Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Berkeley 1978

As a student I lived in northern California for most of 1976-1979.  Berkeley was where I spent most of that time although I also lived briefly in Sacramento and San Francisco.  Overall it was a turbulent time for that area which began innocently enough with the 1976 bicentennial, a giddy event that turned out to be an innocent departure from what was to follow.  In 1978 the Peoples Temple cult massacre took place in Guyana as did the assassinations of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in San Francisco.  The Bay Area was reeling by 1979 when I left to return to Chicago.

The Peoples Temple was a cultural institution in San Francisco, at least one could conclude that from their newspaper press.  In reality it was unlike any church I had ever seen.  Whenever I would walk by the place it was shrouded in darkness with windows and doors covered so no one could look inside.  It was downright spooky. Cult leader Jim Jones was apparently both charismatic and politically savvy.  His charisma attracted a multitude of needy forlorn followers whose strict allegiance could be used for Jones' often political purposes.  Self-promotion was actually always Jones' primary motivation even to the end.  The San Francisco Democratic party machine with Mayor Moscone at its head inadvertently facilitated Jones' aims by using his minions regularly for cause du jour photo ops.

While I don't remember much about Moscone I do remember how much he modeled the blow dried politician of the times.  Because of who he was, Harvey Milk seemed to be more prominent than the mayor in San Francisco, both in the local press and on the streets.  Such a nice man.  Dan White, the assassin, also seemed like a nice man.  Looks.  Family.  Church.  Now almost forty years after the killings, in our own time of political polarity, maybe some sympathy for him is in order.  Dan White couldn't rein in his rage over issues that divide us.  For those of us who are so conflicted today, there is at least hope we can moderate our anger lest we kill the one who is different than us.

So why this downer of a post?  As I said earlier I lived in Berkeley for a couple of years.  Down in the flats with the salt of the earth types as opposed to the hills with the elites.  Down the street from my little cabin was a wine making shop called Wine and the People.  It was there at that time that a group of young guys my age were taking their first big step into the wine business.  They had been buying grapes and making wine in their Taft Street garage for a few years before the authorities informed them they weren't exactly home wine makers any more so now they were stepping out commercially with their own appropriately named wine, Taft Street.  It was in the conflicted socio-political environment described above that this garage wine company began.

Now we proudly announce the arrival of Taft Street wines at V&C.  While we  have sold the Taft Street wines in the past we were recently pleasantly surprised to learn they were still around and still privately held by the original owners!  We tasted four from Taft Street recently and all were exceptional!   After our little store completes the move to the new location we expect to carry the rest of the line but in the meantime come and taste Taft Street Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc here on Friday at the weekly event.  Bellula French Chardonnay and Broadside Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon will also be in the lineup as will  Harlow Ridge California Zinfandel and Aveleda Follies Red from Portugal.  Please join us!