Today, wildfires continue to burn nearby in Napa Valley, Sonoma County and surrounding areas. As I jot this note, I look out my office window and see thick clouds of dark grey smoke blown by fast winds moving in my direction. This smoke appears to be coming from fires still burning in the hills northeast of downtown Napa, not far away. There are hundreds of acres of vineyards between here and the fires that are currently just open dirt fields waiting to be replanted. I hope they will act as an effective fire break. If not, the thickly populated communities in south Napa, American Canyon and western Fairfield could be threatened.
Yesterday afternoon about this time I drove up Silverado Trail, the main highway that runs north-south along the eastern edge of Napa Valley. The mid-valley area is the home of Noah Lake, the main character in my looking-for-a-publisher series of spy/crime novels that begin with “A Case Of Stolen Wine.” Had Noah been real, his home and business would have been lost last night.
Driving back south along the Trail, I passed Signorello Estate, a lovely hillside winery that makes exceptional red wines and a few nice whites, as well. My favorite Signorello wine is Uvaggio, a blend of equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. If you’re a red blend fanatic like me, you’ll love it. I took a moment to look west up the hill, where Signorello Estate commands one of the most sweeping and beautiful views of central Napa Valley. I attended several wine club events at Signorello in years past and keep several great memories of the wine, the place and their excellent staff. Last night the entire Signorello Estate facility burned to the ground.
Another central Napa Valley community currently under siege by the wildfires is the town of Yountville. This quaint, wine country village is surrounded by vineyards and choc full of world class restaurants, friendly tasting rooms and snob-free wine bars. Yountville is also the emotional center of a collection of short stories I’ve been editing this week with the intent to publish them all in one book within a week or two. Its title, “A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To Yountville: Ten Wine-Induced Tales Of A Mystical Journey To The Napa Valley Nexus Of Mind, Body And Sip.”
Even as tough crews from Napa County Fire, CalFire and other local firefighting agencies continue to battle multiple blazes in our area, I’m hopeful the warm anabatic winds that blow across south Sonoma and Napa Counties and seem to be feeding the fires will soon die down. When the flames are gone, it there will be much to clean up as the recovery process begins. For vineyards still with hanging fruit, crews will be assessing their viability and with any luck salvaging what they can. I saw a few vineyard blocs with thick clusters still on the vine yesterday along Silverado Trail.
I’m not in much of a funny mood today as I think about all that has been lost within the past twenty four hours. I don’t find anything particularly funny, not even the dry humor I’m having difficulty getting right as a guy who writes mostly about “Spies, Crime and Always A Lot Of Wine.” But I am optimistic. On the other side of tragedy always lies a new beginning.
My first memories of Napa Valley and all that is the world of wine are loosely portrayed in Initiation, the opening salvo in “A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To Yountville.” It represents the first step on a journey that, as far as I can tell, has no end. In the interest of new beginnings that will follow these horrendous fires, I’ve posted Initiation on my web site. Excuse the formatting dictated by the blog system, everything will be more book-like when the complete volume is released in paperback and Kindle.
Enjoy the story, then please go to your local wine shop, grocery store or other booze retailer and pick up some great Northern California wine. Perhaps you should stop reading this now, get in the car and pick up a bottle to sip while you’re reading Initiation. Yeah, that would be better.
Then book a trip to Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Solano or Lake County. Call ahead to make sure they’re ready for you. If your wine journey is well underway, take another step. If you’re just beginning, happy to have you along.
Click this link to read: Initiation.