January 4th, 2009

Happy New Year to you all!!

Sorry I haven’t written more often, but the time just has gotten past me. I realized yesterday that it was exactly 6 months ago I got the keys to this place….WOW – a lot has happened in that time: a new start for me here in France; a “new start” for the economy (too bad it had to go back to square 1.!! – can’t go anywhere but up from here, right?), a new start to the US political climate (about time too, huh!?!). A lot has happened.

Hope you all had a great Holiday Season – mine was wonderful – went back to Seattle for a week and got to spend time family and friends…too short but yet…it felt good to get back here – to what is now home.

A friend recently asked me whether or not this was all I had hoped for. As I told her, in many ways it is and in a few it is not. I don’t think you really ever know how its going to go….you just leap into it and let it happen….which is really what I did. I mean, after all, I only found this place a year ago..and here I am!

To answer her question…How is it?…its great, good, fine, OK, not bad. All some level of positive, but not all over-the-top……………….

The people here have been fantastic to me – they have all gone out of their way to make me feel comfortable – every where I turn people are willing to help – more than I expected.

The ‘farm’ is taking more work than I anticipated, and I am needing to find help ( and spend $) to make sure I am doing the right things. Again, everyone I ask is forthcoming, its just I don’t always know what to ask. I had expected some of this, just not to the extent it has become necessary.

The Winemaking is as expected – just a larger scale (10,000 bottles vs 1000). So there are no issues there (other than finding sources for materials – no Boeing Winemakers’ Club to call for help).

The house remodel has gone better than I expected – Michel has proven to be a first-rate contractor, and between himself and his contacts I have been able to get anything I need done pretty quickly. With apologies to Peter Mayle, you can get word done here on-time and at a reasonable price.

Finally, on the personal side, I am finally settling. As most of you know I retired from Boeing in May after 34 years to set off on this adventure, and then spent the next 2 months getting ready to get here; and then the next 2 months getting settled (vineyard, winery, house remodel…all the usual things). So – its only been in the last month that I have really had a chance to catch my breath and start thinking about what I got myself into.

I must say that the one thing I am missing is the ‘constant incidental’ interaction with people – the socialization that came both with the job and with my friends in close proximity. Living as I am now in a rural environment – where my nearest neighbors are really a vineyard away – interaction is limited, particularly since this is a family-owned ‘wine-farmer’ community. People her tend to keep to themselves. So you really have to be outgoing. And my French language skill, while improving, is still not enough or me to feel comfortable just striking up a conversation with strangers…I am more than a little intimidated….yet. My New Year’s resolution is to work on this…..go to town for coffee more mornings and just strike up conversations…..and just get out there……..well…maybe….

But all things considered, it IS the right thing for me to have done. I am still very excited about it. AND – with the wine getting close to release, I know I will start having more and more visitors / clients, and it will be great.

And now that I have heard from a number of you that perhaps you will come visit….I have to wonder whether I have created a monster – Everyone wants to come at once….How will I keep you all entertained… What will I do when more than a few of you want to come at the same time….how can I say ‘NO’??!! Will I have to move out or sleep in the winery to make room…?!?!?? BUT Never Fear – I have a PLAN – I am starting a calendar. And so take this as a hint to get your reservations in early, cause I can only take a few at a time…and first come first served!!!

Have to run – we start winter pruning this week, and I have a few clean-up things to do before we start.

Be good to each other, and be well.