Every year, on this day, I celebrate the signing of my job offer letter with Ridge Vineyards. It was a big day in my life. A very big day.
It’s been a big day for a lot of people. Erle Stanley Gardner, for example, the creator of Perry Mason.
He was born on July 17th.
Same for Jimmy Cagney. He never played Perry Mason, but for his “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” in White Heat alone, his fame was cemented with me.
And it wasn’t just actors. Red Sovine, he of Phantom 309 fame, was born on July 17th.
I think of Big Joe a great deal on Monte Bello road. I’m convinced I’ve seen a ghost biker on more than one occasion.
And speaking of music, Vince Guaraldi was born on July 17th! He was at the center of THE BIG COMPROMISE in the Monte Bello Tasting Room. It was December, some 3 years ago, and the Monte Bello Tasting Room staff wanted Christmas music. I refused to budge. Jazz. Only Jazz. They wouldn’t relent. The obvious compromise? You guessed it!
Lots of things happen on July 17ths.
I’ve of course set down a great deal of reminisces about this day in past posts, so I’ll try not to recycle them all here, but if you wish to read up on July 17ths past, you might at least wish to follow the following link. It actually makes for sort of a neat bit of reading. In the post you’ll find thoughts on (among other things) They Might Be Giants, Walt Disney, and Frank O’ Hara, as well as a long-form poem chronicling a 3001-mile journey across America that concludes with a series of linked Haiku. Here ’tis:
Anyhow, July 17th is the first day I “officially” became a Ridge employee. There was a Summer Staff Picnic on that day, and I was invited. Not a bad way to start a gig at Monte Bello! I was dead nervous of course, but Melissa Baker, who I was to find out was my new counterpart at our Lytton Springs Estate, made room on a picnic table bench for me, then yanked me down, noted the salad on my plate, and said, “Where’s The Meat???”
Ah, those were the days …
My first actual “shift” in the tasting room (I was initially hired to be the Tasting Room Manager) was the following Saturday, the 19th. And guess what? It was a Passport Day! A Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrower’s Association Passport Day! One of the four busiest days of the year in the Monte Bello Tasting Room!
I just looked up the daily report from July 19th of that year …
Yeah, you’re reading that right. 492 people on that Saturday. ‘Twas quite the trial by fire, to say the least.
I remember asking my boss at the end of the day if she’d been ok with my performance. She looked across the bar at me, her tired back supported by a weary elbow propped on a wine-stained counter, sweat-soaked tendrils of hair flat against her reddened brow, and said in haggard low tones, “Well, I don’t remember having to worry about you.”
Which was as good a compliment as a newbie could receive!
Fast forward to 2012. Which is right now. And today is July 17th. And in 4 more days, guess what? Passport Day! It’s a Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrower’s Association Passport Day!
And, yours truly will be celebrating his anniversary.
And you’re invited!
See you Saturday!