Driving Miss Moblee:
By Bradley N.
“The Yelp Whisperer”
Acts and Scenes
Prologue:San Francisco Bay Area
Act I: Napa Valley
Act II: Sonoma Plaza
Act III: Santa Cruz Mountains
Act IV Santa Cruz
Act V: Santa Cruz and San Mateo County
San Francisco Chronicle
901 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94103
January 15, 2020
“Driving Miss Moblee,” The Prologue (1/18).
This is the first in a chronological series of eighteen interlinked Yelp reviews that together form a continuous movie screenplay whose soundtrack, where indicated, you can play on YouTube to enhance the reading experience.
I dedicate this work to ridesharing drivers and other anonymous members of the gig economy, including those working for the Chronicle right now, who persist in their noble struggles each and every day to remain proud residents of the San Francisco Bay Area, despite the high financial and emotional costs involved. I tip Boke’s soon to be famous “Made in Montana” baseball cap to you all. This is for gig workers and underemployed people as a collective rather than for any one specific individual or group. Hope y’all enjoy the ride.
The narrative takes place from Dec. 20-24, 2019. The numbers in parentheses (e.g. 1/18) indicate where each review belongs in sequence. It’s a “Sideways” meets “Driving Miss Daisy” reverse Cinderella rom-com mashup with a wicked twist at the end that you won’t see coming.
While the characters and events are partially fictionalized, the locations are entirely real, as are all of the wines mentioned. Seek them out, by any means necessary.
[The opening scene begins on Friday, December 20 at 4:35am, as Boke, an ex-adjunct college humanities instructor and ex-rideshare driver, blearily opens his eyes. His wife, sleeping next to him, will arise later, but B. must start work now. He shuffles to the bathroom to change into his clothes, because it has an electric radiator and is warmer than the rest of the cottage, whose central heating unit is turned off to conserve fuel].
[B. is clad in J. Crew jeans, Zamberlan hiking shoes, Smartwool socks, an Icebreaker long-sleeved shirt, and a women’s New Balance medium sized black running jacket, which was on sale at REI and much cheaper that way. He puts into a Patagonia shoulder bag his beloved “Made in Montana” baseball cap, extra underwear, several worn organic cotton T-shirts, and two pairs of socks, along with aluminum bottles filled with filtered tap water and a few pouches of Trader Joe’s trail mix].
[In a small and darkened kitchen, B. brews a pourover using Verve coffee beans with a simple Hario V60 setup and a digital scale set to grams. He pours the coffee into an insulated travel mug. In the sink are empty bottles of 2005 Storybook Mountain estate Cabernet and 2016 Woodside Vineyards Chardonnay. Several unwashed wine glasses are also nearby].
[B. leaves the Santa Cruz Mountains rental cottage in the redwoods where he and his wife live and enters his older model Mazda 3 with 118,000 miles on the odometer. He starts the engine and puts the album, All the Roadrunning, by Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris, in the CD player].
[“Rollin’ On” (youtube.com/watch?v=7QdP…) plays as the driving scene unfolds. B. proceeds without GPS assistance into the City via CA-92 and I-280, bound for the main company parking lot of the Chronicle].
[Once there, B. parks the Mazda in a pay lot and walks to the Chronicle’s fenced in parking area, where he shows an ID to enter and is given a key to a new black luxury Tesla Model S. Now using his iPhone 7, he plays “Red Staggerwing” (youtube.com/watch?v=yHI9…) in the Tesla sound system while crossing the Bay Bridge to a trendy-looking Oakland warehouse condominium complex near Jack London Square].
[When B. arrives at the condo complex, near to the old Blue Bottle roasting facility on Webster Street, he parks the Tesla at the curb. He reads a library copy of Rex Pickett’s novel, Vertical, while waiting for his passenger to arrive].
[At 8:35am, an attractive woman in her mid 30s, Miss Esther Moblee, knocks on the Tesla window to attract B’s attention. She deposits a Gucci suitcase in the trunk and sits down in the back seat. E. is fashionably dressed in ivory-colored Manolo heels, a vintage pair of Levi’s jeans, and a Dior black cashmere turtleneck sweater. She carries a collector’s edition Kate Spade handbag containing her aviator-style mirrored sunglasses and her new iPhone 11 Pro, among other things. She holds in one hand a wide brim Panama sun hat with an “Official Wine Critic” blue ribbon affixed around the base of the crown].
E: Are ya’ ready fah Napa, Boke?
E: Well, let’s get ta’ motorin. I got to be at mah fahst tastin by ten, you know.
B: I knows, Miss Moblee.
E: I jes’ can’t WAIT ta’ be back in Napa Valley in tha’ wintahtime, a week before tha’ holidays begin. It’s so festive theah!
B: Let’s git ya’ ta’ Napa, thin.
[As the Tesla pulls away from the curb, E. immediately starts to check out winery websites on her iPhone. She stays silent for the entire trip from Oakland through Berkeley, Vallejo, and American Canyon, all the way to downtown Napa, where they arrive at 9:45am, accompanied on the drive by “Right Now” (youtube.com/watch?v=HbXp…)].
[End of scene].
Gamling & McDuck Tasting Room
Wine Tasting Room
1420 2nd St
Napa, CA 94559
1 Star Updated Review
January 15, 2020
“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act I, Scene I (2/18).
[B. pulls the Tesla into a parking spot close to the Gamling & McDuck downtown Napa tasting room. It is ten minutes before 10am, so E. should have time to prepare for her scheduled 10am appointment, which she requested B. make on Tock to remain anonymous].
[While E. browses web sites on her iPhone from inside the Tesla, B. stands outside the tasting room door, which is locked. No one seems to be inside. It is a cold and wet December morning with a lingering fog over San Pablo Bay. “Hazy Shade of Winter” (youtube.com/watch?v=Txrw…) plays, by the Bangles. As he sips from his coffee cup, B. thinks he sees and hears an all-female, punk Salvation Army band on the street corner, ringing their bells in time to the music and lip synching the words to the song].
[The song continues as B. waits until 10:05am before sending McDuck three emails in quick succession. He dials the tasting room number on his iPhone but ends the call in frustration because the recorded message was too long. At 10:15am the hallucination ends, and E. emerges from the Tesla].
E: Boke, where IS McDuck? Don’t he even realize that he has a private tasting scheduled fah tadah? Ever since one’a mah wahn writahs, Bryce Dubyah, wrote in The Press that their quirka wahns speak fah themselves, I’s been interested in having them quirka’ wahns speak ta’ me, p’rsonally. I ain’t nevah heard of no wahns doin’ that, befah.
[B. is uncertain how to respond].
E: Didya’ not even MAKE tha’ appointment right on Tock, Boke?
B: No, Miss Moblee, I dun made it raght. I asked ma’ wife ta’ help me, caus’ shez smurt ‘n knowz ’bout technical matters an’ such. Wez got tha’ ee-mail confirmat’n raght here.
[B. indicates a Tock confirmation message on his iPhone].
E: Well, then, why don’t you jes’ CALL him, silly, an’ ask McDuck whatevah is tha’ matta’?
B: I dun tried, Miss Moblee, but all’s I gits is the duk’s answer’n m’chine message. I sent that dern duk three emails a’readi, but I ain’t sure evn if duks cun reed.
E: Well, theahn, call him AGIN’ an’ leave a message this time! Honestly, Boke, what did they teach ya’ll as West V’rginah schoolboys anyway? Ya’ ain’t in hillybilly country no more. This heah is NAPA!
[B. calls the tasting room main number again. After waiting for the beep, he starts to leave a polite, if somewhat irritated, message inquiring about the missed 10am appointment. After a few minutes, a voice on the other end is heard].
McDuck: Hello, hello! Sorry, dude. Just read your messages. I’m, like, back from a vacation in Mexico at some real remote beach place where there was, like, no email or phones or nothin, so I totally missed your Tock reservation. Can’t you just come back this afternoon or on another day or something?
B: I’s got ta’ git’ Miss Moblee ta’ Trefeth’n next, and then Hess aftah’ that and then on tha’ next day ta’ Sonoma Pl’zer. Sos, I is not en-tie-r-lee shur.
McDuck: Sorry, dude. Sucks to be you. I can cancel the Tock reservation, no problemo. I AM a tasting room professional, you know.
B: You’d hafta’ talk ta’ Miss Moblee about ‘dat. I’s jes hur driv’r an’ all. I got hur raght here.
[B. hands E. the iPhone].
E: Boke, run next door and order me a macchiata’ from that there Monday Bakery. I’ll talk ta’ McDuck. An’ buy ya’self a muffin’ a’ somethin’ as well. I’ll meet ya’ there when I am done. Go on, Boke. Shoo!
[B. departs with cash in hand to the bakery].
[E.’s voice is very different when she speaks on the phone].
E: McDICK! It’s Esther F-WORDING Moblee. Yes, THAT one. You are gonna pay for this, buddy. You are Less Than Zero to me now. You don’t stiff Smith B-WORDS like me and get away with it. I will ream your A-wordhole with a broken Chinon bottle coated in French DOG S-WORD so hard in my next column that you will bleed and cry all the way home to your Minnesota mama, you frickin’ duckhead. What are you doing selling Franc and Blanc in Napa, anyway? Normal people, as in goddamn Midwesterners who are goddamn Trump voters, want to drink F-wording Merlot when they come to Napa at a goddamn REAL winery like Duckhorn and not at some goddamn LOCKED tasting room half named for a goddamn KID’S COMIC BOOK next to a goddamn former SEX SHOP. Or they will want oaked Chard and the OTHER kind of Cab, you stupid putz. Make this S-word right, if not for your sake then for Gaby’s, because that woman has big league talent, and she may want to keep that sweet Stagecoach gig. And you wouldn’t want my simple-minded, hillbilly driver posting a negative review for you on Yelp, would you?
McDuck: Yes, maam, I’ll make it right. And send you, Miss Moblee, bottles of our best Franc and Blanc, compliments of the tasting room.
E: Fine. Gotta go. You’re welcome. Goodbye. Happy Holidays to you and Gaby, too.
[E. ends the call and walks to the bakery to fetch B., to “Say What You Want” (youtube.com/watch?v=mblE…)].
[End of scene].
Trefethen Family Vineyards
1160 Oak Knoll Ave
Napa, CA 94558
5 Star Review
January 7, 2020
“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act I, Scene II (3/18).
[Scene opens with an overhead drone tracking shot of the Tesla with B. in the driver’s seat and E. seated in the back as it leaves downtown Napa and heads North on Highway 29 through a valley that has turned lush and green from early winter rains. The drive is set to the song “Sideways” (youtube.com/watch?v=OPI9…)].
[At a stoplight intersection, the Tesla turns right onto Oak Knoll Avenue and then makes a left onto a long, picturesque driveway framed by vineyards].
[B. and E. are dressed the same as when they departed Oakland in the morning, except B. is now wearing his “made in Montana” baseball hat, while E. is now wearing her mirrored aviator sunglasses and wide brimmed Panama sun hat with the “Official Wine Critic” blue ribbon festooned to the base of the crown].
E: Are we theah, yet, Boke?
B: Jes’ about, Miss Moblee. I’s a’ got ta’ drive this here eelectric vee-hicle ta’ tha’ chargin’ station, but I will drop ya’ off at th’ winery fahst.
E: How divine! I just loove seeing the Trefethen Family Vineyards in the winter! It’s all so green and so lovely and their estate Riesling is so drah, you’da thought it was from Alsace o’ somethin’!
B: I wouldn’t know nothin’ ’bout that, Miss Moblee, whut with me bein’ a lowlee dry-ver ‘ an’ whut wit’ you bein’ an aw’rd-winnin’ pr’fession’l wahn crit’c an’ all.
E: Boke, ya’ jes’ so funny! Ya’ makin’ me grin so much, it is ‘a gonna’ ta’ mess up ma’ lipstick! Look! We has arrived a’ready!
[Tesla comes to a halt. B. exits and opens rear passenger door for E.].
E: Now, Boke, you jes’ run along now and entertain yahself, maybe in that nice lookin’ redwo’d grove nexta that cute little villa ovah yondah. I’ve got some off’cial business ta’ do in thaht positively gorgeous second floor tasting lounge a’ theirs, where my wines are all waitin’ fah me. Fah free, naturally. Go an’ play on your Yelp app o’ somethin’. We adults have got some serious work ta’ do, tastin’ all those expensive Napa Valley wines. Scoot!
[E. gestures B. to leave before walking past the fountain to the entrance of the winery, retrofitted from recent earthquake damage. She is met at the door and escorted inside by a pair of identically clad Trefethen wine guides].
[B. drives Tesla to the electric charging station, parks, and plugs in the charging cable before wandering into the redwood grove, to “Seeds of the Pine” (youtube.com/watch?v=mSoO…)].
[After exploring the grove and nearby gardens, B. enters the villa. Inside, he sees two individuals listening to music and enjoying glasses of wine (2007 estate Cabernet reserve). Individual 1 (“Pilot”) wears a WWII era leather flight jacket, well worn Wrangler jeans, and old Danner work boots. Individual 2 (“Madame T.”) wears Levi’s jeans, a fitted Ralph Lauren plaid shirt with metal buttons, and Hondo Western riding boots].
P: Hi, I’m Pilot. This here is my cowgirl, Madame T. Care to have a glass of wine with us, partner? You look like a wine lover to me.
[P. inspects B’s ball cap while handing him a glass of Cabernet].
P: And I see that you’ve been to Montana.
B: Many times. Lived there awhile, but Woodside is where I hang up my spurs these days. Been to Idaho, central Oregon, Pendleton, Enterprise, Frenchglen, and Lamoille Canyon, too, and plenty of other Western spots no one bothers to visit much anymore, since it’s so cheap to fly coach these days, and since they can’t ride horses or camp rough, either.
MT: Isn’t that the truth! But you probably see quite a lot of horses out and about in Woodside, now don’t you?
B: Yes, ma’am. I do. All the time. And we make some pretty good wine there, as well. Woodside Vineyards Cabernet and Chardonnay are both local favorites of mine. Folks say that the Rhys Horseshoe Vineyard Syrah is also quite impressive, but I can’t afford a cult wine like that on a driver’s salary like mine. And between you and me, Miss Moblee CAN be a bit stingy.
[Madame T. nods her head].
P: Well, we have Chardonnay, Cabernet, Malbec, and lots of other wines of our own. And we’ve got a Merlot like you wouldn’t believe! “Sideways” didn’t scare us none! 100% Oak Knoll grown fruit. One of the best libations on this here planet of ours, bar none. I’ll giv’ya a bottle, if you’d like, as an early Christmas present from one Big Sky lover to another, compliments of our family. Our children, Hailey and Loren, have decided to call it “The Cowgirl and The Pilot” for some reason or th’ another.
[Madame T. and P. both smile].
B: Merlot is a favorite of mine, Pilot. If anyone orders Merlot, I’m stayin’!
P: Come join us on the back patio, then, and we’ll have a glass of that one as well. Or quite possibly two.
[“Seeds of the Pine” continues to play as the three head to the patio, gaze up longingly at the distant mountains, and clink glasses of Merlot].
All three: Cheers!
[End of scene].
Oxbow Public Market
$$ Public Markets
610 & 644 1st St
Napa, CA 94559
5 Star Review
January 9, 2020
“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act I, Scene III, Part I (4/18).
[Exterior drone tracking shot of Tesla Model S exiting Highway 29 and driving through downtown Napa before crossing the river on the Third Street Bridge, then left on Soscol and right on First to the Oxbow Public Market parking lot. “Live Wire” (youtube.com/watch?v=PM-a…) plays in the background].
[Boke, clad in his trademark “made in Montana” ball cap, drives Tesla to charging station, exits, and plugs in. E. is asleep in the backseat, an empty bottle of Trefethen estate dry Riesling cradled in her arms, along with a small, plush baby bear wearing hand knit wool sweater. Boke opens the back door and gently rouses E. awake].
E: Boke, this ain’t the CIA at Copia! That’s wheah I always dine after my Official Wine Critic tastings in this here part of the Valley! You know that, silly!
B: Yes’um, Miss Moblee, I do. But I decided meebe this time we’d ‘a try tha’ Oxbah insteed.
E: The Oxbah?! That’s a puuublic place that don’t even take reservations! I couldn’t poosibly be seen there in public, ‘specially in my current ineeeebriated state.
[E. stumbles to one side as B. leads her up the steps to market side entrance next to Hog Island oyster bar].
B: Nonsense, Miss Moblee! Your public jes’ luvs you, what with you bein’ an award-winnin’ pr’fession’l wahn crit’c an’ all …
E: But whatever are we gonna’ eat here, Boke?
B: Oyst’rs, Miss Moblee. Lotsa oyst’rs wid’ Carneeros whaht wine and then a’ plat’ful a’ tacos at C Casa, wid’ this heah bottle the Pilot and his Cowgirl gave me asa’ gift when you wus a’ tastin’ at Tr’feth’n Familee Viney’rds, earlier in tha’ day. Well, that’s whut you will eat. I’ll have somethin’ consid’rbly less fancy th’n that!
E: But honestly, Boke! I ain’t gonna’ wait in no liiine fah’ oysters and drink no wine from a LIST. And tacos ain’t ladylahk food fuh’ an Official Wine Critic like me, silly! And I am positively BEAT from all that working wine drinkin’ I did with all those nice folks at Trefethen. I think I’ll just lay myself down on that nice looking corner bench there and get some beauty sleep. You take some cash from ma’ wallet and buy us some REAL food from Kitch’n Door or somethin’.
[E. kicks off her Manolos, hugs the plush bear in her arms, lies down on a corner wooden bench in the communal dining area, closes her eyes, and is asleep in seconds].
[B. checks to be sure that E. is asleep, then carefully extracts a wad of cash from her Kate Spade vintage shoulder bag (color: Russian River Valley oaked Chardonnay). He walks to the Tesla and opens the trunk, removing a Yosemite National Park edition Pendleton wool blanket and a Coyuchi organic down pillow covered in a fluffy white sheepskin pillow cover. He returns to E. and delicately sets the pillow underneath her head, removing her aviator sunglasses and slightly crushed Panama hat bearing her “Official Wine Critic” blue ribbon hat band first].
[While B. goes about his various tasks, “Roses and Moonlight” (youtube.com/watch?v=_9oE…) plays as background].
[Next, B. covers E. with the blanket and goes to the Ritual ordering line for an “El Guamo” Colombian pourover, which he sets on the table next to sleeping E., along with the adorable plush bear].
[B. then goes to the back of the long line outside of Hog Island Oyster Bar and waits until he reaches the front. He is seen explaining something to the head server and pointing to several items on the menu. After some high denomination bills are exchanged, the head server nods in agreement and goes off to speak to his manager].
[B. then proceeds to the C Casa counter and places an order of tacos from the menu.]
[Finally, B. goes to the Live Fire Pizza counter and orders himself a Margarita pizza and pint of Fieldwork’s hazy IPA, “The Stickiness.” He returns with his pizza and beer to the C Casa counter to collect a plate of four gourmet tacos (rotisserie duck, ground buffalo, spiced lamb, and Dungeness crab), which he brings to E’s table].
[Awaiting B. on the table is a plate of two dozen mixed oysters (Tomales Bay, CA; Humboldt Bay, CA; Narragansett Bay, RI; Eld Inlet, WA) and an opened, chilled bottle of Robert Sinskey 2016 “Abraxas, Vin de Terroir” Carneros white wine (Scintilla Sonoma Vineyard, seasonal blend of Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer). B. removes two Zalto Denk’Art Universal wine glasses from a Coleman 40 can collapsible cooler (color: Paso Robles Rhône red) he had collected from the Tesla earlier, along with a 2016 Trefethen Family Vineyards estate Merlot, “The Cowgirl and The Pilot.” He skillfully opens the bottle with a waiter’s corkscrew and then decants it into a Riedel crystal wine vessel using a Rabbit wine shower-funnel, also taken from the voluminous, soft-sided cooler].
[Aroused from sleep by the sound of wine being poured, E. gingerly opens her eyes].
[End of scene].
C CASA – Napa
$$ Mexican, Gluten-Free, Breakfast & Brunch
610 1st St
Napa, CA 94559
5 Star Review
January 9, 2020
“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act I, Scene III, Part II (5/18).
E: Well, hello there, Boke! Fah how looong now was I asleep on this here wooden bench? And did’ya go ‘n bring me this here lovely wool blanket and soft pilla’ and everythin? Sweet ‘o you, Boke. And did ya’ also happen’ ta’ bring me mah food yet?
B: Yes, Miss Moblee. Food AND drink, of the vin’f’rous vari’ty, if ya’ must know. But drink some ‘o this here pourov’r cawfee fahst.
[B. hands E. the cup of Ritual coffee as the 2007 version of “Both Hands” (youtube.com/watch?v=AzRO…) plays on the market’s sound system, as a light winter’s rain starts to fall].
E: Smells divine!
B: Once you’ve drunk ya’ cawfee, Miss Moblee, youz ‘kin start on those oyst’rs thar’, and this here Dungeeneez crab taco wit’ this here whaht wine from de’ Carneeros distreect. And when ya’ dun wit’ all of dem’, Miss Moblee, youz ‘kin nosh on som’ a’ these here duck, buffla’, an’ spicee lamb tacos wit’ sum’ of this here red wahn in that glass decant’r, which tha’ Pilot and his cowgurl gave me as a geeft when we wuz visitin’ them at theer fam’ly wahneree up thar’ in Oak Knoll distreect.
E: But whut are you gonna’ eat, Boke?
B: I’s gots ma’ p’zza an’ Feeldwahks EYE-PEE-A, Miss Moblee. Fah ‘a littl’ ole’ heelbillee Yelpee lakh me, that’s some maighty fahn grub, dontcha’ know.
[B. smiles slyly].
E: Well, shoot, Boke! Then git’ yerself ta’ eatin’ then! We still have anotha’ Official Wine Critic tastin’ later this afttahnoon, and you better git’ me there on time, or I’ll have you fired!
[E. smiles as well, with a mischievous gleam in her beautiful, dark brown eyes].
B: Well, then, Miss Moblee, bottoms up!
[B. lifts his Fieldwork IPA and clinks glasses with E., who now has a Zalto wine glass of the Abraxas white in one hand, and the Riedel decanter of the Trefethen Family Vineyard reserve Merlot in the other].
E: Cheers, Boke! Mymymy … this red wine here smells soooo gooood!
[E takes a long sip straight from the decanter, swallows, and then beams with joy while Boke casts his gaze to the floor, shyly].
E: And this heah buffla’ taco is delicious! Goes divine with this here Oak Knoll District 100% estate Merlot wine … And this duck taco is AMAZING! So good with the wine, darling.
[E. wipes edges of her mouth with the back of her hand, then drinks more Merlot from the decanter again].
B: Well, that fahst one ya’ tried, the ground “buffla” taco one, I’d a’ rather it was made from good ole’ fashi’ned Amer’can bahson meat ma’self, and bein’ as I’s been ta’ Montana and enjoyed me some grass-fed Bitterroot bahson steaks and ground meatz an’ all, well, that don’t look tah bad – fah Napa, dat’ ees.
[B. smiles a knowing grin].
[Hog Island Oyster Server #1 comes over, with a half portion of Dungeness crab, chilled, on ice, with napkins and claw cracker, accompanied by “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” (youtube.com/watch?v=ClQc…) on the market sound system].
S1: Miss Moblee? This crab is compliments of the house. We love following your “Drinkin’ with Sistah Estah” column and all your well informed wine and food postings on Facebook and Twitter! And … could you give your friend, Soleil Hoe, this gift book from us as well? We’d just love it if she’d write about one of our new oyster bars or restaurants in her food column!
[S1 departs, bowing obsequiously as he returns to the oyster bar].
[E. inspects the gift book, a vintage copy of M.F.K. Fisher’s The Art of Eating (1976 Vantage Books paperback edition), containing all five of the noted food writers best known early works from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, including “Consider the Oyster”].
E: Boke, crack this heah crab fah’ me and go fetch ‘a levain baguette or somethin’ from that diviiine littl’ Model Bakery they’ve got here, would you darling, and scoop some of that lovely crab meat with a teensy bit o’ fresh dill ‘n sour cream on top, now would’ya? Now, there must be somethin’ all nice like that somewhere in this here Oxbah Market, now, ain’t there?
[End of scene].
Hudson Greens and Goods
$$ Specialty Food, Farmers Market, Organic Stores
610 1st St
Napa, CA 94559
5 Star Review
January 9, 2020
“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act I, Scene III, Part III (6/18).
[B. stands up and goes out the back entrance, which market visitors typically use to access the outdoor restrooms. He reappears fifteen minutes later with a Model Bakery levain baguette, serrated Wüsthof bread knife, bamboo plates, organic cotton napkins, plus a bunch of fresh dill and a small container of Straus Family Creamery organic sour cream from Hudson’s Greens and Goods. Background music is Sting’s “Soul Cake” (youtube.com/watch?v=k1gR…)].
[With a seasoned hand, B. expertly prepares E. several slices of baguette topped with picked crab, fresh dill, a dollop of sour cream, and twist of cracked pepper from a small pepper mill he had borrowed from Hog Island Oyster bar].
B: Here ya’ go, Miss Moblee. I’s also git’ this here bottle o’ wine fah ya’, since I seez youz drunk mosta’ Rob’rt Seenskee Carneeros whaht wine a’ready.
[B. deftly opens a chilled bottle of Hudson 2018 Napa Valley, Carneros District Aleatico, an aromatic black muscat variety traditionally used to fortify red wine in Portugal but vinified by Hudson Wines as a dry, complex drinking wine instead, a perfect pairing with Dungeness crab baguette slices and available for purchase at Oxbow Market].
[B. inserts a Menagerie titanium gold plated “wild boar” model aerator-pourer inside the bottle, so that he can deliver 4 oz. of the crisp, fragrantly scented white wine into E.’s waiting Zalto wine glass without spilling any precious drops on the table].
E: Thank you, Boke. You are so sweet!
[E. sips some of the Hudson Aleatico wine while contentedly eating a Dungeness crab baguette slice].
E: Now, d’ya happen ta’ have somethin’ sweet and maybe a nice cupa’ green tea fah’ me as well? I haaave drunk quite a’ bit ‘o wine ta’day. As you know …
[E. winks playfully at B. and laughs].
B: Well, shoot, Miss Moblee, you’ve got me all fig’rd out now, dotcha’?
[B. produces a box of Whimsy & Spice honey lavender shortbread cookies, two green ceramic tea cups, and a glass Hario02 carafe filled with Leaves and Flowers genmaicha green tea from Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan, both of which he had purchased at Hudson Greens and Goods and then sweet-talked a kindly server at Kitchen Door to brew and plate for him. In exchange for a couple of Jacksons, that is].
E: You is positively ASTOUNDIN’ ain’t ya’? Is there anythin’ ya’ caahn’t da’, Boke?
B: Well, I can’t write wine reviews for The Press, Miss Moblee, ‘caus you ain’t never asked me if I wanted ta’!
E: But, Boke! You ain’t no wahn critic or nothin’! You is a Yelp reviewer an’ all, and you wrawht fah’ free!
B: That’s true, Miss Moblee. But maybe it might not always be dat’ way, I’m thinkin’.
[E. sets down her wine glass and looks intently into B.’s eyes].
E: Are ya’ serious ’bout that, Boke or jes joshin’ meah? I ain’t got no time to discuss this wit’ ya, anyway. We is alread’ late fuh mah next tastin’ at Hess. We ‘kin talk all ’bout that … possibility latah.
B: Well, then, Miss Moblee, let’s git’ in that Tesla a’ yourn and git’ on ‘lectric motor’n ta’ da’ Hess C’llecti’n, then.
[B. extends his right arm to E., who hooks her left arm firmly into the crook of his elbow to steady herself on the walk outside to the waiting Tesla, fully charged and ready].
E: Boke, thanks fah all ya’ help today here at tha’ Oxbah. You are clearly more then jes’ an ordinary drivah, now ain’t ya?
B: I recken I is, Miss Moblee. I recken so.
E: I’m thinkin’ this may jes’ be the staht of a bee-u-ti-ful friendship, Boke.
B: Well now, Miss Moblee, I don’t rahghtly know you, and you don’t rahghtly know me, but there ain’t no reason to be lon’ly alone, now is theah?
[Slow fade out, to “Lonely Alone” (youtube.com/watch?v=rzcw…)].
[End of scene].
The Hess Collection Winery
$$ Museums, Wineries
4411 Redwood Rd
Napa, CA 94558
5 Star Review Update
January 13, 2020
“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act I, Scene IV (7/18).
[The entire scene unfolds as a rom-com style cinematic montage set to an extended play version (youtube.com/watch?v=nxDW…) of Madonna’s “Masterpiece,” from the soundtrack to her 2011 film, W/E].
[Like the professional female wine critic she is, E. is focused on the library and newly released estate wines and the exquisite modern artwork on display at Hess, while B., like the amateur male Yelp reviewer he is, is focused equally intently on E.’s perfectly proportioned face and her lithe, yoga toned body as she interacts effortlessly with tasting room staffers and several higher-ups in the Hess hierarchy, including the esteemed patriarch owner, Donald H., himself].
[B. shows undisguised admiration for E.’s charm, wit, intelligence, beauty, and grace as she samples wines, examines the art, and interacts with the Hess staff from the lowly to the exalted].
[Once the hubbub dies down, B. takes the time to point out to E. some of his favorite wines from their epic three-hours long tasting. This includes a bottle of 2008 Mount Veeder estate Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2016 Rockpile Vineyards Sonoma County Zinfandel, and the newly released vintages of estate Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Gris, and Malbec].
[E. is impressed with B’s unexpectedly discerning palate and surprisingly capacious wine knowledge, but she refrains from articulating her views, for fear of embarrassing herself before the extremely fashionably dressed, European accented, and imperious-looking tasting room manager, whose dismissive judgments of B’s unadorned, ordinary looks, his thick Appalachian drawl, and his resolutely heterosexual white male clothing choices are all patently obvious].
[E., on the other hand, is treated like royalty in the best sense of the term (i.e. not like Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex, Megan Markle). She gets the best pours of wine that Hess can offer, while B. is content to hang out with the junior level tasting room staff and talk about things like Brix levels at harvest and soil maps and the legal details of the long term property lease with the Christian Brothers, plus matters of optimal vine spacing and trellising techniques and other arcane viticultural matters that interest 0.01% of the American people, except for the smaller subset of those who are ardent Pete Buttigieg supporters].
[As the hypnotic sounds and intoxicating rhythms of Madonna’s “Masterpiece” echo into the cinematic ether, B. points out to E. his favorite artworks in the Hess Collection by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Gerhard Richter, Frank Stella, and Leopold Maler].
[B. takes a picture of E. on his older model iPhone 7 standing in front of “Johanna II,” by Franz Gertsch, and then she takes his picture on her new model iPhone 11 Pro posing in front of Robert Rauschenberg’s “Tabernacle Fuss” before they ride the glass-paneled elevator up and down several times, completely drunk and laughing hysterically like eleventh graders at junior prom who have taken their first hits of THC-rich cannabis by ingesting a half dozen pot brownies surreptitiously taken from their parent’s secret stash].
[B. and E. stumble out of the visitor center with a half case of Icon Lion and Lioness wines, signed in gold glitter pen by “Sabrina+Tim,” the affluent and philanthropically minded fifth generation scions of the Hess dynasty. “To Esther,” the dedication in the card reads, “with loving admiration and endless respect on the occasion of your 37th birthday. Your Chronicle wine column is masterpiece!”].
[As they inspect their treasured bottles of wine in the driveway, B. and E. growl and paw at each other in an unambiguously flirtatious manner, as “Masterpiece” continues to play in the background. Arm in arm, they totter back to the Tesla].
[B. pulls the Tesla into the main road and turns right to accelerate a bit too rapidly up the driveway to the adjacent Christian Brothers retreat, as the sun sets over the valley and a matching pair of illuminated hot air balloons drift in the distance in desultory fashion].
[B. guides a groggy E. inside the retreat after keying in a door code to enter. Once in the room, B. helps E. remove her Manolos, wool stockings, vicuña skirt, cashmere sweater, lace bra, diamond necklace, and tanzanite Tiffany earrings, so that she is nearly naked, standing like a statue, clad only in her silk panties before an open window illuminated by winter moonlight. B. rummages in his shoulder bag for a worn, threadbare cotton t-shirt and gently pulls it over E.’s head before laying her in bed and covering her with a blanket].
B: Happy birthday, Miss Esther Moblee. You are indeed a masterpiece.
[B. exits the room to the lyrics, “’cause after all, nothing’s indestructible,” while a Cold Moon in Gemini brilliantly illuminates the city of Napa in the far distance. Moon and night sky slowly morph into “Surface Tension,” by Andy Goldsworthy, before the camera fades to black ].
[End of scene].
Christian Brothers Retreat & Conference Center
Venues & Event Spaces
4401 Redwood Rd
Napa, CA 94558
5 Star Review
January 13, 2020
“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act I, Scene V (8/18).
[Esther awakens precisely at 3:16am in a state of panic compounded by mild confusion and shock. She is wearing only her Fendi silk panties and a threadbare organic cotton men’s Patagonia t-shirt that does not belong to her but rather to Boke, who is nowhere in the room to be found].
[“Hallelujah”(youtube.com/watch?v=hjwE…) by Chris Botti on trumpet plays from a half closed MacBook Pro on the nightstand on repeat at a low volume setting].
[In a feverish and still partially drunken fugue state, E. collapses back into bed after a hasty trip to the bathroom to vomit. In the event that this screenplay will be optioned by Netflix with promotional funding from Elon Musk and Tesla Motors (for reasons that should, by now, be obvious), E.’s disturbingly surreal but also profoundly spiritual Napa wine-fueled nightmare will be rendered in stunningly detailed fashion with the assistance of Laika animation studios in Portland, Oregon].
[E. dreams she is one of the three Magi in a life sized nativity scene, which is doubly disturbing not only because she is Jewish, but also because the menagerie includes her two plush baby teddy bear brothers in hand knitted wool sweaters alongside an array of wooden ornamental nutcracker dolls garishly dressed as neo-Nazi skinheads. As King Esther bends down to bestow upon the baby Jesus a Jeroboam sized bottle of Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot, the jackboot-clad dolls attempt to intervene. Just then, one of the two bears speaks up in a polite but admonishing tone].
BrotherBear#1: Please don’t make my Brother angry, meine Herren. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.
[The neo-Nazi nutcrackers laugh and give a Hitler salute while attempting to kick the little bears to one side to better harass and possibly even harm the baby Jesus. In response, one of the bears turns green and grows enormously in size to hulking, grizzly-like proportions, rips the last remaining shreds of his sweater off, and smashes the dolls into dozens of splintered pieces with two mighty swipes of his enormous, clawed paws before calming down and returning to his normal, cuddly size. In gratitude for their protective services, Mother Mary bends down to kiss the tiny bear brothers tenderly on their fuzzy foreheads and lets them each greet the baby Jesus sleeping silently in the nearby manger as if nothing had happened].
[E. wakes up an hour after sunrise, to “Ave Maria” (youtube.com/watch?v=V00q…). On the floor beside her bed lies a broken nutcracker doll that had been part of her room’s Christmas decorations. The tiny teddy bears she had brought with her as sources of comfort on the Napa visit are curled up in her arms].
[E. dresses and explores the gardens and chapel grounds, searching for signs of Boke. “Border Lord” (youtube.com/watch?v=rfLj…) plays as she follows a moss-covered Stations of the Cross devotional pathway through a forest saturated with freshly fallen rain until she reaches a clearing, where B. is stepping carefully through a serene looking cemetery with unadorned marble grave markers where members of the Christian Brothers order are buried. He is taking pictures of the grave markers with a digital SLR camera].
E: Why ya’ doin’ that, Boke?
B: Caus’ I lahks thar’ names, I reckon. And so’s I don’t figet any o’um when we leevz later t’day. They’s got some reel nice names, all theez brothas an’ all do. Names lahk Tea-o-fahn-ee ‘n R-kay-dee-us ‘n N’guy’n ‘n Van-tay-see-un ‘n stuff lahk dat’. Reel purdy names, they ees.
E: Boke, you are startin’ ta’ surprise me. How about if you wuz ta’ invite me ta’ ya’ cottage in those redwoods aftah’ we finish the wine tastins we’s got scheduled t’day in Sonoma? Whatcha’ say, Boke? I’ll ask mah editor at tha’ Chronicle if we can keep tha’ Tesla fah’ a few days longah, you know, as a favah for all the great work I’ve been doin’ fah them lately. Would ya’ like that?
B: Yes’um, I reckon I wud.
E: Well, then, whathca’ ya’ waitin’ fah? Git goin’ already! Ma’ time heah in Napa has, as they say, expaahed.
B: Okey dokey, But I’s gots ta’ prahy in de’ chapel fahst an’ greet da’ babee Jeesuz an’ mudder Maree cause’ I jes’ luvs ‘um both so much.
[B. and E. head down the hill so that B. can pray in the chapel while E. watches from a distance, after which both head to their separate rooms. Within the hour, they are seen driving away in the Tesla as Chris Brennan’s version of The Incredible Hulk theme (youtube.com/watch?v=CwYs…) plays in the background. As the Tesla makes it way down winding Redwood Road, E. and B. are lost in their own thoughts and hardly say a word to each other on the drive to Sonoma Plaza].
[End of Act I].
Bedrock Wine Company
414 1st St E
Sonoma, CA 95476
5 Star Review Update
January 16, 2020
“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act II, Scene I (9/18).
[Drone tracking shot of the Tesla driving the Carneros Highway and Napa Road at speed to Sonoma Plaza. “Fast Car” (youtube.com/watch?v=DwrH…) plays. The scene is cross-cut with images of B’s wife, Penelope, leaving for work at the same time in her Subaru for work in Portola Valley, where she teaches therapeutic knitting to children with special needs].
[B. parks and opens the door for E., looking fresh and beautiful, dressed in similar style to the first day that B. picked her up at her Oakland apartment near Jack London Square. They walk together through a small stone passageway and approach a white wooden building with a wrap around, veranda like porch with expensive looking rocking chairs set up in the front, along with a gravel covered side patio that is empty, due to the cooler winter weather.
[It is 11am on Saturday, December 21, 2019, which is exactly the time slot B. had reserved for E. to enjoy a single tasting at Bedrock Wine Co., located in historic Joseph Hooker House, a heritage site lovingly restored by local volunteers and historical preservation organizations at its current location].
[B. opens the front door for E. but remains standing on the porch after she enters].
E: Now, Boke! Ya’ cun come IN, ya’ know! This ain’t no Official Wine Critic visit. It’s Satahday, and I am here because I luvs the wahn here, and you kin come an’ join me at tha’ table!
B: If youz sayz so, Miss Moblee. I’d shur lahk dat.
E: Well then, git yourself inside, honey! We have got us some heritage wahns ta’ sample.
[B. now enters Hooker House to join E. The two are seated by a tall, older woman at a small wooden table in the back corner of the main inside tasting room, next to a wall mounted with large format, color portraits of the various vineyard owners from whom Bedrock sources grapes for their incredible portfolio of wines].
[Montage-style compressed sequence of a 90 minute long tasting, set to “Less Than Strangers” (youtube.com/watch?v=Ax7A…). E. is clearly enjoying watching B. swirl and sniff his wines like a Level I somm in training for his next set of exams, while also savoring and smiling in pleasure at the various wines set before her in identical Zalto Denk’art Universal hand blown Austrian wine glasses].
E: I do declare, Boke, that we’ve dun tried ALL the wahns that Morgan has available fah us t’day!
B: Them’s gud wahns, they iz.
E: Well, I tell ya’ what, Boke. Take some hundred dolla’ bills from ma’ wallet an’ get us a couple ‘a bottles fah us to have with lunch at OSah once we are done. I am gonna’ meet mah good food writah friend, Miss Soleil Hoe, at OSah fah some oystahs an’ ceviche an’ Baja shremp tacas an’ Dung’ness crab deviled eggs and goodness KNOWS what else! So, as much as I adore these heah her’tage old vahn reds, see if ya’ can’t git us somethin’ more … shellfish an’ ceviche an taca’ friendly.
E: I am goin’ ta’ use tha’ powdah room now. Git’ us them wahns quick so’s we can head ta’ OSah fah some food.
[E. departs for the gender neutral restroom behind the stairway. B. walks to the front counter, where Staff Member #1 is waiting].
SM#1: Have we decided already on a wine order, sir? Or … would you prefer that I recommend a dive bar nearby that serves beer from a can and cheap shots of whiskey instead?
[B.’s voice sounds very different when he now speaks].
B: The “Forrest Gump” meets “Slingblade” thing, that’s just an act. It’s not real. I studied Arabic, Farsi, Korean, Russian, and Mandarin in Monterey FRICKIN’ CALIFORNIA, so spare me the patronizing BULLS-WORD. It’s all tied up with the highly classified and extremely sensitive nature of my mission. I’d explain it to you, but then I would have to … KILL … YOU.
[SM#1’s eyes open wide in genuine shock].
SM#1: So sorry, sir! We pride ourselves on treating ALL of our customers with respect. Even the Republican ones! And we do offer a 10% military discount …
B: Yeah, whatever. I gotta make this fast, before that hot wine chic with that SWEET-LOOKIN’ piece of yoga-toned A-word gets back from the can. Give me chilled bottles of the Karatas Cuvée and the Hirsch sparkling, the $85 one that you wouldn’t open for us but that WE ALL KNOW is frickin’ delicious. And two bottles of Syrah, a Bien Nacido and a Hudson. Same vintage year on both, obviously. Throw in a 6-pack of Zaltos while you’re at it. OSO Dave cooks up some frickin’ great chow, but he serves his list wines in FRICKIN’ RIEDEL STEMLESS, and, dude, that ain’t right. Here. This should cover it. Keep the change.
[B. tosses six, crisp hundred dollar bills on the table, from his own wallet].
[SM#1 quickly assembles the order].
E: Boke! Are ya’ ready yet?
B: Yes’um, Miss Moblee. I ees.
E: Let’s git, then! Sol is waitin’ fah us as OSah! Scoot!
[E. and B. depart the tasting room, to “Telling Stories” (youtube.com/watch?v=wapC…)].
[End of scene].
$$ American (New), Seafood, Tapas Bars
9 E Napa St
Sonoma, CA 95476
5 Star Review Update
January 16, 2020
“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act II, Scene II (10/18).
[E. and B. enter restaurant to find Soleil seated alone at two 4-tops pushed together in the far left corner, next to the large front window overlooking the plaza. The tables are covered with a variety of small plates, including oysters, Dungeness crab deviled eggs, Baja shrimp tacos, and salmon rockfish ceviche].
[“Chicken Man” (youtube.com/watch?v=IwkU…) is playing from mounted speakers].
[S. stands up to hug E. as she enters. Noticing B., she wipes her hands on a cloth napkin before offering him her right hand].
S: Hi, I’m Sol.
B: I’s Boke. I’s Miss Moblee’s new driv’r.
E: And he is SUCH an exc’llnt drivah! I jes luvs tha’ way that mahn handles that electr’c vee-hicle!
[B. looks down at the ground].
S: What’s with the accent, E.? Are you auditioning for a role in “Gone With the Wind” or something?
[E. blinks repeatedly and jerks her head slightly to the right].
S: Or … maybe you, like, had a stroke and your voice came out all funny when you got out of the hospital?
[E. continues to blink and jerk her head, but her meaning is clearly lost on S., so she changes tack].
E: I sah, Boke, it is maghty cold in heah, dontcha’ think? Be a doll an’ fetch meaha sweateah from tha’ Tesla, now would’ya?
B: Yes’um, Miss Moblee, raght a-way.
[B. exits the front door].
E: Now what the hell was THAT all about, Sol?! What part of “let’s go to the women’s restroom and discuss this” didn’t you understand?
S: So, that’s what those weird winks and freaky head jerks meant? You need to come up with a better code, E. Seriously!
E: If you must know, I’m trying out a new Southern belle accent thing when I am on “official business” in wine country, to charm the wealthy vintners with the big wallets and tiny D-words. Actually, it works on most men, even the gay ones. And Boke’s Appalachian drawl makes the whole charade even more convincing, so I don’t want him to know yet it’s all an act. I mean, it’s like he’s my very own Morgan Freeman, except a younger, whiter, redneckier version who can’t act.
S: Whatever, E. You’re one seriously crazy B-word, if you ask me, for attempting a stunt like that. But I’ll play along. What was his name again? Bokey? Is that a dude nickname like Catfish or Ving or Skippie or T-Bone or Flip or “the Jackster” or something?
E: That’s the name he put on his application for the wine critic driver position, that’s all I know. Said he didn’t even finish high school in West Virginia before heading to work for an animal rescue shelter in the Montana wilderness, something like that.
S: Less talking, more drinking. Whatcha’ bring?
[E. looks inside the wine carrying case that B. had left next to the tables. Evidently, she is impressed].
E: For a hick from the sticks, that dude has a sixth sense when it comes to good wine and hand blown crystal stemware. Maybe his senses of smell and taste are just really acute from living in the woods for so long, you know, like a feral poodle or something.
S: Well, from the neck down, he ain’t all that bad looking, neither. Pretty tight little A-word, too, I noticed, as he was leaving. I’d smack that thang, if he would just keep his hillbilly mouth shut while’s I was doin it. I mean, wouldn’t you?
E: The dude’s happily married, Sol. It’s true that he and I flirted a ton yesterday at Hess, but he didn’t even try to make a move on me later that night. That I can remember, at any rate. But we had drunk quite a bit of wine by that point …
S: So, let me get this straight: he’s got great taste in wine, he’s a sweet dude with a hot body, AND he drives you anywhere you want in a luxury black Tesla. What’s not to like?
E: Change of subject. The chef here, is he any good?
S: David? Dude ROCKS. Helped open The Fig Café, in Glen Ellen, I think, and then he created these legendary food and wine mini-pairings at St. Francis Winery before he opened this place a little more than five years ago. His food isn’t fancy, but it tastes so F-wording good. He doesn’t chase Michelin stars, either, which I can’t say about the newcomers to town, or so I hear. It’s like they want to turn this place into frickin’ Yountville.
[B. enters carrying E.’s sweater].
B: Here ya’ go, Miss Moblee. I brung ya’ yer sw’iter.
E: How sweet a’ ya, Boke! Dontch’a think, Sol?
S: Sweet isn’t exactly the word I was thinking of, but let’s go with sweet. Open the goddamn wine already, E.!
[E. deftly opens the sparkling Pinot and the white wine and distributes them into the six Zalto glasses, “Cedar Tree” (youtube.com/watch?v=xl-U…) plays in the background].
E; Cheers, Sol! Cheers, Boke! Here’s ta’ tha’ fahst a’ manah meals ta’getha’!
[The three clink glasses].
[End of scene].
Abbot’s Passage Supply
$$ Wine Tasting Room, Wine Tours
27 E Napa St
Sonoma, CA 95476
5 Star Review
January 16, 2020
“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act II, Scene III (11/18)
[E. and B. say their goodbyes to S. in front of OSO and enter the adjacent Sonoma Courtyard shopping center, rejecting one open tasting room after another until they finally stumble upon an oyster shucking workshop run by the Petaluma Oyster Girls].
[Ani DiFranco’s 2007 version of”Swim” (youtube.com/watch?v=-HKV…) plays].
E: Boke, I jes’ would luv ta’ leahrn hawta’ shuck oystahs! Let’s do it!
B: Okey dokey.
E: Get us some wahns fahst!
[B. goes inside to pay the workshop fee and also to buy one glass of the 2018 Redshift Sonoma Valley Steel Plow Vineyard rosé, an opulent blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, and Pinot Noir, one glass of the 2015 Points Unknown Sonoma Valley Steel Plow Vineyard Rhône style field blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah, and a full bottle of the 2018 Sightline Clarksburg Heringer Vineyard Chenin Blanc Verdejo white blend].
[B. returns to find E. wearing a blue latex glove on her left hand and holding a shucking knife in the other, attempting to open a particularly stubborn looking miyagi oyster. He reaches for a knife in an ice bucket and expertly shucks a dozen oysters without guidance from the instructor. E. looks on, impressed].
E: Boke, ya’ sure handle that knife there real weahl! Was you in tha’ army ‘o something?
B: Somethin like dat’, Miss Moblee. Not tha’ arr-me, ‘xactly, butt kinda clous.
E: Like you was an asassin’ a’ something?
B: No, I didn’t keel no pee-pul. I jes’ studi’d um, you know, frum a-far.
E: Ya’ mean like a spahy?
B: I don’ wanna talk ’bout that, Miss Moblee. Itz pers’nal, iz all.
[E. gives B. a quizzical look but doesn’t press the matter further].
E: Weahl, let’s have sum of that Sahgtline whaht wahn, Boke. It is just DIVINE with oystahs!
B: I knoz. Iz been hear wit’ mah wife, P’nel’pe, ownce.
[E. looks down again at her oyster and redoubles her efforts at prying it open. After some energetic twisting and jiggling, she gets the recalcitrant bivale to open and separates the flesh from the bottom shell. She adds her one shucked oyster to the dozen and a half B. has by now prepared].
E: Let’s eat! But this seems like far tah much wahn aftah all that we drunk at OSah and Bedrock earleah. Really, Boke! Dontcha’ know whin ta’ stop?
B: Well, if we git tir’d, we kin tak’a nap.
E: OK, then. Cheers, Boke! I can’t wait to try this new rosé, caus’ I adore ALL of Katie’s wahns, doctha’ know
[“Manhole” (youtube.com/watch?v=8BpN…) plays as both E. and B. appear to be losing their battles to stay sober. They put down their oyster knives and take a seat at a wooden bench in a secluded corner, away from the prying eyes of the other guests. After several long minutes, B. manages to rouse himself to get some water. When he returns, he is also carrying a small brown bag with a jewelry box inside, which E. promptly opens].
E: What’s that, Boke? A gift, fah me?
B: Yes’um. Thez ear-rings, made ta’ luk lahk glass arr’wheads. I think they is purdy.
E: Boke! Are ya’ TRYN’ ta’ seduce mah?
[B. stiffens, his eyes widening].
B: Garsh, no, Miss Moblee! Yuz ma’ boss ‘n all. I jes’ wanted ta’ thank ya’ fer includin’ me in t’days tastins ‘n eatings n’ such.
E: Well, if it’s jes that, Boke, then thank ya’ vehry much fah tha’ gesture. Even if I don’t rahtly know whatevah I’ll wearh wit’ them.
B: Don’t matter nun. It’sa gestur’ dat’ counts.
[E. and B. continue sipping their wines while forgetting to drink from their water glasses. Finally, E. closes her eyes and falls asleep, to “78% H20” (youtube.com/watch?v=zeib….
[B., upon noticing this, suddenly appears more alert. He gets up, places the cork in the unfinished bottle of white wine and returns the empty glasses to the tasting room. He then walks slowly back to the Tesla, which he moves close enough to a side entrance to carry E. to the backseat without minimal effort. He takes a drag of water from his aluminum bottle and polishes off the last cold dregs of coffee in his insulated mug].
[B. then starts the electric engine and speeds off, heading for Highways 121 and 37 to US-101S and the Golden Gate Bridge. He skirts the western edge of the City and takes coastal Highway 1 to Half Moon Bay before turning left on CA-92, as the sun sets over a fog-shrouded Pacific Ocean in the darkening distance. They are accompanied on the trip by “Your Next Bold Move” (youtube.com/watch?v=44Zn…)].
[The Tesla backs down B’s narrow, gravel driveway a little after 7pm. The redwoods are dripping with fog. A blue light is on at the cottage door. Wood smoke rises from the chimney, and B.’s wife, Penelope, is diligently preparing dinner to celebrate the late arrival of her husband and his mysterious new guest].
[End of Act II].
Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve
13102-13184 Skyline Blvd
Redwood City, CA 94062
5 Star Review Update
January 9, 2020
“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act III, Scene I (12/18).
[Scene opens in a small, redwood shingled cottage about one mile from the North Skyline Boulevard trailhead to Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve, in rural San Mateo County, California. A light fog hangs in the upper reaches of the redwood trees, with bursts of morning sunlight streaking through].
[The Tesla is backwards parked down a narrow, gravel driveway partially overgrown with forest plants and fungi. It rests next to B.’s older model Mazda 3 and Penelope’s two toned, blue and silver 2011 Subaru Outback Sport, with a “Western Mountaineering” sticker affixed to the rear bumper].
[Still woozy from her wine country adventures, E. gingerly opens her bleary eyes. She is covered in a Pendleton wool blanket and dressed in an cozy, well worn pair of L.L. Bean men’s flannel bottoms (Black Watch tartan print, size S) and a Bikram Yoga Missoula grey cotton T-shirt. An electric fireplace is casting heat and light next to an IKEA full sized bed, where an empty bottle of 2012 Calera Jensen Vineyard Pinot Noir is resting, alongside a dog-eared copy of Brian Doyle’s “The Grail: A Year Ambling & Shambling through an Oregon Vineyard in Pursuit of the Best Pinot Noir Wine in the Whole Wild World,” and a copy of Marq deVilliers’ “The Heartbreak Grape: The Search for the Perfect Pinot Noir,” plus a library copy of Rex Pickett’s novel, “Vertical,” the underrated sequel to “Sideways”].
[B. is in the cottage kitchen, making sourdough chocolate pancakes with Grand Marnier enhanced Canadian maple syrup and a pot of Mariage Frères “Black Orchid” Tahitian vanilla flavored black tea from Paris, France. “The Christmas Song” (youtube.com/watch?v=oDTW…) plays softly from the living room stereo].
E: Mornin’, Boke. Da’ ya’ mean ta’ tell me that we drank that entirah bottle a’ Calera Pinah last nahgt?
B: Well, we’s shared eet wid’ Pen’l’pe and wez serv’d it wid’ her specialeety polenta wid’ mah greel’d pork tendahlo’n drah rubbed wid’ jun’per berriy, peppercahn, ald’rwood smok’d sahlt, ‘n crush’d Turk’sh bay leaf ‘n stuff like ‘dat.
E: It was dee-lic-ous!
B: Didya’ also lahk da’ 2006 Clos Saron “Old Man’s Reeserve” See-rah I dee-cant’d as well?
E: Oh yes, I adore Gideon’s amazin’ wines!
B: Well, wees red yur review of Ree-nay-saunce Wah-na-rey in da’ Chroneecull.
E: Ya’ll actually visited Renaissance Winery in little ole’ Or’gon House, California?
B: Yes’um. Wez vist’d all kahds a’ places in da’ Gold’n State wahn cuntree.
E: Da’ ya’ know Frenchtown Farms as well?
B: ‘Course we duz, silly! Very pop’lar at T’fino an’ all.
E: Tofino? April’s n’ Mark’s place in the’ City? Ya’ll been there ta’?
B: Yes’um. Wez reel int’r’sted In fahn wanhs, P’nel’pe n’ me is.
E: And are we gonna’ drink that entirah bottle of 2009 Ahlgren Bates Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon after our hike in that enormous redwood canyon down there?
B: Yes’um. Pluz a 2013 Bates Ranch Cabear-ney from Seev’lr Mount’n Wahnereey as weahl. An’ sum reel gud locul bone-een reeb-eye steakz ‘n Feefth Crow heir-loom ‘taters ‘n hershrad’sh ‘n greenz n’ stuff like ‘dat.
E: And these here nice hikin’ boots, these is fah’ me?
B: Yesum, Miss Moblee. A loan from mah wahf an’ all.
E: Where is Penelopah anyway?
B: At wurk. Like she alw’ys is, what wid’ me bein’ a driver fah hire’ an’ all.
E: Well, then, let’s git ta’ da’ hike.
B: We’s lahklee ta’ find sum mushr’ms in da’ canyee-on, fah da’ homem’d pastah tamahraw wid’ Kear-meet Leench Beau-jo-lays Coat Brew-ye wahn ‘n all. Ya’ inta’ da’ Euro wahns as wealh?
E: I jes’ adore Kermit Lynch Cru Beaujolais wines!
B: Well, den’ we’s gonna’ have us a real nice weak’nd, now, ain’t we? Have sum flapjacks, now, Miss Moblee! Ya’ gonna’ need da’ energee fa’ da’ hahk ‘n all in da’ can-ee-on.
E: Boke, it seems ta ‘ me I have seriously unda’estimat’d ya’ before, now, haven’t I?
B: Well, I don’ know mucha’ ’bout dat. Eat them vittles, Miss Moblee. Wez gotta get inta’ da’ redwuds real soon if wez gonna’ greel da’ beef n’ drink dat’ Bates Ranch Cabernet lat’r t’day.
[E., dressed in borrowed Icebreaker base layers and Marmot and Patagonia outer layers, laces up her new’ Italian made Zamberlan leather hiking boots].
E: I’m ready ta’ go, Boke. But there BETTER be a chilled bottle of that scrumptious Woodside Vineyards Chardonnay waitin’ fah us when we git back now, ya’ here?
B: Yes’um, Miss Moblee, Thar’ weeel.
E: Well, whatcha’ still waitin’ for, Boke?! Let’s git ta’ tha’ hike, then.
[E. and B. descend on private trails and empty backroads into Purisima Canyon for a strenuous four hours long hike in the redwoods, to”Cast Your Fate to the Wind” (youtube.com/watch?v=uQpD…)].
[End of scene].
Monte Bello Open Space Preserve
4185 Page Mill Rd
Palo Alto, CA 94022
5 Star Review Update
January 10, 2020
“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act III, Scene II (13/18).
[Overhead drone tracking shot of Monte Bello Ridge, with Silicon Valley to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, with the Santa Cruz Mountains visible, following an early morning rain].
[“Cross Creek Road” (youtube.com/watch?v=Klf9…) plays as the camera zooms in to two figures ascending a single track path on the edge of Upper Stevens Creek Canyon. We see Boke in the lead, followed by Miss Esther Moblee in the same hiking gear she had on earlier in Purisima Canyon. B. wears a backpack while E. is clad only in her hiking outfit. Her dark hair is tied back in simple fashion, revealing a strikingly attractive face complimenting her tall, slender body].
E: Boke! I say, Boke! Jes’ how looong is this here hike gonna’ last before we get ta’ Ridge? Honestly, Boke! Most people jes’ drives up there in their caaaars! Why, pray tell, do the two of US havta’ hike up this steep and exposed trail, if I may kindly ask of ya’?
B: This here is Monte Beller Reedge an’ all, Miss Moblee. If we foller’ it all da’ way ta’ da’ wahnery, well, we’ll see how this place is fah da’ grapes an’ all dat’ go inta’ Monte Beller red wahn, the best darn Caleefornia Bore-dough blend in da’ whole wide whirld, ses me.
E: Boke, I am the Official Wiiiiine Critic fah’ tha’ Chronicle, so of COURSE I know that Ridge Monte Bella’ is one of the best red wines that we’ve evah’ made in this here Golden State of ours. But why the six miiiile hike jes’ ta’ get there?
B: It’s jes’ betta’ dis’ way, Miss Moblee. I can’t raghtlee ‘splain it ta’ ya’, but it jes’ ees.
E: Well, Boke, I can certainlah’ appreciate these here views of Sil’con Valley and that deep blue Pacific Ocean o’ ours, but it’s gonna’ take us nearly three hours ta’ even reach the tastin’ room!
B: Da’ grapes, they don’ mind, Miss Moblee. The Reedge peoples neither. Des haard wahkers, dontcha’ know, what wit’ making such fine wahn in such a high and chall’ngin’ place an’ all. Makes ya’ ‘pprectiate it more ‘dis way, Im’a thinkin …
E: If you says so, Boke. I’m startin’ ta’ trust ya’ judgement when it comes to wahn much more ‘den when ya’ was jes’ ma’ drivah.
B: Thankyee kindly, Miss Moblee. Thankyee v’ry much.
E: Boke, why don’t you jes’ call me “Estah” instead a’ “Miss Moblee”? We’s friends by this point now. Aftah’ all: I SLEPT in ya’ pee-ja-mas last couple a’ nights now, hasn’t I?
B: Too true, Miss Moble … er, Estah. Too true. But yous an award-winnin’ pr’fession’l wahn crit’c an’ all, I’s jes’ a heel-bee-lee Yelp r’vier an’ all.
E: Boke!!!! If you so much as MENTION that one more time, I swear ta’ God I’s gonna’ smack you!!
[Camera pans out several hundred feet in the air, as B. and E. approach the exposed summit of Black Mountain and proceed onward towards Ridge Vineyards].
[Time lapse, montage-style sequence with B. and E. playfully hiking and chasing each other along the trail and, eventually, on Monte Bello Road to”I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” (youtube.com/watch?v=tbNl…).
[Ridge staff member #1 sees B. and E. approaching the entrance and greets them with glasses of Chardonnay. “Come Away with Me” (youtube.com/watch?v=lbjZ…) plays on outdoor speakers].
SM#1: Hello, Boke, is it? And your … wife, Hesther Nobley, is it?
B: That’s rahgt. Mah wife, Hesther. I jes’ luvs her so much she walked all dis’ way wid’ me jes’ ta’ taste a’ vert’cl of yourn Monte Beller wahns an’ all.
MB1: We have five of our very best vintages of our flagship red wine, Monte Bello, lined up for you to taste, double decanted about two hours ago. 1995, 2000, 2011, 2012, and 2013, plus a special pour of our Lytton Springs 2011 Syrah as well, because we understand that your … wife loves Syrah, and this was a cooler year vintage from our Dry Creek Valley organic vineyard that she should adore.
[B. sips from his glass of wine].
B: Well, this Monte Beller’ whaht ain’t ta’ shabby, neither.
MB1; No, we only make Monte Bello Chardonnay in special years. It’s a stunning wine, full malolactic completed in 50% new French oak barrels with 50% neutral American oak as well, aged for 18 months before release. Simply put, one of the best Monte Bello Chardonnays we’ve ever released. And, can I assume you’ve both brought California driver’s licenses so that we can confirm your legal drinking ages? Santa Clara cops and all, they are such … a-holes about the rules and regulations and all, I’m sure you two understand.
[MB1 smiles, sheepishly].
B: Indeed, sir, we duz. I ain’t nevah gonna’ make dat’ miss-steak agin’ let me tell ya’!
[E. finishes off her Monte Bello Chardonnay in a few, long sultry sips].
E: I do declare; this here is the very BEST California Chardonnay I’ve tasted in the last decade! Kin’ I get anotha’ splash before we begin that Monte Bella’ vertical?
MB1: For you, Miss Nobley, I would only be too happy to oblige.
[End of scene].
Franklin Point Trails – Año Nuevo Coast Natural Preserve
S Cabrillo Hwy
Pescadero, CA 94060
5 Star Review Update
January 11, 2020
“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act III, Scene III (14/18).
[Overhead shot of Esther and Boke sitting on a wooden bench overlook at Franklin Point, as heavy waves and king tide surf crash against the rocks and scour the beach with frothy sea foam to “Beachcoming” (youtube.com/watch?v=kgZX…)].
[Camera zooms in to a small picnic of sourdough rye bread topped with Harley Farms chevre (Pescadero, CA) and hickory smoked lomo from El Salchichero artisan butcher shop (Santa Cruz). E. and B. also share bottles of 2017 Howard Family Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay and 2017 Wirz Vineyard Cienega Valley old vine Carignane, both from Big Basin Vineyards, using stemless Riedel wine glasses].
E: Boke, this here is one LOVELY view! And these Big Basin wines ya’ brung’ are DIVINE! I visited their Saratoga tastin’ room and all for The Press, but these particula’ wines wasn’t available – back theeeen.
B: No’um, lahkly not, butt wez wahn klub membahs at da’ Beeg Bas’n Wahn’ry, ‘n we jes’ luvs ta’ stop there ta’ taste wahns like ‘dat.
[E. sets down her glass of Chardonnay on the bench and stares intently at B., despite his efforts to avert her gaze].
E: Boke … or should I say … Bradley N.? Ya’ cun drop ya’ redneck hillbilly Appalachian acc’nt thing, OK? OK?? I dun looked ya’ up on tha’ Internet, and while it is true that ya’s from West Virgin’a an’ all, ya’ ain’t no real redneck, is ya? Yeza Redneck In Name Only. Yeza R.I.N.O.!
[B. is silent. He stares down into his glass and waits].
E: Ya’ was valedictorian of ya’ high school class and then ya’ went … ta’ Williams! Of all places, ya’ hadta’ pick a New England school like that, didnta’? And not only that … ya’ had ta’ go an’ graduate summa cum laude AS WELL …
B: Honestly speaking, Esther, didn’t think you’d hire me as your driver if you knew all of that. Or if you learned about the Hopkins advanced humanities degrees, the Stanford postdoc, the Harvard interview, the Defense Language Institute training, or the still classified Black Ops secret mission stuff. I figured that the “Morgan Freeman meets Chris Cooper in Matewan” simple minded redneck persona would be easier for you to handle.
E: Ya’ maght be right about that. Nobody will hire a’ Hopkins man these days, especially one witha’ degree in the … HUMANITIES!
[B. nods his head, knowingly].
B: Well, Esther, in the interests of full disclosure, I doubt that your “Jessica Tandy meets Vivien Leigh” Southern Jewish belle thing is totally accurate, either. They teach you to act like that at Smith, did they?
[E. acts shocked, but is clearly acting].
E: Well, I nevah! That is jes’ so … Yeah, screw it. I went to Smith and was an English lit major who got into wine instead of teaching or grad school. The Southern belle schtick still works on the Robert Parker generation of multimillionaire men in Sonoma, Paso, and Napa who are styling themselves as vintners these days. It’s easier that way with most men, except for the more enlightened ones like Ian Brand, Chris Brockway, or Dan Petroski.
B: Makes sense to me. A lot, actually.
E: I figured that hiring you as my hillbilly driver would fill out the whole “Driving Miss Daisy in a black Tesla” thing that we had going there when seeking out cult wines by folks like Reeve, LIOCO, Belden Barns, Baker Lane, Littorai, Red Car, Leo Steen, Hirsch, or Pax Mahle. And it was working with the high-end Napa folks at Progeny, Lokoya, and Kapcsandy, too, before you had to go and blow the whole thing up on Yelp. Thanks for that, by the way!
[E. gives B. the finger].
B: Well, you started it!
E: No, you did! Jerk.
B: I know you are, but what am I?
[E. and B. smile, take sips of their wine, and stare out at the waves crashing in front on them].
E: Dude, what say we hike back to the Tesla and hit up some of the Westside tasting rooms in Santa Cruz this afternoon? Well, after coffee at Verve first. My treat. What do you say, B.? Are you even still listening?
B: E., I’d say that’s a very smart idea coming from a spoiled little Smith girl who gets paid to drink expensive wine.
[After E. throws Chardonnay in B’s face, the two start hiking back to the Tesla].
E: Hillbilly rednecks who went to Williams! When will they learn how to treat spoiled little Smith girl wine sluts like me properly?
B: Never too late to try. After you.
E: After you, dude. Also: I’m driving.
[B.’s eyes widen, but gives her the key].
[Camera pans out to the trailhead where the Tesla is waiting. E. enters with B. and turns on the ignition, but she hesitates long enough for B. to notice].
B: The engine’s on. On means go.
E: Give me your “made in Montana” hat first.
[B. places the hat on E’s head, who is now wearing her mirrored aviator glasses. Like a Titan rocket, the Tesla streaks South on Highway 1 with “Joyride” (youtube.com/watch?v=xCor…) blasting through open windows].
[End of Act III].
1100 Fair Ave
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
5 Star Review Update
January 11, 2020
“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act IV, Scene I (15/18).
[Interior shot of Stockwell Cellars’ high-ceilinged Fair Avenue winery and tasting room. It is just after 1pm. E. and B. are seated in the back right corner on a solidly built wooden bench mounted onto steel support beams constructed by the winemaker himself, who is also a welder. They are sipping Santa Cruz Mountains wines from two open bottles: a 2017 Regan Vineyard Pinot Grigio Ramato and a 2014 Reagan Vineyard Merlot. “Still the Good Old Days” (youtube.com/watch?v=AqFD…) plays in the background as E. and B. sip their wines with bowls of saffron sesame popcorn, shelled habanero pistachios, and Marcona almonds with fresh rosemary and Maldon sea salt flakes].
E: Dude, this Ramato totally rocks, Salinity balanced by yellow stone fruit and just a hint of earthiness at the end. Makes me rethink the whole Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, to be honest with you. And this Merlot! It’s frickin’ delicious, but in a boysenberry, brambly kinda way that is herbal and leafy than ripe fruity.. Who needs Pinot when you drink a Merlot this frickin’ good? F-word you, Miles! F-word you.
B: I know, right? Good thing the dude here stopped just forging metal and started crafting wine as well. Still, that 1909 anvil of his dad’s does look pretty frickin’ awesome up there behind the tasting bar, doesn’t it? Napa Valley has got nothing on the Westside, baby.
E: Totally! I mean, I asked Bryce W. to review this place in The Press and all, but now I realize that his tag line, “The Central Perk of Wine,” was pretty frickin’ stupid. Or, if not stupid, then just really, really corny and way too Gen X for our intended demographic iGen web site users. Come on, Bryce! Can’t you do better than that? Stockwell so rocks! And the music is great, too! This new Sheryl Crow album is really, really good, isn’t it?
B: Sure is. Sheryl, she never gets old. Like Kris Kristofferson, Keith Richards, Neil Young, James Taylor, and Willie Nelson – all of whom sing with Sheryl on the album, by the way – she’ll just one day fade away, slowly, like a bottle of Santa Lucia Highlands Tondré Grapefield Pinot that has passed its prime after 25 or 30 years in bottle, I guess.
[E. looks at B. with a tiny glint of awe in her beautiful brown eyes].
E: Wow, B. You sure know your wines! Not bad, for a Williams dude.
B: Yes, well I definitely didn’t know about such things back then, in the 90s. I do recall seeing a case of Ravenswood old vine Sonoma County Zinfandel arriving once at the Foreign Language Center, where I worked as a student, that the chair ordered for some big faculty party at the end of the academic schoolyear. Dude got his Ph.D. in comp lit from Berkeley, which explains the ordering a case of Ravenswood Zin, I guess.
E: Sucks that Gallo has closed the Ravenswood tasting room and shut down the brand, doesn’t it? Nothing but jealousy and venal corporate greed, if you ask me. That’s why I left the Spectator and jumped like Jack n’ Jill on the Chronicle gig when Jon up and left for England.
B: Yeah, I figured you were stoked to hang out here in Northern California with the cool kids. Since you arrived, you’ve been picking some great Winemakers of the Year, and your Renaissance Winery article last year was pretty frickin’ awesome, even if I did review it on Yelp about a day or so prior to when it was first published.
E: Seriously? You posted a review on Yelp even before my award-winning story on Renaissance appeared online and in print?
B: Well, you obviously had done, like, a ton of research on it and also interviewed the Frenchtown Farms folks and Clos Saron and all, but technically … my Yelp FTR was first. I was kinda shocked when I logged into the Chronicle web site from the B&B in Nevada City where we were staying and saw your feature length article in the Food and Drink section. Great stuff, E. Really great writing, for a Smith graduate, at any rate.
E: I would throw this glass of Ramato in your face, but I think I like it too much to waste it on someone as undeserving as you!
[E. finishes off her glass of wine, then wrestles B.’s glass of Pinot away from him and does the same].
E: Time to hit up a few more of the Surf City Vintners, I’m thinkin. I don’t get down here much, so I gotta stock up. Got anything else in mind, Mister Santa Cruz Mountains AVA resident wine expert?
B: E., I’ve got a couple more places in mind that will … blow … your … Smith girl slutty mind!
E: F-word you, you incestuous hillbilly jerk. But take it slow, dude. I need some time to recover.
[E. and B. both get up from the couch, wave their goodbyes, and wander outside to “Love and Happiness” (youtube.com/watch?v=Gn9n…) as they meander lazily onto Ingalls Street, arm in arm, for another tasting].
[End of scene].
Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard
334-A Ingalls St
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
5 Star Review
January 11, 2020
“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act IV, Scene II (16/18).
[Interior shot of Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard tasting room. E. and B. are sitting at the ba with glasses of Souzão and Castelão along with full pours of “Rabelo” port and Osocalis XO Alambic Brandy. “Come Alive” (youtube.com/watch?v=KLnS…) plays on the stereo. A light rain is falling].
E: Portuguese varietals from the San Antonio Valley in southern Monterey County, sourced from the vineyards of the famous Pierce Ranch? Brandy made in an antique alambic Charentais still, imported from Cognac, using Colombard, Chenin Blanc, Sémillon, and Pinot Noir grapes and distilled and aged for years in Soquel? Even I must admit, B., that these are some amazing finds, although you realize that I reviewed this place, like, two years ago, right?
B: Well, you did review it pretty well, it’s true, but I kinda felt that you could have somehow done more to highlight the whole immersive nature of the experience, especially when you factor in the aged brandies and port and stuff. I mean, who exactly do you have working for you who somehow missed all this awesomeness?
[E. takes a hit of port before responding].
E: Yeah, I get it. My team of wine writers as a collective aren’t as freakishly creative a writer as you are, and they sure as S-word didn’t help me discover this place, because I scoped it out all by myself, being an empowered woman wine writer and hardworking investigative grape reporter, as you know. But they all have worked as wine journalists and have advanced somm degrees they will likely never have to use because most have trust funds to fall back on if they need to, and they all have freelanced for the wine mags and did time in the trenches at Vinous Media and have actual Ivy League degrees from Yale and Princeton and such or at the very least USC or Cal Berkeley, so they are all part of the “Club,” while you obviously are not. Why would Yalies and Harvard types and Princetonians and Spartans and Smith girls like me let someone like you join our exclusive urban wine drinkers and writers club, anyway? And by someone like you, I mean, to be precise about this, someone who went to school at a Berkshire backwoodsy boondocks place like Williams who is originally from cousin-kissing Appalachian redneck nowheresville and who writes long and boring Yelp reviews about his totally random wine tasting experiences that twelve people actually read and maybe, like, half of them actually cast votes for. Just in case you were wondering about that part.
E: But the truth is, B., that you complete me with your over-the-top prose and wild, fantastical writing style and all the droll and weirdly endearing things that come out of your mouth on a daily basis. B., you had me at “howdy.” I wish that I HAD asked you to write wine reviews for The Press, instead of hiring you to be my hillbilly driver. Can you ever forgive me?
[B. takes a long sip of XO brandy before responding].
B: E., you are cool and sweet and sexy and smart and so pretty. Truly, you can do no wrong. Hire whomever the F-word you want to write those superficial reviews for The Press, which are too formulaic to capture the true essence of unique and wonderful places like this with decades upon decades of winemaking history. I’ll just post my own, exhaustively edited reviews on Yelp, anyway, which tend to exceed the maximum allowed word count, and which I illustrate with tons of free content using my iPhone and my digital SLR in the vain and probably senseless hope that someone out there surfing the Internet who is not a bot or data mining algorithm might one day actually use them to discover frickin’ awesome wines like the ones they serve here and to learn how frickin’ cool the people of Santa Cruz are and how frickin’ amazing it is to be able to live here, which is not what they are told by the media on FoxNews or CNN or Amazon or Netflix or Apple TV+ or the people who own your newspaper and sign your 6-figure salaried paycheck each month. And as for all the rest: who gives a S-word?
E: For a hick from the sticks, ya’ ain’t even all that stupid. I might even kinda like you. If Smith were ever to admit dudes, you would be, like, the first to enter. No joke! I really do wish you’d write for us at The Press. What do you think?
B: I think we need another drink first. How about we hit up another tasting room before I decide?
E: I could kiss you right now, B., but then I’d have to kill you and rinse my mouth out with 190-proof Everclear after. Let’s grab us some bottles and move on, dude.
B: That’s the first sensible thing you’ve said all day. Ready to open door number three?
E: S-word yeah! Let’s do it! Let’s rock the Westside like this day ain’t NEVAH gonna’ end, white girl wine ghetto style, monthaF-wordah!
[Camera fades out to E. and B. samba dancing to “Faz Gostoso” (youtube.com/watch?v=R03c…)].
[End of scene].
Bottle Jack Wines – Westside Tasting Room
Wine Tasting Room
328D Ingalls St
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
5 Star Review Update
January 11, 2020
“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act IV, Scene III (17/18).
[Steadicam tracking shot of E. and B. leaving the Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards tasting room with bottles of port and brandy in a wine carrying case. They stumble out onto the sidewalk, deposit the contents in the trunk of the Tesla, and then walk arm in arm on unsteady legs to the Bottle Jack Wines tasting room, shared with Silver Mountain Vineyards].
[The tasting room is filled to overflowing with festive, wine-themed Christmas decorations. “Late September” (youtube.com/watch?v=UDES…) plays on the stereo].
[The rain has stopped, so E. and B. sit down at an outdoor patio with open bottles of 2018 Sierra Foothills Viognier and 2014 Santa Cruz Mountains Petite Sirah. They pour the wines into Zalto wine glasses B. extracts from his soft-sided cooler, accompanied by El Salchichero bresaola served on Companion Bakery levain bread with fresh horseradish and drizzled with toasted sunflower oil and 12 year aged balsamic vinegar. B. then serves a Dungeness crab panini, cut in two, with melted Monterey Jack from Vella Cheese Co. (Sonoma, CA) to pair with the Viognier].
E: Why in the F-word haven’t we covered Bottle Jack Wines in The Press yet? I really dig this Sierra Foothills Viognier, and the Petite is F-wording delicious!
B: Well, when you assign someone who lives in the City to cover the dynamic local wine scene here, you tend to miss newer, audacious places like this. Not to mention old lions like Silver Mountain Vineyards, whose wines are classic examples of the potential of the area to make great Burgundian and Bordeaux style wines. Maybe you should hire a local, such as myself, who can give the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA the extensive coverage it deserves.
[E. is about to speak but is interrupted by her iPhone 11 Pro vibrating].
E: Hello? What? As in, like, immediately? And what shall I tell him, then, when he asks me for an explanation why? And you need the Tesla back when? Tonight? Are you serious!? This is, like, so not right. You know, Eric at the Times would never stand for this. Even Dave at the Post would say no, and between you and me, that man is a F-wording IDIOT who doesn’t know S-WORD about wine. Tell Audrey and her F-wording corporate SLAVEMASTERS they can come and try to take a bite out of my honey pot sweet C-WORD if they think that they can get me to fire my own goddamned driver and return that goddamned Tesla of theirs anytime soon, because I am a goddamned award winning wine critic who went to Smith F-WORDING College, and if they think they can mess with me, well you tell them from me that they can ram rolled up copies of the Chronicle covered in steaming HORSE S-WORD straight up their enormous, middle-aged A-wordholes. And then, they can set them on fire. Fine. Gotta go. You’re welcome. Goodbye. Happy frickin’ Holidays to you, too!
[E. presses the end call button on her phone and sets it on the high-top table where she and B. are standing. She grabs the empty bottle of Viognier by the neck and proceeds to smash it into shards directly on top of the phone before then pouring a full glass of Petite Sirah on the table and then kicking it over. E. then picks up the damaged phone off the ground and hurls it against the wall, where it shatters to pieces].
B: So, that went well.
E: B., you’re fired. And we need to take the Tesla back to the dealership in Mountain View by 10 pm tonight or they’ll fine me $500 a day until I do. Budget cuts ordered by Hearst corporate, effective immediately. I should sue those A-wordholes for workplace sexual harassment for every penny that they and their next of kin are worth. D-wordhead male executives and that spineless female editor ice queen in chief B-word who carries out their orders. Idiots!
[E. locates the Petite Sirah bottle, now lying half empty on the ground, and takes a long pull].
E: Well, ya’ can’t be ma’ driver no more, Boke, but that don’t mean we can’t steel be freens.
[E. and B. both drop back fully into character for a moment].
B: Miss Moblee, no’ne at Hearst nah an’ otha’ place in dis’ heah world can come b’tween us na’more. We haz a boooond that’l bend from time ta’ time but will nevah break! I tells youz whot ..
E: Ain’t that the truth! Boke, I luvs ya’, and that ain’t the wine talkin’ neithah! We is freens – fahevah!
[E. and B. take turns killing the rest of the Petite left in the bottle].
E: Tell ya what, let’s us grab a drink somewhere – a REAL drink mind ya’ and not just some more of this heah wahn – and figa’ out what we is gonna’ do next. Whatcha say, Boke?
B: I knowz jes’ tha’ place, Miss Moblee. Jes’ tha’ place …
[E. and B. walk grim-faced to the Tesla, to “Redemption Day” (youtube.com/watch?v=GHmV…)].
[End of Act IV].
Venus Spirits Distillery
$$ Beer, Wine & Spirits, Distilleries
427 Swift St
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
5 Star Review Update
January 12, 2020
“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act V, Final Scene (18/18).
[Tracking shot of Tesla driven by E. with B. sitting beside her, as it pulls out of the Ingalls Street Courtyard parking lot onto Swift Street].
[Before the Tesla reaches the intersection with Delaware Avenue, it turns right and pulls into an open slot in front of the distillery. Inside, a crowd of tastefully dressed patrons are gathered at the bar with mixed drinks in hand and bottles of spirits in holiday gift bags next to them].
[B. opens the driver side door for E. and escorts her inside. They return minutes later to take seats on a wooden bench next to a table decorated with lit candles affixed to abalone shells and drought tolerant plants in pots fashioned from miniature types of winter squash. B. brings E. a Sazerac cocktail while reserving a perfectly made gin and tonic for himself].
[“If This Is Goodbye” (youtube.com/watch?v=sWfK…) plays from speakers as they sit in silence].
[E. starts to speak, more laconically than usual].
E: So, IS this goodbye?
B: You tell me.
E: I didn’t fire you! Hearst did.
B: Worst Christmas gift, ever.
E: I can’t risk my job by pissing off my editor at the Chronicle any more than I already have.
B: I get that.
E: But what an awesome place to get over a workplace breakup! This is, like, the best Sazerac I’ve ever tasted.
B: You should try the G&T.
[E. samples from B.’s drink, her eyes lighting up in pleasure].
E: Like, what botanicals do they PUT in this thing?
B: That’s Gin No. 01, which has 10 different fruits, herbs, and botanicals like lavender, angelica root, ginger, lemon, and orange. Seasonal blends are made in winter, spring, summer, and fall. If you are into Scotch, ask to try their Wayward peat single malt, which was released a few weeks ago.
E: Wow, your mood totally picks up when you talk about stuff like that, doesn’t it?
B: Yeah, I guess it does. But that’s because Sean is a consummate craftsman who distills each batch using organic ingredients in Spanish made, hand pounded copper stills and ages his Gin No. 02, his aquavits, his whiskeys, and his reposado and añejo spirits in American oak barrels before release.
E: Dude, you’re still fired. Shame to let all that passion and knowledge go to waste writing Yelp reviews and not getting paid for it, don’t you think?
B: I don’t think. Not about stuff like that, I mean. It’s just fun for me. And I like having fun. Don’t you?
E: I’ve been having nothing BUT fun ever since our first wine tasting in Napa five days ago! I wish we could meet up next time as friends, and not as professional wine critic and hired driver.
B: I’d like that.
E: Tell you what: I’ll talk to Sol and see if she’ll drive us down to Santa Cruz sometime next year. Why not Friday, February 14, 2020? Valentine’s isn’t a real holiday, anyway. You could meet us here at two thirty for cocktails, and then we’ll drink wine at Stockwell and share pizzas at Bantam.
B: Like the three of us?
E: Your Yelp friends can tag along if they want. Call it an “unofficial Yelp event” or whatever.
B: Sure, E. Why not?
E: I’ll have to check with her, but let’s try to do this thing, OK?
[E. and B. shake hands].
E: It’s getting late, and I still need to drop you off before taking the Tesla to the dealership and then a Lyft home. After I can somehow find a new iPhone, that is.
B: Could you let me drive the Tesla one last time? I knoz backruds youz gonna love, Miss Moblee. Yes’um, ya’ weel.
[E. tosses B. the key].
E: Merry Christmas, you crazy, out of work Williams dude hillbilly freak!
B: Happy Hanukah, you spoiled little Smith girl potty-mouthed wine slut.
[E. and B. embrace].
E: Enough lovey dovey. Let’s motor. Don’t go easy on the Tesla. It ain’t ours no more, dude.
[E. settles into the front passenger seat with her “made in Montana” hat on. B. starts the engine and maneuvers onto Swift Street, makes a left on Highway 1, and rolls to a stop at the last traffic light out of the city. It changes to green, but he doesn’t move].
E: The light’s green, Gatsby. Green means go.
B: Give me the aviator glasses first.
[E. sets the glasses on B.’s face as he taps on his iPhone and presses play. E. and B. lip-sync the opening lyrics of “Sister Christian” (youtube.com/watch?v=z92b…) as a flashback montage plays of them over the past five days, intercut with scenes from their college years. The song swells to its first crescendo as the camera zooms out on the Tesla streaking North with the sun fading into an ocean glowing purple and gold. The song plays loudly through open windows as they race along coastal and mountain roads to B.’s cottage, cloaked in darkness, where Penelope anxiously is still waiting].
[B. exits the car and hands the key to E. They hug, then E. speeds off into the night, solo driving for the first and only time. Fade to black. Roll credits to “Tell Me When It’s Over” (youtube.com/watch?v=Zu9K…), followed by “Falling Free” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XlbcI88tLg)].