The beginning of last week an unexpected but very welcome e-mail popped up in my in box. It was from UPS saying I would receive a package on Friday. I had not ordered anything from anyplace so I was nonplussed.
Back around the holidays I received notices about a supposed UPS delivery that was waiting for me and all I had to do was open the attachment to get the tracking info. Of course I did not open any attachment, but I did contact UPS several times. So as I was looking at this e-mail, I realized I had not received any such notice for several months and perhaps the bogus notices were back … or not.
I scrolled down and saw the shipper was Maloy O’Neill winery in Paso Robles. Really? Could it be? Maloy O’Neill went out of business a couple of years ago.
Let’s go back a minute to the fun, heady time when I (and maybe you, too) went wine tasting someplace like Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, or Sonoma. What’s not to like? Beautiful country-side, welcoming people pouring wine into your glass, making instant friends: “Hey didn’t we just see you at Black Swan? Didn’t you just love their Merlot?” “Oh yes. In fact, we loved it so much that we joined their wine club.”
Ah yes, the wine club. That’s where you give up your credit card number and promise to pay for three or four shipments a year in exchange for a discount on the wines. It’s a good deal when you find something you really like. The trouble is that by the end of the weekend you might have signed up for several wine clubs. (Hope that credit card has a high credit limit.)
Maloy O’Neill made (makes? still? I hope!) wonderful wines that I thoroughly enjoyed. I was a wine club member for a couple of years and not only got the regular shipments but occasionally ordered more. Their “Three day weekend Syrah” was one of my favorites. (So named by the winemaker Shannon O’Neill because if you drank a bottle of that on Sunday, you would not be going to work on Monday. A rich, deeply satisfying wine that begged for “just one more glass.”)
Unfortunately, the marriage of Maloy and O’Neill went under, dragging the winery with it. I’m always sad when a family-owned winery loses its footing. In this case, it also had ramifications for me since I had not received the last winery club shipment that I had paid for. I called the winery and got the answering machine assuring me that they were working on the next shipment and telling me to call back later. I called back later. And later. And yet later again. I asked friends who were going to Paso to go to the winery, but they reported back that the gates were locked. I finally bowed to the obvious — the winery was gone, my money was gone and I might as well forget it.
Then, just this summer I got an e-mail from Shannon, the winemaker, saying that he was still making wine and hoping to resuscitate the winery but admitting he didn’t know how to operate a tasting room or run a wine club. I called him and we had a long talk. He assured me that he was going to make it good, that I would eventually receive my long-overdue wine shipment.
Then, 3 months ago there was a charge from Maloy O’Neill winery on my credit card. What? My phone call to Shannon went right to voice-mail and the mailbox was full. Everytime. My e-mails went unanswered. Yes, I could have called the credit card company, but I was excited at this sign of life. Maybe Shannon was going to pull it out. Maybe there would be more yummy Syrah coming my way in the future.
So when the UPS truck stopped at my house on Friday, I couldn’t get to the door fast enough. I was expecting a big box of wine. Instead, the delivery man had a box tucked under his arm. Really? That’s all? I signed the electronic pad and grabbed the box. It had three bottles. One was an old favorite — a 2005 Syrah. The 2010 Malbec is new to me, and there was a Cabernet from O’Neill winery which is Shannon’s father, I believe.
So I’m torn — I’m happy to know that the winery is still operating, but was disappointed that I still haven’t received my promised wine from three years ago. Well, I suppose it’s something to look forward to. In the meantime, I’ll just pop the cork on some of my other Maloy O’Neill wines even though it’s on the Endangered List since it doesn’t seem to be headed for extinction anytime soon.
Keep the faith, baby!