Napa Valley comes to life in ‘The Good Woman’

A fellow blogger and fellow Meg created a feature I’m thrilled to run with: Literary Locale, which focuses on the settings of the books we’re currently reading. Visit A Bookish Affair to join in the fun.

Paging through Jane Porter’s The Good Woman, set in Napa Valley, it’s impossible not to feel the warm California sun on your face.

Main character Meg (good name!) works at a winery with an irresistible pair of brothers, offering tastings to tourists and marketing the vineyard’s signature wines. Having visited Napa and Sonoma last summer, I had such an immediate and visceral reaction to this story. It was really good — juicy and evocative and emotional and intense — but I’ll get to all that in a full review Monday.

For now? Let’s talk Napa. As I was reading The Good Woman, Nicholson Ranch was completely in my head. It was one of the early stops on our vacation — and couldn’t have been more picturesque and stunning. Hard to imagine what could have bee more “Napa”-esque than Nicholson, honestly, and I loved our visit here — from the tour of the wine cellars to the fabulous lunch to the walk among the vines.

Though I’m not the biggest wine drinker you’ll ever meet, I just love the atmosphere of a vineyard. It’s intoxicating. And for an East Coast girl used to the bustle and chaos of a metropolitan area, the free and easy vibe of vintners hanging out in the warm, dry heat is very alluring. More than once on that trip, I pictured packing up my books and boots due west. It’s just hard to feel unhappy in a place like that. And, you know, the copious amounts of wine don’t hurt.

Something the fictional Meg and I have in common!

So what’s up with Napa? Well, Napa County was one of California’s original counties — created along with California’s statehood in 1850. Though the first commercial vineyard was established in 1858, Napa has only been heavily promoting its bustling wine industry since the 1960s. Hard to believe an area so synonymous with vineyards has only been around half a century, but hey — they’re obviously doin’ something right.

The area’s wine prowess can be attributed to its unique combination of geography, Mediterranean climate and geology of Northern California, according to Wikipedia — all of which combine to grow quality wine grapes. Today, Napa is home to more than 450 wineries that grow many varieties of grapes, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel and more.

By the end of our stay in Napa, it felt like we’d sampled them all — especially as we coasted along on the Wine Train, where I had the most delicious cheese platter of all time. I was actually wine-d out by the time we left for Sacramento, and that’s really saying something.

Not a bad one in the lot.

3 thoughts on “Napa Valley comes to life in ‘The Good Woman’

  1. Oh, it’s been ages since I’ve done Literary Locale. I really need to start it back up. I’ve been reading about some amazing places lately!

    Napa Valley is definitely on my bucket list. I love wine and would love to see all of the different wineries.


  2. What a fun idea! Settings can really draw me into a story for sure…this one sounds like a winner – all things magical happen in wine country, am I right?! I agree…the pace of life (and consequently your blood pressure) just sloooooww down among the rows and rows of perfectly manicured vines… Sigh…I wouldn’t mind a trip out there right now :-). Happy weekend Meg!


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