Posts in Wine Country
Ten.Two Hundred & Ninety-Eight

1. 3 a.m. wake up because I just need to know that everything is ready. 

2. My Lyft driver is early. I dash upstairs in the dark to kiss all the cheeks.

3. The birds are so loud.  

4. He thinks my suitcases are full of clothes and shoes like a typical woman.  

5. I misplace my license at the baggage counter and freak out for just a moment.  

6. I’m glad my friend and I picked the same flight by accident. We share 4 seats between us and chat a little, sleep a little, write a little. 

7. The three of us together navigating San Francisco. Parking and food plus art supplies. 

8. The fanciest hotel. We clearly don’t belong here but we have our wine. 

9. The sun. The sun. The sun. And the green and the water and these big hill and this feels like home.  

10. Steak Frites and 2013 Idell Family Oscar Syrah and a chocolate trifle and a blueberry lemon cake. 

Ten.Two Hundred & Forty-Four

1. Up before the light, listening to the sound of rain hitting terra cotta tiles on the patio. 

2. I go to eat breakfast by myself. Coffee, orange juice, water, a chickpea, potato and kale scramble. Quiet. I can see the vineyards in the distance, bare, wet and dripping.

3. Downtown Santa Rosa to meet Adam for coffee at Flying Goat. I almost don’t recognize him with all of the hair. We sit and talk life and photography and freelancing.  

4. Back at the ranch. So much time planning and talking and dreaming. I can’t wait to bring everyone here to sit by the pool, to warm by the fire, the drink in the sun, to make space to breathe. 

5. We get tacos with Kevin before he heads back to San Francisco to go home. He tells me to stop underpricing myself. To keep playing with one light and a subject. To live with the confidence I speak to in my writing. Grateful for mentors like this.  

6. We drive through Petaluma as we make our way toward Napa. There’s a little bar, Ernie’s Tin Bar, with cute chalkboard signs and a no cell phone policy.   

7. Green hills as far as the eye can see. Trying to keep my vision pointed on gratitude. 

8. A glass of Fumé Blanc upon arrival. There’s a new blanket at the foot of the bed.  

9. The Charter Oak. Schramsberg and a long chat with the sommelier who also happens to be from Chicago as we wait for our friends. Wood and leather and copper and vintage rugs. Embers from the open flame. A drawer at the table loaded with silverware and a napkin. Sparkling water. Musacdet. Bordeaux blend. Mushrooms and salads and kohlrabi and duck and burgers.   

10. Gratitude for this. For time spent in meaningful conversations. For good coffee and good wine and good food. For the privilege of comfort. For space. For beauty. 

Collecting Beauty in Wine Country

I don't want to claim the title "Lifestyle Blogger." It doesn't feel natural on my tongue. Instead, I'm going to call myself a "Collector of Beauty." Yes. A Collector of Beauty. This rephrasing gives me the space to do what I do best which is notice. Really, isn't that what a writer and a photographer should be doing? Noticing?

There's this really fine and faint line between capturing life and noticing it. One can become so consumed with trying to find what they should capture that they miss the real beauty of what's occurring around them. It's why I rarely photography my food before eating it. I want to eat my gnocchi with black truffle shavings while it's still hot. And I want to drink my rosé while it still has its chill. Instead of trying to find the highlights and shadows in the barrel room, I want to listen to her tell me about the fermentation experiments she's conducting. And when I meet her for coffee on Washington Street, instead of thinking about the Instagram-worthiness of the courtyard, I'd rather listen to her tell me about the one time the police got called while she was celebrating her birthday.

Ultimately, I do believe that it's my desire to be so fully present in my life that gives me the ability to see the truly extraordinary moments that exist in the every day. I have to somehow trust that the most important moments will find their way into the little crevices of memory for when I need them most. Because this life is really too good and too big for the viewfinder.

Alas, here are some of the moments that I collected during my most recent trip to Yountville in August.

  The North Block Hotel sits at one end of Washington Street in Yountville. Spanish tiles line the staircases and the doors are wooden and heavy and it's so quiet. It's become my favorite little retreat.

The North Block Hotel sits at one end of Washington Street in Yountville. Spanish tiles line the staircases and the doors are wooden and heavy and it's so quiet. It's become my favorite little retreat.

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  Redd Wood is known for its wood-fired pizzas but I love the simple breakfast served here each morning for the guests at North Block. Coffee and pastries from Bouchon Bistro are the perfect start to an early morning, but the granola is killer. I'm still trying to get my hands on a recipe.

Redd Wood is known for its wood-fired pizzas but I love the simple breakfast served here each morning for the guests at North Block. Coffee and pastries from Bouchon Bistro are the perfect start to an early morning, but the granola is killer. I'm still trying to get my hands on a recipe.

  Isn't this vintage truck just the coolest? Hunter Gatherer is new boutique in Yountville. 

Isn't this vintage truck just the coolest? Hunter Gatherer is new boutique in Yountville. 

  After seeing people line up each night before it opened, we decided to give Ciccio's a chance. It's Napa Valley so of course there's great wine, but the cocktails and pizza can't be beat. Cool vibe. It's where the locals go (which is always a good sign). 

After seeing people line up each night before it opened, we decided to give Ciccio's a chance. It's Napa Valley so of course there's great wine, but the cocktails and pizza can't be beat. Cool vibe. It's where the locals go (which is always a good sign). 

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  I could spend all day sitting in front of The French Laundry Culinary Gardens. 

I could spend all day sitting in front of The French Laundry Culinary Gardens. 

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  It had been awhile since I'd been in wine country in the summer when everything is green and ripening. It was such a treat to be able to touch and taste the fruit. The rolling hills of B.R. Cohn in Sonoma are so beautiful this time of year. Really, any time of year. 

It had been awhile since I'd been in wine country in the summer when everything is green and ripening. It was such a treat to be able to touch and taste the fruit. The rolling hills of B.R. Cohn in Sonoma are so beautiful this time of year. Really, any time of year. 

Ten.Forty-Five

1. The last morning.  

2. You guys are local, right? 

3. We hope to be soon, we say. Order two more english muffins, double-toasted with butter, and blackberry jam.

4. I meet her at Bouchon Bakery and order a croissant and a large coffee. We talk a little bit of business, of children, of writing.

5. Gather all the things and bring them back down to the car. My bag has a large seed cone, some feathers, a piece of driftwood, vine skeletons, and a coffee mug.  

6. My first barrel sample and it's given to me by my favorite winemaker. She says the guys didn't take to the haiku idea. I learn that the seeds of the grapes will taste like toasted almonds when ripe.  

7. I could have stayed there all day looking at The Palisades. 

8. Tyler.  

9. The light on the vines. Been here three times before and this is the first time I've seen the vines full of leaves and grapes, drip irrigation in action.  

10. My boots are so dusty.  

Ten.Forty-Four

1. Heavy and low skies. Us and the runners. The second-to-last morning here.

2. Coffee again at Mini Model Bakery. I make him be the Instagram husband and have him take a picture of me between the vines.

3. The curvy roads back over to Sonoma for breakfast at Fremont Diner. Shrimp and grits and chicken and waffles. 3 cups of coffee. I buy a mug. It's the sink full of green leaves and the teal backless stools that I love. 

4. Sandwiches and a bottle of wine while we overlook the valley. Karman has been working here for as long as I've been coming to Napa. 7 years, he says. You should totally move here, he says. We know.

5. Open houses. They all point us to Browns Valley and Alta Heights.

6. The agent we met yesterday sends over a file and sets us up in a porthole. 

7. You're moving there?! No, not yet. But it feels like it's gonna happen soon. 

8. Back in St. Helena at the winemaker's house. He tells us all the people he knows. We drink through three different wines. I think I now need to go to Mexico City. 

9. How is any of this happening?

10. This is really happening.