Visit­ing our ri­val wine re­gions

Lodi News-Sentinel - - OPINION -

Mid-Au­gust and early Septem­ber had vis­its to re­gions I haven’t been in years — the Napa/Sonoma and Santa Rosa ar­eas. My first in­tro­duc­tion to the Rus­sian River area was shortly af­ter Chuck and I were mar­ried with a camp­ing trip to Guernevill­e on the river. It was a civ­i­lized way to be in­tro­duced to camp­ing — and such fun. In later years, Vern and I vis­ited Paula when she lived along the Rus­sian River while at­tend­ing Xray school. So the area al­ways has been fa­mil­iar — if a lit­tle dis­tant lately.

Napa was my Au­gust desti­na­tion to a unique time­share, 105 park mod­els at River Pointe Napa. A park model is a small mo­bile home with a liv­ing area at one end con­sist­ing of couch and chair, din­ing area and kitchen, a bath­room and a small bed­room (I owned a park model on a lot I owned in the Palm Springs area for years). Seventy-five of these units are hauled out dur­ing the win­ter sea­son be­cause of flood­ing.

My unit sat on the Napa River with a large win­dow pro­vid­ing an ex­cel­lent view all day, chang­ing with the time of day and peo­ple walk­ing by. While I had an­tic­i­pated that at some time I would leave to sight-see, my car ended up parked in front of the unit all week. I had brought food and there were din­ing es­tab­lish­ments nearby. The best part of the stay was the mile-plus walk­ing path be­side the river. That com­prised part of my walk­ing as well as the res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hoods close by. Those con­sisted of older homes built years be­fore the huge hous­ing boom — mod­est in ap­pear­ance with large yards and mul­ti­ple trees — all close to the river. The re­main­der of my time was spent at the pool com­plex, read­ing and en­joy­ing the peace and quiet in the midst of the sur­round­ing bus­tle.

When I de­cided on a dif­fer­ent route home I never an­tic­i­pated the nar­row, wind­ing roads but en­joyed both the scenery and the lack of cars. This route took me past Lake Ber­ryessa which I haven’t seen for 30 or so years and into the town of Win­ters which re­minded me in many ways of Galt be­cause of its smaller size and re­fur­bished down­town.

Septem­ber took me to the Santa Rosa area where Jay, Chris and I stayed for two nights in Wind­sor — a de­light­ful and newer town I had never been. Pur­pose of the trip was to visit a cousin in Gra­ton — an­other place none of us had vis­ited pre­vi­ously. Along High­way 12 to Wind­sor we re­vis­ited Jack Lon­don State Park which has a mu­seum plus the ru­ins of Wolf House and the home where the Lon­dons lived. The mu­seum is ex­cel­lent, ex­plain­ing Lon­don’s life in words and pho­tos un­til you feel you know the man per­son­ally.

How I wished I could have made the hike (can’t do un­even paths any­more) to Wolf House which was so en­joyed by my fam­ily in the past (we went there sev­eral times). Un­for­tu­nately, we were too late to visit the Lon­don home be­cause a spe­cial event was tak­ing place. Still, it was won­der­ful to see how care­fully all had been pre­served.

I also en­joyed the High­way 12 trip to re­visit Sonoma and the vine­yards that so dom­i­nate in ev­ery di­rec­tion. Vine­yards dom­i­nate the Santa Rosa area as well — also in ev­ery di­rec­tion from where we started in Wind­sor, which is north of Santa Rosa, to the Rus­sian River and south un­til you en­ter the forested beauty to­ward Gra­ton and on to Oc­ci­den­tal where we ate lunch.

In ad­di­tion to vine­yards, arts and crafts have be­come very vis­i­ble in all lo­ca­tions with gal­leries in towns and along the road plus art lofts hous­ing the bud­ding artists of the fu­ture.

An out-of-state friend of­ten asks me why we have so many vine­yards which seem to in­crease, adding: “Are peo­ple re­ally go­ing to con­tinue to drink all that wine?” Ev­i­dently the an­swer is yes — look at the pop­u­lar­ity of Lodi and even Galt.

While there were tourists dur­ing our ven­ture around the ar­eas, they were not over­whelm­ing, mak­ing the trip peace­ful and scenic. It’s un­der­stand­able why so many peo­ple have de­cided to live in that area be­cause it of­fers so much va­ri­ety in­clud­ing state parks with red­woods, a lovely river and the coastal re­gion — and while it is warm some sea­sons it’s not overly hot.

Now I’ve had my fix on ar­eas I had vis­ited of­ten years pre­vi­ously — glad I saw them when they were still quaint. I was left with a good view of our ri­val wine mak­ers — but happy I live where I do — a lit­tle qui­eter and spe­cial in our own way.

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