A Thesis of Kinesis

Being a mom to a single child, it is hard to imagine how my parents managed to take care of four children. I was the youngest of a brood of girls so I envisage that it was either reliance on sibling supervision and/or partly benign neglect that was the approach to childcare. These days, however, there are so many more “activities” for a parent to send their kids to that were pretty much unheard of when my sisters and I were wee ones. The curriculum out there for the “Mommy & Me” set ranges from gymnastics to arts & crafts to even yoga, although I would find doing yoga with my toddler not at all a relaxing experience. Yet, we parents participate in these activities for the good of our children – i.e. for their personal development. I suspect, however, that it may really be for our own sanity that we find a way to whittle away the hours that doesn’t involve putting together Duplo blocks or reading Goodnight Gorilla for the 156th time. So we do a little weekly singing and dancing class. It is not so much a music lesson as it is a way to observe your tyke’s behavior in a group setting with musical accompaniment. Like the final scene in A Clockwork Orange.

Now the program literature they give you when you sign up for this class forewarns you that some kids actively “participate” – i.e. sing along and do the hand motions to the music – while others are content to sit quietly and observe. They all learn in their own unique way. And then there is our son, Julian, the one kid who wanders exploring the various spaces and faces in the room. He roams from person to person saying “hi” and attempts to strum the teacher’s guitar strings while he is playing and occasionally runs off with his sheet music. When I called the program director to make up a missed class she said, “Ahhh, yes, Julian…[long pause] he’s a kinetic learner!” Kinetic learner? “Is that a polite way of saying hyperactive?” I worried (and you know parents, we always worry). But she assured me that all kids are different and that they each have their own personality and way of observing, learning and developing. So my wishful thinking hopes that means my son is learning Newton’s first law of motion by putting it into practice. Clever boy.

Being the bookish and diligent sort, I’ve read a few parenting books and it is amusing to see how they describe the different “types” of babies. The list reads like a roll call of the seven dwarfs with a few variations tossed in: happy, grumpy, bashful, sensitive, textbook, spirited. We have had the good fortune that Julian falls into the “happy” camp with a touch of “textbook” thrown in for good measure. His cues are pretty easy to read and he is predictably cranky and likewise consolable – just like they say in the books. Throw in energetic, er… kinetic, and you got Julian.

I have observed from growing grapes and making wine from our estate vineyard on the “true” Sonoma Coast and from other vineyards that wines definitely can exhibit their own “personality.” This personality can be brought to the fore by combining different lots into blends that better express that personality. Starting with the 2005 vintage, I created two different cuvées from our estate Pinot noir blocks. Although we have 8 physical blocks that grow Pinot noir, we pick and vinify them in about 21 separate wine barrel lots as they ripen at different times based on clone, aspect, soil type, elevation, et al. With 21 separate lots, I felt I could elevate two distinct expressions of Pinot noir that reflect our terroir. So, there is Scallop Shelf with its stately, reserved elegance and florality and Pomarium with its upfront spicy exuberance and profundity of fruit.

In 2002 and 2003 we planted a few new blocks to new clones that were not part of the two aforementioned cuvées. Because they themselves were so intrinsically distinct, I did not want to put them into either Scallop Shelf or Pomarium because I did not wish to change the character of these blends. Instead I am beginning to see a new blend – personality – coming into creation. It is an evolving process as I am still in the observation mode, noting how the wines develop as the vines mature. This third cuvée, in its ostensible infancy of creation, is like a chunky, happy baby: captivating and delightful. Right now it is not yet a named blend like our other Pinot noirs but is instead our Sonoma Coast cuvée, albeit still originating solely from our own estate. In time I will find ways to blend this wine to further showcase its terroir and we will give it a name thusly to reflect its personality. So currently this blend is not in effect in a static state – it is, dare I say, kinetic?

I took a walk with Julian into our small town center and en route we came across an elderly couple on their morning constitutional who greeted him as he ran to them laughing, “Hi there, Julian!” I smiled faintly and nodded as I had no idea who these people were. Two blocks later a mother with a toddler and a baby in a stroller stopped to introduce herself to me as they already knew Julian and his babysitter from the playground. “Bye bye, be-be” he says to the baby as we quit them. Then outside the coffee shop a man called to his dog, “Hey Boomer, it’s Julian!” “Uh, I take it you know my son?” “Of course!” he exclaimed, “He’s Mr. Personality!” As I walked home with my little man-about-town who appears to have a more extensive social life than my own, I found myself humming that tune, “Walk, Personality! Talk, Personality!” And in Julian’s case “Jump up and down and run around in circles, Personality!” I hope when you taste our wines, including our new Pinot noir, you find them as engaging and full of “personality” as I do my little boy.

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