"And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden," wrote Joni Mitchell, but I always hear the urgency of Crosby, Stills and Nash when I think of these words.
Today I arrived back in Oregon for the Oregon Wine Symposium right on the heels of finishing Premiere Napa Valley. It's most decidedly the yin and yang of wine experiences.
Behind me is a week of massive parties, dinners and nude dancing girls painted in gold followed by an auction that raised $5 million all dedicated to promoting the Napa Valley as the greatest wine region in the world. It is an amazing event and a major accomplishment. The Napa Valley wine community deserves great respect for a stunning marketing success. However, I never feel at home there even after seven years. It just does not mirror my values and what I want to achieve with my wines. The Napa Valley is a bigger is better, in all things, environment slowly squeezing out all but the ultra-wealthy and corporations.
Arriving in Portland today brought me a lightness of spirit and, best of all, a feeling of reconnecting to what I love most about wine. A connection to nature and slowing life down.
So for a few days I will slow things down and think about terroir, indigenous yeasts, biodynamics and what winemaking in Oregon means compared to the Napa Valley. I think my blood pressure dropped ten points as soon as I stepped off the plane at PDX.
It seems I've "got myself back to the garden."