Close your eyes and imagine yourself seated comfortably in the middle of a lush green vineyard, surrounded by rolling hills spotted with silvery olive trees and cheerful orange California poppies. The breeze is blowing, and you have a glass of wine in your hand, then you take a slow sip and just breathe . . .
After an unsettling week and stress levels through the roof, my husband and I decided we needed a change of scenery and made a promise to get out of the house on Sunday. I knew a number of wineries along the Placer Wine Trail were starting to open and the sun would be shining. We set our destination spot as PaZa Winery and commenced preparations. I decided to go crazy and take a shower and dress myself in real pants. Under normal circumstances, this might seem like a trivial thing to mention. However, after nearly three months of sheltering in place and wearing yoga pants almost exclusively, I braved it and pulled out a pair of pants with a real zipper and a button. Even though I’d engaged in weeks of endless grazing on snacks, reckless indulgence in comfort food (which oddly always seemed justified in quarantine) and drinking wine at any hour of the day, I was surprised yet delighted that my pants still fit. Hallelujah!
We jumped in the car for a quick trip to the east. Just past Auburn, we exited the freeway and meandered our way past beautiful pastures and wide open spaces and followed signs pointing us toward PaZa Estate Winery.
PaZa’s tasting room is rustic and charming and sits atop a slight rise on the property. The structure has a roof but there are no solid walls. As you place your order for a glass or bottle of wine (as wine tasting is suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions) you have a full view of the surrounding hills and vineyards. The winery welcomes guests to bring a picnic or purchase boxes or artisanal cheese from North Fork Chai. (Food must be consumed with a wine purchase under current COVID-19 guidelines.) Once we understood the new protocols, we ordered a glass of albarino and Quarantine Red and a cheese box and wandered down to the edge of the vineyard where chairs made from barrel staves are lined up overlooking the lush grapevines. I sat quietly and soaked up the sunshine while my husband read the latest book from Christopher Moore. For nearly two hours, we slowly sipped wine, shared cheeses, chocolates, olives and berries. We admired our surroundings and our minds were calm and felt at peace. We were grateful for the escape and for this beautiful oasis so close to home.