He is from here (Northern California) and I am from there (suburban Philadelphia), but for many years he has lived there and I have lived here.
There he is a rock-star-status Super Bowl coach. Here he is a Napa County wine guy who tends to his vines, getting to the vineyards far before the field workers, riding his tractor and picking his grapes.
Dick Vermeil never misses a harvest, and today in his Calistoga tasting room, filled to the brim with memorabilia from a huge career as a football coach and TV commentator, he is equally passionate about wine and football.
Dick coached the Philadelphia Eagles when my husband was in his formative years. Don was a rabid fan, loving then hating, but always forgiving. He and Vermeil are really going at it now and I’m noticing an interesting correlation.
Both wine and football refer to particular years often, as part of their stories. For example, the “‘06 cab” or “the 1980 Eagles,” who made it the Super Bowl. So, numbers and seasons and stats are flying around the tasting room and I am a little dazed by it all.
If this weren’t all enough, the knowledgeable, articulate and very charming “Coach,” has brought us each a glass of the “hobby” cabernet that made him and winemaker/partner Paul Smith realize they could make a successful business out of their wine.
Holy Calistoga, what a cabernet this is! Both Dick and Paul have explained their interesting history together, and their philosophy about growing wine in this particular AVA (American Viticultural Area) but they can not explain this taste — you have to experience it yourself — and this they know well.
So, while hubs and the coach are on the gridiron somewhere back in time, I have a great urge to sit down cross legged on the rug, in this awesome tasting room, and just stop and take it all in.
Sipping this splendid potion, I have, I think, hatched a championship plan.
Channeling the spirit of John F. Kennedy, I now know what I can do for my country, post-election. I need to get the entire United States Congress to take an immediate junket to Dick Vermeil’s tasting room. I need to set this up ASAP as the fiscal cliff awaits us all on midnight Dec. 31.
I need to get all these folks a glass of Dick and Paul’s elixir to enjoy together as they chat and talk like real human beings. The tasting room is not that big, so there’s absolutely no way there can be aisles of any kind to divide them.
Within a short time, I believe they will avoid all the dialogue regarding sequestration and concentrate instead on fermentation. They will feel a sense of place, of country and of purpose. They will realize what compromise and balance can do to create a great wine, and they will heed the lessons of the lowly grape.
At exactly this point in time Dick and Paul can offer a second glass to the entire United States Congress, if and ONLY if, they don’t toss America over the cliff.
And, the Jean Louis Vermeil, Frediani Vineyards, 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon will, in fact, save the day!
(Lord, I hope they have enough of it!)