We were driving down the highway just north of Yountville on a rainy January day. There was no agenda or destination except whatever looked interesting along the way. It was dark and cloudy and there weren’t a lot of people out. It was one of my favorite types of days: haunting and more than mildly Bronte-esque. (Ok, so maybe I’m the only one who thinks of Wuthering Heights when I’m in the country on a dark day.) We were almost past these trees when we both noticed them, rising up in the darkness like some strange creatures from a ‘film noir’ ghost story. We immediately did a u-turn so we could get a closer look. In the car, it sounded more like “OOOOH STOP!”
It turns out we were at the Peju Family Winery. Having tasted their wine before, we decided to get a closer look at the trees, then head indoors for a tasting. Some wineries in this area want you to make an appointment. We are truly grateful to the wineries who do not. 🙂
Tom’s cellphone rang when we stepped in, so I distracted the lady at the front desk by asking her about the trees. She told me they were Sycamore trees that had been trimmed and trained. They have been working on this strange shape for over 20 years, patiently letting them grow in an arch over the road. I was impressed at the discipline, like a bonsai project of gargantuan proportions.
The building, called “The Tower”, is beautiful and reminded me of the estates we saw in the countryside outside of Paris, France. They have an art gallery upstairs, a shop with kitchen goodies and books…and, of course, the tasting room!
Inside, we met Mr. Robert Sherman, who let us taste what I will honestly say were my favorite wines of the entire trip. Of course we bought as much as we could afford and yes, they ship! If you ever visit the Peju winery, be sure to ask for Robert – he was awesome and knows his way around a bottle of wine! He also grows tomatoes and we had a fabulous conversation about the hazards of growing them in the unseasonably chilly and short California summers of late. (That made my day!) The good Mr. Sherman even gave me permission to photograph the stained glass wall that was in the tasting room, which is in the main part the “Tower”. This is where I wish my camera had been just a bit better. I have been complaining about it lately…I think it’s getting a bit worn out from the millions of photos I’ve taken with it, so forgive the mild fuzziness of these:
The colors were so vibrant in person. Bright blue irises, red poppies…
…and warm golden pears. No, I think they’re lemons!
Having spent our wine budget, we headed back outdoors to see the formal gardens, which were soaking up the rain.
Yes, I do have to photograph every vine I see crawling up a wall, or a gate, or a…
Rusty iron makes me happy too.
Another favorite detail of this stop was the white marble sculpture by Welton Rotz called “Eternal Cycle.” In all of my travels, I have never seen anything quite like it and I was excited to see a reference to the “Triple Goddess” in such a random place. I walked around and around it until I was dizzy and soaked, but it was worth it.
The maiden, small and moving upward…
…the mother, full and steady…
…the crone, shrinking and wizened.
And, of course, another quick peek at the Sycamore trees!
Thanks to the Peju Family Winery and Robert Sherman for one the highlights of our trip! Every time we open one of the bottles of wine we bought, we get sentimental and all romantic and stuff…and that’s all I’m going to say about that!