Mother Nature’s Minimalism

The annual pseudo-break that hits the wine country every winter is winding down.

Each year, beginning sometime in December, things seem to slow down in wine country. As with the pace of just about everything else in an agricultural community, it’s a slow down associated with the dictates of mother nature.

The "slow down" arrives after the grapes are off the vine and once they are in barrel and tank, fermenting. The "season" is over. The results of tinkering in the vineyard and carefully helping the grapes toward ripeness is over.

Of course, the wine industry doesn’t shut down. In fact, the slow down is more psychological than it is real. Still, even that psychic rest the vintners, and even the community surrounding wine, experiences is a welcome one. But it doesn’t last long.

Beginning in late January, now, vintners turn once again to face the keeper of the industry pace: the vineyards. Beginning in late January pruning begins in earnest. Mother Nature is indeed a taskmaster.

This time of year, between January and March, is my favorite time of the year in Northern California’s wine country. We tend to get nice cool days that are crisp and clean and clear. And as you drive past the vineyards or walk through them, you get to experience the essential nature of the vines, uncovered, stark and simple. The old vines are the most inspiring. They tend to be pruned later in the season, usually in mid to late February. But once cut back to their bare essentials you have a picture of of rugged simplicity that appeals to most people who encounter them.

Today is very bright, very sunny and cool in Glen Ellen in Sonoma Valley. I have my favorite kind of meeting set up…it’s in the vineyard. If you can, you really should follow me. You should take a couple days and come to wine country and see it at its most minimal, most quietest.

Posted In: Personal, Terroir


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