User ID:

Remember me
Lost password?

Tuesday Tributes
BEST OF THE BLOGS: The Poignant Prose of Samantha Dugan

Wine blogs come in all kinds of forms, types, intents and competences. There are, by some counts, over 1,000 separate wine blogs. Its costs next to nothing for a motivated party to start a wine blog. It costs time, money, effort, angst and commitment to keep it going, and it costs talent and love to make it a success.

Our Tuesday blog entries will be used to saluted the Best of The Blogs of the past week. Some will be the work of writers like ourselves who make our livings talking about wine, while others will be written by folks like Samantha Dugan, our choice for this week, who are knowledgeable about wine, even work somewhere in the wine business but are neither writers by profession nor offer their writings for any other reason than passion for the fermented grape and all it brings to their lives.

Over the weekend, Sam Dugan has penned an entry that shares, as she often does, her daily toils at her job as the French wine buyer for her retail store near Los Angeles and reminds us of her interactions with a most extraordinary customer. The tale of her first encounter with that customer (see the reference in the text below) was perhaps the most moving piece of wine writing in our entire career in the biz. We invite you to enjoy Sam’s work, and especially ask you to follow the link at the end of the third paragraph.

Samantha Dugan: Samantha Sans Dosage

Saturday, September 4, 2010
Timing, Either A Bitch Or....Perfect

I walked into work the other day; eyes puffy, soul weary and feeling sure that if one more thing…no matter how small, were to land upon my shoulders, to be my fault or need me more than I felt capable of giving myself to that I would surely crumble. Just dissipate like one of those random dropped ashes that I blow off my side table without even thinking about where the pieces might land. My pieces just barely being held together after a night that should have been written for one of those asinine movies that encapsulates like the worst 24 hours of some jackass’s life. Yeah, that was my night.

So you know when you get home from a particularly grueling day, one full of you being "on" shaking all your bits to be charming, insightful or at the very least funny…the result of which is often not at all what you intended? Your, "This wine is sexy as hell" somehow twisting in some lonely, suspender clad, smells like a pile of dirty laundry guy thinking you are flirting with him? Your, "This wine is a wicked value" comment being misconstrued into, "Well I’m not cheap if that is what you are saying" or saying, "Oh are you going to an eighties party?" to a crimped hair, neon wearing customer when…they are not? Then coming home to share a story with your partner, a story that has kept you sane all day…finding a way to giggle at the silliness of the whole thing and forgetting that you are missing that filter that separates the shit you should say from the shit you ought not? That was my night.

Two hours sleep, a bruised top of my foot from storming out of the house, feeling like I just couldn’t win and, "Hi Samantha"....her.

"Hi Samantha" I looked at the face and while it was familiar I could not quite place it. It was about two months ago and I was in my normal pre-tasting frenzy that is my every Thursday. I was buzzing around and as I watched the woman that had so graciously greeted me…by name, glide around my French department then I saw a face I did know for sure, her son’s. I felt my cheeks go warm and as I bent over to price a Cotes du Rhone I watched them…saw their feet coming closer. I stood grabbing the empty case box I had just merchandized and I was face to face with her.

"I read what you wrote about me" my face getting hotter, little beads of sweat slipping back into my hairline. "I just wanted to thank you" now my eyes welling with tears of…of I’m not sure. Were they tears of shame? Pride? Guilt that I had written about her breathtaking courage here in this silly place that I thump away all my stupid rants and lustful wants or were they merely tears of awe and admiration? The woman that came in and shared her story of battling breast cancer for the second time, exposed her elation that she was going to be able to enjoy her wine while she fought this tremendous fight…that she inspired me to drink the same wine she was going to and share that with all of you, and here she was, after all that she had been through, thanking me. Tears.

I found myself stumbling and nervously pulling at the waxy trail of spent price tag tape that was dangling from my price gun as she told me how she had found my blog post, how it moved her, made her proud….telling me that her son had found it and said, "Mom I think she is talking about you" the second the words left her lips I could feel my pulse in my neck. A woman that had the strength to battle a monster that can and has devoured so many was now before me telling me about her four mile walks and tugging on her hair asking me, "Can you tell this is a wig?" took everything I had not to lose it. That’s a fucking lie, the second she left I did lose it, not for her…she took my breath away with her quiet courage, it was her graciousness and sweetness, the bit of pride that she wore in the face of seeing me, the woman that had written about her. Lost it while I drank yet another bottle of Azo Chablis in her honor, in the honor of knowing such a woman and in the heart thumping connection that she and I were and are going to share, forever.

"Hi Samantha" she was back and just as she was like a magical gift that first time she pulled my head out of my ass and reminded me of what is truly important, the second time when she filled my heart with pride and now…the morning after a horrible evening of self imposed drama, she was here again. Fairy Godmother for sure. We chatted a bit, the lift and light in her voice straightening my sulking spine, pulling my tear stricken lids wide across my eyes. "I finished my last round of treatment and look, I’ve got new boobs!" she chirped. This time, well this time I let my eyes…no matter how tired and sad looking, fall on her…no price gun tape, no feeling uncomfortable that I may have crossed some line. It was she and I, a rack of wine between us and I wanted nothing more than to wrap my arms around her, cry if she would let me and most of all, thank her.

Tonight my beautiful partner in Azo... I am drinking Our wine. Thinking of you. Admiring you and most of all, thanking you. You inspire me, make me proud to be a woman, make me feel like I have this strong and light gathering creature that is just outside my door and ready to heal me should I need it…I shall never drink this wine again without seeing your face, wig pulling and sweet lips thanking me. I should have told you that first time, it is I that owe you a thanks and I that will forever think of and remember you in the faintly doughy aromas, steely cut and fierce acid of Our Chablis.


Very amazing
by Jo Diaz
Posted on:9/7/2010 9:48:31 AM
Wise choice!
by Samantha Dugan
Posted on:9/7/2010 10:28:37 AM
Oh man Charlie, you humble me. I am simply floored by your kindness and adoration...your understanding of my voice and connection to wine. I cannot thank you enough for featuring my silly blog here and for your support over the past year. I adore you Charlie and you have humbled me...
Oh, yes.
by Vicki Barkley
Posted on:9/7/2010 11:35:31 AM
I read Sam, I follow her, I am very lucky to know her. Her blog has everything: Heart and Intelligence.
Sam kudos
by Jack Bryans
Posted on:9/7/2010 12:50:31 PM
Sam's the kind of wine merchant that, if you let her get to know your taste, will tell you "you'll like it but I don't", or "I like this, but it's prob'ly not your cup of tea", or "try this instead and save $10", if she knows you're a cheap bastard.Her taste's impeccable.Jack
My Gorgeous Samantha
by Ron Washam
Posted on:9/7/2010 3:27:35 PM
No one, and I mean no one, has the voice, talent and charisma of Samantha. Her subject is often wine and memory, but she writes about it in mysterious and captivating ways that defy you not to share her passion and desire her knowledge. There's not a better storyteller in the blogosphere, and probably no one nearly as smart. How often is there compassion and wisdom in wine writing? Samantha shines in both categories. Mr. Olken and I share a deep and abiding admiration for Samantha's talent. Her blog is a unique and inspiring work of literature.And I love her madly.
by Samantha Dugan
Posted on:9/7/2010 4:14:29 PM
Okay so first Charlie humbles me with his showcasing my blog and then Vic and Jack, (two of my most favorite wine lovers/customers) chime in and now My Beloved Ron takes my breath away with his amazingly talented voice. If you all set out to repay me for making you succeeded. Been in tears for the last 10 minutes, feel like the luckiest woman alive.Vic,I remember the first time you came into The Wine Country, the timid woman unsure of what she liked or wanted. I've been lucky enough to see you blossom and fall completely in love with wine...discovered your palate and in return for that I get your undying love and support. Unreal.Jack My Little Curmudgeon,Took a number of years for us to get where we are now, the banter and playful discourse but I have always admired your passion for wine and dedication to the shop that I love. Thank you. Thank you for always thanking me and being that Pate' munching, stinky wine lovin', growling but playfully customer that is always cracking me up. Not sure how you found this but am honored that you took the time to post a comment.Ron My Love,I could live for another 100 years and never have enough time to tell you what your posting here meant to me. You are one of the most amazing writers I have ever had the pleasure to read and the fact that you would show and share your feelings about my voice and silly musings, well it just shows me once again what a fantastically selfless man you are and reminds me once again why I love you with all of my heart. Thank you My Love, you have my heart...forever.You cats are freaking killing me over here! Killing me softly and so very sweetly....thank you all.
the one and only
by Andy Acosta
Posted on:9/7/2010 8:48:57 PM
Ahh - the world is starting to notice - I hope it doesn't go to her head (I know it won't). I consider myself lucky to be in her sphere of influence; she has almost single-handedly turned me into a Champagne lover by having that tasty-soul-on-her-sleeve that has pointed my way to those pure wines that geek me out and give me true pleasure. She deserves the world to know her on her terms. An amazing woman. And, you crack me up, girl.
Sam, the man, er, lady...
by Thomas Pellechia
Posted on:9/9/2010 5:49:25 AM
I, too, find Sam's writing inspiring, and her blog equally so.She's ok, too!
by Alfonso Cevola
Posted on:9/9/2010 2:17:25 PM
You are such a softie...nice to see you finally dip you toes in the bloggy blog world
Look Who Stopped By
by Charlie Olken
Posted on:9/9/2010 6:21:01 PM
Hello to all who have ventured in. I hope you have not been scared away by what you found. You will notice that I waited until The Hosemaster took leave before I took the plunge. It was safer that way.
Touching tribute
by 1WineDude
Posted on:9/13/2010 4:15:33 AM
And spot-on as well. Nice to see Samantha getting some luv.Cheers!

Leave a comment below, but please limit your comments to 1,200 characters or less. We find it helpful to make a copy of our comments to be sure that they fit. In that way, you can edit them if they run long.

(Please note: your e-mail address will not be visible after posting)



Note: Refresh your browser to see your latest comments.

Having technical problems with the comment system? Click here.