Dad passed away suddenly in November 2000 and then Mom became terminally ill. I took family leave from the corporate world to take care of my sweet mother. After she died, I changed careers and moved to the fertile soils of Napa Valley, California, one of the world’s premier viticultural regions. Napa Valley is known for its prized award-winning wines, lavish resorts, charming B&B’s and restaurants with top-rated chefs. I started working for a historical winery. Of course, I enjoyed wine but wasn’t that knowledgeable about viticulture. The Tasting Room Manager was a wine educator who said he would teach me everything I needed to know. Thanks to Barry, I started my career in the wine industry.
In January 2009, I met my boyfriend, Frank. I had lived in Napa Valley for six months. He had been divorced for several years, was a wonderful dad of two amazing grown daughters, had a loving sister, and several nieces and nephews. Frank was a hard-working family man who loved to golf, always smiled, made me laugh and could grill the best steaks you would ever taste. We spent a lot of time together enjoying this beautiful Valley.
After leaving the corporate world, moving across the United States and changing careers, I was struggling a little financially and would occasionally dip into my savings. Frank kept encouraging me to look for another job, but the winery I worked for had been so good to me. I told him if something dropped in my lap, I would check it out; but I wasn’t quite ready to start looking. He would continually say, “I know there’s a great opportunity out there for you, just go for it”.
On my day off work, I was visiting a friend in San Francisco. I told Frank that I would call him the next morning before he left for work. I dialed his number and a woman answered his cell phone. At first, I thought I dialed the wrong number. I was shocked to hear a woman’s voice. I asked to speak to Frank. She said, “May I ask who is calling?” When I told her my name, she responded, “I’ve heard a lot about you. And I’m so sorry, … but Frank passed away yesterday”. His company vehicle was towed to work after his accident. It was the secretary at his office who answered his cell phone. I screamed and my friend, Debbie, came running from the other room. As tears streamed down my cheeks all I remember saying was, “Frank is dead, Frank is dead”.
Frank’s family had a beautiful “Celebration of his life”. I met all of his loving family and friends. A few days after, I had returned to work, I received a phone call from Pat, a man who had poured wine for me and my friend when I first moved to Napa Valley. He asked how long I had worked in the wine industry. I told him, “one year”. Pat said, “I have a job opening in the tasting room and I thought of you. Would you like to come interview for the job?”
When I first moved to Napa Valley, I spent a lot of my spare time visiting wineries and taking photos of the vineyards. I had taken a picture of two angel statutes at this winery. Frank loved that photo. I knew this winery was where I was supposed to be. It was a wonderful opportunity and almost eleven years later, it still ceases to amaze me. You see, a few days after Frank died, I received a call from FRANK FAMILY VINEYARDS. What are the odds? I see those angel statues every day I’m at the winery. I can still see Frank smiling. He will always be with me, and I know that he definitely had something to do with me being part of FRANK FAMILY (where “Great Wine Happens Every Day”).