I’ve been working in the vineyard today, which is a very meditative activity. In fact, I don’t walk the labyrinth as much as I thought I would, because training the vines and leaf thinning is so calming. I hear the crows, hawks and Mockingbirds, occasionally get buzzed by a hummingbird and this morning had a Roadrunner pass by with a lizard in its beak.

I do a lot of thinking in the vineyard while I work, and this morning I decided I need to set the record straight. This project was NOT my idea. Norm’s cousins, sister and children all worry about how hard he works and that he’s lost weight since we came out here to Ramona. No one seems to worry in the slightest that I have FOUND the weight, and work just as hard as he does.
I am positive that when we announced our plans, and in the nearly 4 years since we began they have all thought, “What has that woman got Norm in to?”

Here is the true story. I was getting weary of the coastal marine layer in Carlsbad which can really dampen your spirit, and for many reasons was ready to make a move and a change. I decided I should sell my Carlsbad condo a mile from the beach with the ocean view, to buy a property with some rental income on it, and move inland to the sunshine.

I had not been to Valley Center in 20 years, and one Sunday in January 2006, I suggested to Norm that we go for a drive to check out real estate there. I had a vague memory of Valley Center being behind the Wild Animal Park, which it is – sort of, but you can’t there from there. We wound up coming up the hill to Ramona. After breakfast at the Kounty Kitchen, I went next door to a real estate office to pick up an advertised “Free Map”.

Coincidentally, this was the month and year Ramona received its AVA designation from the Federal government. I asked the realtor if there were any wineries open for tasting on a Sunday and she pointed out on our “Free Map”, Schwaesdall Winery. We drove down to taste and talk with Johnny. On the way back to Carlsbad Norm said, AND I quote, “Maybe you should be looking for property in Ramona and you could plant a little vineyard.”

I contacted the realtor from whom I’d received the “Free Map”, and we started looking at properties and attending the RVVA meetings. Norm began reading up on vineyards, and we chose our property based on his research and its terroir. When asked by Norm a week or so later, if I was going to buy the property, I pointed out it did not have my requisite rental income on it. He said he wanted to be my partner in the project to plant a vineyard, and this land was perfect, and “we” didn’t need a rental income on it.

So, just to clarify – this was Norm’s idea. He is having a blast and is not suffering at all. He always said he thought he had one more house to build, and it was Mission style, which this will be. A vineyard is NOT a source of any significant income rental or otherwise, but a hole in the ground into which you pour money. And that “Free Map” cost over half a million dollars.

Elaine the Willing Victim