Driving back from Napa yesterday, I realized how much I will miss wine country when I head back east in a few weeks.

It’s green here now, except for the vines which are turning from yellow to red at varying rates. The mountains give dimension to every panorama and the roads wind according to their tilt and gaps.
The scenery is mostly rural, interspersed with cows, horses, lamas, donkeys and various other farm animals. Wild fennel and eucalyptus scents in the air. Barns and out buildings are prevalent; tumble-down houses not far from gaudy mansions – and everything in between. Old farm equipment, pick-up trucks of every vintage, and, every imaginable plant and shrub growing in profusion.

It’s endearing and it reminds me that this place is about a life that is closer to the soil.

We have been residing in Sonoma, which is a small town and not so much a city. Our home is in a series of fairly rural rental units and all of the respective tenants have become acquainted. This Thanksgiving, many of us will come together for the meal and the camaraderie. Most of us are away from families or home and so, we have found each other.

A month ago I was wondering if I would hold up through the harvest. These days, I wish for the chance to get up at 5 AM, go to the vineyard and then sort fruit all day.

I live in boots, old jeans and t-shirts; I eat fresh; I have worked very hard – I cannot remember my former life of suits, restaurants and leisure – nor do I wish to.

And these days, when someone asks me where home is, I am not so quick to say.

Livin’ large,

GREAT post, Jim…what you describe is likely the dream of many of us here.

Bravo to you for living it.

Nice note Jim! Thanks!

Nice post - thanks for sharing.

I was finishing up the final clean last week – after the last press, no more fruit, and thinking that I already missed it. I don’t miss all the hours (having some normalcy and a life is nice), but I do miss the buzz of harvest.

If you find yourself over on this side of the hill, please do let me know.

Jim - great meeting you finally at Vinify over the weekend. I thought your 08 Syrah was terrific. Enjoy the rest of your stay in Sonoma.


Nice one Jim. I spent a total of a probably a week up there over my vacation and felt the same way. You feel like you are in a another world at times.

So, why come back east for the winter of all things?


Great post and I thought that you captured the true essence of Sonoma. The sentiments that you expressed are truly refreshing.


Back when I was growing up in Vallejo, Napa was not ‘Napa’ the way it is now, but Sonoma still has the same feel even as it has grown. Nice post and I’m looking forward to trying your '08 Dry Stack.

“Back east” for me is Florida, Howard.
And you’ve never seen a more beautiful winter than the ones we have there.
Best, Jim

Hope crush has been going well for you, Jim. It was great to see you awhile ago, and it would be nice to get together again while you’re still out this way. As I’ve been working at urban wineries, I do envy the closer tie to the vineyards that you have up in Sonoma.

Good on ya.

Sounds like you have found a great place in wine country.
Good luck to you.

Marvelous expressions, Jim. Hard to leave wine country. Sometimes I go to Google Earth and trace out routes through the wine country just to bring back the memories.

I come from Georgia (Savannah) so I know something about Southern winters (although Florida is much warmer). In any case, I no longer feel as sorry for you. Splitting time between Florida and wine country – sounds like a good life.

I’m guessing Jim spends at least 183 days per year in Florida! [wink.gif]

Very astute.
You are apparently aware that FL has no state income tax - as are we.
Best, Jim

So what did you vinify this year?

Both reds & whites?

Are the reds sitting in old oak right now? Or maybe stainless?

Are you going to return prior to the bottling?

If oak - is someone going to top off your barrels for you while you’re gone?

PS: I assume you’re not going to be doing a malo?

Great post Jim! My wife and I are lucky enough to have just moved to the little town of Sonoma from Modesto. Small indeed and very much a retirement community - getting somewhere in a hurry is impossible with almost every street having a 25 mph speed limit - with ample police presence.

My commute to Napa every morning is second to none - rolling hills and vineyards on Napa Rd, followed by a breath-taking view of the Carneros while crossing the Napa/Sonoma county line, at the top of the hill on 12. On foggy days you can see the myst settling into the little valleys, and between the vines.

Moving here wasn’t without sacrifice, but the trade-offs have been worth it!

Jim, let me know if you have some time to get together and pull some corks before you leave. Who knows, we might be able convince some of the Napa crew to join us!

did you take the rest of that alligator sausage back with you?? seriously… good to see you at julius’ house the other night. too many wines, too little time. hopefully our cigar smoke didn’t bother you!