The Robert Mondavi Vinyards

    The Robert Mondavi Vinyards

    The Robert Mondavi Vinyards

    In the warmer months of central-northern California, in 1996 or 1997, I jumped into my beat-up VW Fox Sport and took a trip into the wine country. Napa and Sonoma counties, about an hour north of , is the host to a multitude of vinyards and tasting rooms, restaurants, picturesque towns, and lush green foliage. It’s a pleasant way to relax after a hard week of work.

    There used to be a wine train, but it wasn’t running that weekend (if at all; memory doesn’t serve). I drove north through the , through Marin county, and onward and upwards. (When I was consulting for

    we drove up via the San Francisco Bay Bridge, then over the C+H Sugar bridge, into Sonoma the back way. That week it was flooding and my boss thought we’d have a better chance of making it up with our load of Sun SPARCstations.)

    This time, though, the weather was nice, the road, deserted, and the stereo, soothing. Before long I was winding up the small roads that lead through wine country. Vinyards as far as the eye can see. I hit a few tasting rooms, picking up a bottle or two here and there, sometimes with a free wineglass. Then I drove into the Robert Mondavi vinyards, mostly because of the eye-catching sculptures visible from the main road.

    I took the tour, where the varieties were explained to us, the techniques demonstrated, the lore related. It was a fascinating time. Walking through the old buildings, the cool rock structures, the warm wood, it was a calming atmosphere. I saw the barrels where the wines are aged, the bottles of varying sizes which store the final product, and then I tasted: wine and chocolate and strawberries. Then I walked outside into the mist, to enjoy the courtyard, the smell of fresh plants and the sounds of birds singing.

    Then I walked back to my car with my purchases and headed back to my fog-covered city by the bay.

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