Today I’m starting the 10th year of my retreat in Calistoga, in the heart of the Napa Valley. The drive from the SF Bay Area to the valley was full of different kinds of weather, from the soft, pillowy clouds of a rainy autumn afternoon to the delights of sun on crimson, amber, and golden leaves of the vines as they bid goodbye to the harvest season.

Clouds hung over the hills that divide the Napa Valley from the Sonoma wine country, and the sun began to peak between layers of grey, blue, and sage as I wound my way around the valley to my favorite vineyard and wine tasting room–Cuvaison. One of my retreat attendees was there too, taking pictures of the now spectacular vision of afternoon sun, vineyards, and sweeping vistas that the Napa Valley is famous for.

Yes, we tasted some wine, talked about writing, and for Christmas presents, we bought some Cabernet Sauvignon Chocolate Sauce.

Now that is a writing prompt that begs for sensual details!

We are ready, those who are gathered tonight, to share our stories and our journeys to the heart of our memoirs–whether they become family legacies, spiritual journals, or books. The evening beckons us to get cozy now, and listen to the stories that want to emerge.