The hypnotizing glow of Wine Country

So I’m in Napa Valley today and I turn up Soda Canyon Road. I’m on my way to meet with a client and a wine writer (one of the best). And it’s foggy. Not just foggy, it’s dense like a white wool shroud. I’m heading up Atlas Peak. About 4 miles up, around 1000 feet, the fog slips below me and the sun is bright like summer. It’s really a stunning thing to experience. It’s mood altering.

There are other ways and places in wine country where the mood is altered by the natural setting. If you are driving from Sonoma Valley, over the Oakville Grade into Napa Valley, there is a point, after the summit, as you begin to head down into the valley on a road that’s destroyed many a brake, that the Valley all of a sudden spreads out in front of you. It’s really magnificent.

These are the kind of experience that drive people to want to be here in this neck of the woods. It’s also, in a subtle way, why the vast majority of coverage of wine in the media is so generous. Just like anyone else, the wine country casts a spell on writers. I’m not saying they are hypnotized into generosity. It’s more an issue of the industry they’ve chosen to work in casts such a pleasant sheen it seems nearly subversive to fall into negativity or to dwell on the critical. I’ve met some writers who are very clearly under this spell and it shows in their writing. The really good ones though appreciate this special glow yet keep their wits about them and tell good stories set in this happy land setting.

The writer we met with today is one of those good ones. The man understands drama and knows what issues are critical to the industry, whether openly discussed or not.

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