Like the Vines, I am Getting Ready for Winter

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by M.L. Hilton

(NAPA, CA) -- I am sitting in front of my computer in comfort clothes. The day has turned achromatic, and though not cold, the overcast drives away any feeling of warmth.

Yesterday and the day before, we enjoyed a luminous headlong descent into autumn - leaves shouting out from trees and vines in a riot of colorful expression. It's the last party before winter's dormancy and it looks, and feels, amazing.

I have spent my last two weeks eating my way through some of Napa and Sonoma's most interesting restaurants, diving into tasting rooms and drinking mostly pinot noirs and sparkling wines. My waste line and flagging muscles say I need to stop, but the autumn keeps nudging me on: Enjoy us, enjoy us - winter is coming soon. Like my years, with senior-citizenship right around the corner, I am feeling camaraderie with the leaves: unwilling to be bound by anything other than the inevitable march of time.

During the early part of October, I have celebrated new friendships and new opportunities across the Napa and Sonoma wine country. We started our culinary party in one of my favorite places - Della Santina's just off the Sonoma square; enjoying also Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg; Angele in Napa, and Friday's meal at Zare was colorful, complex in its flavors, and we were attended by a most engaging server.

Breakfasts (because once you embark on eating well, why stop at dinner?): Of course Gordon's Café in Yountville, a really great Sunday Brunch at Brix (also Yountville) and the BEST oatmeal I have ever eaten at Costeaux French Bakery & Café in Healdsburg.

In between that all? Life would not be fully worth living without several trips to Bouchon Bakery in Yountville. Sometimes the services gets a bit, well French, but you can overlook that once you have selected, and are enjoying, your sandwich or treat.

If perchance you bump into me in the next week or two, and I look a bit distracted, give me some quarter - it is more likely that I am just satiated and bulking up (perhaps emotionally) for the long, cold trip through winter.

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