There are a few of us who have moved to California to become part of the natural gorgeousness of what we call wine country. Once here, it’s not enough to just have it surround us; the need to become immersed in the center of wine country is much more important than simply standing on the sidelines, to simply to take it all in. [Image was taken on my recent trip to Kunde Estate Winery.]

I suppose being an observer has its own merits, too; but not in my lifetime this time around. Being at the heart of it, discovering everything that’s possible to discover, in whatever amount of time one has left on this earth is what moving to wine country is all about.

There are centers of learning… all of the universities and colleges have someone who works in the wine business, and has a need to share: viticulture, enology, sales and marketing within the business, understanding wine components, how to run a wine retail store (tasting rooms), how to do the bookkeeping for a farm, the list goes on and on, as do the assignments and the immense learning curve.

The benefit to getting so intensely involved are those days when you leave the business all behind (a desk with accumulated assignments) and get to the vineyards or to the coast. It’s there that one’s reminded of why we work a 12 hour day, and don’t even realize it’s 12 hours later until we look at the clock… right there in front of us.

It’s easy to live this passion, because it’s one that’s alive… as in these tiny buds about to do what’s called… bud break.

That’s when the life within (cane, leaves, cluster, and tendrils) breaks through this singular bud stage to become the next season’s promise. It’s a miracle that happens over and over again, year to year, through all the seasons of viticulture and our lives.

It’s a beautiful thing… And the reason we love living in wine country. If we’re the “granola” of the United States (as those who are outside of California like to refer to us – the fruits and nuts), then it’s a badge I wear with honor.

The magnificent vistas, the mountain ranges that cradle us all, the flora and fauna all outweigh the hurricanes, the tornadoes, the massive thunder bumpers, the frigidity of winter that then hangs onto one’s face until June (“When it seems to finally thaw those who wear ‘weather beaten’ well,” said she, who moved from Maine on December 29, 1992… and has never looked back)… All those other things that all those others must endure, aren’t even in our collective consciousness (unless we have to travel to those places). We have our own calamities, like living on the edge of fault lines… It’s worth the risk, I believe, until life is in an upheaval… We all have Mother Nature in our lives.

We’re also reminded when we call loved ones who are still in the chill, or hunkered down in the bulkhead’s entry to cellar’s safety; but, it’s not our reality anymore… Just these gorgeous images that circle back around again, early each February, and continue on throughout the year until early December… A few months of rain (November, December, January, February), and we’re back again into our enjoyable,  Mediterranean climate, as evidenced by the oak leaves emergence above, for another season of life and photosynthesis.

This image was taken on a trip back to Maine during my favorite month there, July… It’s typically coastal, and it’s always in July that this splendor (and some warmth) is revealed.

Happy spring… May it hurry to you, too, if you’re not already feeling the promise of another vintage. It’s well on its way.

And, yes, I do still enjoy reflecting back on my summers in Maine… Images like this one tell that story well, too.