What to wear in wine country is a continual question.

It’s all about wine.

It’s in the country.

It’s very casual around here.

The above defines the term “wine country casual.”

I know it’s really hard to do… the dressing down… Hey, I’m a Yankee, with really really deep Yankee roots. My maiden name is “Clarke.” While I might want to get gussied up, I’ve learned that it’s not worth it around here, unless you want to look like a novice.

  • Grandmother Gertrude Haines Clarke was the daughter of the late Governor William T. Haines of Waterville, Maine, my great grandfather…
  • Great grandmother Patience Blackstone Clarke was the granddaughter of the Reverend William Blackstone, who was sent to the new world by King James to preach the King James version of the Bible. He landed and settled on a piece of property that today we call Beacon Hill and the Boston Commons. My great grandfather (eight generations ago) settled Boston, and then went on to settle Cumberland, Rhode Island.

How much more Yankee and uptight can one get?

Following that tradition, I was a member of the Lewiston Rotary Club (perfect attendance) for two years. With this one I successfully created a community garden, also working in concert with the Lewiston-Auburn Chamber of Commerce. Then, I became a member of the Portland, Maine, Rotary Club (perfect attendance) for five years. With this one, I set up a scholarship for immigrants and refugees through the ESL program at the University of Southern Maine.

Then… I moved to Sonoma County. Oh my God, what culture shock evolved from that move. I lived in business suits during my Maine professional days, and then joined a California Rotary where many of the guys came to the meetings in shorts and tropical shirts. I didn’t last long.

My job as a district sales manager allowed for me to travel all around the US and into Puerto Rico, where people still wore suits. All of the cas living just seemed nuts. Although, as people came to Belvedere, when I was organizing and actualizing their National Sales Meetings, and everyone wanted to know what was appropriate dress wear. “Wine Country Casual” always seemed to be everyone’s answer. It took me years to be able to wrap my mouth around that one, let alone wrap my mind around it.

Now, it’s over 21 years later… I’ve relaxed my mind and my Puritanical thoughts (with the history still being what it is).

Every single event that I put on I’m asked by at least one person, “What’s the dress code.” I find myself constantly answering, “Wine Country Casual” (WCC). It doesn’t matter what the event is, I just know… California’s wine country events have a relaxed state of mind. Being that this state is the sixth largest world’s economy, don’t let WCC fool you, though. People out here are very serious about wine country in an economic sense; but when they’re putting on a gathering, stuffy walls come down, and the casual walls go up.

When you’re planning to attend anything related to the wine business, if it’s black tie, you’ll be told… otherwise, dress down so you’ll blend into the WCC crowd.

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