I left Haneda Airport shortly after midnight on the 7th of June, to head for the Napa Valley in San Francisco. I was particularly excited about this trip because I had been invited to the wine auction that is held there.
I reached a little late for dinner. I met up with old friends and made new acquaintances as the evening lazily flowed by. There were more stars in the sky than one could ever imagine seeing in the sky above Tokyo.
The next morning, we were taken on a guided tour of the winery by our host, before the auction that was being held later in the afternoon. The blazing sun beat down on us, and the temperature hovered around the 100°F mark as we made our way to the auction venue.
There were about 50 Auction items, with price tags ranging from upwards of 100,000 US$ to one item for more than 800,000 US$. I excused myself when the 40th item or so was being auctioned, and and by then, around 3 million US$ had been raised. The proceeds would be going to support the local hospitals, one that I visited on my way here, and to support youth activities.
The next day, I enjoyed a round of golf at Napa, before heading to Appleton in the evening to visit some friends. It took a 90-minute drive on the highway through a landscape dotted with wineries. I stayed at The Rose Hotel, a small, cozy and comfortable hotel in a small town. Although these small towns may epitomise the American way of life, a city boy like me would not be able to bear spending more than a week here!
The temperature outside remained near the exhaustingly hot above 100°F mark. Apparently, it was a heatwave, a sign of the climate change that we are experiencing.
I was also told stories of how this area was the birthplace of the now-world-famous Californian wine.