Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Tasters usually snug up to the tasting room bar for the fine wines at Chatom, and maybe enjoy a bit of chocolate or an olive spread and cracker. I love the sunny tasting room at Chatom, and the wines, the frog balls and other eccentric gifts but once a year during the Christmas Season, Chatom hosts a party in the barrel room for members.

It is one of the best parties of the season and Margo, Karen, Jan and I enjoyed the wonderful food and camaraderie even though I’m no longer a member. Gay Callen started the winery in 1982 or 3, I believe it was. My youngest son planted vines for Stevenot’s Vineyards under her direction in 1979 .  She later developed her own vineyard. He developed a high school  crush on Gay and loves to tease and remind her about those days. (Doug wasn’t the only high school boy with a crush on Gay during that planting season.)

These two women, and a guy, who was taking a break when I took the picture, have played this party every year for the last twelve. Beautiful voices that rival some famous folk singers I’m fond of. Unique about them is Chatom’s Christmas Party is the only gig they play. They enjoy it as much as we enjoy them.

Singer and hunter seems a strange combination.  Though I’ve never gotten her name, she confided she had recently made her first kill. My look must have expressed alarm. “Its more humane than the way our meat is raised and killed,” she defended. “A head shot kills instantly, there is no suffering.”  She hails from a hunting family. I do too. My father was a great hunter, and we farmed and butchered our own hogs and chickens. I was taught to handle a gun at age six and encouraged to hunt partridge. I never did like killing any critter. Even when I was a competition skin diver, I disliked killing the fish and never hunted outside of a meet. I’m not being judgmental of her choice to hunt, just surprised. Her statement is absolutely correct about the way our meat is “factory farmed” and killed. In a word, inhumane.

As we wandered about the room, visiting with anyone in sight, courteously, we introduce ourselves to each other, but the names all float away in my head. This woman approached me because we have the same Christmas bell earrings and a necklace. Just fun, cheap costume jewelry from years past. She told me something very funny I intended to blog. It too, floated out of my head. I  enjoy chatting with friends and strangers. After all, a stranger is just a friend you don’t know well yet.

Santa was present again this year; he is  from Copperopolis. He has no role in the party but does play Santa for non-profits, free of charge. A service he loves to provide.

Jan wanted her picture taken with Santa to prove to her grandchildren Santa is real. It is nice to have a Santa with real hair and beard. And it was very nice to join the throng at Chatom’s barrel room and taste and nibble for an hour or so. There was a time when I would get dismayed at how early the Christmas season started. Not now!  I enjoy the extended party season and all the wonderful colors, music and special treats. Of course, I don’t have young Children and a dream to perpetuate at Christmas. I just have fun.

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