Beginnings: the start of something yet untouched is filled with a fresh sense of hope and wonder. This is true whether it is a new home, a new friend or a new day. The first thing we love to do in the mornings is to put the kettle on, throw open the kitchen door and let in cool, fresh air. Often you will hear a distant rooster crowing at the sunrise, tame geese asking for breakfast, or sheep (as I mentioned in my last post) gingerly leaving their night stall and wandering into the vineyards. Although it is quite cold outside and the middle of winter, these country sounds are only more appreciated when you glance up and see a dramatically colored sunrise. This seem to signal the first note of a very special day to come!
Sonoma Valley and Napa Valley
Sonoma early morning
We then brew an amazing cup of coffee or pot of loose leaf tea. This has most likely been sourced from a local roasting company. In Sonoma and Napa we love to support our small purveyors of specialty goods whether that is coffee, tea or wine.
locally sourced tea
Next, we step outside, take a seat on the porch or in the garden, preferably a spot with a lovely view and enjoy the beauty of this fresh new day in the Sonoma and Napa Valley.
The fog has settled on the vineyards in Sonoma and the vines are now officially asleep for a few months. Although they are resting peacefully, the gardens and new kitchen at The French Laundry in Yountville are quite lit up and full of activity and promise for future celebrations. Food, gardens and agriculture are such an integral part of life in the Sonoma and Napa Valleys. It seems almost everyone has some sort of a flower or vegetable garden at their home. Many times you will see a lovely persimmon tree standing regally in a front yard. The owner of the house may even have a small stand selling the fruit to anyone who passes by. At the Farmers Market on Friday morning a local baker has created a special persimmon cake.
Farmers Market, Sonoma
The French Laundry kitchen and vegetable garden
Personal garden and Vineyard
Additionally, sheep are now in the gardens and vineyards to share in the bounty of this season. They love the tender grass and are quite helpful as a natural, organic way to manage the planted cover crop, fertilize the soil, and eliminate the use of herbicides in both personal gardens and agriculture. It is so interesting that they help the vineyards in a variety of ways. Their small hoofs have much less impact on the steep, wet, environmentally sensitive ground of many properties than tractor which find it difficult to navigate between the rows of vines in winter. Sometimes called sheep “mowing”, they also decrease the erosion and soil compaction which adds to the health of both soil and vines. All of this helps to create the flavorful fresh fruits and vegetables which these two valleys are so known for.
Lambs in the field
In summary, winter is a mixture of the resting of gardens & vines with the renewed activity of winter foods and footed friends enjoying the season.
This beautiful villa in the hills to the west of the city of Sonoma is so lovely and well done that you wish it were possible to move in this afternoon. The lifestyle here is a blend of the old world charm of Italy and the relaxed sunshine of Sonoma. Such a perfect combination!