With this weeks theme for Sepia Saturday being about wine I had to add my two cents since I live in the middle of one of California's premier appellations. There was once a booming apple industry here.
The truth is I live here, but I don't drink the stuff. In fact, I've had it with vineyards and wineries. At times I feel like I'm living in a part of Disneyland with all the tourists flocking here to Winoland. They clutter the roads, my local fruit stand, and my favorite restaurants. And then there are certain vintners who carve up the land destroying the eco systems. Sadly the county lets them get away with it, though there have been a few success stories where neighborhoods have fought having a new winery built in their midst.
Each time I see an orchard being bulldozed I sneer and wonder which corporation or one percenter is going to plant another vineyard. The area is leaning towards becoming a monoculture unless more is done to stop it. The people I know do not want our area to become like Napa. There is hope that as hard apple cider grows in popularity orchards will again be planted. We do still have truck farms that provide produce to stores and restaurants, but they'll never match the miles and miles of vineyards.
Right now the crush is on which means the rush of tourists is also on. With wineries on both sides of me I hear the crashing and banging all day and night. I look forward to fall when the leaves turn golden and red and begin to fall to the ground. Then the tourists will go home leaving the locals once again able to drive into town on a Saturday morning without being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Of course then the ugliness of the vineyards appears. Mile after mile of organized rows and rows of dormant vines strung on wires with their drip tubes hanging down. And more and more vineyards are being fenced in because of theft. A winter vineyard is not a pretty sight.
I love this area and have lived here for a long time, but I hate seeing what's happening to it. It's a beautiful area with wonderful weather, soil, and scenery. But corporations and wealthy individuals see nothing but dollar signs. They swoop in, tear something down, and build something that services the one percenters.
During the nearly 40 years I've lived here I've seen dramatic changes and I admit I worry that it will become unlivable with the constant influx of city folk wanting a house in the country…as long as they can have the dirt road paved.
And if you do come as a tourist and plan to visit wineries here's one tip for the ladies: you're not in the city, don't wear high heels. Dirt roads and gravel will not be kind to you. If you really must wear high heels stay over in Napa where you'll find a lot of pavement.
I doubt the fellas below are having sips of wine. I'm betting they were downing something naughty during prohibition. An empty bottle with no label means they had a wink wink way of finding their favorite beverage.
I know this sounds like an unkind rant, and to a certain extent it is. But for anyone who lives in an area where tourists swarm, I think you'll understand that when a community caters to outsiders a bit of the soul of the community disappears.
I'm happy to say I live in an organic apple orchard with some very old trees. I'll let the next caretakers of the land decide if they want to follow the sheep and rip it all out for another vineyard or let it remain an historical orchard where Luther Burbank used to come to visit.