Contrary to popular belief, there are not simply two Californias – northern and southern – there are many. Spirit Hill Farm sits at the intersection of at least four different California cultures: farmers, hippies, bohos and winos.
The farmers were here first – after native Americans, of course – and their industry shaped everything that was to come. At different times, the local economy has been based on timber, cherries, apples, and now grapes. Many families can trace their fortunes through all four. What’s important to know is that there is a deep reverence for the land here. It has sustained generations and nobody takes that for granted.
The hippies are another story. They may have come of age in 60’s San Francisco and Berkeley but since then most got priced out and ended up here. (Those who made some money along the way, tend to congregate in Marin.) Hippy culture is easy to spot. Just count the number of stores selling hemp or the ubiquity of tie-die as you pass through Sebastopol. Look for relentlessly progressive local governments and/or over-long Occupy sit-ins. As always, the scent of marijuana or patchouli oil is a dead give-away. Tree sitters, trustafarians and dead heads – they’re all here.
It almost goes without saying that northern California is densely populated with Bohemians — writers, artists, musicians, craftsmen of every stripe. But by no means are these starving artists; they’re far too middle-class for that. They are “Bobos” – part counter-cultural, hedonistic bohemians . . . part white collar, capitalist bourgeois. Bobos are noted for their aversion to conspicuous consumption yet spend extravagantly on artisanal cheeses and oversize stainless steel appliances (Wolf, Sub-Zero, Viking, Thermador, Miele). They are over-educated and soft-hearted. And they are everywhere. Heck, even the local alternative paper is called The North Bay Bohemian. ‘Nuf said.
If you are at all serious about wine you know that the Russian River Valley – our viticultural backyard – is arguably the finest place in the U.S. of A. for Pinot Noir. (It’s possible you’re not serious about wine but that will change once you visit.) The point is, there are a whole lot of other folks in these parts who are dead serious about making world-class wine and, over the last 20 years, have turned West Sonoma County into a vinous mecca. People come from all over the world (but mostly the Bay Area) to sip and spit and maybe swallow more than they admit. It is our outrageous good fortune to be smack-dab in the middle of so much goodness. Yours, too.