Here, in the twin valleys that are California’s famous wine country, the good life has never been better. Reminiscent of Tuscany (everyone tells me), Napa and Sonoma’s gentle hills, gracious vineyards, chic little shops, famous chefs and pampering spas, illustrate what Don DeLillo once said: “Californians invented the concept of lifestyle.”
This is particularly obvious at the wineries, where wine tastings rejoice in arcane description, the very excavation of taste in ways one cannot imagine (or believe).
And then there was Jack Kerouac’s “grapy dusk”, one so purple that the sun too was “the colour of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the colour of love and Spanish mysteries.”
Suddenly, it is easy to understand why The Eagles said “we are all just prisoners here, of our own device”. Suddenly, it is easy to understand why the twin valleys are California’s second most visited attraction; only Disneyland is more popular. It’s the quality of the dreams. And the illusion of closeness to them.
Interestingly, outside the state, few know that Sonoma is a historically significant city in its own right, a reminder of the region’s Mexican colonial past and the 19th century capital of the 26-day-old California Republic.
Back in 1846, it fought the good fight.