Summer in Wine Country presents many distractions for writers – natural and not. Visitors and new arrivals often say the change of seasons here is less noticeable than in their home towns back east, that seasonal contrasts are less distinct and require fewer wholesale wardrobe changes. It’s true that most of us won’t be rearranging our closets to move heavier clothes to the back or replacing storm windows with screens as average daytime temperatures warm, but we do see signs that mark the arrival of each new season as clearly as fresh fallen snow drifts over Vermont in December.
While most of the country not covered in asphalt transforms into verdant countryside in summer, the hills of northern California Wine Country turn golden brown as grasses dry out and go dormant in June. Vineyards, dark and barren in winter, sprout bright green canopies that fluff up nicely to provide shade for newborn clusters of grapes hanging within. Long rows of well-pruned and carefully trellised vines straddle the realms of natural beauty and man-made art. Driving past them creates a desire to pull over and take a deep breath, as if doing so would be akin to sipping from the fountain of youth.
These are the distractions of summer, when nature displays its best sides and wineries offer the first tastings of newly-released wines produced from harvests past. Keyboards sit waiting for the gentle taps that fill in the blanks of stories untold. Do distractions hinder creativity or does the writer draw on these distractions for inspiration? A balance emerges during summer in wine country.