Grieving in Wine Country: How Wine Brought One Man Back from the Dead

Two several hours north of Los Angeles, or nonetheless lengthy it can take you to crawl 120 miles along LA freeways, just past the Santa Barbara seashores there is a 90-diploma dogleg-correct in the 101 freeway. As you veer all around the bend, a tunnel materializes instantly before you, which burrows as a result of a jagged peak of sandstone. It is my portal to one more globe.

This tunnel is about a soccer subject lengthy, but when you arise on the other facet, it is as even though a wormhole has transported you to an additional time and spot. The local weather adjustments drastically. The shivering, fogbound shoreline is changed by higher traveling skies and pointed daylight. Crispy chaparral on bare slopes offers way to a forest of dwell oak that climbs the transient but steep move about the mountains. Just after your ascent, there is a shorter stretch of flat road—a deep breath on the way for you to admire the hills and vines crisscrossing your path, just before you fall into the Santa Ynez Valley. Below is wine backcountry, in which GPS advice is as dropped as you, although you ford dry creeks to taste Pinot Noir in corrugated shacks and A-frame barns and tuck into creaky tables in previous stagecoach stops.

“Here is wine backcountry, in which GPS direction is as lost as you.”

For yrs I fled LA to cross the threshold of this transporting tunnel as generally as I could. I would even do the generate roundtrip in just one day if that was all the time I experienced. My world down south was full of grief and loss, some belonging to many others, some belonging to me. I was a chaplain and grief counselor working in hospice. I sat at the bedsides of persons using their last breaths. I tried to give a teaspoon of comfort for their beloved kinds on a person of the worst nights of their life. I listened to and held all their inquiries, reminiscences and feelings. It was profound and peculiar function. And it was generally exhausting.

On my toughest hospice evenings I would fantasize about taking the tunnel. Every little thing in my entire world appeared to be fading and dying, but the planet past that tunnel felt so whole of life and abundance, in which nothing at all ever dies. Santa Ynez seemed like a backyard generally in bloom, its vineyards coursing with lifetime and electrical power and its persons eating joyfully at long tables established with bottles of wine at each individual position.

I dropped my hospice career a handful of yrs in the past. I was extensively burned out and suffering from what is politely named compassion tiredness. The spot I went to recover was the Santa Ynez Valley. It took a when. But on 1 push via the tunnel, the portal have to have closed behind me, for the reason that I have not absent back.

This post initially appeared in the Finest of Year 2022 problem of Wine Enthusiast magazine. Click listed here to subscribe now!

Published on December 26, 2022