Winter Wineland 

This coming weekend is Winter Wineland, one of the premier wine events in the Russian River Valley. This is the 20th anniversary of Winter Wineland and a great opportunity to meet winemakers, taste limited production wines, new releases or library wines. Some wineries will offer food pairings and others will have tours. Each participating winery will either host an artist for the weekend, so you will enjoy their fine-art, or the winery will have an educational display to help you learn about vineyard management or wine making....thus,
Wine ~ Art ~ Education. The events run 11 - 4 on Saturday and Sunday. All of our houses are three nights for the price of two. See for details about the wineries and events. Advance ticket sales end tonight!

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Where is the rain? 
It's getting kind of spooky to see sunshine day after day after day. We had essentially no rain in December or so far in January. While the sunshine is wonderful and great for visitors to the area---they can hike, kayak, sunbathe even--this weather is throwing me back to 1976-77--the years of the great California drought. If you weren't around then, it was pretty serious, like water-rationing serious. We put bricks in our toilets (pre-lowflow), most of the landscaping in Marin County went bye-bye, that county was saved from disaster by a pipeline that ran across the Richmond-San Rafael bridge, and we recycled virtually all of our water. The water from the spaghetti pot went into the garden or the toilet. We never did go back to the casual water-use of the pre-drought years, but we certainly still use a lot more water than we did during the drought.

I wasn't living at the river then, but I suspect we fared better here, with enough coastal mist to keep most of the plants alive. But I'm sure the rationing occurred here too. It's too early to get alarmed--the winter rains could start anytime and pour down steadily for several months--but I can't help but think it's not too early to be a little more careful about water use. Some memories stick around forever.

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Bay Woof Award Nominee 
Russian River Getaways has been nominated for a Beast of the Bay award by Bay Woof for best dog-friendly lodging. Your vote would be much appreciated! We're in item 36 on the ballot at

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Peet's Coffee 
For those of you who can't live without Peet's Coffee, I have news for you On your way to the river, if you get off Hwy 101 at Hwy 116, there's a new Peet's Coffee right there at that intersection in Cotati. The grand opening is Mon., Jan. 9 at 3 p.m. The new specialty coffee store and cafe is located at Cotatiís northern gateway, 7764 Old Redwood Hwy., 796-7080.

But for Starbucks' fans, we have a Starbucks right in our Safeway in Guerneville, plus a couple of independent cafes. The most beloved is Coffee Bazaar, on Armstrong Woods Road: good coffee, good food, and you can sit outside with your dog.

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Turkey Vultures 
Down at the beach this afternoon, disturbed six turkey vultures catching the last rays of the day. Before I could get a photo, they flew up to the trees and spread their wings to dry. Can't help but think they are magnificent creatures,even though I would rather not watch them eat.

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