It was a fairy tale kind of day in the Napa Valley. Only this day the fairies…like the seven of us… were sporting rain gear, a hedge against the schizoid weather gods who alternately beamed sunshine, brushed the blue horizon with black clouds, spit drizzle, gusted cold wind and sprinkled rain. Just when we began to consider retreating indoors from the fickle elements a brilliant blue sky and warm sunshine would appear -- barely long enough to tease us before the irritable weather gods began the cycle all over again.
Not a perfect day for a picnic it would seem to less hardy and more sensible souls, but not for this intrepid group of Mississippi friends. We had come to visit Chappellet Winery perched high on Pritchard Hill and home to some of the Napa Valley’s finest wines and undoubtedly the most beautiful vista overlooking the valley. We intended to savor the view, the wine and the delectable picnic foods we had carefully gathered that morning. And we would not be easily deterred -- at least, not some of us.
Holding democratic elections in third world dictatorships is inherently difficult – with all that pesky vote counting. Holding an open and free referendum on picnicking in inclement weather among seven large adults wedged into a small mini-van is equally as challenging. There was no room for a show of hands (or feet) and voice votes were indistinguishable among shouts of “I’m cold”, “Let’s do it!”, “What if it rains again?” and “Don’t be a weenie.” Finally the van doors slid open and we are “all for one and one for all”. A unanimous decision had been reached. We came to picnic.
And that’s what we did. Our friends at Chappellet provided a lovely picnic area with a gazillion dollar view of their vineyards, Lake Hennessey, and the Napa Valley– some 1200 feet below us. They even threw in a few loaner jackets to ward off the chill, wine glasses and two of their spectacular wines. We spread our feast on the wet picnic table–curried chicken salad, roasted wild mushrooms, grilled vegetables, salumi, Marcona almonds, prosciutto with figs, marinated lava beans, cornichons, caperberries, fresh-baked French bread and a couple of stellar local cheeses. We ate. We drank. We laughed. We toasted the weather gods who kept their temper tantrums rolling with an alternating mix of blue sky, warm sunshine, gusty winds and a few sprinkles of rain. Our lunch atop Pritchard Hill was a miraculous convergence of time, place, nature, food, wine and most of all – seven free-spirited, fun loving, adventurous souls.
It was a perfect day for a picnic. It truly was.