Autumn in wine country produces some beautiful images. None are more striking than vineyards with grape leaves that remind us of fall in New England. I cannot for the life of me remember which disease a grape vine has when leaves turn red, but if someone out there would like to jog my memory, please do. (I’m thinking it’s Pierces Disease.) I learned what it was in Viticulture 101 about 10 years ago, and can’t even find those notes right now.

[On November 13, David Mounts of Mounts Winery – one of my PS I Love You members – sent an E-mail to me and he wrote, “…the disease that turns the leaf red is called leaf-roll disease.”]

It’s not an immediate life threatening disease for a vine, but the vine’s not running at full tilt. So, as we look at grape vines with intense color, while we love the color, we know that all’s not right in Oz. It doesn’t affect fruit flavor, and with a 114 year old field blend, the history’s more important than ripping out the vineyard and moving on.

The images within this journal were all taken at Field Stone Winery.

Just look at the historical significance of this vine, that split itself off years ago. It’s moss covered with time, and yet bears life. Age has its beauty and relevance… speaking volumes of seasons gone by.

The vine in the image above has the split trunk. While it’s aged beyond the normal life cycle of usefulness (about 30-35 years) for bearing substantial tonnage, it’s a vine of great historical perspective. I’m personally thankful that this vineyard plot hasn’t been removed, and serves as a reminder of what really old vines become with time.

The above picture is of winemaker Patrick Murray, who told me the Petite Sirah that came in this year was the season’s crowning glory.

While taking this trip to Alexander Valley, I was reminded of how gorgeous a Sunday drive around wine country is in autumn when leaves are peaking. While it’s not the autumns I remember before moving to California that were ablaze from red maple leaves and yellow oak leaves, the spotty segments of color that dot the landscape are a reminder of days turning cooler and nights that promise frost on the pumpkins.

Field Stone Winery has many unique features. Besides their really old vineyard and the tipi above, the winery was built into the side of a hill. It reminds me of something mythical, filled with magic and alchemy. My dear friend John Staten told me the history of this tipi about a year ago. It was constructed for the Staten family by Nomadic Tipis, the same company that built the tipis in Kevin Costner’s movie “Dances With Wolves” and Tom Cruise’s “The Last Samurai.” While it may not appear to house a family, the inside space can hold a small dance party… Magic…

Another autumn tradition is football. Somehow, someway, some time ago, John Staten, Field Stone’s proprietor, figured out how to create a heart stopper for those football fans who come into the winery. Imagine being a Cal Poly grad and seeing your logo on a bottle of wine? Great marketing….