When I first moved to California, I lived in the Napa valley (actually a little town called Angwin in the hills east of the valley). What I liked most about living there was not the availability a lot of really good inexpensive wine, but the food. All the food was good. Grocery store deli food was superb, the scones at my favorite coffee shop melted in my mouth. The burgers at the local drive up place were incredible and all the food was fresh. Not only are there chefs and cooks with a lot of vision, the Napa valley is smack dab in the middle of family farm country there is a plethora of fresh produce. Even the local taqueria, which was inexpensive, had the best burritos and tacos around; I and my fellow bakers would get dinner there before they closed.
Not to forget the grapes. In St. Helena, where the bakery I worked at is, there are vineyards all over town; my son and I would often walk through the rows of grape vines to get to the library, his day care or the store. Sometimes, when the grapes were just getting ripe we would take a couple.....maybe more...and pop them into our mouths to test their readiness for the crush.
The Crush came toward the end of August and went well into September. Just when the grape leaves start to change color, the grapes come off the vine and are loaded into huge gondolas that are towed to the various wineries, Which, as you may imagine are also as ubiquitous as the grape vines . I did not take much interest in the goings on of the wine industry, I did not go to tasting rooms or drive around the valley and the surrounding hills looking for the best wine, I did have some wines that I thought were good. What I do know is that you don't generally drink wine when it is just grape juice. It puzzles me why it seemed that during the crush there were suddenly more people in wine country? These BMW driving fashionistas were not there to work, I am positive, since most of them seemed to be a drunk at the end of the day. They were definitely tourists. The other puzzling aspect was the smell, the smell of, well, fermenting grapes was everywhere and it was not totally pleasant, You would think the tourists would all wait until after the smell went away to come. I did get used to it eventually so much so that I don't find it all the offensive.
Right now I have loads of grapes, like a bunch of purple chandeliers hanging from my arbor, and ripe grapes are being crushed under foot on our porch. Charlie and Ruthie have been eating grapes by the handful for almost a month. (most of them not ripe)
A couple of days ago, Charlie walked past me and suddenly a whiff of something reached my nose that brought back a flood of memories. I was transported, I remembered eating tacos and drinking Corona at work, walking the vineyards with Kyle, buying grapes at the St. Helena farmers market. A couple of minutes later as I changed Charlies diaper I realised where the smell was coming from.