People grow grapes and produce wine in Modesto. People grow grapes and produce wine in Napa. But the people aren’t the same; the wine isn’t the same. Modesto is a Gallo town, politically Red with sizzling summers. Napa is a cooler, Bluer preserve of boutique vineyards. As I climbed the pass outside of Fairfield and left the Central Valley behind I didn’t just enter a more temperate climate. I entered a set of different sensibilities. The light is less harsh, as are the social and political attitudes. People are less strident; more comfortable with ambiguity.
Lindy Ruddiman was raised in Yreka and studied Art at Humboldt State. She married a Harvard guy who went into the wine business. They had two daughters, now grown; got divorced; stayed friends; and still work together. They each remarried. Lindy’s second marriage didn’t stick. She owns a bungalow on a quiet side street in Napa, converted the garage to her studio, and rents out the in-law apartment to a friend. They each have little dogs, which are also friends.
Lindy designs wine labels and takes ‘bottle shot’ photographs. Like any pursuit, it’s more complex than meets the eye. Labels have to be evocative; they have to grab a wine buyer’s attention. But there are technical details of paper and sheen and application during production. Lindy’s deliberate during the gestation period of design. “I have a new label I’ve been thinking about. The wine is called Solano, which is the name of the next county but also the name of an Indian chief. The wine maker wants a Native American reference, but Solano is a Spanish word; Spanish Padres gave the chief that name. I’m trying to figure out how to evoke the Native American without being insensitive. This isn’t the Redskins.” Lindy lets ideas percolate. Then she creates graphics on the computer. “The sketching happens here,” she points to her head, “and the computer makes is visible. I get better results working right on the computer rather than trying to translate hand work.”
Lindy was looking forward to a weekend with her former husband and his wife. For many, socializing with an ex- and their spouse would be unpleasant, if not downright impossible. I’d like to think that being able to accommodate changing relationships over time, to accept the good aspects of people we loved even when our love has changed, is a positive thing. But it requires that we persevere the discomfort of transition, that we accept change with out harsh judgment, and embrace different forms of connection. Characteristics we should all aspire to, but are perhaps easier to attain in a land of good wine.
How will we live tomorrow?
“I am an optimist. I look at all the little things in life. We will make mistakes. We will struggle. But we will make it.”