We’ve been at home and by ourselves, just Sonja, I, and our two young children, for only a few days. Titus is 20 months old, a brilliant little toddler, while his sister Zooey is but a stranger to the world who hath not seen the change of fourteen days. We’re adjusting. Sonja had a successful VBAC in the hospital, a major weight lifted from our collective family chest, but it was not sans complication and the ensuing repairs have left her weakened and in pain. For her part, Zooey wakes every one to two hours at night, needing changed and fed, which we handle together, leaving both of us drained come the advent of another day. As for Titus, our generally good natured and independent little boy can’t help but sense that something is amiss, and though the entire family has made an effort to help him acclimate with attention, gifts, and time, he is nevertheless on high alert, and little things tend to set him off. Perhaps worst of all, he used to go down easily at night and sleep through, but even that has been a struggle as of late.
It was just after 7:30pm. Zooey was snoozing away in her mama-roo while Titus had just been read his favorite book and put to bed. Sonja was filling her huge plastic hospital cup with ice and water in preparation to go to bed. “This seems like a rare opportunity,” I said casually. “Want to share a glass of wine?” She smiled, pointed out that we haven’t been at this long enough to know what is rare and what is not, and nevertheless acquiesced. I had chilled a really promising bottle from one of our favorite producers a few days earlier, in preparation for a moment such as this, and I quickly snatched two white wine glasses from the cabinet in the kitchen and pulled the cork, pouring each of us a glass before we sat down in the living room to talk.
“I remember visiting Meadowcroft,” Sonja remarked. “Was that on our honeymoon or the trip after?”
“I think it was the one af– wait, do you hear that?”
“Which one is it?”
“I’ll go check.”
I went upstairs and stood on the landing between the nursery door and the flight of stairs leading through my office and to the third floor of the house, where Titus now resides. The crying was coming from the third floor. I continued upward, where I found my son pacing his crib and whimpering. I scooped him up, and launched into a deeply philosophical monologue about life change and transition that I’m certain he found both edifying and moving at the same time. After some time, I placed him back in his crib, kissed him goodnight again, and proceeded back downstairs.
“It was Titus,” I reported to Sonja. “We’re okay now.”
We continued to talk about parent-y things, such as breastfeeding, and whether there was any way to somehow make it to the wedding tomorrow evening given Sonja’s condition and our two young children. I sniffed at the wine.
“Wow, those aromatics!”
“I get a lot of tropical fruits,” I proceeded. “Stone fruits, like peaches, but also pineapple, starfruit, maybe some kiwi even.”
“Bananas,” said Sonja.
“Oh, yes!” I responded. The bananas notes on this wine are prominent.
“‘Nanas,” Sonja joked, using Titus’s term for bananas.
“Wow, this is really a beautiful wine.” I said. “I — ”
“Damn dog,” I muttered.
“She’s going to wake one of them and then I’ll have to kill her.”
“MOLLIE!” yelled Sonja, in vain, at our awful little Tibetan Spaniel.
“I swear…” I mumbled, setting my glass upon the coffee table, getting up and heading for the stairs again. I got to the top of the stairs, chased her into the bedroom, locked her in our bathroom to muffle the noise, and quietly stomped back down to the living room.
“I wasn’t sure I liked this wine at first,” Sonja said casually, “but it has really grown on me.”
“We always like Tom’s wines,” I replied. “And I tend to really love Viognier made in California. It’s not all that common, is it?.”
“Guess I’ve never had much of it for what that’s worth,” was Sonja’s response. I kept my mouth shut at that, remembering the time I spent a week in Napa without her and how well that had gone over.
We proceeded to talk a bit more about parenting. We’d like Sonja to have some time to spend with Titus, and me some more with Zooey. Maybe they could go to the park? I’ll take Titus to the winery for lunch tomorrow. And isn’t grandpa swinging by for breakfast? Yes, I think so. I guess I’ll go for my run some other time, no problem. Too bad about the wedding tomorrow night; we love those two. But what time was it? Five in the evening? And it’s an hour from our home? How would that work with two kids? And could you even stand to spend an hour in the car at this point given the pain? Best not to go, sadly. We’ll have to send them something of course. Did you talk to your mom today?
We worked through several strategic decisions, being careful to avoid money, given how painfully little of it there seems to be at the present time. “Hey,” I smiled, nodding towards a box of unsolicited samples that had arrive an hour earlier, “at least we’ll never have to go through parenting without wine!”
Just then, the monitor erupted again. It was Zooey this time. She hadn’t eaten in a few hours. Time to go. “You handle the diaper, I’ll handle the boob dairy,” Sonja instructed. With my marching orders clearly established, I grabbed our glasses and the bottle and headed for the kitchen. By the time I got upstairs, Sonja was almost into the bathroom when…
“Hang on a sec,” I said, “Was that both of them?”
We listened. Zooey was doing her hungry-week-old-infant fuss in the nursery nearby, and up above us, muffled cries were undeniably audible.
“You’re the only one who can handle Zooey by yourself,” I reasoned. “You take her, I’ll take Titus.” We went our separate ways.
I went upstairs, and wordlessly scooped my upset son from his crib a second time. We sat down on the chair in his room and I hugged him as he noiselessly snuggled against my chest. I gently rubbed his shoulder and he burrowed his head between my pectoral muscles, hugging in a way that his active toddler self is rarely inclined to do. We sat like that until the room darkened almost completely, and in truth, I loved every second of it. Eventually, I asked if I could have a kiss, and he obliged with a wet and snotty one on my cheek. I kissed him back on the top of his head, asked “ready to go night-night?” and upon his subtle nod rose from the chair to lay him down in his crib. He looked up at me for a moment, his eyelids heavy, then smiled a little and closed them completely. It was one of the best moments I’ve ever had as a parent so far.
Back on the second floor, Sonja was nursing Zooey. She looked up. “Everything okay?” she asked. “Better than,” I replied, and followed it with “I’m going to go do some writing.” And I did. And you just read it.
The 2016 Meadowcroft Viognier, from Sonoma County where Sonja and I honeymooned, is to me a wine to pair with real life. It boasts an amazing bouquet and an even more enjoyable flavor profile upon the palate. Stone fruits and topical fruits exist on a soft, medium minus body that is clean, clear, and delicate upon the palate. With undeniably subtle sweet notes, this wine is a beautiful expression of both varietal and terroir. Sonja and I are both long-time fans of Tom Meadowcroft and his wines, and this wine exemplifies the reason. Diversity, complexity, and spontaneity are easily observed within the confines of this single bottle, and in that way, it is a lot like our lives, if perhaps singularly more elegant. I strongly recommend being a parent for the immense amount of satisfaction and joy that come along with the impending struggles, and I strongly recommend the 2016 Meadowcroft Viognier from the Louvau Vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County for how it pairs with life and all it has to offer. If you’re only going to try a handful of the wines I recommend this year, make this one of them. And take time to hold your children.