Back in 2010 my significant other and I opted to take a vacation to a place I’d wanted to visit for years and he had lived for years before we met… the Napa Valley.
For those who are not familiar with the region, it’s the wine growing region of California – famous for having produced the wine that beat the French wines in 1976, known as the Judgement of Paris (Wikipedia – Judgement of Paris) in an upset that shook the wine world.
We rented a vehicle with cruise control – because neither of our vehicles had it and the road trip from Los Angeles to Calistoga was estimated to be about 6 or 7 hours, so to preserve our gas-pedal pressing feet and wear & tear on our own vehicles we picked up the rental first thing in the morning. Of course, doing so took longer than expected, packing at last minute took longer than expected, everything took longer than expected so we were on the road in the early afternoon instead of the mid-morning as planned. The plan was for him to start driving, and I would take over at some switch over point. Another point of the plan had been lunch at Pea Soup Anderson’s, but our timing was off.
As we pass the Grapevine he comes to realize that while I’ve been on the train to Oregon to visit my grandparents, and a Greyhound bus that ran through Northern California at night, I’d never really gotten a great visual of the bay area and never been to Napa – so he cleverly never hit a “switch” point with driving, which I realize as I’m gawking out at the deltas we are driving through. He maintains that it’s fine and he continues to drive as the sun sets and we enter the valley proper.
Vineyards as far as the eye can see erupt from the hillsides! Quaint little places, palatial buildings, and wine grapes wrapped around it all. At one point I exclaim “They even put a golf course on the vineyard!” to emphasize how luxurious it all was – instead of water and sand traps, they had legitimately put grapes to grow.
“No, hon. They put a vineyard on the golf course. If they can grow grapes on it, they will.” And suddenly my view of the Napa Valley did a gut-wrenching 180… this place was so obsessed with their wine development that they couldn’t even let a spot as small as a sand trap go unused. A fascinating single-mindedness towards the driving force contained within the small form of the grape and it’s uses.
A beautiful valley, with a bit of a crazed fixation running as an undercurrent – what better place for a vacation?
Which is why we’re going back this year!