J. Redmon, Michelle Hottinger, and Teresa Jensen
Shannon Kelley

As a decision-phobe, I love it when fate insinuates itself upon my life, offers up some coincidences to illuminate a path, and leaves me securely aware that, of course, this is what I should do-no decision necessary! (Some skeptics might say that those of us who look for signs will always find them; I choose to take such skepticism as a sign that these people will be no fun to hang out with, and avoid them accordingly.)

With fall ratcheting our collective schedules back up to full throttle, there was no shortage of things to do over the weekend. Which, of course, left me in a decision-avoiding state I dealt with by editing my status on Facebook (attention, fellow procrastinators: When it comes to task-evading, time-sucking utilities, Facebook cannot be beat), filling in my status with a request: “Shannon is: wondering what to Peep this weekend. Thoughts?”

Responses began trickling in. By Friday night, I still was undecided. Enjoying dinner at some friends’ house, they suggested a group outing to Buttonwood Farm’s Third Annual FrancFest. Hmm, I thought, I’ve never been. The wheels began to turn, but when, just then, my BlackBerry beeped with a message (Shannon, you should peep FrancFest at Buttonwood!), I had what Oprah might call an aha moment. This clearly was fate. The stars were aligned, and I was Valley bound.

Saturday dawned beautiful, and, around noon, we piled into a pal’s Passat, and made our way over the pass. We arrived at Buttonwood, and followed the signs leading to the pond beyond the tasting room, finding a mellow scene that looked more like a low-key family picnic (or a low-key family picnic’s portrayal on a commercial for Hidden Valley Ranch or something) than your typical wine festival-a welcome surprise. We checked in, collected our glasses, spread our blanket on a patch of grass, and then set out to sip some cabernet francs, an oft-overlooked varietal that proved perfectly delightful.

Longoria, Carr, Kenneth Volk, Alexander & Wayne, Noble Oaks, Sunstone, Lucas & Lewellen, Daniel Gehrs, Vixen, Foxen : we hit them all, breaking to chill on the blanket, babble intensely about nothing in particular, or attack a platter of barbecued tri-tip, sausage, and veggies with the kind of zeal that typically occurs only when fueled by an afternoon of boozing. We stuck around, soaking up the beautifully mild afternoon, until the bitter end. Eventually, our designated driver cried uncle, and we piled back into the Passat.

Safely deposited back at my house, enjoying the lovely brand of buzz that comes from an afternoon of sun, wine, easy chit-chat, I concocted something that resembled dinner, and promptly passed out on the couch.

Coincidence? Frankly, I think not.


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