1990 “Old Vine Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon












then early one morning, i

fed the horses


and drove to mount eden to
barrel taste cabs and pinots.


the ’90 cabernet, the third

on the left in the new


french oak, was stunning.

it took my


breath away. “i know this

wine,” i whispered.


“her name is jenny,

yes — jenny ku.”



jenny’s parents were born in

the high plains mountains


between laos and cambodia.
jenny was born in a


chevy pick-up just outside

of woodland.


she was the absolutely



any of us’d ever met. but a

strange little girl, who


used to talk to the wind as

it blew across the sky


and write me poems about

all the wonderful places


she’d seen in waiting-room

copies of vogue


paris and london and rome.

and i know her mom


must’ve said a hundred prayers

a day for her, begging


the gods to take her far, far

away to that special place


where all the men are rich and

white and all the women spend


their days lying quietly in the

sun, far away from depressing


little towns with names like

arbuckle, winters, and galt.


but jenny had her own little

dreams and her own little


prayers. she said she wanted

to have a band of her own


some day, like jimi hendrix, the

doors or the grateful dead.


and they’d all be boys she said.

well, you’ll have to go to


college first, i laughed and then

you can have any band you like.


which one? she asked. oh, radcliffe.

or maybe berkeley, vassar or mills


— any place that has a crew.


write them down, miss maddy,

she commanded. and so i took


out my pen, suddenly ashamed

to’ve joked with her the way


i always did. radcliffe, berkeley,

vassar, brown and mills.


when june came, i remember how

she walked out the door


one last time, with the book of

horses i’d bought for her, her


crayon box and a green plastic

mask of kermit-the-frog.


i remember how she walked out

that door without even turning


to say good-bye and how hurt i

was and how i sat at my desk,


cleaning out the drawers, and

crying. and i never


saw jenny at school again.



it’s been nearly eighteen

years now. but this


morning, i read in the bee how

a valley girl had made good.


jenny dung ku of fresno, cali-

fornia had won a scholarship


to mills, coxed the varsity

eight, become a


kindergarten teacher

in oakland, and ,


tonight at ten, to the utter

dismay of all her family


and closest friends, she’ll be

playing with her very own


all-boy asian hip-hop world-beat

rock’n’roll band. so be there!


(‘all right, jen!’) wow!



i drove back from mount eden

with the taste of that ’90 cab


still in my mouth, and stood in

the shadows of the cattle club,


behind her sound techs and a stack

of peavey speakers, watching her


tapping on the keyboard of her

monster roland, impatient,


as if waiting for a message,

or a sign. of course,


she’d changed. but to me, she

was still the same little girl


who probably hadn’t grown an

inch since the day


she turned ten, the same little

girl who still had that


passion in her eyes, the kind of

dazzling, triumphant light


that only comes from heaven

or the gods. “all right,


sacramento!” she screamed “are

you ready to rock and roll?”



and as i listened to her sing,

as i watched her slender


arms reaching up into the

streaming blue lights.


then downwards — her fingers

driving hammering


into those poor helpless keys

— i suddenly thought i


heard a music, lovely and strange,

a music no one’d ever heard


before — not in paris, london

or new york, not


in san francisco or laos

or cambodia


and then, i understood.
everything —


why she’d gone to mills,
why she’d become a


teacher, and why she hadn’t

said good-bye


when she left me that day

in june — with her book of


horses, her box of crayons,
and the broken green mask


her dying father had

bought for her —


at a christmas sale
at k-mart.



1981 Chardonnay
1987 Pinot Noir