Jason’s Bottle Story: Celebrating Friendship

Thank you to Jason of Missouri for this Bottle Story, which was shared with Silver Oak owner David Duncan on November 28, 2011.

I became a fan of Silver Oak several years ago when a client of mine invited me to a celebration dinner in Kansas City, where he had a wine locker full of Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet. Most of our party – including me – enjoyed Silver Oak Cabernet for the first time. I instantly became a fan.

But the story truly begins twelve years ago when I began to spend my holidays – Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas – with a group of friends that included my buddy Ken. All of us created a strong bond. Though not immediate family, we became “family” in another sense.

As fellow wine-lovers, at these gatherings Ken and I would often talk late into the night over a glass of wine, surprise one another with great bottles over dinner, or introduce the other guests - who were not nearly as big of wine lovers as we were - to new wines. At one of our holiday get-togethers, I told my friend Ken about my Silver Oak “find.” His wife had grown up in northern California, so he was more than familiar and a fan himself.

“My friend David Duncan taught me that there is a bottle story around every bottle of wine. Most of the time the story is one of celebration, sometimes the story is one of sorrow or heartache – but all are equally important in life.”

Seven years ago, Ken's wife was diagnosed with leukemia and life changed for all of us and our “family.” We became closer as we faced the difficult health concerns of his wife. Miraculously, she beat leukemia twice, but the third time it reared its ugly head she could not overcome the odds and passed away. Ken was devastated. He did not know how to raise his three daughters on his own, run the family business, let alone mourn the loss of his beloved wife. We, as a family, were equally as devastated. It seemed as though Ken and I began to talk more outside the holidays. I wanted to let him know I was there any time he needed me.

The story grows deeper with Silver Oak’s Release Day. As a lover of Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet, I added attending a release event to my “bucket list.” I crossed that off this past August, when I flew to San Francisco with a few of my neighbors to attend the event in Alexander Valley. I was amazed, and posted several photos and links on my Facebook and Twitter accounts. One post that I put up was of a bottle of Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that I purchased a day early (I hope I don't get someone in trouble for this!). Ken saw the post and messaged me, asking me to pick up a bottle for the two of us to enjoy over the holidays. I decided that the “early” bottle would be ours to enjoy sometime on Thanksgiving or Christmas.

A week ago Saturday, Ken, who was in great health, had an unexpected heart attack and died. He passed away almost six months to the day after his wife. Our family is once again devastated. We have spent the last week wondering the whys of life and trying to process how we could lose two of our best friends in such a short period of time.

On Thanksgiving, we all got together as we normally do and, late in the evening, all of the guys - Ken's closest buddies - went out on the back deck to enjoy a cigar (which Ken loved as well) and that “early” bottle of 2007 Silver Oak Alexander Valley. It was a momentous time for us to celebrate our friend, and that bottle of Silver Oak was at the center of that memory. I told this story to everyone out on the deck and toasted Ken. (That is when I sent a tweet about celebrating Ken, to which Silver Oak replied. I received the response as I was putting my suit on for Ken's funeral.)

Silver Oak 2007 Alexander Valley Cabernet signed by winemaker Daniel Baron

At the funeral, this story was told in the eulogy at the very end of the service. There was not a dry eye. The crowd of 500 learned how Ken loved and lived life, and special stories of who he was - including his love for Silver Oak.

Thank you for this great memory. Feel free to share it with whoever you think might enjoy hearing how your wonderful wine can affect families and friends for life.

Have a Bottle Story of your own? Tell us at bottlestories@silveroak.com.

For all things Cabernet, subscribe to our Cabernet Life email.