I went to a Boonville party after a long day of harvest. Bo, Rebecca and I didn’t even change or wash up; we just clocked out, hit Lemon’s for beer on the way, and followed each other down 128 toward town. The gathering was on Ornbaun Road at the home of the bearded guy from Navarro that poured the last time I was there. The location couldn’t have been more convenient for me since my trailer was less than a mile away up Mountain View.
We carried in a 12 pack of Scrimshaw and let Bo lead the way. Turns out we were celebrating Oktoberfest and the man of the house, Alex, did it right with homemade sausage and a keg of imported German beer. After filling our cups and snacking a bit, I eyeballed an old, freshly restrung classical guitar standing against the wall and got it somewhat in tune. The three of us went outside on the deck where a dozen or so locals were hanging out under the stars drinking and not really greeting us outsiders all too warmly. I sat and started shyly picking the guitar, which got Rebecca’s attention right away. There was an immediate interest in me now, and she complimented my talent even though I’d done nothing more than picked a slight flamenco. Alex came out later and thanked me for tuning his guitar up, and I handed it off to him. He belted out a Tenacious D song that had most of us laughing.
This older dude in a chair was quietly digging my fingerpicked semipsychedelic instrumental afterward, and I followed it up with a poorly vocalized “And it Stoned Me.” I thought he was flashing back for a second, or possibly on a healthy dose of psilocybin, until he sat up and thanked me for the music. There was a good vibe out on the deck then. We were feeling connected to this valley now. We lived here and worked here. It was time to meet more of the people. We decided to refill our cups inside the house.
Things went incredibly downhill from there. A guy with shaved thinning hair and a wrinkled Ross Dress 4 Less Hawaiian shirt that accentuated his beer belly started laying into me for my Quiksilver Surf Camp hat. “Surf Camp?! Haha. Why would you wear that? You went to a Surf Camp! Haha!” Basically labeling me a kook, I was caught off guard for a moment. Alex tried to introduce us and mentioned that I worked at Goldeneye, which got him going even more. Bo was next to me, giving me apologetic eyes about this guy, who then started clowning Bo for working at Goldeneye too. He was drunk and seemed pretty harmless, but it got annoying with no end in sight. Bo told the guy that I ripped at surfing — bless his heart — which did nothing but stir the pot. “Anyone who knows how to surf wouldn’t be wearing a fucking Surf Camp hat around.” He started touching my hat and trying to rip it off my head. I didn’t think anything of the hat or what it even said until then. My friend who gave it to me was a trainer and lifeguard for Quiksilver in L.A. for their summer Surf Camp series and just let me borrow it on a random day we played tennis.
I decided to turn things back on him and find out his story and what makes him so entitled to start shit with me. When he finally disclosed that he was from LA.
I laughed out loud and looked at Bo in outrage. I asked him if he even surfed and where he surfed around Mendocino and shook him down to find out he hadn’t set foot in the water since moving here 3 years ago. He worked for some 65—acre Pinot Noir startup doing a bit of everything. He started fucking with Bo hard then and demanded an explanation on why he was even in the wine industry, coming from Colorado. It was a waste of breath on Bo’s part as he responded for the next five minutes since the guy wouldn’t listen or stop his verbal assault.
He couldn’t look at anything else but my hat when I was defending myself and place in Anderson Valley, and he kept bringing the hat up on cue every five minutes or so with the same newfound, drunken enthusiasm. “Surf camp! Hey Surf Camp!” Alex had to constantly shush the guy’s obnoxious tirades, since his small children were in their rooms asleep. What kept things going was how he thrived on getting rousted back, and Bo and I started calling him out aggressively on what makes his winery that much greater than Goldeneye. I dared him to open up some of this wine I’d never heard about. After this much shit talking it better be a life—changing bottle! He asked Alex if he could open the bottle he’d given him awhile back. Alex, amused by the whole mess, heartily agreed. Anticipation was building. Bystanders were moving in from the deck to see this. We all gathered around as he poured tastes for everyone with a smirk, and it was truly a shitty wine. 2009 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir aged in American Oak and with too much added acid. “Hey I like that style,” the guy wailed as we clowned his wine and dumped it out.
It had been a long time since I’d shouted “Shut the fuck up!” to someone and really meant it. Bo and I were getting as drunk as this fool, and for a moment there I really could see myself attacking him. Time to leave. I loaded up my red cup with German beer and walked out. Once home in the trailer I cooked up an emergency frozen pizza and passed out spinning.