"Here's the thing about the vineyard, it's where the magic happens..."
Special places. I find solitude in them. Wonderful opportunity to leave the phone in the pickup.
Setting: Tippy top of Howell Mountain.
Scene: Planting 47 acres of Zinfandel, Rousanne and Petite Syrah.
Folks in the mix: Me and the lovely men and women from Michoacán.
Chronology: As follows…
3:30 am - Arrive in pitch dark. Thinking on big rattlesnake I saw yesterday at dusk. Begin watering the myriad trays of green growing plants, thousands of them. Place 4 trays in rickety wooden, one-axel trailer hitched to 4-wheeler. I’ll repeat this process all day long.
3:45 am - Distribute the trays in the vine rows where left off yesterday. Trying to get way ahead of folks doing the planting so I can focus on cleaning up behind them, watering the blocks we’ve planted along with today’s unplanted positions. Watering ahead of the shovel makes the dirt easier to penetrate & speeds up the process.
5:00 am - Clanks of the chain link on the gate entry and faint Mariachi music below signal arrival of the gang. Several van loads and a few cars. Smells of asada and carnitas waft out of vehicles with little sound other than boots on dirt and gravel. The orange band on the horizon to the east is the morning sun.
5:30 am - Planting “music” begins with shovels hitting the dirt and rock. Plastic containers crumple while plants are being coaxed out and into the soil. Slowly the banter between friends & workers picks up. Morning progresses into day.
**Super Cool Note: this is the time where everything is under control and my morning treat of nature at its finest ensues. I haul ass on the 4-wheeler away from the vineyard up to a small rocky knoll, 3400 ft ASL, that looks due south down the Valley. Being July the blanket of fog looks like a sea of cotton stretched all the way to San Pablo Bay. Pinheads of colored balloons magically pop through and above the white blanket of fog at Yountville, sun fully up and over the Stag’s Leap district. Insane the simple pleasures of a vineyard.
3:30 pm - The planting day is done. Its close to triple digits on the thermometer. My cleanup of the entire area begins along with prep for the next morning.
5:30pm or so - My final reward/gigantic boost of stoke arrives. Larry’s pool on property is mid 60s temp in dead of summer due to some shade of older blue oaks. (Pre-insurance diving board;). After fully disrobing with no one around, the exhilaration of airborne launch before I hit the water with 180-degree views of the Valley below is FUCKING MONEY!!