Napa Journal-Final Entry

The White Sulphur Springs campus rests in a lush canyon in the Napa Valley. Every morning at daybreak, I’d walk through a forest of red woods and eccentric oaks covered in velevty moss. The sun rose behind the mountain, so the canyon road glowed with borrowed light to slowly reveal more and more forest.

Before noon of my first day, I took a winery tour. Julie Daley, the corporate creativity guru who was my tour guide, turned out to be a great sport. We tucked into a hearty lunch of short ribs and sea bass at the Martini House. Our conversation ran the gamut from our aspirations to our most devastating setbacks. By the time we marched out of the place we were friends and free to take the day for all its promise. And so we did.

We got lost wending our way through the mountains in search of the private estate and vineyard of Pat Kuleto, the restaurant designer responsible for many the Bay area’s most successful restaurants. We had to stop at a biker bar to ask directions. Okay, I grew up in Detroit and Chicago. I have nothing to compare this experience to because frankly, a non-biker woman doesn’t enter a biker bar unless she’s looking for trouble. Me, I was looking for directions. I am happy to report that the patrons of the Turtle Rock Bar provided them most amiably.

When we finally arrived at the Kuleto Estate our guide, Mark, welcomed us and showed us around. He manages a variety of projects at the winery, including the membership club and the tasting room. We toured the grounds, climbed to the peak and sipped a cheeky Shiraz while overlooking the valley. The sun was beginning to set.

To savor the experience, I joined the wine club. Every quarter they’ll send me a shipment. The winery supplies Kuletos’ restaurants and sells to members. Retail is not a channel. Not sure why. Would have asked Mark if I had the presence of mind to do so, but was too busy sipping Shiraz and lapping up the view. My first shipment arrives in February, which gives me something to look forward to now that I am back in Chicago. I returned to 10 degree temps. But tonight, it’s warming up and a gentle snow falls over my sleeping garden. Earlier this evening, I walked to the post office with an armload of my books to send out to some bloggers who had requested them. I felt a little lighter for having had some California sunshine on my face last week.

My thanks to Raz Ingrasci President of the Hoffman Institute for inviting me to speak to his remarkable faculty and for being such a thoughtful host.