To ring in the new year we had, of course... rain. After all, this is northern California. A lot of people see shows and movies taking place in California and think it's all palm trees and warm sun all the time. Hate to break it to you, but the entire state is not Malibu. And let's be thankful for that! Norcal gives us (and the local grapes here) a great blend of weather, and though we have a mild, temperate, somewhat Mediterranean climate, Napa gets some hints of actual seasons.
However, in the non-mountainous regions of northern California, winter = rain. And lots of it! That might really bum a lot of people out -- especially when thinking about Napa and all of the beautiful sights and scenery and weather it can hold.
Alright, to be fair, the rain does make it difficult to get outside and enjoy things. There was no way I could cruise around in my Sebring convertible today, and in fact sometimes I absolutely love the dramatic gray clouds and wispy fogs and mists... but sadly this was not such a photogenic opportunity as that, either. Just rain, plain and simple... coming down just hard enough to make things difficult to see, but not so hard as to be truly exciting.
So what to do on a rainy day? Well, the first thing that came to mind was that it would be perfect weather for a trip up to the quaint and wonderful Cameo Cinema for an afternoon movie in St. Helena. I was all hyped up and ready for that plan, but I checked their website and saw that today's movie was Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I really love the Cameo for its ambience, its comfort, its aesthetics, and the sometimes-great variety of movies it plays, but unfortunately it is a single theatre and wasn't wowed with this choice, so... I'll save that for another rainy day!
Fortunately, Napa Valley is also very big on being very small -- in other words, we have plenty of unique mom-and-pops and local chains, and the locals love to support the locals! This is an idea I think every town in America should get behind!
Well, it was a great day to curl up with a coffee and a book, so I decided to head over to Copperfield's Books! Copperfield's is a local chain, with two local locations, one at the north end of the valley in Calistoga, and one at the south end in Napa. [Note: They actually have 8 "local" locations in Sonoma and Napa counties, including Sebastopol where it was founded, as well as Petaluma, Santa Rosa, and Healdburg. But this blog is all about Napa Valley!] The Calistoga location is definitely a more attractive spot, right on Lincoln Street, the main street through Calistoga with its wonderful old-town facades of boutique stores, tasting rooms, and restaurants. Having said that, I live in Napa and the local Copperfields is still a great place -- not as charming a location, being in a shopping center that features local necessities like Target, Whole Foods, Cost Plus, and Trader Joe's -- but Copperfield's still has a nice selection, a well-arranged interior and pretty friendly staff.
It feels strange for me to even be touting a book store -- I teach computer classes, and I do think the days of traditional print materials are on their way out the door. I think electronic media is the way to go, and I really think e-books are a smarter move... but, dang it, try as I might, I still can't get over my love of books! It's just not going to leave me, I fear, despite how irrational and illogical it may be. Likewise, my love of a good bookstore is not going to leave, despite the vast offerings and great prices and efficiency of Amazon. Yes, I've been an Amazon fan for a long time, but I love bookstores for being like a temple, a shrine to knowledge and a labyrinth in which you can find things you never even knew existed. That's a lot harder to do on Amazon.
So, combine that with feeling good about supporting a local business, and I have no qualms at all about patronizing Copperfield's -- any of their locations, but if you happen to be in Napa, this one's as good as any... and even better if you need to pick up some groceries while you're at it! (I have to admit, I was surprised by how many places were open today, but Trader Joe's was closed... and I'm glad for it! As happy as I was that Copperfield's was open, it was also nice to see that Trader Joe's has the decency to give its employees -- ALL of them -- the day off. To their credit, Copperfield's was running shortened hours, so that's not bad, either!)
As for the coffee, I got mine from a local Starbucks (there's also a Peet's and the drive-through Caffino -- also a chain with its roots in Napa -- right there in the Copperfield's shopping center), but if you're in Calistoga you can definitely go a step above and enjoy a brew from Calistoga Roastery (the biggest-known local name in coffee and my personal favorite) or Yo el Rey (fair trade organic coffee, plus free wi-fi), both quite bohemian and quite local.