In Monterrey, we hung out with Art.
Art is the type of guy you meet and immediately feel as if you’ve been friends forever, like you are picking up where you left off. Perhaps you were last together in Spain on vacation or at a lively wedding in Las Vegas. He is open and warm, genuinely kind and can tell you something meaningful about every topic you broach. You never expect to meet such a person, randomly on a yearlong trip across the country, but when you do, you hang out and cherish the crap out of the time you get.
We met Art in Napa a few weeks earlier, spent maybe 3 hours with him and were pleasantly surprised when he offered to show us around his haunts in Monterrey, California and surrounding area. After a decadent brunch, we drove the Carmel-by-the-Sea scenic road, seeing riches we would never know and views we wanted to.
Our afternoon was highlighted by beers on a hilltop covered in grapevines followed by a trip into Carmel Valley for some heavy pours at the Joyce Vineyards tasting room. It was a luxury to get his firsthand knowledge but as a bonus he offered an enriched perspective on an issue that given the current political climate (as of November 8) was so valuable. He gave us a glimpse into the experiences of a foreign-born US citizen.
We attempted our first interview at a special location in Carmel Valley at the Albatross Ridge Vineyards at the Bowlus Estate. Here with grapevine and ocean views we heard about his transition from Poland to Brooklyn, New York when he was 8 years old. The interview went splendidly, he is a gifted speaker and beautifully told his story. Unfortunately, the wind and the ground equipment making its way through the vineyard got the best of our recording but his story is still important.
I’ll try and capture it.
One of his first memories, first impressions of living in the United States was going to the “small” neighborhood grocery store with his grandma. He lived in what he called a Polish Hispanic neighborhood and though many of his neighbors were a reminder of his home in Poland, his new grocery store was not. They offered 4 different kinds of oranges and what seemed like 12 different kind of apples. He remembers looking up at his grandma tearing up. He was confused, overwhelmed and as he says, “my mind was blown!” He went from waiting in line with his family to receive their basic needs to having more choices than he knew what to do with.
A few years later his family moved to Long Island and bought a small(ish) house on a small parcel of land. They demolished the old house, built a new foundation and built a new home. He remembers helping his father and uncle during construction over several years. He was around the age of 12 and helped the ways a young boy can, reloading the nail gun, placing a few nails here and there and handing his elder family members beers when thirsty. It was his American story, a true American story. Come to America for better opportunities and you can literally build your life here.
Art now lives in California pursuing his dreams of not only making wine but being involved in the hospitality side of the industry. From one coast to another, Art has seen his life grow and his dreams come true in the U.S.
His story is his own, but likely holds true to many others. This country has a make it what you want quality. Though I believe this, or I want to, I see something special in Art. I say with confidence that he would thrive anywhere. I want to believe that anybody, even somebody with less charm and gumption (like myself), but who has a real desire to make the United States their home would have a similar and beautiful experience. I will put my toe over the line and admit that I believe this lovely experience may now have a big orange traffic cone in its way.
Our trip perfectly or imperfectly coincided with the election. On the morning we were set to leave, the polls were in. Art, in his friends till we die fashion and already knowing us so well already, brought us coffee, croissants and quiches. We sat together for a long while, eating our feelings and working it out together. We parted over laughs considering a line from the Big Lebowski that we will be able to use for the next four years.
Art, we thank you for being you, sharing your story and being a bright light on a dark day. The world, this country, filled with many more you’s would be better and always fun! Till next time!