Brown Estate Arrested Zinfandel 2006

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Arrest. This word has intense meaning in our language. The easy first thought is “to deprive of freedom”. Nothing is more loaded.

But, arrest also means to stop – the act of stopping or the condition of being stopped.

Zinfandel is often described as America’s grape. It is true that California has produced the greatest expressions of this grape that was otherwise an obscure one in Europe. But there is more to it. There is meaning.

Part I

I was first introduced to Brown Estate when I lived in California during the last days of law school. I can admit now that it was a personally difficult time – in fact one of the most challenging of my life. Yet somehow California has also embedded itself in my soul as one of the most meaningful, growing experiences of my life. It was a time of confrontation, and a burgeoning self-awareness. Brown became a symbol for me of that difficult expression.

It has always struck me that everyone I’ve introduced to the Browns and their wines has taken it as a personal experience. There is a remarkable truth and openness with the Browns that gathers authenticity and makes it manifest.

I’ve spent years immersed in wine, studying its nuances and exploring its farthest reaches. But – and I can say this with utter confidence – there is only one place that I can look back on and say “yes, that was life, that was truth”.

Part II

I made my initial visit to Brown Estate with one of my closest friends. It so happens that he is now getting married and decided to have his bachelor party in Napa. Due to unfortunate circumstances I was unable to attend.

That initial visit had been personally revelatory to me. Not just in the world of wine, but also because of the nature of authenticity I had encountered. It made me appreciate the nuances of joy and the deep rooted pleasure of connection.

The only option was to make that happen again for my friend on the eve of his wedding. And it did, with yet more converts, authenticity broken open and made whole.

Part III

It is the limit, the understanding of barriers, that gives freedom value. The hardest times of our life can, if we are lucky, be the most transforming. But let’s not pretend that freedom is an easy thing, that we all know what to do when we are given the choice.

I’ll be honest. My brief experiences with the Brown family contributed to my life. They have been a symbol to me of belief, tenacity, community, love. They confirmed my belief in hard, clean questions that are, in their messiness, all we can do to attempt to understand the confluence of freedom and truth.

The arrested (i.e. fortified) Zinfandel is and was as pure as my memory – its cranberry scent is now, for me, Proust’s Madeleine.

“All a guy needed was a chance. Somebody was always controlling who got a chance and who didn’t.”
― Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye

“I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?”
― John Steinbeck, East of Eden


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