Winter’s Dread In Napa Valley
There is a loneliness to the vineyards this time of year. The carcass of the vine is exposed as the leaves fall and the shadows cast by the vines are often longer. Drive by or walk through the Napa vineyards on a day like this and each vine takes on a separateness, rather than the community feel you get when the leaves are full and green and mask the vines' singularities.
The chill adds to the quiet and dormant feel. It's not a cheery or vibrant temperature now. It's very cool. The stillness of the breeze now lets the chill settle around you and the motion of the vineyards is gone, leaving them to carry frost in the mornings that just sits until the sun creeps over the eastern hills and cleans them up.
This time of year always put a certain dread in my mind, despite the real and undeniable beauty that surrounds me in Napa Valley. It's a dread that really only is left behind when the days start to elongate and the buds form on the vines and then finally push as the days become warmer and the sap flows.
This is a good time of year to surround oneself with family, friends and lovers. They keep out the cold and the chill and the dread. This is a good time of year to linger in a restaurant that is warm and dimly lit and to play with the wine in your glass and think long and hard about the cassoulet or the beef bourguignon.Thankfully we have many fine places to linger here in the Valley.
The saving grace is that today is the winter solstice. This is a good day despite the dread and the chill and the loneliness in the vineyards. The days will start to get longer now. More sun.