Every now and then someone really special, almost magical, comes into our lives. That’s what Corinne Reichel is for me. While working at Belvedere Winery, Corinne Reichel was hired to be the marketing director. This was when I was already employed as their communications director. We just clicked as a team.

She became my greatest advocate and mentored me in ways that are still paying dividends to this day. Corinne understands marketing, and is the current publisher of the children’s book, The Grapes Grow Sweet. If you have children or grandchildren, and you want them to know the process of agricultural seasons, this story book is the most colorful and most well-explained process as seen through the eyes of a child, Julian.

Corinne has always, in these past 13 years of our friendship, talked about the vineyards that she and her husband, Charles, own and manage in Alexander Valley in the mountains. With both of us always running at a clip, to me it was just something they owned but not something I understood.

Every harvest Charles is in the hills working hard and fast with his Alexander hill side Cabernet. He’s also a tax accountant, so by January, he’s also working hard, again. As cool, calm, and collected as Charles always is, he has dual careers that seem to keep his life’s passions flowing… One side of his personality is very artistic, while the other side is very logical. He’s in perfect balance.

Recently, Corinne and Charles invited Jose and me to join them for a picnic in their vineyards. Darryl Miller of Henry Wine Group, and his partner Karen Demostene of Murphy Goode were also invited. Off we all went, high into the hills of Alexander Valley. Corinne told us that they’d never had a picnic in their vineyards before, and they’ve had this property most of Corinne’s life. This is where she grew up, and we were all about to share a “first.”

As we drove up this mountainside, it became clear to all of us that her parents were saints. How else could anyone explain the devotion of her parents who had to drive her up and down this mountain side every day, so she could get to the base of the hill to catch her school bus? The climb is narrow and treacherous. One single glass of wine too many could mean an instant plunge down the mountain side.

This was serious business – this ride – but we were in capable hands as Corinne drove us to an area that opened up as something truly spectacular and memorable.

When visitors come to wine country, it’s a beautiful thing to drive around the valley floors, seeing one winery after another and tasting each vintner’s wines. For those of us who have crossed over to living in wine country, we get way past the valley floors and experience spectacular moments. It’s a joy to share these images. I trust you’ll enjoy how beautiful a mountain vineyard is as it reaches to the sky.

At the highest point in Reichel Vineyards, we were at 2,500 feet – high as kites… Not on wine… on altitude and gratitude.

An added benefit to our picnic was to actually taste the favors of our location. Our hosts are about to release a Rosé called 2006 Respite (Cabernet Sauvignon from their Alexander Valley ranch).