Followers and subscribers may have noted that after a couple years of (reasonably consistent) weekly blog posting, I have been missing in action for the past couple weeks. 2013 has been an eventful year, with more travel than I have done in many years previously, as well as a brisk pace in my business. As readers know, I also have made some equipment additions, which have taken up some time and given me some “fodder” for blog topics. Lately, it seems like I have exhausted my “new” images, and to an extent, things to write about (perhaps a kind of “blog-writer’s” block). In the next few weeks, I will continue to have a busy travel schedule. While this means I hope to have new images and topics; at the same time it also means I will continue to have periods when the blog is “MIA.” This will be particularly true later in September, when I will spend nearly 3 weeks in Europe (where I plan to travel light; with only my Sony NEX gear and an iPad). I hope you’ll bear with me. I have no plans to stop blogging here, and hope to have many more things to share over the coming months.
We have recently returned from our second visit to Northern California including San Francisco and the Napa/Sonoma wine country. The focus of this trip was social, visiting family and meeting good friends. The photography was “travel photography” oriented, rather than landscape shooting. Indeed, as this blog illustrates, it had a rather “alcoholic” bent to it.
We met with our new friends in Napa; two couples we met on the Obrien Estate Vineyard-sponsored Caribbean Cruise in January. The 6 of us rented a house to use as “base camp,” and did some wine tasting, discovering both new vineyards and “old friends.” Our trip started with a nice meal with our friends, Bart and Barb O’brien, proprietors of the Obrien Estate Vineyard where we shared good food, good company, and some of the wonderful Obrien wines. We ended the week again, at Obrien Estate for their annual “date night.”
During our stay in Napa, we visited some really nice “new” vineyards (some new only to my wife and me; some new to all of us) in Napa and Sonoma. A wine neophyte, I continue to learn about this rather fascinating product during these trips. In my “day job,” I work a lot with farmers, assisting with their business, business succession and estate planning needs. I began my college undergraduate career in agriculture and have always had a fascination with the area. One thing that came as a bit of an epiphany to me on this trip is that most of these vintners are “farmers.” They mostly grow their own grapes and there is fascinating science to this type of agriculture. They are also scientists, inventors, and entrepreneurs.
I had the privilege and pleasure of introducing my experienced wine enthusiast friends to my own personal favorite Napa winemaker, Aonair Wines, owned by proprietor, Grant Long. Wholly organic and uniquely made, these wines are available by allocation only. We also discovered another gem, getting lost on our way up to the vineyard, way up on Mt. Veeder: The Yates Family Vineyard, where we got a tour of historic wine making facility (no longer in use) including a Roman style crushing setup.
But what is a trip to wine country without a side trip? On the final day of our visit, our daughter arranged for a trip to St. George’s Spirits, a distillery in Alameda, California, where we learned about vodka, gin, eau di vie, and bourbon. My wife and I are partial (as all who know us will probably attest to), to both Gin and Bourbon, so it was fun to learn and to taste, and we have found yet another distillery that can add to the variety that stocks our home cabinet.
There is so much to do in Northern California. We did find a couple of very nice restaurants, and do a little sightseeing. But there is so much more, and I am already looking forward to my next visit. I will focus more on some of the other things to do there, lest my friends and family begin to think we believe there is only one reason to visit Northern California.