Monday, March 19, 2007

a beautiful day in the Napa Valley

On Saturday (also St. Patrick's day) I drove to Napa to meet up with my photographer friend, Megan. I'm second shooting/ assisting her in June at a wedding that will take place in Yountville (at the adorable community church there) and the CIA. No, not the government's CIA, but Napa's CIA - the Culinary Institute of America. (It's interesting to note who has the better-designed website!).
It was a gorgeous day and a lovely drive.

In the morning, I drove from Santa Rosa to Petaluma through Sonoma to Napa. It's more direct to go East through Kenwood but can be slower to get through the crawling wine tasting traffic. Plus the drive out of Eastern Petaluma past Sonoma is just oustandingly beautiful, and I don't go there often enough at all.

Anyway, it was a foggy morning but Hwy 116 East was the foggiest I'd ever seen it by far. Growing up in the Bay Area, you get really REALLY good at driving in fog, so it didn't scare me, but it was pretty amazing.

The sun came out over Sonoma, though, anad it was heavenly to take in the sun, the bright blue sky, the green green grass (which will all turn to gold in the hot months), and the fields upon fields of mustard flowers (it was also, apparently, Sonoma's Mustard Festival day. Who knew?).

Then Napa. I definitely do not make time to drive out to Napa often enough. You know how you hear about people living in NYC their whole lives and never going to the Empire State Building? That's me, with the entire Napa Valley. When I was little, my dad would take me out on service calls with him (he worked on the giant vineyard/ farm's pumps and generators) and I would get to play in the fields of some of the most beautiful wineries in the Sonoma and Napa valleys.

(mad props to the winery workers!)

But because I've grown up with it everywhere, I definitely take good wine and vineyards for granted. Vineyards can actually be a nuisance in places (when they tear out apple orchards and replace them with, yawn, yet more grapes). And Sonoma County has a wee bit of a rivalry, wine-wise, with Napa. We're "younger" in the wine industry, and a little more accessible. Wineries in Napa tend to charge more for tastings; there are only a very few wineries in Napa that are allowed to host weddings; and there's not a big, kinda working class city (like Santa Rosa) in the hub of it all. Growing up around here, it seemed a little old, boring, and too rich for my blood.

But, oh, boy. I must be mellowing or getting old. Because I now I totally, totally am seeing the appeal.

It was fun driving around with Megan, taking it all in - the weather, the natural beauty, and the amazing old and new buildings (mostly old). I made a mental list on the drive back of all the fun stuff I'd like to do this summer - ha!

I can't even begin to list it all.

I love where I live!

A short slideshow for fun:

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