Summer Vacations in Wine Country

By the time I was four years old, I had begun to visit my father during the summer at the hippie commune on which I was born. After spending winters with my mother in Colorado, my summers wandering the backwaters of California’s Sonoma County with a bunch of hippies were nothing short of idyllic. There were bonfires, stargazing, sleeping out of doors (both with and without tents), fishing, and most activities you can imagine that involved getting as dirty as possible. And oh yes, there was wine tasting.

My visits to my father, you see, presented an excuse for my paternal grandparents to make the drive from Colorado (and eventually Arizona). While there was plenty for a young, active kid to do on 1,000 acres of sheep ranch, the options for entertaining straight-laced pensioners were extremely limited. So whenever Grandpa and Grandma showed up, we’d all load up into Grandpa’s Buick, and head over the hill into the Sonoma Valley to experience a bit of civilisation.

I can’t quite pin down how far my first memories of wine tasting go back, but by the age of six or seven I had been to most of the major wineries in Sonoma County (along with quite a few in Napa), and already had preferences…

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