Earlier this year, in January, I took a trip to Napa Valley’s Diamond Creek Vineyards, spurred by a bottle of wine I tasted more than 20 years ago. That wine was Diamond Creek’s 1984 Volcanic Hill Cabernet Sauvignon. At the time I drank it, I didn’t know a thing about wine. I wasn’t especially interested in it, and I didn’t see why anyone would be. But as they say—usually in regard to romance—timing is everything.
This bottle came my way at a dinner in 1989 with my then-girlfriend and her father. In that particular snapshot of time, we were happy, and there was a general assumption all around that someday she and I would be married. I don’t remember the occasion for the dinner, but I do remember that her father had been to Diamond Creek not long before, as part of some unrelated-to-wine conference he’d been attending in Napa Valley. (Why a Baptist minister was at a conference in Napa Valley drinking wine, I’m still not sure.)
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The wine came, the server opened it, my girlfriend’s father did the whole cork-inspecting thing, our glasses were filled, and I took a sip. I’d like to say that then, at that very moment, a whole new world unfolded before me. But it didn’t. In fact, I don’t have the slightest memory of that first sip at all.