Russian River:  In my profession, particularly in those days, life was a mixture of jet lag and bags of film, not to be lost by exhaustion. I had 2 hrs sleep in town at a B&B … last before that on the plane from Newark Airport running on adrenaline until I crashed.

Jack Air and I met way before sunrise and began the journey up the mountain, over dirt roads, dust and chirt, to the high ridge top where he was planting new vineyards.

The hard-working crew was already at work. We discussed getting there early as the sun rose in the East burning off the fog on the Russian River and raising the temperature from cool to very warm. As Jack said: “the growers of Burgundy would kill for a climate like this.”.

 In the small world department, an old acquaintance: Sam, a crew leader and consultant from Mexico, came over to me, both of us with big smiles. Sam told Jack: “the last time I saw Scott, he was getting out of an Ocean Spray helicopter in a cranberry bog on the Massachusetts Cape. He looked just as tired then”. And it was true, I’m sure I looked like hell.

It’s a small world, which both Jack and I knew, as we were riding up the the four wheel drive jeep up the mountain, I discovered Jack originally worked for IBM sales and used many of the brochures I photographed and designed for them.

I must scan these original transparencies from file. I sort of like the published pieces, but how beautiful I could make the new scans. Of course, I was with the sci-Tex folks during these scans. Like I was with the lab folks as the film was being edged through the lines. Some were double pages and a match on both is tough, each side on a different printed form. Al depeant upon the original transparency. The analogy to making wine is damn close.

Jack Air: “You can’t make a good wine from a bad grape.”

Actually this was shot at the Vineyard, in California sunlight. Later cropping for this card. I’ll show you both, because Jack and Ann Air’s house under construction was reflected in the the colored part of the wine glass. That California sun is like no other point light source integrating color and detail at just the right hour and blow ya away for the rest of the day at harvest… no color at all. Better to begin before sunrise when its cool. And work until the heat and light sends everyone for cover.

The new Everette Ridge label. And the oak barrels for aging. French and American Oak … each with a different taste.



(from 6 stories of Paris … further along)

The lecoq essays by Scott Heist

The Pinot Noir Bottle from Dry Creek … left in Paris …

wine &movement theatre , both shared gifts of taste & talent

Among some bottles given to me (others purchased) by Anne & Jack Air at old Bellerose Vineyard in Healdsburg /Dry Creek California, was a couple of vintage Pinot Noir’s receiving triple gold medals at the California State fair. As usual, first thought was who to share these with…. Chris , my son of course with whom I had a deal.

An infection prevented me from drinking for a number of years. (Anything fermented due to antibiotics given repeated for ear problems from in flight smokers.) Bothered me for my son Chris , I saw the miserable behavior of teens who never learned about the terrors as well as the pleasures … at the University where I was working.

After I could drink again, I made a deal with him. This was with the wine I brought home from Bellerose. We began with good wine and he has never even finished bad stuff. He could drink what ever he wanted at home …but if he even felt like he was over the line, he was to go up to bed regardless of time. The addendum was he was never to get into a car where others were drinking. Much easier to get in a car than get out.

Any hour, 24/7 call, someone who is sober will come for you right away. This really worked out. A car of idiots he refused to get in met a deadly accident. He came to me, a conversation where he stood and I listened, telling me the story. Piece by piece. I inhaled, pressed my lips together, and nodded. “Good for us. I’m truly sorry for those who lost their life for so little meaning.”

Our extended friendship with Fay & Jacques Lecoq, the Parisian masters of movement theatre be

“A decent dinner with something besides Coca-Cola”.

Our extended friendship with Fay & Jacques Lecoq, the Parisian masters of movement theatre began when the Theatre of Creation honoring Jacques Lecoq went on for a week in the Lehigh Valley, Pa. where the Touchstone Theatre folks ( Bill & Bridget George close friends since I designed & photographed the companies announcement and logos) … were able to combine appropriate stage venues from several colleges and provide economic support. There were shows and workshops during the day and often a major show at night.

Dinners had been catch as catch can, however one night there was no late performance and we all decided to find a decent one. In celebration.

Jacques announced: “A decent dinner with something besides Coca-Cola”. Apparently it was forgotten that Jacques was French .. I mentioned that the Aspen had decent wine list and from the windows the—-Creek flow through the meadow.

Chris and my friend Lorraine joined me. It was a small intimate group most of whom studied the with the Lecoq’s. As we, perused the menu, Jacques requested the wine list, which he compared to a small French book from his pocket. Smiled while reading. Which made me smile myself, and then we smiled at each other, and another part of my relationship with Lecoq’s … the wine, began.

I left a bottle, in Paris, with my friends, Jacques and Fay Lecoq.  Hoping that we could share it, but it wasn’t to be. I went on to another assignment in Italy, returning home to via Paris but unable to create the mutual experience of sharing that Pinot Noir.  As the Lecoq’s bought thier wine yearly from Negociants , the California State Fair wine awards was unkown to them.

So I decided in addition to Chris, the strategy was to be shared with Phyllis and Les Whitten in Silver Spring Maryland next to Washington DC, we could drive it down there in the Porsche Turbo. The fitting entrance. Air Porsche. Also have a bottle that we would open as I returned. My first in four years … We could both go to bed In the old family home and see how we did with it.

Sometime later, the phone Splinter Cottage rang rather deep into the night, it was Fay Lecoq telling me with some excitement, that they had opened the bottle, and Jacques insisted that she call me. An emergency call from Paris.

Telling me:

“My God, I had no idea that America made wines like that.”.

(A blue ribbon at the California State Fair. A meaning unknown in France)

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      Another solo meal, my own joke being the blue plate special, from a lovely steak given to me… In truth that’s the only way such as steak would get here. Lots of cracked pepper and grilled outside at the cottage

over pieces of wood still left from the last hurricane.

Grillings inspired by James and Mary Salter’s daybook on meals: LIFE IS MEALS. 

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         The wine with the sea food stew is Penya. A cuve from the Basque areas – southern France …Catalonia, Northern Spain, lot of very strong grapes: 48% Grenache, 44% Carignan,5% Mourvedre, 3% Syrah … can’t quite see them measuring …, available some falls in time for my our birthdays. It is unoaked. For this series I liked the foods and service reflected in the glass. The food made on behalf of the wines.                  

The sea lions were barking under the pier, riding the waves. Like us, grounded by fog.


Later thinking about California and skippers in Castroville where we had my favorite bouillabaisse experience. Skippers was a sort of a roadhouse where the local fisherman ate. Discovered on a foggy drive- I mean like San Francisco foggy- on Highway 1 from: Carmel to North Beach. The kind in which the California Highway Patrol with their fog lights and flashers lead groups of cars across the bridges.  There, out of the fog and hours of 20 mph driving, hungry &tired appeared: SKipper’s. Out of a James Cain NOir, on pilings next to the docks, over the Pacific, with sea lions parking in the waves beneath. &it was open. Later, I returning on a solo working trip. A blackened pier in the surf. Awaiting collapse.

It had burned down. Blackened timbers, sound of waves. Life run out of them.

a Past gone Missing, I’m here, why is It not the same…

Memories are fragile … frequently changing. Often impossible to reconstruct. A bouillabaisse. so firmly in mind, yet the the available fish is not right, the saffron passed prime but, the tomatoes, garlic, & spinach direct with dew from the garden. The bread crusty yet fresh. Not the night for bouillabaisse … a red stew seemed to serve.

Bringing thoughts, not of the California, but of old smoked mirrors, silvering and just a little gray, in Lyon or or old NYC. Even upstate, old Cold Spring perhaps, with the smell of the Hudson, of big river mud not the ocean salt … different but not in error. Change rarely asks permission.

the wine glass reflects everything, the scent of the evening … the silvering from the old mirror behind.

May be the small moments are the ones that truly last. Good enough to celebrate sanity and my days luck, in the little cottage in the woods. Saving for the decent bottle of wine, a good espresso and a single chocolate. Always brought wine for Chris from California and chocolate from Paris for Laverne who took care of the cottage. I wonder if I ever mentioned to her, the chocolate with coffee? I hope so. Such a good friend.

Sure liked working the concept of: THE CHARACTER in the VINES


Pinot Noir grapes from the Chadds Ford vines.  The vintners knife  knife purchased in North Beach, San Francisco from a very special cutlery. A knowledgeable and kind Italian lady to whom wine country was no stranger advised this knife for my still life. For many years I visited her whenever I passed through San Francisco often buying a pocket knife for my son, until one day the shop was closed. The master of the nearby coffeehouse, my first stop, where I always bought my coffee beans, I’m told Capola had worked on God Father on those tables, the master explained: In the time I’d been away from North Beach my friend had passed. She was no more.It was the case for me; I never knew when I’d return. So in those days, I wrote notes.


And on the days, when I turn off the news; and look away from what I have seen the papers choose to portray, I realize that I’ve fallen behind, as in so many instances have most who have decided not to participate in mayhem. There … in the old family dry sink  are two more bottles of vineyard culture. A French Country Marc and another of very fine vodka also made from the skins left from the grape crush. A small splash in the appropriate glass: a sip across the palate, a warm swallow and exhale scenting through the nose presents a certain clarity. Not from a single swallow of alcohol but from the effort of many hands, hearts, and minds making something different. Intending to do it well. A shared appreciation of life, the living of it more rewarding than the buying of it. The gradual culmination of organic work to an organic product for an organic conscious being. A communication across all lines.

valenties=coldspringny-card copy-2

White shirts, old dark glasses Story #2 part 2 continued

Two almost new fledgling vultures watched from atop the shed. I like your parrots … They hang around for the old cat food. Which I bring them. Elzuard, rolled on the kitchen floor grooming his tail.

How many cats are there? Three.. Mostly they live in the barn & I feed them. Then they come in. Is Laverne still helping with the cleaning. She’s a good friend, as it turns out one of my best. Takes care of the cats while I’m gone.

Mostly the table was clear the dishes washed, put in the washer. For the weekly hot water. She brought her clothing down than what I had in the hamper and started doing laundry. Jetlag still in her shoulders. Now wearing my old shorts pulled tight with the military belt… One of my oversized gray T-shirts knotted on the left side, both of us – left handed. All that was left was the Penya bottle. Rinsing her coffee cup, and dumping the last wine into it. Still good? She nodded, mostly I saw theold Fedora wobble top to bottom as she tied gray running shoes. Mlle. Croissant, right cross, left cross … Cross to bare… worked the door open and came in …. Rubbing against her ankle.

New friend? New friend.

She stood up still a bit shaky… Gonna walk … handed her apple juice. We all have our own way of dealing with jet jag and legs numb from lack of circulation. Like most things in life , we have to do it ourselves. She walked down my drive to the lane … made another coffee smiling to a vision of her walking down the lane, hair tied up under the hat. In my oversized old clothes. And dark glasses.

I picked up a camera, from the still life, making a photo out the kitchen window. The lens was wrong. It would never be a photograph.

The labels are worn. They came many years back. Upon a return from the vineyards, when I thought it was time for my son to share that appreciation. And when its time to cook a special diner, be it scrambled eggs or seafood stew, with a glass of wine, carefully and thoughtfully made, prepared, just for me.

In complete respect and accord with the folks who grow and make things.

Should that experience stop, due to lack of appreciation or dearth of water. Should shared appreciation, as a dialog and meaning to those unknown: artisan and citizen, friend and acquaintance, of our special space and being, the contemplation of a brief moment in individual time with the shared grace of many years and.. finally the mutual understanding of something done so very, very well, should that be no longer be, then the world has fallen to words, repetive action, only symbols rather than experience …  then the mayhem is complete.

Earth, water, sun. The basis of life.

red s

The ancients certainly thought about it.

PS .. met a hell of a lot of interesting people on this journey .. they return through the entire site. The wine became part of the conversation after the publication work took place … still trying pace it in a vertical decending format … like the old wire service “telefaxes” I began with at AP &c.

© h scott heist 20/ (other dates)

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This work is the property and creation of H. Scott Heist and rights are reserved. Splinter Cottage, The View From Splinter Cottage, the NOIR CHRONICLES, TastefullyCheeky, ObliviAn, Perplexitudes &Quizzicals FastRide, and Every Day is a Short Story are trademarks in use for many years. Rights are similarly reserved and use is only by written permission.

Please note: This is a work in progress that may combine material from multiple projects over multiple years in many technologies. (cameras, films, digital captures, programs plus a variety of pens). Working to make all compatible, sometimes making corrections for programs are open across multiple publications. Work in progress means still correction and gathering. All rights and ownership of the material itself has been mine from the beginning and remains so today.