The Adriana Trigianni and David Baldacci event, Wine and Words, at the Virginia Festival of the Book last week, was held at a Charlottesville wine bar called Enoteca. It’s a knock off of the wonderful Bar Veloce in New York (2nd Ave, between 11th and 12th); they even have the slim menus, the high chairs, and the tea candles in small glasses.
My wife and I arrived twenty minutes early and the place was already full. We brought down the mean age by thirty years. We found two chairs across from each other, away from the crowds, but too far away from the wine. Miles Davis’ “Blue in Green” was playing overhead, and I smiled.
The two authors were easy to pick out, not just from their dust jacket photos but also by the group of people surrounding them and the name tags on their lapels. There was no organization to the crowd, just people mingling, the sound of many conversations.
I was disappointed with the fact that each person only received one drink ticket. After the first glass of Montepulciano I would have to start paying. One of the bartenders was overheard saying, “I should’ve known to order more white wine.” To eat, there were big green Cerignola olives, fresh crusty bread, Pecorino fresco, mild Manchego and Grana Padano.
A white woman with flat hair and glasses, in her sixties, came back to the table near us with two signed copies of Very Valentine. She was beaming. An older gentleman who sat next to me asked her what she thought of Trigiani’s books.
“Well they’re not deep, but for women they are very enjoyable,” she said.
Baldacci was leaning against the bar, drinking the same Montepulciano, making smug mannerisms and laughing, surrounded by old men who were jealous of his perfect part.
A fat lady had to lean on my chair to get onto hers, and she kept her feet on my rungs the rest of the time. “It smells like pancake syrup,” she said to her equally overweight friend. A group of women were in the corner near the window, laughing loud enough for everyone to hear. “I guess, some people just came for the wine,” the lady with her feet on my chair said.
Finally, there were some introductions. Baldacci stood in front of the group, thanked everyone for coming, and spoke a little bit about an organization that he and Trigiani helped start, Feeding Body and Mind, where they take book donations and send them to a food bank to be handed out along with meals. He also spoke of how much he enjoyed the festival. He has participated in every one since its inception, fifteen years ago. “There’s smething for everyone at this festival,” he said, in a voice that was almost too soft to hear.
Trigiani came up after him and killed it. She’s a boisterous woman, with a big voice and an even louder laugh. She introduced everyone she had brought with her, including her mother, three sisters, her fifth-grade French teacher, and her in-laws. The crowd loved her, and she loved them back. “This is my home state. I love me some Virginia.”