Visiting our rival wine regions
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.