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Now he and his ex-wife had agreed to counseling. That was there, too, disturbing his sleep. His daughter Ava was now three months old, and had begun to laugh. It was the most beautiful sound. “It’s so different,” he said, “being a father at thirty-eight than at twenty-two. Know what’s great? I can teach the boys to be a great father. They’re changing diapers and everything. ” There was a light in his brown eyes, and the furrows in his broad brow smoothed as the muscles in his face relaxed. Yet he was still coiled, he was always coiled, his gestures alive with kinetic energy.

How far apart should the rows be? And the vines? What trellis system to use? What kind of irrigation system? How much water was enough but not too much? Was that amount available to you? How were you going to prune, and when, to regulate sunlight and air circulation? When should you spray and when shouldn’t you, and what kinds of sprays and fertilizers should you use? There were infestations of mildew or of blue-green sharpshooters or, God forbid, glassy-winged sharpshooters, to worry about. Not to mention the hundred-plus laborers and five vineyard managers under his command.

It put them on the map and assured their subsequent success, so that a little more than a decade after they began by producing twenty-five hundred cases, they were generating revenue of close to $25 million. Michael Ouellette remembers that when Wine Spectator came out in July 1988, he was driving cross-country and went hundreds of miles out of his way, over the Rockies from Denver to Reno, to the Eldorado, just to try the Chardonnay. That is the length that oenophiles will go to taste the hot new thing.

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