Northern California is not known for extreme weather. We don’t get hurricanes, tornadoes, snow storms (at least in the non-mountain areas). Even thunderstorms are extremely rare. Generally, we only receive rain from late October until early May. The rain can be heavy at times and even the wind associated with storms can cause trees to fall over and power outages. In rare years, we have so much rain that flooding can be an issue. But overall, we have pretty easy-going weather. I guess that’s why grapes love to grow here. It’s certainly one reason why I love to live here.
But just because we don’t get extreme weather doesn’t mean that we don’t get four real seasons. It’s one thing that I love about Northern California (and Sonoma, of course). There really is a Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. We also always have something green to look at. I’m sure we take that for granted. Many parts of the country and world don’t always have green to welcome them all year-long.
This time of the year (Fall or Autumn) is my favorite. It always has been. There’s something exciting about the changing from the heat and dry air of Summer to the wet, cool and cloudy skies of Autumn. Then there’s all the colors. When I was a kid, it was all the trees I loved to look at. Now it’s the beauty of the grape vines (along with the trees) that I love to watch. We all change. It’s inevitable. Some of us fight it more than others, but eventually it happens to all of us.
So, just like the vines changing from season to season the wine in your glass and cellar is changing too. You may not realize it. Sometimes changes can be subtle – especially in wine. Other times things change quickly. Weather seems to change quickly. One week the high temperatures were in the 90’s and the next week in the 60’s. I’m fascinated by that. How does that happen? I took a Meteorology class in college so I know how it happens, but it’s still something that amazes me.
In the bottle changes in wine are slow. Cork closures allow minute amounts of air in the bottle to allow the wine to develop slowly over time. Other closures, including screwcap, allow no air into the bottle minimizing change in the wine. In the glass, however, changes can happen quickly. Take a smell one minute and take another one two minutes later and it could be significantly different. Not all wine has the potential to change and show layers like that, but many do.
So now as we settle in to cool nights, cloudy days and rainy skies (hey, this is California there will be plenty of cool days with sunny skies too!), I start to open more red wine. I love to see how this wine has changed from the last time I tasted it. I do look forward to opening more white wines in the Spring again and seeing their change, but for now I’ve settled into a red pattern. Wine has seasonality for me. It doesn’t have to for you. That’s your choice. But for me warmer days equal white wines and cooler days lend themselves to reds.
Plus there is just something satisfying about sitting in my leather chair with a fire going just enjoying a full-bodied red wine. Ahhh….