note from home

  • Note from Home: Shared Experiences

    December 24, 2020 13:01

    Note from Home: Shared Experiences

    Time for a check in and to see how you are doing as we have come along together on this pandemic journey over the last 40 weeks. How are you doing as the days get shorter and we look to the New Year to bring us all some relief? I do know many of us are facing this pandemic with weary souls. A lockdown…again? Stricter guidelines…again? Seems like we’ll be wearing our masks for an eternity.

    I was talking with a friend the other day, COVID-style via Zoom. We were shooting the breeze about the changes in the holiday season this year because, you know, COVID. I realized this is a rare time for our nation, state, town and neighborhoods-we are all sharing in similar experiences during this pandemic: staying at home, gathering together less and much smaller groups, and stemming the tide of the virus by following guidelines. We make changes in how we go about our lives and this month how we celebrate the holidays. At the very least we are required to wear masks and keep our distance out in public. Many more of us stay within our bubbles, work remotely or, if you are an essential worker, strive to remain safe. When I began to think about the virus, invisible except by the numbers, it struck me that this is one of those times where we are sharing an experience. We are in the same boat, some in deeper, more challenging water than others however.

    As defined by my favorite resource Google: A shared experience is exactly what it sounds like: seeing, hearing, or doing the same thing as someone else. Although it's a simple concept, shared experiences have a deep impact on human socialization because they enhance each person's individual experience. A shared experience is any experience that causes individuals to identify with each other. Examples like these:  Language, Nature, Art, Holidays, Meals, Rites of Passage, Hardship, Humor, Cultural Traditions. This pandemic is an experience we all share and really are in it together. We follow the rules not only for our own protection but the care and concern of those who are in need of protection.

    This image was sent to me by Colin our Wine Club Manager who has two young children at home-Milo and Lucie. Outside of my grandsons he has the cutest kids around. Sometimes he takes Milo to work with him to pack up wine and the like because he is one of our staff members working remotely and 7 year old Milo is distance learning at home. While waiting for dad to finish Milo drew this picture of our iconic sign outside of our tasting room. It is a great rendition and he has talent! (You may not know this connection but his great-grandfather Elmo Barbieri worked in our tasting room years ago.) Father and son will remember this time-a memory they wouldn’t have if Milo attended school. A silver lining memory for the future.

    The silver linings aren’t always easy to see while we are in the midst of things like the holidays and this pandemic. During these times it is worth taking a step back and seeing the world through the future, to a time when we look back and realize we made a way to reach out or not be discouraged, or when we look back at this time we spent working remotely, or pulling our hair out at trying to help children distance learn this shared experience will be what we remember. A milestone, a standing stone, a marker: remember the time we…

  • Note from Home: Reflecting Thanks

    November 26, 2020 10:16

    Note from Home: Reflecting Thanks

    Reflection on the year, as it winds down to less than six weeks before we celebrate a new one, seems to begin with the Thanksgiving holiday.  I think we can all agree it has been an unusual year with the pandemic, the challenges met and answered in homeschooling, the workplace, the harvest and beyond.

    I like the word reflection. It is a rich and deep word with 9 meanings according to Google and Merriam Webster. Reflections in a mirror show us who we are, as is. Inner reflection guides us and requires us to take time to think things through. Reflection of light, maybe through the autumn leaves or straight on sunlight, means there is a source and a receiver. Reflecting on this year has me thankful for so much.

    I am thankful for our safety, both family and staff, from the virus as well as from the fires.

    I am thankful for the heroic first responders including those working in the medical field, fire and police departments. All are brave and deserve our thanks for doing their utmost to protect us.

    I am thankful to have welcomed a new grandson this year and to watch him grow by leaps and bounds as well as spend time with our other two virtually and in person.

    I am thankful for my husband’s sense of humor because frankly I need it most of the time. Most of the time.

    I am thankful for the ability to connect electronically with people I’d have missed seeing this year due to travel restrictions.

    I am thankful for all of you who have responded to the many notes from home I have sent over the last few months. I am determined to see this pandemic out with a note to you each week.

    How do you make giving thanks tangible or visible? How do we reflect thanks? Lizzy, from our tasting room, had a great idea for a Gratitude Vine where guests could fill out a tag and add it to the branches. We have hundreds of them over time.

    Even though you can’t come and fill out your own tag here you can create your own ‘vine’ at home. Branch out and send a simple ‘thank you for being a friend’ note (both Ed and I have been the recipient of notes from our friend Barb-over the last 25 years!). Give thanks around the table or virtually. Donate your time or money and the ripple effect benefits both you and the recipient. There are so many ways to show thankfulness. The best part is it keeps on giving, uplifting others by reaching out and in turn you are uplifted too. In times like these it is thankfulness that helps us through each day.

    Thank you for reading and I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

  • Note from Home: Your Vintage Stories

    July 24, 2020 15:39

    Note from Home: Your Vintage Stories

    While I was on vacation I decided to put together some of the responses I have received from my 'Notes from Home' over May and June 2020.  Some are how you have coped with working from home-or being retired and staying home. Some are about how you happened upon Pedroncelli in your travels. They warm my heart, make me laugh out loud and also make me think as I read over them. This compilation, while you were the authors, means so much to me, my family and staff. Thank you all for sharing! And by no means stop writing me vintage stories and notes from your homes!

    From YOUR Vintage Story:

    Doug & Jan, Circa 2007: “My wife, Jan and I found Pedroncelli on our cross country trip from our home in the Finger Lakes area of NYS to my brothers home in Fresno via Yellowstone, Portland beer scene. As we headed south I decided to pull off at the Geyserville exit and saw the signpost for Dry Creek Valley. We spotted you sign and said “Why not?” We arrived at opening and tasted with a couple of newly weds and enjoyed at great tasting including you 4-Grape Port with dark chocolate covered espresso beans. Way to start the day. We’ve been fans ever since. Love you guys and the wonderful food and wine pairings. When we want Calif. wine we trend to Sonoma and Dry Creek. We love your Bushnell Zin. Best wishes from Upstate NY.”

    Bruce: “My story starts around the summer of 1980. A friend from Windsor took me wine tasting to your winery and that day the winemaker, John, was doing a 10yr vertical pouring and said it was very special. I was new to wine tasting and did not know that tasting vintages from 1979 down to 1969 was as special as it was. Also in those days, there were no charges for the tasting, the good ole days! After that day, Pedroncelli Zinfandel would be one of my favorite wines.

    Part Two & Three of my story happens around 2013-14. On a trip south (from McKinnleyville CA) to see my daughter, I stopped in to do a tasting. The lady that was working there was a local. We started chatting about wine and I casually said, "I see you have a new tasting room". And she said,"No it’s been here a long time". I replied it's been 23 or 24 years since I was here. I joined the wine club that day.

    On the return trip from my daughter's place. I stopped in on the way back. Again, around 11:00 clock, middle of the week, same employee working, I'm tasting some wine, looking out a window towards the parking lot, when a couple of old guys get out of the shiny black SL500 Mercedes and come into the tasting room. The employee tells the gentlemen that there is a 5.00 tasting fee, and they answer, no problem. Then the driver of the Mercedes says to lady, "is John in today" and she explains John has gone home for the day but can she say who asking? He says "Davis Bynum", and at this point the employee is visibly nervous and excited at the same time. She tells him that Jim is here and will call him and within a minute Jim arrives in the tasting room. At this point, the lady says,"Mr. Bynum there will be no charge for the tasting" and I said “with that Mercedes he could afford a 10.00 tasting”. Everybody laughs and Davis said, I like your style young man, (I was 58-59 at the time and he was well into his 80's. I had finished my tasting and bought a couple of bottles to offset the 5.00 fee and decided it was time to go. I wish I would have stayed a little longer to watch two icons of the wine industry discuss wines and life. A Pedroncelli fan 40 plus years and counting.”

    Wesley, circa 2015: “I don’t think we’ve met, but we are big fans of Pedroncelli, having been introduced through wine.woot back in the day. We live in Rochester, NY, and have visited the winery twice- once Jon Brown gave us a great tour and we met Jim in the tasting room when he came in for a glass of Wisdom cab. The second time we met Colin and he showed us around.  We have had good luck, at least for our first two kids, finding some birth year wines way late in the game. I remember calling Jon in 2015 when our oldest daughter, Brooke, was twenty, to see if you guys had any 1995 wines still in the cellar. I’m pretty sure that Ed walked through the whole warehouse and ended up finding a magnum of 1995 Three Vineyards Cabernet that he didn’t know was there. Jon sold it to me for $50. I was shocked! We opened it to celebrate Brooke’s 21st birthday on April 22, 2016. The wine was fabulous, and the empty bottle still lives up on a shelf in our wine cellar, reminding us of the wonder of bringing our first child into the world.”


    From A View from 1985:

    Mark: “Great reading about your experience in 1985.  In 1985 I had just completed my first year of grad school at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA.  I had a summer job at Busch Gardens working up data for food service and rides at the theme park.  My wife Catherine and I had a 2 year son and we had passes for the park for the summer, so I worked many hours compiling data for the park (pre-desktop computing) and the family could hang out in the park.  A year later I graduated with a master's degree in business finance and off I ran to work in Washington, DC for several years.  A lot has transpired in the last 35 years, some good and some bad, but hopefully we learn and appreciate the fact that we made it to June of 2020.”

    John and Sheryl Allen: Well, in 1985 we (wife Sheryl and 5 yr old son Jamie and I) lived in Seiad Valley, in the home we still live in today. Jamie is 40, has a nice wife Emily and 3 wonderful children, and they live 3 miles from us. They have a creek on their property about the size of Dry Creek with a swimming hole to keep us all cool. I was beginning my career with the US Forest Service performing forest inventory (measuring trees) and fighting forest fires. We made frequent trips to Healdsburg to visit my dad, Bob Allen on S. Fitch Mtn. Rd., since my mom Ruth passed away in 1983. We often came to your tasting room to taste and buy wine. Our trips are less frequent now, but every now and then we come down and see our friend Tom H. and stay at Geyserville Inn and eat at Catelli's. I've been retired for 7 years, and now we tend our garden and orchard on 4 acres, make my mom’s raviolis (original recipe from northern Italy), drink your good zin and enjoy living in the woods! Before COVID, we used to travel and golf, and stay at our second home in Ashland Or. I hope we can do that again soon! We love your Sonoma Co. and our Siskiyou Co. ----- Take care and enjoy and wish for better times!

    Richard V.: “Our first visit to Pedroncelli Winery was to the barn tasting room.  Two older gentlemen were pouring the wine and talking and telling stories.  It had to be more than thirty-eight years ago because our daughter had not been born yet.  In later years we visited with her at about age 10 or 11.  At that time there was an art exhibit in the room off the new tasting room.  Our daughter was really enthused for some of the art and wrote a note to the artist.  The artist answered her little note and she was so totally excited to hear back from the artist! My wife and I still try to stop by the winery when we are in the area.  Also, we are now members of the wine club.  Good luck and keep up the good work!”

    Steve: “Early 80’s was the time of our first visit to Pedroncelli.  First purchase was either Mother Clone or a Cabernet, I’m not sure. I remember one year on a Celebrity Cruise we were excited to find a Pedroncelli on a Celebrity Cruise and got them to save enough bottles for us to have one each night at dinner. It is still difficult to find your wines in our Des Moines stores but we order regularly online to keep our stock current. My personal favorite is the Port with chocolate dessert. Dr. doesn’t want me to eat desserts so haven’t had any in a while. It’s a Pedroncelli chilling right now (Chardonnay) for dinner tonight. Keep up the good work and keep the great old favorites as many wineries are following the trendy wine of the month path.”

    “It’s Judy, the healthcare worker from Washington State.  I’m the one who was looking forward to visiting and having some Friends Red on my trip in June. Thankfully we are making progress in these challenging times and I’m so happy things worked out! We were able to visit last Sunday and Gary did a wonderful job with our tasting.  We were so glad to visit as “Life Opens Up” in Sonoma County. I just received my shipment and look forward to enjoying each and every bottle. Stay well.”

    Mark: “My wife and I are club members and have been for a few years now.  I can tell you that we treasure your wines.  I’m originally from CA but we’ve been in Texas for 25 years.  We consider your wines the best quality for the price and we’ve visited many wineries all over the world.  When we receive a club shipment, or a case we have ordered it brightens our day (and month) in many ways.  During these times we have certainly enjoyed many a glass of Pedroncelli wine on our back porch.  We live way out in the country and quarantining at home has not been a huge chore for us.  Your wine has certainly made that easier to deal with.  Things in Texas are opening up a bit but being where we are, we would pretty much like to spend our time here anyway.  My wife can work from home and I am retired so we are certainly not complaining.  I also realize that not all are as lucky and I hope for their sakes that things improve quickly.  We wish you the best and please keep doing what you do.”

    Dean: “All is well here in Omaha, NE.  Luckily we have an acreage about 10 miles from mid town Omaha so have the ability to get out to garden, etc.  Always lots to do.  Is nice to be a “semi hermit”. The garden is responding well to the warmer weather but still need to rain.  Tomatoes have set on and even the parsnips are growing. Last year that did not happen as we had lots of rain and not a lot of warm weather.  Been eating fresh asparagus daily from our garden for the past month or so.  It is getting to the point that Ann and I look at each other and say “what are we going to have with asparagus tonight.”  We have an English couple in their mid to late 80s who live up the road so share asparagus and rhubarb with them on a weekly basis.  They are very much concerned about the virus so are homebound on their acreage.  Otherwise, no complaints as of this date.  Just finished reading an interesting book, American Harvest.  Saw a review of it in The New Yorker and thought it was one to read.  I found it rather fascinating.  Since your family is in agriculture, you might find the book, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, by David R. Montgomery interesting. At the ranch we have various meadows and sloughs that are virgin prairies.  We are working on a number of conservation projects including the removal of eastern red cedar trees, the bane of pastures.  Time to head up there tomorrow to check things out.  Need a long drive to get away for a bit.  Hope all is well with you.  Keep smiling and remember, it could be worse! (My uplifting thought for the day). (Grin).”


  • Note from Home: A View from 35 Years

    June 29, 2020 11:27

    Note from Home: A View from 35 Years

    Where were you in 1985? This year marks my 35th  at Pedroncelli Winery so June is a special month for me as it is the anniversary of the start of my career in the family business. 35 years ago…more than half my life and the other half was spent growing up here. I did move away to attend college in Marin County (go Penguins) but always came home to visit with family and it is how my path back home began.

    Post college, as I drove back and forth from the East Bay to Geyserville, I was missing Sonoma County quite a bit (by the way the place I lived in was right next to the Del Norte BART station and the track ran above the fence). After the invitation from my father Jim (actually a meeting in the case goods warehouse), I agreed to make the move back home and work for the family. Once home, I supplemented my liberal arts education with classes at the Santa Rosa Junior College where I learned from the greats-Richard Thomas (vineyard) and Bill Traverso (wine marketing) among others.

    As I eased into the business of wine I began in the Tasting Room working with cousin Richard. I eventually made my way into the office and began doing administrative work. Writing fact sheets and then the newsletter was a natural extension of my education as an English major. 2020 also marks the 30th anniversary of writing newsletters in various formats over the years. 10 years ago I switched from printing the newsletter to the electronic version. My blog posts on Vino in my Dino began 6 years ago. Those projects represent thousands of words about the winery, our history and family as well as musings and opinions over the years.

    In light of this year and all the COVID 19 sheltering in place, wearing of masks, and physically distancing ourselves helps me put some of these things in perspective: my grandparents started from scratch in 1927. Two years later the Great Depression began. They made it through and I have realized by talking to my late uncle John and dad Jim and hearing their stories of the early years made me realize it wasn’t a ‘fun’ time. I imagine it must have been hard for my grandparents to make a living and to feed the family. But because of the land they bought, they were able to have a farm, to sell grapes to support the family and learn a new way of life that would span 9 decades and four generations.

    In the time I have worked for the family business I have seen huge swings and changes in how wine is sold and talked about. The internet, of course, is the biggest change in how we communicate our story and messages-website, social media channels, email and newsletters. Marketing wine nationally and globally are now par for the course. My newsletters have always communicated what was going on and where we were headed.

    First edition of newsletterReflections on my first newsletter-dated Spring 1990, Vol.1 No.1 (by clicking here you'll go to our gallery for the rest.)

    The format here is the typical four-page newsletter with the information in order of importance-front page with news, the middle pages featuring varietals and new releases and the back panel reserved for the shorter messages of signing up to receive the newsletter and information on upcoming events-in this case it was for the Passport to Dry Creek Valley which many of you are familiar with as the trademark event of our area.

    As I read through it some things remain the same because of who we are-can’t change the beginnings or the middle. The history of the first and second generations are in place. You’ll see we made 12 wines at the time including Chenin Blanc, Gamay Beaujolais and Riesling. Today there are other varietals planted in their place (Syrah instead of Gamay, Cabernet Sauvignon instead of Riesling). Wisdom comes with farming a variety and finding out another one does even better in its’ place or is an answer to what our friends like to drink.  Palates were evolving from lighter sweeter wines to more complex wines. We were also known as a ‘best value’ winery. This stand the test of time-this week Dan Berger wrote about our wines and included here his thoughts on the value our wines represent.

    The next pages were a bit of a mish mash-I was learning the ropes obviously. Interestingly the new releases for that time of year include three wines we no longer produce-White Zinfandel, Dry Chenin Blanc and Gamay Beaujolais. I gave an update on the cellar as well as talked about how long we had grown and produced Cabernet Sauvignon-and how long to age it with the suggestion of buying a case of our 1981 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

    What have I learned? To tell the story-even if it is from my perspective and to tell it in a way that reflects who I am and who we are. I enjoy being a storyteller what with our rich history, generations of farming wine grapes and making wine allows for many opportunities to see things from all angles. Those stories, like the newsletters, create a timeline of the Pedroncelli family and what we have accomplished over 9 decades-and 5 generations.

    How about you? I bet a lot of things have changed in that time. 35 years ago Back to the Future was the number one movie, the KC Royals won the World Series (remember baseball?) and the 49ers won the Superbowl. Memories of Live Aid, The Cosby Show and, fittingly, Aretha Franklin’s voice was named a natural resource of Michigan. Tell me-did you have a bottle of our Gamay or Chenin Blanc back then? Did you buy a case of the 1981 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and do you have any in your cellar? Did you visit the tasting room when it was in the case goods warehouse (which is where I began)? Or earlier did you meet my grandfather who welcomed people in to taste in the 1950s/1960s? I look forward to hearing your stories as always and won’t be resting on my laurels as I have even more to write about in the coming years.

  • Note from Home: How You Doin'?

    June 24, 2020 11:05

    Note from Home: How You Doin'?

    My notes from home over the last three months have included many topics during COVID19 and I’d like to revisit one of them and check back in with you-how are you? Or as Joey from the comedy series Friends said, How you doin’?

    Day Ninety Whatever and 11 weeks into sheltering in place. Apologies for the reminder but we are all still here, summer is beckoning, things are opening up but the state and county here caution us all to remain vigilant. I don’t think it is the stay at home that gets me so much as it is being hyper-aware when I am out doing the necessary or usual things. I had an actual doctor’s appointment-not a virtual one. I was stopped at the door to have my temperature taken and asked a barrage of questions ending in did I know anyone who was ill with the coronavirus in my household. Personally, I’d lead with that question!

    All things considered I am working through the stages of SIP: happy to work from home, overwhelmed by the tasks at hand, wondering why so and so has time on their hands to do puzzles, not know what day it actually is let alone the date, and finally forgetting to take my mask with me. I've learned to bring extras.

    These days the eyes have it. Eye contact is key-has anyone realized how our eyes tell all when we have a mask on? While out the other day at the grocery store I was reminded of a memory from years ago by looking into the eyes of Jordan my checker (shout out to Big John’s Market and their checkers-all doing a wonderful job!). We took the kids to a Gold Rush place in Coloma CA and part of the experience was a stage coach ride. We were riding along when suddenly we were stopped and the door flew opened to reveal a bandit with a bandana mask, shades of SIP! My eyes locked with his-and I realized he wasn’t really into his role -perhaps an off day for this fellow. He continued with the “robbery” and we continued on our way saved by the sheriff, or the stage coach driver. The memory of how revealing his eyes were at that moment reminded me when I look at people today our eyes are the windows of our souls!

    How are you doing? If I were to look into your eyes above your mask what would I see? I have heard from many of you and so far you are maintaining a healthy outlook on life at home/work at home/retirement at home/homeschooling at home and have made adjustments at this stage in the SIP game. While some of the states and counties are opening up earlier than California-lucky you-I am still waiting to throw open the doors of our tasting room and say directly to you, "how you doin'?"


  • Note from Home: Plan C

    May 27, 2020 10:57

    Note from Home: Plan C

    There’s Plan A and Plan B. Both of these have merit because the first plan is backed up by the second. A year ago I would never have thought we’d need a Plan C. Sheltering at home and limiting our forays into the community have been a part of our lives for weeks. Have you received your ‘getting out of jail free’ card? We haven’t just yet at home or at the tasting room but it is coming. The weather is warming up, outside venues like parks are opening up and we are making plans to throw open the doors with a few tweaks, of course, because of COVID-19 measures. So Plan C it is.

    This ‘new’ normal is going to govern our lives over the next year or so. There is no ‘boldly go’, more like  slow and steady wins the race. Until the virus abates, or a vaccine is discovered, we are going to socialize in a new way. We always took for granted the hugs and kisses, handshakes and pats on the back but the ‘new’ normal includes continued social distancing, wearing face masks, sanitizing like crazy-as if we haven’t already!

    The state and county are doing their best to phase back into things-phase 1 and 2 have been accomplished and now onto Phase 2B and beyond. In a way our “Get Out of Jail” card or Phase 3 will allow more freedom and allow more movement-and like the state of California says we are going to take it very slowly in order to protect all of us. Tasting room visits, once given the green light, will include some changes for the foreseeable future. We are working hard to put together a memorable and friendly visit.

    First and foremost is safety of all-staff and visitors. Secondly we still need to distance ourselves so reservations for any visits will be taken which is a first for us. We have been a tasting room with walk in ability since we opened. Thirdly I am now taking ‘eye enhancement’ classes so I can communicate above my mask. While we won’t be able to gather in large groups in the beginning we will certainly make you feel at home!

    When formulating Plan C I realized we already have some of this down. When we were sheltering in place we gained some experience in the retail world. We have now grocery shopped in a different way, bought things at stores or other essential places masked and protected, had a video doctor’s appointment or have perhaps done a curbside pick-up.

    Our Plan C will include a whole new wine tasting experience at Pedroncelli-maybe I should call it Plan P? First up, there will be some prep work ahead of your visit to make sure we know how many are in your party, what you’d like to do, what day and time you’d like to come by. We’ll use a touchless system to take your reservation. We’ll set a place for you, have our tasting list ready with some flight choices or have you choose your own flight. We’ll provide you with effortless service, regale you with the stories behind the Pedroncelli name or the wine you are trying, and we’ll enjoy each other’s company even though we are maintaining a safe distance.

    I had a dream the other night about our new tasting room experience post-COVID. I was back in an episode of MASH with the doctors as tasting attendants and I was sitting at a table full of test tube samples. Glad I woke up and it wasn’t true! Needless to say our new plans for you will include all the things for a great experience: tasty wines, a sense of humor and you!


  • A Note from Home: Learning Curves

    April 24, 2020 10:53

    A Note from Home: Learning Curves


    It is day 43 of sheltering in place and the original predictions of this time ending May 3 in Sonoma County have been extended to June. Batten down the hatches for another month of staying home and keeping everyone safe. While we flatten the curve what are the learning curves we have faced? What have we learned about ourselves, our town, or our work habits? Getting better at time management or bread baking? How about our kids/grandkids, entertaining ourselves or our resilience in getting through these times?Home Alone Photo

    The other day we talked to some folks in Kansas & Missouri (via Zoom) about those changes and what they mean to our current lives. Among them were enjoying not having to be somewhere at an exact time, more freedom, more productivity, having the time to learn new things like managing your inbox or taking an additional online class to educate oneself, more creativity, challenges of having kids at home-keeping them focused and busy without too much screen time/device time. Limitations set before COVID have loosened up because screen time on devices has never looked so good to the parents working from home. Just think how much we’ll all look forward to school back in session along with a regular routine! 

    I received many responses in the last week with updates on home life and how you are doing-really. Here are other ways you are learning:

    John from Florida responded: “I just bought a new Fender Telecaster to add to the collection so that’s how I have been passing the hours and days of this awful hunker-down.   I download blues backing tracks and jam along to those.  Love playin the blues.”

    Kellie sent a thoughtful note:  “Well this past week I would say I had a "ho hum" attitude. Deep in my mind I couldn't find hope or anything positive to look forward to. My cooking spirit was flat lining. My clothes closet was getting stale. My hair felt limp and lack of luster. My habit of washing, drying, folding and putting away in the same day waned and the crocheting on the couch ceased. 

    I am realizing that I function much better if there are plans for the day, week and even months ahead. With this virus it has derailed some of my focus. And then I realized I have Grace and Grit. Hearty stock. Thrive and survive attitude. An optimist constitution. All these realizations emerged right after I got real with my thoughts and spoke them out loud to some of my family. 

    So you asked how am I really? In this moment on this Sunday morning sitting in my breakfast nook, I feel optimistic, light hearted, ready to take my dog on a walk on the golf course, then exercise on my stationary bike and then sit down and attend an online David Whyte poetry session titled "Courage in Poetry. "

    Zoom imageWe are all learning something new about ourselves and our situation. I’m learning to really like the Zoom meetings I am hosting and participating in these days. Since I am staying home from travel I find the time afforded me makes writing more of a habit. (I also enjoy not having to get up at 3:30am to get ready for a trip.) Also, learning how to prepare for the 'afterCOVID' life and the new normal we'll experience brings to mind other learning curves. Air travel following 9-11-it was forever changed and is now considered a part of the airport experience. Learning curves are everywhere in our lives-vaccinations developed, historic changes, even the small things like forming a habit.

    What are we learning? We can do it. We can get through it. Try something like a wave and a smile. And we’ll get through it together, six feet apart.

  • A Note from Home: How are you doing? Really.

    April 18, 2020 10:35

    A Note from Home: How are you doing? Really.

    Well, how are you doing a month into our sheltering in place? No, really. How are you doing? We'd love to hear. Over the past ninety three years we've come to know so many people in so many places. And we feel cut off. So, really: How are you?

    Are you pining for the ‘old’ days? What freedom (!) we had in February. We could go for lunch without giving a thought to spreading germs-now masking up and ordering curbside is the way to go; how about stopping to talk to a neighbor in the street-we are now keeping 6 feet or more away from each other; perhaps a drive to the coast or mountains for some fresh air and now, due to current orders, you are hitting the streets. I’ve started to categorize yards-they have olive trees, they have dogwood trees, they have the most beautiful hedges etc

    Obviously here in Wine Country spring has fully evolved into blooming trees, flowers, birds nesting and the grapevines leafing out (not to mention the pollen count is high).  Mother Nature continues on without realizing the streets are quieter, the air is cleaner, people are staying close to home, and a virus is being slowed down because we are following the order in place. We have a ways to go before we are set free from this cocoon, hibernation, lockdown, staycation or whatever you have come to call it.

    Perhaps new habits are being formed. I remember reading that it took about two months to form a new habit or break a bad one. I googled habits and came across a recent article by Tara Parker-Pope in the New York Times published mid February-which now seems like a century ago.  In it there are a lot of good ideas and information and it contained this tidbit about developing a habit: “The study, published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, showed that the amount of time it took for the task to become automatic — a habit — ranged from 18 to 254 days. The median time was 66 days!” We are 36 days into this and it is looking like at least 30 more-coincidence? I think not.
    My new habits are around working from home. I squeeze in a laundry load so I don’t have a mountain of work to do at the end of the week; I eat lunch on our deck and take in the green view of oak trees and new growth over the fence; I am making one or two recipes a week from my website listings because now we have time to photograph the dish and upload it-slow work but I will make my way through the hundreds listed as the year progresses thereby forming another habit. Discipline is another one-I gained the "COVID10" over the last month because I was snacking and eating things I don’t normally eat like sugar and carbs. April 13 dawned and I knew I needed to make changes-so back to low carbing and no snacking. How about you? Any new (good or bad) habits formed lately?

    Walking is a new normal for us-between 9 and 10 miles a day around town-I mentioned to Ed that this mileage is a one way trip to the winery-but I don’t think I’ll start walking to work after this is over-or will I? Besides flowers and yards another thing I’ve seen on our walks around Healdsburg are chalk drawings and inspiring quotes. This one greeted us today and I think gives us all hope for better days ahead. Until next time stay well while keeping six feet apart.

    Chalk drawing with Jasper

  • Postcards From Home

    April 10, 2020 09:48

    Post Card View

    Postcards from Home

    Bee in RosemaryI send my grandsons postcards from the road when I travel on business and of course when we are on vacation. I thought I would share ‘postcards’ from home with you.

    I’ll take you all on a walk around the winery and vineyards for some spring views, sharing the beauty we are experiencing in my former home and surroundings.

    As I have indicated spring is definitely in place around the winery and vineyard and Easter seemed like a good time to share the hopeful sense that nature and the season brings to us.

    The 2020 vintage is in place and beginning to show among the vines with budbreak beginning in mid-March and followed by first leaves. The natural progression and timing has the vineyard right on time for this part of the growing season. We received a couple of inches of rain in April which helps keep the vines happy and without damage to the new growth. First Leaf


    In other areas around the winery the hills are a soft green and show the promise of spring in the flora and fauna around us. Nice warm days are ahead and all the more opportunity to get out and enjoy these moments, even virtually.  Green hills and vines   Spring Barrel  Jasper in the Daisies  Yellow Rose

    Hope does spring eternal as the curve is flattened, we stay at home connecting in different ways with our friends and family, and knowing that nature hasn’t recognized we are at a stopgap and will continue her march toward summer and fall without fail-bringing great hope to me and I hope to you.

  • Note From Home: Holding Steady

    April 2, 2020 08:48

    Note From Home: Holding Steady

    Knee deepWe’ve been knee deep before-take a look at my uncle John standing knee deep in a flood-this is right outside of our cellar some 60 years ago. We’ve seen a few decades of challenge, we’re farmers after all and are holding steady. This current crisis, while we stay at home and do our best to keep our heads above water, is another challenge much like the Great Depression, recession, fires, or 9/11. 

    What did we do when met with those challenges? We held steady and found ways to deal with the situations. My grandparents, who had just bought the property two years ahead of the Great Depression and in the middle of Prohibition, managed by working the farm to support their young family as well as selling the grapes to make a modest living.  My dad Jim created to offer a recession-friendly priced wine and found a spot for grapes without having to pull out vineyard. Two years of major fires tested us and made us more resilient-bringing the community together. And the 9/11 tragedy brought the country together.  

    One of the joys of writing these notes are the responses I am receiving from you. You inspire me with your stories and memories, you’re keeping busy with eyes to the future and the end of this thing called Shelter in Place. Here are some snippets of the comments and observations:

    We are hanging in there discovering how to clean closets, walk together and talk to one another. It will pass and maybe we all can learn from this.

    We are hanging in there. I am bored sitting at home. Over 40 years of making (sales) calls and now a different world.

    We are using this time to relax but be productive, too, because once we can bust out into the real world, I’m planning to visit as many restaurants as possible and get back to the gym! 

    Wisdom from a 70+ year old friend: "What is this teaching me?" For me it's teaching me to be resourceful with what I have. I have a garden that feeds us. A refrigerator full of main staples. A sink with running water. A husband that can still provide. Two sons. One now living in with us and the other getting home safely from Brazil and quarantining in the bay area for 2 weeks and soon will join the clan. My love language is cooking. So this is where your wine comes in...I open a bottle of Pedroncelli wine, play some country music in the kitchen and create a yummy, intentional and nutritional meal for my family. That scenario is my solace, my peace of mind. Thank you Julie for your heartfelt and authentic correspondence. 

    Hold Steady LadsAs a healthcare worker in Washington State I am directly involved in caring for patients who are infected I would just like to say thank you. You and all the others who are sheltering at home are all playing a big part in beating this beast. We will get through it! I have a trip to Sonoma County tentatively planned for June and am hoping and praying it will happen as planned.  I can't wait to drink some Friends with friends. Stay well. 

    I'm inspired to spend this time to be more productive in my writing, I've cleaned out my 'closet' of files, I'm spending time being thankful for what I have, learning to be patient while waiting to hug my grandsons (especially my newest one), following Shelter in Place orders because it will help end this, and holding onto hope for gathering together again.

    What does it take to hold steady? How about courage and wisdom. It takes courage to be a farmer and producer to get through this time, it takes courage to rally the forces around us, be creative and not be overwhelmed. It takes wisdom to know 'this too shall pass' and learn what this situation is teaching us and then passing this wisdom along. Hold steady, hold tight and hold on-6 feet apart.