What not to wear, vineyard version

IMG_4510What should you wear when you’re going to get out in the vineyard to observe the nitty gritty, emphasis on gritty, of grapegrowing?

Here’s a hint. Don’t follow the example of a group I  encountered recently who showed up for a vineyard tour wearing sleeveless tops and flip-flops _ and here’s a bulletin folks; toes are not pretty _ not to mention one ill-advised pair of 3-inch platforms.  Stumbling and shivering ensued followed by the kind of whines you don’t find in a tasting room.

The thing is, premium red wine grapes like those grown in the Napa Valley like warm days and cool nights. So in the morning, especially this year which has been cool, you can expect a breeze and even some fog keeping temperatures in the low ’60s. Then the fog burns off _ and it’s a delightful sight watching the blazing blue of the summer sky start to appear _ and all of a sudden you’re hot, hot, hot. So, you need a medium weight windbreaker to keep you cozy early on and underneath that a light shirt that will reflect back sunlight for when the fog lifts. Also: hat and sunscreen.

As for your lower regions,  the very best attire is long pants and sturdy boots. Or at least something close to knee length in a skirt or shorts and closed-toe shoes. You are, after all, on a farm, albeit a very expensive and beautifully maintained one.

And there are critters out there. I once was strolling along a vineyard in Sonoma County, just chatting of this and that with a viticulturist and, boom, all of a sudden right under my feet there was a snake. A small snake definitely and a grass snake very probably. We will never know, however, for I squawked like a sparrow who discovers that the comfy blanket he just sat on is a large and angry cat and the serpent vanished.

That was the last time I wore shorts and sandals in a vineyard.

So come to wine country. Enjoy. Go beyond the tasting room, if you get the chance, and learn what happens to grapes before they grow up and become wine. It’s fascinating stuff and will make your wine experience that much deeper.

And don’t worry, I’ll keep an eye out for any snakes on the plain.


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