Wine, Music and Ancestors; the Back Story

My son recently had the opportunity through honor band to learn from a guest composer/conductor, Robert W. Smith.  It was a great experience for him.  The thing my son enjoyed the most was that the Mr. Smith had the back story on every composition they performed.  “I like knowing the back story.  It brings the music to life, ” my son observed.

I’ve just recently begun searching for my ancestors through and  It’s been both fascinating and frustrating.  I can find neither a birth certificate nor a death certificate for my great grandfather, who remains a family mystery.  But through my search I was able to find his marriage license as well as a photo of my great grandmother, one I had never seen before.  It was quite a thrill to find her face on line.  Each bit of information, each document gives me a better picture of their lives.  The 1910 census created a mental image for me of my 5 year old grandfather living in his grandparents’ house with his 3 brothers and his mother.  It also told me that by then, mystery man, my great grandfather, had disappeared.  The stories of my ancestors bring them to life for me.

I live an easy drive to much of California’s wine country.  While I love Napa and Sonoma, there are some beautiful vineyards closer to my home, and those are in the wine country of the Sierra Foothills.  The wines from that area are not as elegant and polished as the Napa Cabs, but they are crisp and earthy.  Many can be quite wonderful.  The volcanic and granite soils of the Sierra Foothills do well with Rhone Valley grapes such as Syrah, Mourvedre, and Grenache.  Some wineries do well with other Mediterranean reds such as Sangiovese, Barbera, and Petite Sirah.  As I research the area, I’m learning more about the individual vineyards and their back stories.  Knowing the back story brings the wine to life.

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