I am so very many miles from where I was living last November, almost 5000 miles from Lourmarin in Provence, France. Yet as I drive around the sun-drenched, autumnal vineyards of California’s Napa Valley the countryside is not so very different. Remembering the lanes of Provence in late Fall, in both places one is immersed in the warm vibrancy of the season. As another year draws to a close, Mother Nature has swept her paint brush over the landscape, drawing from a rich palette of golden reds, burnt oranges and nutmeg. The colours of flames, as if to prepare you for your own fireside when in the coming months  you will be snuggled inside, warmed by the glow of burning embers.

Californian Napa Valley vineyard in November
Just as in Provence at this time of year, the deep blue Californian skies almost belie the lateness of the season.
In November in California's Napa Valley
Gazing across the vineyards, which seem to stretch endlessly, your eye is soon drawn to follow the lines of the vines, their bounty long since harvested as drooping ochre leaves begin to flutter to the ground.
Californian Napa Valley vines in November
Wineries here are younger, built mostly from wood. Those that attempt to replicate the stone and low slung clay tile roofs of Provence do so politely but not convincingly. Age and character are, after all, the gifts of time.
Californian Napa Valley winery in November
However, charm and grace can still abound. The welcome one receives from behind these doorways can be just as beguiling as the longevity of the structure.
A Califorinia winery in November
A Califorinia winery in November
The sudden occasional appearance of a prominent palm tree reminds you that you are in California. The air is fragrant with the perfume of must and cork mingled with the smell of pine and wood smoke. Deep, enticing, chocolate aromas from the earth seem to reflect the richness of the soil from where life had earlier sprung.
A beautiful Californian Napa Valley Winery in the Fall
Mother Nature has done her work yet again, seducing me with the season to gather branches and berries and placing fairy tale pumpkins on my doorstep as we start to think about the excitement of the festive season ahead.
Truck of pumplins in Napa Valley in November
Daylight is shortened and even in California we drag out our sweaters and boots. Homemade soups and stews tempt the palette. We watch the weather forecast in eager anticipation for news of snow in the mountains. Christmas and skiing are just round the corner.
Pumpkins by a Californian Napa Valley wine press