Sunday, February 14, 2010


Okay, so what does Afghanistan have to do with Cerro Prieto Vineyard & Cellars? Well, to make a short story long, it has to do with a reminder for us all… and that is, what are you doing to help support the men and women of the armed services over in Afghanistan, who are doing their best to defeat the Taliban, and keep Islamic whackos from doing us more harm? Several years ago, I became pen pals with General David Petraeus, while he was commanding general of US forces in Iraq. It was sometime around the Fallujah surge, and was tense, hairy, and frankly a bit scarey…especially if things didn’t go well. On a lark, I sent General Petraeus two of my hunting and fishing books on Baja…both humorous in nature. I suggested a short story chapter per nite, just before turning off the light. Turned out he enjoyed both books, and when I asked if he would be interested in my sending a couple boxes of each book to the servicemen and women in Iraq, he said yes.

The big question was once there, how in the world did books get distributed? His answer was simple and once stated, obvious…chaplins. The chaplains also serve double duty as librarians, so in addition to bringing the good word, they also brought along books. I have been told my books were read all the way from Basra in the south to Kirkuk in the north. Some readers were kind enough to write email thank yous, and said how much they appreciated the gesture of sending some light and humorous reading material, especially for the times of monotony sandwiched between the times of chaos. The only glitch was the sending of 200 books, which came to over $400. That is where Cerro Prieto came in and picked up the shipping tab.

Now, several years later, we are starting the offensive in Afghanistan, this time in a faraway place, Marjah. As it turns out, a contingent of marines was sent to Afghanistan a while back, one the son of my best friend…marine Captain Mark Braithwaite. His dad had just forwarded me some pictures from Mark, and one is at the top of this blog. In a land of mud and dust, snow and ice, it seemed like a good idea to send the marines several boxes of Best Stories of Baja, and Arriba! Baja. I have hunted with Mark both in the Argentine, Zambia, and along the Rio Grande. As good a shot as his dad is, Mark is better…much better, and his dad is a crack shot with rifle or shotgun. I don’t know if the books will get distributed in Afghanistan as they did in Iraq, but I do know that some folks will read them and get some good belly laughs from short stories about the Baja outback. It is just a little thing, but is extremely welcomed by our troops over in the middle of nowhere, and was both simple and a pleasure to do. If you really want to do a good deed and bring some joy to some of our troops over there, contact the army and marines and see how you can get a package of joy to our men and women in Afghanistan. Oh, I didn’t mention it, but I have known Mark since he was 1 yr old, and he has become a very fine officer of men, plus he received the Bronze Star for heroism in the 2nd Iraq war. If only a handful of folks who read this blog do a good deed for our servicemen and women far away from home, then the time spent writing this blog was well spent.

We don’t see the every day goings on in Afghanistan, and small little gifts are really appreciated by those receiving them. Regardless of your political inclination re: the war in Afghanistan, I hope you take the opportunity to make some marine or army soldier happy with a reminder of home. You will be surprised how good it makes you feel once you have taken the time, expense, and effort to do a good deed. As stark as the country is, it is amazing how beautiful the rugs they put down for shuras, or meetings, can be. The picture above is an example of how starkly contrasted the beautiful rug is to the barren landscape. A warm and hearty hello to our folks “over there”, stay safe, and thank you for your service. I would wish that when you all return home you will take the time to come visit us at our vineyard and share a glass of Paso Bordo with us. Best regards, Larry Stanton/ Cerro Prieto Vineyard & Cellars

Note: That's Captain Braithwaite at the far right end of photo...not near the "good" rug.


  1. And speaking of Afghanistan, from the Wall Street Journal, Feb 16,2010, editorial page, A18, "Marines Into Marjah", comes this thought:

    "We only wish the rest of the U.S. government operated half as well. As the rest of us enjoy watching the Winter Olympics from the comfort of our living rooms, spare a thought for the Marines and special forces risking their lives oun our behalf."

    Amen to that.