A Toast to Wine & Nature


Life has been presenting herself as both friend and foe. I’ve been hesitating to draw her near. Instead, I hold her at arm’s length, in fear of her gifts wrapped in havoc. But this morning, in my beautiful craftsman home in Healdsburg, sitting at my kitchen table with a friend and a hot cup of chicory, my perspective broadens enough to include life and her equally relentless daughter, nature.

Healdsburg is beautiful: boutique wineries, sumptuous food, long winding redwood-ridden roads, and bifurcated vines laden and heavy. This is my home and the place where I shed my skin. I’ve been privileged to live the 2010 crush of Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah–all the belles of Dry Creek and Alexander Valley. Harvest does not always produce a bounty. Due to extreme sudden exposure, this year’s crop has been left mostly to drop. The grape skins have sunburns. In essence, they are like winter visitors exposed to a tropical noon sunlight. Like raisins, empty husks once bloomed, they now hang, but are left to return to the soil in a cyclical exchange of loss and gain. The hopes of wine growers, to turn the grapes it into a beautiful balanced red, has now dried into fear. Fear has her way, if embraced, tofeed motivation and growth. We live in circles and cycles that are like the seasons, the crops, and the land.

The harvest reminds me of this, the cyclical nature of kindness and the cruelty that life and nature have to offer.

Lately, one of nature’s sweetest offerings has been a Zinfandel from Limerick Lane Winery and Vineyard. Limerick Lane is the Wysteria Lane of Healdsburg, home to wine growers with interesting lives that are as rich as the soil and century-old zinfandel vines. If only these vines could talk!

These wine growers are not wine designers, but they are artisans who know and nurture their finicky fruit. They keep their hands buried, wrist-deep, for most of the year. As craftsmen, they produce artisanal reds that are kept sacred for special events and Food and Wine Magazine favorites. Needless to say, you won’t find these specialties at Safeway; there is absolutely nothing corporate about them.

From my kitchen window, I watch the rain fall. This is nature’s way of signaling the end of harvest. Some grapes make it into the dubious 2010 vintage, while others become nutrients for next year’s bloom. Life is cyclical. I’ll embrace her and toast to future harvests in my own life and in Healdsburg.

About The Author

Cynthia Vale is a budding scholar and doctoral student in Transformative Inquiry at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She writes the dot429 philosophy blog. You can reach Cynthia at cynthia@valediscovery.com.

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