Driving Miss Mobley: A Wintertime Odyssey in California Wine Country. Act IV, Scene 2 (Santa Cruz).

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Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard

[The scene opens with an interior shot of the Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard tasting room, which is festively decorated for the upcoming Christmas holidays. The time is around 2:30pm].

[Esther and Boke are sitting at the bar with glasses of Souzão and Castelão red wine, along with sample pours of “Rabelo” vintage port and Osocalis XO Alambic Brandy].

[Madonna’s ”Come Alive” plays on the stereo. Through the opened bay doors of the tasting room, a light winter’s rain is now falling. There are about half a dozen other tasters standing at wine barrel tables nearby and single pourer behind the bar].

E: Portuguese varietals from San Benito and Monterey County family-owned vineyards? Brandy made in an antique still imported from Cognac, made using local Colombard, Chenin Blanc, Sémillon, and Pinot Noir grapes then reserve aged for years in Soquel? Even a wine geek like me must admit that these are some freakishly fascinating finds. But you realize that we reviewed this place in The Press already?

B: True, but I felt that you could have done more to highlight the immersive nature of the experience, especially when you factor in the aged brandies and port and the great vibe of the place. I mean, who do you have working for you who somehow missed out on covering all this awesomeness?

[Esther finishes off her glass of port before responding].

E: Yeah, I get it. My team of wine writers as a collective aren’t as freakishly creative a writer as you are. They sure as shit didn’t help me discover this place, because I scoped it out all by myself, being an empowered woman wine writer, as you fucking know. But they all have worked as wine journalists and have advanced somm degrees they will likely never have to use because most have trust funds to fall back on if they need to, and they all have freelanced for the wine mags and did time in the trenches at Vinous Media and have actual Ivy League degrees from Yale and Princeton and such or at the very least USC or Berkeley, so they are all part of the “Club,” while you obviously are not.

[Boke is quiet].

P: Why would Yalies and Harvard types and Princetonians and Spartans and Smith girls like me let someone like you join our exclusive urban wine drinkers and writers club, anyway? And by someone like you, I mean, to be precise about this, someone who went to school at a Berkshire backwoodsy boondocks place like Williams who is originally from cousin-kissing Appalachian redneck nowheresville and who writes long and boring Yelp reviews about his totally random wine tasting experiences that twelve people actually read and maybe, like, half of them actually cast votes for. Just in case you were wondering about that part.

[Esther smiles].

E: But the truth is, dude, that you complete me with your over-the-top prose and wild, fantastical writing style and all the droll and weirdly endearing things that come out of your mouth on a daily basis. Dude, you had me at “howdy.” I wish that I HAD asked you to write wine reviews for The Press, instead of hiring you to be my hillbilly driver. Can you ever forgive me?

[Boke finishes his brandy before responding].

B: Esther Mobley, you are cool and sweet and sexy and smart and oh so pretty. Truly, you can do no wrong. Hire whomever the fuck you want to write those superficial reviews for The Press, which are too formulaic to capture the true essence of unique and wonderful places like this with decades upon decades of winemaking history. I’ll just post my own, exhaustively edited reviews on Yelp, anyway, which tend to exceed the maximum allowed word count, and which I illustrate with tons of free content using my iPhone and my digital camera in the vain and probably senseless hope that someone out there using the Internet who is not a data mining algorithm might one day actually use them to discover awesome wines like the ones they serve here and to learn how useful, funny, and cool the people of Santa Cruz are and how much more there is to do than go surfing, which is not what they are told by the media on FoxNews or CNN or Amazon or Netflix or Apple TV+ or the people who own your newspaper and sign your 6-figure salaried paycheck each month. And as for all the rest: who gives a shit?

[Boke smiles].

E: For an [indicates air quotes] ’American of Appalachian origin’ you aren’t even all that stupid. If Smith were ever to admit dudes, you would be, like, the first to enter.

[Both Esther and Boke smile].

E: I really do wish you’d write for us at The Press. What do you think? Maybe on a trial basis starting next year? It would take some work to get your writing up to our standards, but the raw potential definitely is there. What would you say to an internship of some sort? It wouldn’t pay much, but it would be a start. You could stay on as my driver until the details are worked out. Agreed?

B: That depends on how you answer the following question. When it comes to wine, are you more of a Miles or a Maya?

E: From Sideways, you mean. Do I think wine is a better metaphor for the temperamental but talented self, as in Miles, or a symbol of the ephemeral vitality and vigor of life, as Maya preferred?

B: Right.

E: Neither, dude. Human personalities — including severely damaged ones like yours — are too complex to be reduced to a grape. Even finicky ones like a Pinot. And Maya’s point of view is way too romanticized when it comes to the dirty realities of grape growing and the cut-throat nature of the wine trade. She has a point about wine tasting fucking delicious, but so does a quality craft beer or well-aged whiskey. Or summer ripened tomatoes or really spicy kimchi, for that matter. So, I side with neither.

B: Then maybe Jack was right all along?

E: The jackass fiancé played by Thomas Hayden Church? Kind of. Wine is an affordable luxury best enjoyed with friends. He got that part right. Wine increases in value when it is shared rather than stocked up or stored away. It is something we give away freely to signal our abiding and often lustful human attractions to others. Sometimes in healthy ways and sometimes in ways that make us sick, literally. So, yes, Jack had it right, even if he knew shit about wine and acted like a total dick for most of the movie and deserved the broken nose beat down he received from a ferocious-looking Sandra Oh. Talk about acting!

B: I see now why working for you would be a total blast. Let’s hit up one more tasting room, and then I’ll decide about the offer.

E: I would kiss you right now, but then I’d have to rinse my mouth with Everclear after. Let’s order bottles of port and brandy and move on, dude.

B: Sounds about right to me. Let’s settle up and stash the bottles in the Tesla. We can walk to the next tasting room from there.

[Just then, Madonna’s “Faz Gostoso” starts to play from the tasting room’s sound system].

E: Hey, why don’t we dance a little first? I like this song.

B: Me, too. Why not? If you can’t live a little on Christmas Eve, then when can you?

[The camera pans out on Esther and Boke dancing the samba in the rain. Seeing how much uninhibited fun that the pair are having, the other guests and tasting room staff decide to join in as well].

[End of scene].

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