Tag Archives: Wine

A Feast for the Senses

Lucca, Tuscany, Italy. Français : Lucques, Tos...
Lucca, Tuscany, Italy. Français : Lucques, Toscane, Italie.

After spending ten days immersed in the wine country of Tuscany, Italy, I have etched every moment, vivid and alive, in my memory, and stored every sensory experience, acute and vital, in my heart.

My senses were sharpened, like a chef’s knife, once my worries and obligations of home in Sonoma receded into the background.  Every sound, smell, touch I experienced in Italy, only made my appetite for life greater.

In San Gennaro, Lucca, in the tiny, little village in which we stayed, I could hear the soft church bells in the distance, smell the freshly brewed espresso coming from the only ristorante down the street, and feel the cobblestones under my feet as we walked the narrow alley ways with fresh flowers in the window baskets.  Come evening, I would breathe in the aroma of a fine Fabiano red wine and fall into the flavors of their famous Bistecca alla Fiorentina.

My husband and I walked the cobble stone streets for miles and miles, and visited the medieval Roman towns of Lucca, Siena, Portovenere, Greve in Chianti, Florence and Pisa and watched the hustle and bustle of not only the tourists, but of the Italian locals shopping for fresh ingredients for their dinner each night.

When it comes to beauty, the Italian people embody it.  Everywhere you look, feel, taste, touch and see, there are fine fashions, beautiful people, delicious wines, exquisite food, historical treasures, architectural delights and art masterpieces to behold.

Italy is, in a few words, a feast for the senses.  I could not stop eating their fine foods, drinking their exquisite wines, walking the Roman streets, or marveling at their art.  In Florence, I stood in the presence of mystical magnificence at the Accademia and Uffizi Gallery.   I simply, could not take my eyes off Caravaggio‘s Bacchus God of Wine, Michelangelo’s David, nor Botticelli’s Birth of Venus.

The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli
The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I came home with a deepened appreciation for my husband, my family, for beauty found right here in the wine country.  My life here in Sonoma–it is a lot like Tuscany, where I grow fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables in my own garden.  I too, can stroll down long country roads with vineyard rows everywhere, and have picnics with fresh bread, a delicious Chianti and imported salami and cheeses.

vineyard light
vineyard light (Photo credit: torbakhopper)

Tuscany is a slice of heaven and so is home, here in Sonoma, where I can practice the simple life in a more meaningful way.

Just outside my window, the vineyard buds are about to open right before my very eyes.

The Beauty of this Life

On this wintry day, from my kitchen island, I stir my mother’s homemade lentil soup and look out at the Redwood trees, dripping wet with rain.  The time to go inward is here, a simple but sure season of good things yet to come.  I think of all that is taking place outside and all that is going on inwardly.

Edna O’Brien, the Irish novelist said, “In a way, winter is the real spring–the time when the inner things happen, the resurgence of nature.” 

This is the case in the Sonoma wine country where the naked, golden brown branches after months of dormancy, resurge into pink buds and lush green vines, but not yet, not yet.

This is nature’s low-key time, perfect in every way with not much to do.  Winter makes me want less, need less, feeding myself and my family with only the basics: food, shelter, love, connection, and energy to create a new.  To be reborn like every living thing in the garden.

I am reminded of nature’s patience and the need to cultivate more of my own.  My German Shepherd Jeb waits for our daily walk near the veggie garden, still needing clearing for seeds this spring.  In good time, we will plant basil, cilantro, chili peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, parsley, cucumbers, and artichokes. 

But for now, my desire to go inward, observe and write is heightened.  The quiet allows for new songs of Sonoma to surface and make their way onto the page–of the orange breasted Robin hunting for seed on the grassy knoll of our vineyard, of the Camellias waiting to burst into red color from my kitchen window, of the night sky diamonds shining their brilliance under the valley of the moon.

I watch life with all its intensity, active stirrings and true offerings.  I accept the cycles of nature–of death and rebirth.  I see reality clearly and understand intuitively, the beauty of this life found in the silence, creativity, and simplicity of nature’s surroundings.  I think of Aristotle’s words…

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.”

 

Rewards of the Harvest

We are what we create and I have proof of this on my 2011 desk calendar–an oil painting called Rewards of the Harvest, symbolizing gratitude, abundance and Thanksgiving. 

Rewards of the Harvest was originally mouthpainted by Mark Sotak, an artist, who paints only with his mouth.  It is clear to me, that Sotak is not his disability, he is, however the beauty he created on the white canvas and the perseverance, hope, productivity and love he manifested in his work. 

Mark Sotak painting in his studio below.

The painting (which I wish I could show you) is of a table centerpiece with bright orange pumpkins and persimmons, deep green gourds and clusters of purple grapes, a candle lit lamp glowing over the fruit, a brown basket with red apples in it and lavender flowers placed in a painted sunflower pot.  It represents the abundance of a good harvest. 

We are not painters, but we are small time wine makers of Nicolas Alexander wine and we had our own harvest yesterday.  We not only gathered over a ton of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes which will produce over 46 cases of Nicolas Alexander 2011 Meritage wine, but we did so with the help of close family and good friends gathering together to celebrate in the organic ritual of grape turning to wine, under the warm Sonoma sun

The day was made up of four hours of hard labor (picking grapes), two hours of separating the stems from the grapes, and just minutes to pour the pulp, juice and peel into big white sanitized bins for a few weeks of fermentation.  By midday, we indulged in delicious homemade delicacies ala Dano (my husband) and tasty varietal wines from the Sonoma wine country region.  

In Italy, the Italians describe a day such as yesterday, with one word, Abbondanza!  It was a full, beautiful, and fruitful day made up of long talks with friends I hadn’t seen in years, with family I hadn’t seen in months but always with abundant laughter and kindness pouring from their hearts. 

Robert Louis Stevenson said, Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” 

This weekend, we celebrated not only an abundant harvest, but reaped from the seeds we planted over the many years of our lives. 

We are what we create and I have to remind myself of this truth each and every day.