I’ve just found a place to live in Santa Rosa, the gateway city to the Sonoma Valley, and I’ll be moving to California wine country in late May 2018! I’m excited to formally start my new life out west in the wine industry — but happily, I feel it’s already begun.

See the star? That’s the city of Santa Rosa, where I’ll soon be living

The Sonoma County housing market has long been notoriously tight, and the destructive fires of October 2017 did nothing to help matters — so I knew it would be a challenge finding a place to live. Searching mostly online from my home in Washington, D.C., I spent nine weeks going back and forth about whether I wanted to live in the countryside or a city, in a house or an apartment, in a furnished place month-to-month or a year-or-more lease, in Healdsburg, Santa Rosa or Petaluma, and a myriad other possible scenarios. I encountered some unexpected speed-bumps: Many Sonoma County rentals don’t accept cats, and even more provide hookups for a washer and dryer rather than an actual washer and dryer. As though people travel around with a washer and dryer.

I’ve now settled comfortably on a Santa Rosa apartment complex that offers grown-up-lady amenities like landscaped grounds, a pool, a gym, dedicated parking, an in-unit washer/dryer and a dishwasher, and a big balcony with a nice view. My specific apartment is currently being renovated, and will be move-in ready for me and my cat, Ruby, on Thursday, May 24. I’ll be near a Trader Joe’s, a Michael’s craft store, a Petco, and several hiking trails, as well as the city’s growing downtown.

A few people have asked if I’m going to drive across country for the move, but since that trip will involve Miss Ruby, Our Lady of the Delicate Stomach, that’s an enormous no. In a reverse version of my move east from L.A. to D.C. back in August 2015, I’ll put my car on a carrier truck, my belongings on a moving truck, and fly cross-country with Ruby. Anyone want to help me pack…again?

I’m now working part-time for a Sonoma-based wine club startup called Women-Owned Wineries

It’s now mid-April, and I’ve just begun working part-time for a Sonoma-based startup wine club called Women-Owned Wineries (WOW). The brainchild of writer and brand strategist Amy Bess Cook, WOW aims to highlight and support wineries owned by female winemakers and entrepreneurs — a mission I can 100% get behind. I’m presently fact-checking a huge database of American wineries to determine if they’re female-owned, and in the coming months, I’ll be helping with whatever’s needed, including editing and writing for the WOW website. I’ll be sure to announce when the wine club is officially up and running, but in the meantime, please consider contributing to WOW’s crowdfunding efforts!

This summer, I’ll officially be a bocce player in the Napa Valley — fulfilling a dream

I’ve also been invited by my enormously talented friends Kaethy and Tim Kennedy of Napa Films to join their St. Helena bocce team, which plays on Friday nights during the summer. St. Helena’s bocce league is made up largely of folks who work within the Napa wine industry, so I’m looking forward to meeting lots of new people — as well as fulfilling my dream of playing the favored sport of cute old Italian men.

The fabulous tasting room at Napa’s Phifer Pavitt Winery — Photo by Melanie Wynne

In the meantime, I’ve begun applying to wineries to work as a tasting room associate this summer, since my harvest internship at Moshin Vineyards doesn’t start until August 27. Tasting room work combines some of my favorite things: Talking to friendly people about wine, sharing a winery’s stories, and putting on pants and leaving my home.

Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy writing on my couch in activewear, but it’ll be nice to mix it up, as well. I look especially forward to life as a winemaker, when I’ll be outside for whole days at a time.


Meanwhile, friends have already started putting me in touch with their Sonoma- and Napa-based friends and family, which makes me feel like I’ve got a community already waiting for me, 3,000 miles away. If there’s someone you know in Sonoma County or the Napa Valley (either in or out of the wine industry) that you think I should meet, please feel free to put us in touch via melanie@straightoutthebottle.com. Your folks = my folks!