We were on the final leg of the journey and about an hour and a half from landing in Napa County Airport, just south of the city. The convention itself would be held at the Napa Valley Expo at the edge of the town and just east of the Napa River. Luis had already secured our stay at the Poetry Inn just up the road on Silverado Trail and in the heart of most of the local vineyards. Initially, he tried to fight me on the price, suggesting that we could rent out The Farmhouse for $25,000 for the month since that was ample time for the people that would stay behind after the Master Plan was put into motion. Still, I told him to just book the whole house for a month just in case we needed the extra space.
In front of me, I had six files separated into two piles of three. This was the list of two-threes that Marinella had handed to me right after our last take-off somewhere on the US Eastern seaboard. I lost interest in keeping track of all the stops we made, but we made sure to avoid major airports. Less people, less questions. I will have to remember to add that to the perks of having a private jet.
I had poured over all six files in front of me in the last two hours or so. It has never been easy for me to make this decision. I know that everyone who knows the name Dionysos will automatically think of the God of Wine and Frenzy. That has given me the image of a rebel and a party goer. Most people do not know about my kind of frenzy because there is order in the chaos, and there is reason to the rhyme. I want my celebrations to be the epicenter of a ripple in time that will touch people throughout their lives. Some will be affected positively, and some will be affected negatively to keep the balance. The choice is mine to make sure that all affected will be rightly so.
The first list of three is one of three local vineyards. All three small family affairs, all three showing promise, but all three are struggling economically to make it through these times of mega-corporations and economic chaos. The big fish have always eaten the small fish, but it seems that there are so few little fish left in the sea. My train of thought brought me to Amphitrite and the pair of cute dainty feet she was sporting now instead of a tail, which made me smile. I will have to revisit that thought when I get back home. Right now, business. I had to pick one of these vineyards and give them a helping hand. Whether as a shadow investor, a partner, or an outright buyout with recurring stakes. I will bless one of these companies and help them as best as I can to grow, flourish, and prosper like grapes on the vine.
The second list of three is also of three local vineyards. All three are well known, all three successful, but all three are wrought with bad practices. Be it bad customer service, employee abuse, watering goods down for profit, or price gouging, all three of these local companies have been a bane to not only the local community but bad for the wine community as well. By my hand, one of these three companies will feel my wrath and will soon be no more. Their vines will wither and die, and their property will be bought. That land will be the site of my newest party, and it will be consecrated and blessed once again.
Once both actions are taken, the first vineyard will be given the rights to the land of the second, and in that process, their bounty will double at minimum. I have done this countless times over millennia. Every time, with small exceptions, the family I choose to bless decides to become yet another branch in the mortal family I have created. Who knows? This next vineyard I choose to bless might bring me the next Luis when this Luis decides to step down and rest for his remaining days.
The convention was in two days, so that left one day to move forward on both vineyards of my choosing. The rest of the work will be done during the convention, followed by the meeting of all the heads of all the wine and liquor companies I either own or have a stake in. Luis told me that we should be expecting a bit over 500 people, so he’s booked the Napa Valley Opera House for three days just in case we need to move the day of the meeting.
The ritual and party will be two days after the meeting ends broken by a day of fasting and meditation on the day before. When it comes to blessing someone who deserves it, and plucking a weed off the ground and tossing it aside, this calls for the raw energy of not just good wine, but something more spiritual as well. This is not going to be your standard college kegger by any means.
For some reason, I am having a hard time choosing the vineyard that I am to raze. The three candidates before me are all owned by people who went into this business with money as their top priority. They all pay their employees less than what they deserve. They cook their books to pay less taxes and choose quantity over quality to make more money. I still have some time before I have to make my final decision, so I put it on the back of my shortlist of things to do.
I had chosen from the first stack of three, so I was already half-way there. There was this tiny vineyard just south of Lake Hennessey that was operated by a family of five and a handful of farmhands. Grandfather, parents, and their two kids. The head of the family was still the grandfather, Antonio. He had passed the business to his daughter Fran and her husband, James. The vineyard was La Dolce Vita which fit because their wines were on the sweet side. He had opened his vineyard in 1960, which made him one of the pioneers of his area.
Antonio was a post-World War II refugee who had run away from home instead of being part of an army for a cause he did not believe in. Eventually, he had found his way to the US and settled down in the area. He had taken a wife, and even though he was older, he started a family. He had grown up in his family vineyard in Sicily, so he had gone back to his first love. Grapes. To anyone reading this file, it is obvious that Antonio had the love.
Early on, La Dolce Vita had a good amount of success, and things were looking up. The success was going to be translated to expansion and hopefully some international recognition, but that was not what The Fates had in store. Soon after giving birth to their daughter, Antonio’s wife Milla contracted some rare disease that kept her bed-ridden for many years until she succumbed to the pain. Weighed down by pain, loss, and medical bills, all talk of expansion was put aside. It took decades of toiling before most of the bills were paid, but that meant that the business struggled to keep up. Now in his late 80’s, I figured that Antonio was due.
I had Luis reach out to Fran, and they were expecting us later this evening. Traveling west meant that we were traveling with the sun and chasing daylight. It is a bit easier on the jet lag as long as you keep your strength up, but hard to sleep in daylight. Not that I was ever a morning person. I have always felt more grounded in my energies at night because every breath is instilled with a little spark of mystery.
My biggest fear was that the voices would choose to be rowdy, and I needed to have as much of my sanity intact for this task. I was not worried about a breakout or anything. Those are extremely rare, and there is no reason for the pot to boil over. What worries me more than anything is exposing the madness that I carry in the edges of my being to Antonio and his family. I doubt they will be willing to accept help from someone that giggles to himself, so I’ll have to remember to avoid the giggles and the self three-sixties until after their meeting.
I took what little time of peace I had left, and closed my eyes, pushing the voices back with an inward hiss and a growl. There was a time when all I needed to do to silence them completely was close my eyes and concentrate for a few seconds. Not lately. Just like Antonio, I am also due, but for something else. Hopefully, the upcoming events will either satiate the impending breakout, so it stays dormant longer, or accelerate it to the point of release. One way or the other, I sense a change coming.