Tasting the Wines in the Spring 2023 VINsider Wine Club Shipments
Petitioning the TTB to recognize Muscardin: the 14th and final Chateauneuf du Pape grape in the Beaucastel Collection

Winter's color show, playing now on daily rotation

Most visitors come to wine country in the season when the Golden State feels appropriately named. Between May and November, hillsides are yellow-brown, broken by the deep green of oaks and the slightly lighter green of grapevines. The sky is a pure, medium blue. It's a beautiful color palette in its own right, with remarkable consistency from the fact that moisture in those months is extremely rare. 

This is not that season. After three very wet weeks to kick off the year, we've had nearly a month of sun. The hillsides are a brilliant yellow-green from new growth. There's still so much water everywhere that it's seeping out in impromptu springs and flowing through usually-dry gullies. And in the mornings, it's settling into surface fog. That fog produces something rare in California: the feeling of enclosed spaces. The landscape more than few dozen yards away becomes shrouded and indistinct. It feels quieter. Then, as that fog lifts in the warmth of the morning sun, you get transitional moments of sunlit foreground and puffy white middle distance. Finally, by mid-morning, the fog is gone, the green of the new grasses brilliantly set off against the deep brown trees and grapevine trunks, and the sky a deep azure blue. It's a remarkable transformation, and it's happening daily right now. In this blog, I'll take you through what one of those days feels like, starting in the fog and finishing in the sun. 

Oak tree on hilltop in fog

It's not all vineyards here; the photo above is of an oak near my house. There are still old walnut orchards too, shaggy with lichen:

Walnut in lifting fog

The transitional moments are my favorites. First, a shot in the forest, rays of sun illuminating the moisture:

Shafts of light in the forest

And then one overlooking some head-trained vineyards, newly pruned, with a river of fog less than a hundred yards away:

Fog flowing across head-trained vineyard

By mid-morning the sun is warm, the grasses fully lit, and the sky deepening except right at the horizon line. That's a lot of very happy sheep.  

Crosshairs block so green with sheep

One more view of the sheep, looking up the rows instead of across, shows off the block's geometry:

Sheep on hillside horizontal

The blue sky deepens for the next few hours, and the contrasting blues, greens, and browns are amazing:

Head-trained Mourvedre and blue sky

Finally, one more photo focusing on the sky. If you're visiting in the next few months, you're in for a treat.

Head-trained Mourvedre and blue sky 2