CREATIVE LICENSE - Artist Elaine Weiner-Reed (EWR) presents her Official Art Blog where she shares her thoughts about art and the creative process, ideas to consider, and musings on life and how it connects to this artist's thought and work processes. Check out her Creative Collaboration Initiative "Every Painting Is A Song | Every Painting Is A Story" - Where writers and musicians respond to her work.
For this artist, it is important to see and have new
experiences in the form of classes, museums, or short trips. They recharge me,
give me a fresh perspective, and more often than not provide new material for
artistic expression. This time, my adventure of renewal included shaking up my
taste buds, as my eyes feasted on acre upon acre of gorgeous vineyards.
Elaine Weiner-Reed -
Wine Country California 2019
Part 1: Napa and The Wine Trolley
days, six vineyards.
It all started with the wine trolley…
and we thought it
really might end there at one point. Really…
My summer’s third “escape” was a condensed five-day roadtrip with my
sister. Destination: Wine Country, California. My desire to revisit that
beautiful region crystallized over the last year as I poured through eight or
more books in a Bibliophile Mystery series by Kate Carlisle centered in San Francisco and Sonoma County. I had
not been to that region in over 25 years, so the time was ripe. Pun intended…
It was, after all, harvest time! Not only that, but I could not believe my good
fortune with the timing of the trip because the weather was cooperating and our
days were to be a succession of hot and sunny – too hot for the Californians,
but perfect for me. If you read my last article ( A Girl, A Tree, and A Good Samaritan) you can appreciate how sorely I needed that sunshine
to lighten and brighten my way forward.
I arrived sometime after 3:00 PM and hopped in my sister’s car, headed west.
It only took about an hour to reach Napa from the Sacramento airport, so we
were relieved to be able to check into our room right away. Tucked away in a
corporate park, our spa hotel welcomed us with a surprise bottle of Prosecco in
our room which was complete with real wine and champagne glasses. It is amazing
just how welcome real glass can be after hundreds of hotel stays offering only
paper or plastic.
The first full day of our trip started and ended at Model’s
Bakery in the Oxbow Market in Napa.
In the morning we had coffee and their to-die-for breakfast sausage sandwich on
a feather-light English muffin with a marvelous mystery sauce. Normally I skip
breakfast, but that day we had to eat for we were boarding the Wine Trolley
promptly at 10:15 across the street from Oxbow. Since it was near 90 degrees
already ( I admit it was really hot), we chose to sit in the open section of
the trolley, facing outward…baking. Prepared for just such situations, my
sister impressed everyone by pulling out sunbrella, hand fan, suntan lotion,
and face towel from her Mary Poppins-like bag. Despite our laughter, I admit to
ducking under the sunbrella with her as we sat 30 minutes longer in direct
Sisters' Napa Wine Trolley Adventure
Finally, 27 of us were all-aboard and the trolley set off, our adventure
underway. And I do mean adventure… I mentioned that some of us chose to
sit in the open, facing outwards, right? Little did we know our travels would
take us on highways – yes, four-lane, sometimes physically divided
highways where the speed limits were at least 60 miles per hour. Despite the
heat, a harness and helmet would have been welcome as the shock-less trolley bounced
out bottoms on benches as we careened past historic landmarks, most of the
trolley driver’s stories (half-heard over traffic noises) featuring tragedy,
mayhem, and losses in the Valley. I wanted to splay myself on the ground in
thanks at each destination, wine-tasting becoming farther and farther from my
top-ten list with every re-boarding of the trolley.
Perhaps it was the circumstance of concentrated vineyard visits, but
there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing.” By the second winery, my
sister and I had opted to share tastings. Fortunately, the second winery,
Whitehall Lane, was our lunch destination. It was one of my favorite vineyards,
one where we got to pick and taste different grapes, experiencing the
differences between a cabernet and a pinot in a whole new way. There, my sister
and I grabbed garden chairs, bringing them into the wine cave and tasting room
to savor a glass of Sauvignon Blanc as we dined on a picnic lunch of baguettes,
salads, and sweets catered by Sonoma’s “A Girl and A Fig” restaurant. The food
and company were great since our trolley-mates were a congenial collection of
newlyweds, birthday girls, and wine enthusiasts.
The third winery is a blur, but on the highway headed to our fourth and
final winery, a loud noise frightened us, bringing home how unsafe that trolley
ride could potentially be: It turns out that a 12-wheeler explosively blew out
a tire while speeding past us in the opposite direction on the divided road.
White knuckling it, we thankfully were not struck by any flying tire shrapnel.
By that time, I think that those of us on my and my sister’s side of the
trolley were all wishing for alternative transportation as we collectively
breathed in relief, listening with one ear to more dark tales of Napa history
by our trolley driver, nicknamed by me as Happy. By the fourth winery,
Andretti’s, my sister went wineless and I skipped the stand-up tasting in favor
of a glass of red wine recommended by a fellow visitor. We were now well into
our fifth hour and rather dreading the last leg of our rock-‘em/sock-‘em ride
back to the market square. You can be sure there will be future drawings of the
trolley adventures in this artist’s sketchbook!
Elaine Weiner-Reed - Napa: Best Seat in the House
Did I mention that our Wine Trolley ride took place on Friday the 13th?
Probably irrelevant, right? Anyhow, we finally arrived back at the Oxbow
Market, each of us quickly wishing each other well, tipping “Happy,” and
hastening on to our next wine country destination. As for me and my sister, we
purchased food for the night, took it back to our room, and recuperated enough
eventually to dine on our balcony. Our lovely view of the rising of the full
Harvest Moon over Napa’s hillsides was accompanied by live music from a
neighboring balcony party. For the rest of our last night in Napa, we relaxed,
took a swim in the deserted pool, wished on the moon, and laughed about our day’s
experiences, planning a more leisurely self-guided trip through Sonoma
beginning the following day. This time, we vowed, no more than one or two
vineyard visits per day – the better to remember and savor the tastes and vistas.