When last I left you — a whole three months ago — I was preparing to make the 2,850-mile move west from Washington, DC to California wine country to begin Version 5.0 of My Adult Life™. Since then, I’ve made the leap to Sonoma County and landed with grace!
THE TIMELINE OF MY EPIC MOVE
- April 21-May 13: Packed my Capitol Hill apartment with help from my dear friend Daemon and my Aunt Kari; and completed work on the database for Women-Owned Wineries — turns out there are hundreds in the US!
- May 14: Moving truck arrived 10 days before I left DC, in order to allow time for cross-country travel; I moved in with my beloved, patient, and fabulous wine sister Danya, staying on her comfy blow-up mattress
- May 16: I ordered said comfy blow-up mattress for delivery to California in case the moving truck arrived late
- May 23: Flew DCA-SFO with my calico cat, Ruby in a carrier at my feet; I then rented a car for a week and drove to Santa Rosa, where I settled briefly into the neo-Midcentury Modern Sandman Hotel
- May 25: Took possession of my Santa Rosa apartment, to which I’d committed sight unseen and which is thankfully lovely; set up Ruby’s stuff; blew up my mattress; signed up for WiFi; and thanks to my heroic Cousin Daniel back east, my car got onto a carrier truck for cross-country transport
- May 27: My Allied moving truck arrived in Santa Rosa in the afternoon and the move went just beautifully
- May 28: Started working in the tasting room at Moshin Vineyards in the Russian River Valley!
MOSHIN VINEYARDS + ME
I’ve been having a great time getting to know the Moshin family in and out of the cellar, tasting my way through the whole catalogue of wines, meeting visitors from all over the world, and figuring out where the heck everything is.
I’m also proud to announce that I’ve made it up and down the enormous warehouse ladder, cases of wine in hand, several times. So far, so good.
For two days, I was in grapevine heaven when Rick Moshin, the winery’s namesake and winemaker, allowed me to prune his private Grenache vineyard to get the hang of it. I’ve rarely ever been so happy.
This week I’ll work Moshin’s bottling line for the first time, and next week I’ll host a private tasting on my own; I’m excited to do both. For the few days I’m there each week, I’m able to dance, laugh, listen to great stories, and share my love of wine, all while wearing comfy clothes — what more could a woman want? My harvest internship starts on August 27, and for at least two months, I’ll belong entirely to Moshin and its grapes. I can hardly wait.
EXPLORING WINE COUNTRY AND BEYOND
Meanwhile, it’s now late July, and I already feel like a Sonoma County local. My zippy little VW GTI arrived safely and ahead of schedule, and is proving ideal for the winding country roads of Sonoma County, the Napa Valley, and beyond. I’ve so far explored Petaluma, Sonoma proper, Rohnert Park, Cotati, all eight exits’ worth of Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Windsor, Healdsburg, and Cloverdale, as well as Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley, Contra Costa County’s Walnut Creek, and Marin County’s Larkspur. I go to “the Napa side” about once every two weeks, usually to play bocce in St. Helena, and have found three different routes from Santa Rosa. All of ’em take an hour, but I’m all about variety.
YES, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE WINE PART OF WINE COUNTRY?
I go wine-tasting at least twice a week, sometimes at private wine industry parties, which are held at wineries after hours throughout the summer. Thanks to my adventures, I’ve so far fallen in love with the:
- Cabernet Franc and swanky tasting room at Ashes & Diamonds
- Pinot Gris and 2016 Estate Pinot Noir at Balletto
- Pinot Meunier Rosé at Draxton
- Chenin Blancs from Dry Creek Vineyard and Leo Steen
- Pinot Noirs at Dutton-Goldfield
- Cabernet Sauvignons at Elizabeth Spencer
- Riesling (and the gorgeous patio) at Handley Cellars
- Barbera at Idlewild
- Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs from Jaclynn Renée Wines
- Muscat Blanc and music-themed wine stickers at Kokomo
- Fiano from Lago di Merlo
- Lavender fields at Matanzas Creek
- Zinfandel and fountains at Matrix
- Amazing gardens, olive oil, and cats at Preston Farm & Winery
- 2014 Ritchie Chardonnay and Rosé of Pinot Noir at Red Car
- Sauvignon Blancs at Rochioli
- Rosé of Pinot Noir and pizza oven action at Rodney Strong Vineyards
AND HERE’S WHAT ELSE I’M DOING
I’m still editing and writing part-time. In mid-June, I started freelancing for AAA’s Western US Via Magazine, helping to refine their old website and prepare content for their soon-launching new one. Big thanks to project lead Katie Hammel for this gig, which keeps me happily focused on the great places all around me.
Wine-writing opportunities are also cropping up, and I continue to study grapes, wines and winemaking every chance I get. Thank goodness I bought a library’s worth of wine books last year, because I’m using ALL of them. Two of my favorites are Oz Clarke & Margaret Rand’s Grapes & Wines and Jamie Goode’s The Science of Wine.
This coming Saturday, July 28, I’ll be in Napa attending the inaugural Bâtonnage, an all-day forum for women in wine. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with some of the wonderful women I met during my trip out here in February (posts yet to come), and to making some brand new connections. Also? Tasting a whole bunch o’ women-made wines.
Upshot? This summer is turning out to be one heck of a growing season for me.