A Day at Scribe Winery


The hacienda at Scribe Winery in Sonoma, California.

August 1, 2010

I arrived to Scribe Winery on a dusty warm day, typical for the surrounding Sonoma countryside. Twin rows of palm trees lined the entrance and lead me to a hacienda that looked midway between run down and hanging on. I felt like I had driven into the cover of the album, “Hotel California.” It was summer.
Bright-colored nylon tents were slowly overtaking the field beside the parking lot. I had been in the car for four hours and, as I arced into a space and turned the ignition off, I reached into my overnight bag and tugged out a clean shirt. In between taking one off and putting the other on I looked out the passenger window and saw a young man smiling at me. I shrugged, like hey, this happens everyday.

The everyday ahead was a mystery. Volunteering for 18 Reasons had become a favorite pastime and this special dinner on the wineries grounds was to become a highlight. There would be dozens of chefs, guests, art installations, bands and more. And, at the end of the night I would sleep in my tent on a field of vineyards, under a sky of stars.


My campground for the night at Scribe Winery.

There was a quick, informal meeting for the volunteers lead by the owners, two gape-worthy brothers with long brown hair stuffed hastily into ponytails: Andrew and Adam Mariani. I was put to work immediately in the outdoor kitchen. It had a pizza oven, a high wooden staging area and an outdoor sink. “Do anything they ask,” the organizer said as he set me up with an apron and a glass for water. Later the same glass would be put to work filling me up with wine poured from taps.

“You know how to work a mandolin?” someone asked. I nodded my head, of course. “Okay. Slice these guys very, very thin,” he told me. “Got it?”

I stood at the table slicing yellow and green crookneck squash into delicate ribbons. The chef took the filled metal bowl and his fingers dipped into an open bowl of salt. Poised over the bowl he rubbed his fingers together over the squash, dropping the salt like the first dusting of winter. Later he added lemon and olive oil and turned it into a salad.


The outdoor kitchen, a mix of make shift and permanent, at Scribe Winery.

The light outside slowly faded from bright to hazy. When dusk hit the mood became electric. I chopped, I washed, I cut, I cleaned, and I refilled the wine glasses of the chefs when needed. The pizza oven was roaring and the chefs began slinging pizzas into the orange flames. They spun the pizzas, moved them around along the back edge and kept it almost in constant motion. I watched and asked questions. Sometimes they would pull a pizza out just before it was done and crack an egg on top and put it back in.

“You want to try?” one of the chefs asked. The next thing I knew I had a paddle in my hand.