Even a Kitten Can Be Sad ~ Good Memories and Gary Farrell Chardonnay

When we created our wine blog, we chose the kitten as our symbol because it is playful and fun. Let’s face it, kittens make people smile. In fact, whenever we tell people our blog name, they always laugh. This is exactly the reaction we want. And while we do like to dwell in the joyful, silly, lighter side of life as much as possible, this week we are taking a brief departure because, well, even a kitten can be sad.

Never fear, next week we will be back to our usual antics with more of our adventures from our recent wine country trip. For instance, in our next post we plan to amuse and delight you with a description of every sip and morsel of our dinner at The Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg. But this week in our house, it is a time to give pause. A dear friend is dying.

One of my closest friends on the planet is in the final stage of breast cancer. My Dear Darling Spouse refers to this friend as my Soul Mate. He says this without a shred of jealousy. He actually celebrates our Soul Sister status and is frequently amused and surprised at the parts of me she brings out.

Though I have been back for five days now from my visit to sit by her beside in Boston, I have found myself continuing to keep vigil here at home. So yesterday, as I was racking my brain for ways to lift my spirits, a particular wine came to mind: Gary Farrell Russian River Valley Chardonnay. No, I was not thinking of wine in order to drown my sorrows. That is a strategy that we at The Kitten do not recommend. Rather, this wine came to mind because it holds good memories for me with my good friend.

On my 40th birthday, a milestone I was determined to ignore, Soul Sister showed up at my doorstep, having flown from Boston to Minneapolis to my total surprise. She wouldn’t let me get away with not celebrating. She was right— I needed a party. That evening, I introduced her to the Gary Farrell Chardonnay and she loved it. We’ve sipped it on other occasions together in the years since and I’ve sent her a bottle for her birthday a time or two. But mostly it is a source of happy reminiscence for us. “Ahh, the Gary Farrell Chard,” we’ve said to one another many times, and instantly our minds settle into the the many good memories we’ve accumulated together.

I had to do some searching to find the Farrell Chard on our local shelves. It’s not a rare wine, but many retailers carry their Pinot Noir instead, for which the winery is more well known. However, I was determined and knew my heart would not settle for a substitute. Not on this evening.

After striking out at our usual haunts, I called the Minnesota distributor for Gary Farrell wines who kindly told me the one store in the Twin Cities that might have a few bottles. Shortly thereafter, I was on the phone with a very nice person at Sorella Wine and Spirits in downtown Minneapolis, who promised to set aside his last few bottles of Farrell Chard for me. (Sorry Twin Citians, this means I have temporarily cornered the Gary Farrell Chard market here locally.)

Unacquainted with Sorella before this visit, I was very impressed. A woman was leaving the store with her dog as I was arriving.Yes, they allow dogs on leash in their store. We at The Kitten feel good about shopping in places that hold pets in high regard. Also impressive, I noted that the local Twin Cities paper awarded them Best of Minnesota 2012 for “Under the Radar Wine Store.” Delighted to have discovered a hidden gem, we will most definitely be back.

I called my Other Half, who does the weekend chef duties at our house, and asked if he’d be willing to whip up some steamed king crab legs for dinner. I also may have hinted that some new potatoes with dill and asparagus with lemon butter would be quite nice, as well. Surprised, yet delighted with my very specific menu request, my Dear Darling Spouse said, “There must be a story here” to which I replied, “Of course there is.” And that was all he needed to know to get on board with the plan.

In the evening, as we took our first sips of the Gary Farrell 2009 Russian River Valley Chardonnay, I told the story of why I wanted this particular wine on this particular night. The first sip was sublime and took me right back to the night of my 40th birthday visit from my dear friend.

The wine was crisp but supple, with just a bit oak, lots of pear, and some honey and floral notes. Delicious with the cheese before dinner, as well as with the meal, it was also superb with the apple pie and salted caramel ice cream afterwards. (Thanks to Sparkle Shari for showing up with dessert.) While I needed no endorsement from outside sources to relish this wine, I did notice that Wine Spectator gave it 93 points.

Knowing that there is nothing I can do tangibly now for my dear Soul Sister, I did the only thing I could think of— I surrounded myself with ones I love, I paused to sit and savor, to tell stories of her and of us, and to relish the power of good memories. And I am sure she could feel it all the way in Boston.

So this week, we raise our glasses to cherishing good friends, to savoring the treasured moments we have together, and to giving ourselves the gift of pause when our hearts need lifting.


We have written previously about Gary Farrell Winery, a post which tells more about the winery itself.

22 replies »

  1. Thanks, Julie. I am picturing your gorgeous photo of the two chairs, “Interlude,” that so beautifully evokes the feeling of friendship and reminiscence. Wonder if we could sip some Gary Farrell Chardonnay together in those chairs some day? Smiling at the thought.

  2. I’m so sorry to hear. What a dear friend you are. I wish you both strength. Your entry is beautifully written…so full of wonderful memories you shared together and will always remember.

  3. Hi sad and precious kitten :) I think I’ve shared with you that the Gary Farrell chard has been the Wayne family “special occasion white” for a number of years. On Thanksgiving or Christmas, my dad is known to say “should we open the GF?”. and as i read your blog posting, i thought about how my dad calls it the GF, and it made me think “the good friend”. So I share that with you. Continuing to hold the sitting space with you. In spirit, Soo Lin

  4. Thanks so much, Lynne. Elizabeth and I stayed at the Shooting Star rental house in February that I subsequently recommended to you. We both said this past week how grateful we are for that time together in California. I appreciate your thoughts so much, and know Elizabeth will, too.

  5. Thanks so much, PSsquared. I like your blog and your description of yourself as an “accidental photographer.” You have a good eye. Appreciate your note very much.

  6. Dearest Soo Lin, I love your dad’s shorthand of “the GF” and your suggestion that it could also stand for The Good Friend. Perfect. You have been an anchor in my sitting space this week. I cannot thank you enough for that, but of course, that is what good friends do.Thank goodness for good friends. (and good wine… smiling) Love you, the goose (a.k.a. The Thirsty Kitten)

  7. Thank you, TDC. Appreciate your kind words on this more serious of posts, given that we usually dally with you on the sillier side of things. We have noted that you recently celebrated a birthday (hooray!) and also were at the Portland Wine Bloggers Conference (also very big on the fun scale). Even though we’ve been more quiet than usual, we’ve noticed and have enjoyed, as always, your romps through the wine world.

  8. You are so kind! Thank you! I’m sorry you’re going through such a hard time. Memories help, but it’s still awful. Hang in there.

  9. So sorry to hear about your friend – no amount of time is ever enough with the ones we cherish so much. Glad that you are able to hold onto such warm, cheerful memories. All my sympathy…

  10. Thinking of you Lucy during this time in your life. Sending love and prayers to both families. Thank you for sharing such wonderful memories of your times and wine consumption :) with your soul sista, Elizabeth.

    “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” Lao Tzu


  11. I have not been able to access the internet on my home computer since 8/16 and I am just reading this entry to your blog. I just wanted you to know how sorry I am to hear that you are soon to lose a good friend. I was in Arizona from 8/15 to 8/17 for the funeral of a long time friend of mine. I think that the best way to honor our friends, alive and gone, is to cherish our memories with them and when we cannot create new ones, or continue traditions that we have created together with them over the years, is to share those things with other people that also loved them. I will keep you and your soul sister in my thoughts.

  12. Thanks so much, Anne. Deepest sympathies on the loss of your long time friend. I think you are 110% correct in your thoughts on honoring our friends, cherishing our memories, and creating and keeping traditions together. We’ll keep you and your friend who passed away in our thoughts, too. Soul Sisters are a gift beyond measure.

  13. Very sad and very moving. My thoughts and prayers are with your friend and you two. Lucy, you truly have a gift with words.

  14. So touching and beautiful. So sorry Lucy…playing Your song now with tears for you and soul sister.

  15. Thanks so much, Nick. I appreciate your thoughts and prayers very much and I know my friend Elizabeth would, as well. Oddly, the time stamp on your comment is almost the exact time that she left these earthly bounds, blazing the trail ahead of us, as always.


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