Peace in the Midst of Holiday Madness: A conversation with Napa Bartender and Spiritual Counselor Kate Messmer
Wine and spirituality have been connected for millennia. From ancient Dionysian revels to the Friday night blessing of the kiddush cup or the secular “Auld Lang Syne” toasts as we relax and celebrate the New Year, wine has long held a central part in our rituals and spiritual practices. This is perhaps why I wasn’t so surprised to learn that my favorite bartender, Kate Messmer of the Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant in Napa, is also a practicing spiritual counselor. According to her website, peaceofkate.com, Kate’s “life’s passion is to help people find peace within themselves.”
Chatting her up over a glass of Champagne (their Schramsberg Blanc des Blancs is my other go-to) while the market was in full holiday bustle, I was curious what kind of insight she had as to how we can find peace and balance in our lives this crazy time of year. Kate, as always, was generous in sharing some observations- as well as a new wine recommendation- with me.
How do you define, and find, “balance” during the holidays?
There is so much that needs to be accomplished during this time of year, so it is important to take it one day at a time. If you feel like you might be able to squeeze in a party or event, then you might want to think long and hard before committing to it. If you say yes, but in the end realize that it isn’t feasible, then it is completely okay to be honest with yourself and bow out.
Why do you think the holidays are both a source or joy and stress, and what are some suggestions for how people can cope?
For me the joy and the stress of the season are intertwined. I love seeing my friends and family, but with that can come a lot of drama. I do my best to check in with myself and listen to what I want to do during the holidays. It is a form of self-care to speak up and create a compromise, so everyone feels like they are being acknowledged.
Do you find that being a bartender helps you in your work as a therapist, or vice versa?
I think the two complement one another beautifully. I get a lot of practice refining the art of listening!
There are so many wines we can choose these days- Which are the wines and beverages are you excited about right now?
I can’t get enough of J Gregory Wines by Mark Jessup. I especially love his Petite Sirah… it has delicious dark fruit aromatics with an elegant finish. It is bold without being overdone.
Not everyone likes to pair wine with celebrations. Can you recommend a festive non-alcoholic drink for those avoiding alcohol this time of year?
I am a vodka soda kind of girl so when I want to go non-alcoholic, I enjoy soda water with a splash of organic lemonade. This drink is tasty and make me feel as though I am having a cocktail.
As 2014 winds down and you put away the holiday gifts, take a moment to think about how to achieve balance and peace in your. It can mean different things at different times. For instance, I am finding peace today by going through old cupboards and organizing things to recycle, give away or donate. I could be fulfilling a dozen social obligations instead, and going through boxes is hard work, but it’s a form of self care that I need to engage in right now. Sometimes it feels good to say “No” and talking to Kate helped make me feel justified in doing what I needed to do to find a sort of mental peace after the madness of Christmas. Cleaning, organizing, donating…of course as well as contemplating which bubbly to serve this coming week as we ring in the new year of 2015. Here’s to wine and wellness in 2015. Peace be with you…..
Alison Crowe is an award-winning winemaker, author and blogger living in Napa, CA. She is the Winemaker for Garnet Vineyards among other consulting projects and is the author of The Winemaker’s Answer Book. Girlandthegrape.com won “Best New Wine Blog” in the 2014 Wine Blog Awards. When she has time, she plays tennis, cooks for friends and family, writes the occasional wine article and enjoys organizing things.