My journey resumes in the Napa Valley, more specifically at the top of Spring Mountain above St. Helena. Yes, that is snow along with some “lovely” graffiti. Love and romance go perfectly in the Napa Valley. In this case, the love is being spread throughout the vineyards. This actually makes sense to me because the real love for wine begins in the vineyards. So let’s explore further this love affair beneath the vines.
Not often thought of as romantic – it’s the dirt that makes the difference. We don’t think of the soil as the starting point for the tasty stuff that ends up in our glass, but it is what makes Napa wines great. Without it, the wines would be pretty much the same no matter where the grapes were grown. Ah, so let the courtship begin.
When you enter the Napa Valley there is a sign near Oakville that reads “welcome to the famous Napa Valley wine growing region”. The phrase “wine growing” always struck me as odd. I have driven through the valley every day for 15 years and I have never seen wine growing. I watched grapevines develop throughout the year until harvest but never once did I see a bottle of wine out there.
However, talk to any winemaker and they will say that great wines start in the vineyard and great grapes come from great soils. So where’s the love in dirt? Or should I say who is loving that dirt? The vintner is – with the help of his or her vineyard manager. Yes, there is a real romance happening in the vineyards especially by those who utilize organic practices. It is their love for the natural harmony of the soils that allows the grapevines to mature and produce awesome wines. This doesn’t happen by accident, it requires a long-term plan with attention to detail. Each vineyard block must be analyzed and understood for its strengths and weaknesses. The vineyard manager can then determine the best course of action over the coming years to bring out the best qualities in the grapes. Part science and part art but most of all a passion and love for recognizing the potential each vine has in the soil where it is planted.
Does your passion reach beyond the topsoil in your life? Too often we take the short cut by looking for immediate gratification – not realizing that if we focused on the longer term our actions would lead us to our destination.
As you say goodbye to 2009, may you find clarity and dare to dream what 5 and 10 years from now could look like. While you’re at it, write down your dreams and then begin to lay out your plan for organically growing yourself.
Until next time…may your passion for life be expressed like the love that is cultivated in the Napa Valley each year.