I am relaxing in the 'sitting room' of the B&B where C.C. and I are staying in Sonoma County. Yesterday we drove along the coast from San Francisco, the top down on the mustang convertibe we rented for the next three days we'll be here in wine country.
Can you say 'supercalifragilisexpealidocious'?
The sun pouring down, the sea breezes wafting all around. Eagles soaring above. A view that just won't stop. We drove through forests, along winding roads and along cliffs bordering the Pacific. Sublime.
Today, we visited vineyards. Small, out-of-the-way places I've never heard of. Arista. Moshoin. Iron Horse.
At each, we were greeted by friendly and knowledgeable staff who poured and chatted and shared stories of the places. At Moishon we bought a Pinot Noir and a book on Dogs of the Vineyards. At Arista, a beautiful desert wine and at Iron Horse, a lovely bubbly that ticked my nose with delight. Also a at Iron Horse, the daughter of the owners poured bubbly into tall flutes, while sharing stories of growing up in this magical place.
I think I'm in heaven. Seriously. Heaven must be a vineyard somewhere and why not here?
When I was a little girl the story of Eden enthralled me. I imagined palm trees, ocean breezes, birdsong and flowering plants everywhere. I didn't know then the joys of wine, but if I had, I would have imagined vineyards sprawled out along valley bottoms, climbing up hillsides, green shoots shooting out into the sun.
Sort of like the Sonoma valley, in particular, the east side of the Russion River in Sonoma valley country.
Lush. Verdant. Towering redwoods. Olive groves and citrus. The world is a tapestry of rich, full and vibrant sights, sounds and smells here in the valley.
Just like the Eden of my imaginings long ago.
Unlike my childhood imaginings, this particular Eden is also filled with people, my beloved and the wayfarers along the way we've met and shared a story here, a tasting there. Like Len and his wife, Gegina (and I'm not sure I've got that right -- she is originally from Sweden, or was that Denmark?) and their friend Moat. A delightful couple sharing their trip up from LA with Len's best friend, and former police partner, Moat. The laughter and repartee between all three was engaging. Both C.C. and I were enchanted by their warmth, their humour and their generosity of spirit.
We met them at the Arista Winery. A small, 5,000 case a year winery specializing in Pinot's. We laughed and joked and agreed to meet up at Iron Horse.
C.C. and I got lost. When the map showed a right, I said left -- I am directionally challenged, I cannot deny it. Even turning the map upside down does not always make sense of East, West. North. South.
Twenty minutes later, after insisting that we must be going in the right direction, there are hills with vineyards and Iron Horse is on top of a hill I told him, we decided we'd best turn around.
Sure enough, we were headed in the opposite direction.
Laughing, (okay so I was laughing and C.C. was more being patient than anything else -- but then, he's accustomed to getting lost with me as navigator) we made our way back, and up and over hills to arrive at Iron Horse.
Len and Moat and Gegina were waiting for us. "We figured you must have been lost!" they said when we drove up. "If it wasn't for GPS, we'd never have found the place either."
We laughed. Even with GPS Louise can get us lost, C.C. mentioned and then told them about my artistic navigation skills.
We're found now, I insisted and we walked up to the tasting table and began 'the task' of sipping on bubbly from the Iron Horse vineyards.
Standing on a hilltop overlooking the Russian River and the 320 acres of grapes ripening, rolling hills, eagles soaring, palm trees standing sentinel, we spent a delightful hour with, as Gegina said, "Our new best friends" and agreed to meet again, some other time, some other place.
It is the way of the wine country.
Strangers meet. Share a glass of nectar, a tall tale or two and form fast friendship -- maybe we will, or not, meet up again. In the moment, beneath the sun and heat of the day, the pleasure of eachother's company is intensified by shared experience..
Contact info exchanged, we parted ways. C.C. and I to Guernville, the trio back to Santa Rosa where they are staying.
And between us, a delightful encounter that has the promise of becoming a deeper friendship like a new wine settling into old.
I hope we do stay in touch. I hope we do connect again. The realness of their presence, the laughter and the depth of their conversation left me wanting to know more.
You're a real social animal," C.C. laughed when we parted with our new friends.
"I am," I agreed. "And most of all, I just really like people. And they were nice people to like in this place that feels like heaven on earth!"