Sunset and the arbors of Carneros

Winter on the vine.

Cutting east from Sonoma to Napa along the Carneros Highway, we pull into the parking lot for a winery just about to close. Two friends, my wife and I enjoy just a taste of some great wine and a few laughs before heading back into the winter wine country gloaming. I had been carrying my camera around the whole day, looking for a shot that inspired. Just before we hit the highway again, glancing out the window along the arbors I notice a single, wide brushstroke of glorious sunset filtering through eucalyptus trees that line the road. I made my fellow travelers pull over twice to grab the photographs for this post. A great glass of wine is second only to a good photograph in its ability to rekindle my memory of scenes like this.

Winter on the vine

I long to return to the vineyards of Sonoma during the fall, when the fruit has been harvested and the leaves have begun to rust upon the vine. These photographs were taken at the very end of December last year, since then I've been lucky enough to travel north again and visit the Russian River Valley during the early spring months. By that time, all the massive vineyards were filled with brilliant, yellow flowers, the very first of which are visible in the photograph below. I learned that these beautiful little blossoms are mustard flowers. The growers plant mustard between each row of vines to act as a natural pesticide. This has the added benefit of rendering fields and rolling hillsides radiant with hues of yellow.

Sunset through the eucalyptus
Napa sunset