When I heard a retired fellow near Windsor has a bottle of wine he thinks might be valuable, I supposed it was the last bottle of Charles Shaw wearing a $1.98 price tag.
Well, it isn't. Retired carpenter Warren "Sam" Jaco showed me the bottle he received as a tip maybe 30 years ago from a man pleased with the house Sam built him and all the money Sam had saved him.
At the time, Sam forced a smile and said, "Thanks" while thinking, "Why, you cheap b------!"
He tucked the bottle of old French wine underneath his house. He was down there recently, spotted it and hauled it out. Then he asked a neighbor with a computer to see if it's possibly worth anything.
Check it out. It's a 1947 Ch?eau Cheval Blanc, widely praised as one of the best wines in the world, if not the best. And one of the most valuable. In Hong Kong last year, a case of the famed Bordeaux sold at auction for $184,500 — or $15,375 a bottle.
Sam is open to advice on what he should do with it.
Though more of a beer drinker, he has discovered that even an unopened bottle of what's reputed to be pretty good old wine "does make you feel good."
JOHNNA BAKES: Scooter retailer Johnna Gattinella bakes a Sonoma County chocolate-chip cookie that I hear is transcendent.
Johnna, who owns Santa Rosa's Revolution Moto with musical hubby Roy, folds into the batter local eggs, organic Clover sweet-cream butter and E. Guittard chocolate. She has made the cookies for entertainers the likes of Lyle Lovett and Craig Handy, the tenor saxophonist who has toured the world with the Mingus Big Band.
Handy recalled Monday that he first dived into a plate of Johnna's cookies at a Healdsburg Jazz Festival. "I'm hooked," said the man whose band will perform Friday at Stanford's new Bing Concert Hall.
Right now the Gattinellas are boosting the Healdsburg Jazz Fest by raffling a new scooter, a Vespa S 50. To sweeten the deal, Johnna offers three of her cookies for each raffle ticket purchased.
She is inviting lovers of jazz, scooters and gourmet chocolate-chippers to email her at email@example.com and arrange to pick up some tickets and cookies.
BIDEN & THE DOGS: Marching in Monday's
inauguration parade in D.C. was unforgettable for locals with the delegation from Santa Rosa-based Canine Companions for Independence.
Making up the group's entry were 131 humans and 56 service dogs or pups in training. It's unclear what the dogs thought of it all, but Canine Companions folks came away exhilarated and especially impressed with Vice President Joe Biden.
Word is that as the marchers passed the glassed-in viewing stand in front of the White House, President Obama took notice but Biden gazed straight into the eyes of the employees, clients and volunteers and flashed them a spirited double thumbs-up.
One staffer said, "So many of us thought that he was truly looking at us."
Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and firstname.lastname@example.org.