Reggi Allder writes suspense and contemporary romance novels, including the Her Country Heart Sierra Creek Series and the Dangerous Series. Her characters cope with life as each fight to discover a hidden strength and work toward a lifelong goal. Learn more about Reggi and her books at her website.
Fall is a wonderful time of year. Here on the west coast, the large harvest moon lights the night and though the weather is still warm, with the cooler nights, the leaves have begun to change to glorious autumn colors.
As a writer of suspense, I sometimes see the night as a place of mystery and danger. But the amazing glow of a full moon can light nefarious activities usually hidden by darkness. So, the harvest moon might help track the villain or aide the hero/ heroine in a search for a mysterious stalker. And though it is almost Halloween, the real scary moments come from true to life characters who appear normal but plan to execute a diabolical crime for simple reasons such as greed, revenge, or jealousy.
In my romantic suspense novels, I have used vacation locations in California as counterpoints to danger, including Lake Tahoe and Carmel By the Sea, Lake Arrowhead. For my current romantic suspense, Dangerous Denial, I needed to find a retreat for my main character after she survives a traumatic experience. The heroine is an organic gardener who dreams of owning her own vineyard. So, Sonoma County was the ticket.
Though hard truths gnaw at her, the heroine is doing her best to forget the past and concentrate on her future. However, even if she denies being in danger, the full moon shows the reader she is being observed. Meanwhile, Sonoma Country offers an opportunity to contrast the beauty of the vineyards and the charming Pacific coast villages that dot the area, with the lurking danger pursuing her.
I enjoyed doing a bit of historic research while looking into the wine industry. Father Junipero Serra was the first to introduce wine grapes to California when he planted the vines, brought from Mexico, in 1769. Though many more people may have heard of Napa Valley wines, the vineyards of Sonoma Country were planted first. The Spanish Franciscan fathers laid the foundation for the wine industry in 1832 when Padre Jose Altimera planted several thousand grapevines at their northernmost mission, San Francisco Solano in Sonoma. Later, the grapevines were introduced to the Napa Valley.
At harvest time, the picking of grapes in Sonoma County is done in the late summer and autumn. The heat of the day often rises above one hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Night harvesting started in in the early 1970s because the grape sugar levels were more stable in the lower evening temperatures. Some vineyards may still harvest using hand tools, including knives and/or shears, manual or electric.
After the grapes are cut, they are placed in containers and taken to the winery. Afterward, the wine is often stored in wooden barrels in wine caves built into the hills of the area. No matter the outside temperature, inside the caves the air varies only about 5 degrees Fahrenheit, between 58 degrees and 63 degrees throughout the year.
A question I wanted answered: Do some of the wineries make sparkling wine and champagne? Yes.
If you would like to visit Sonoma, many places are still open: https://www.sonomacounty.com/coronavirusn
Wine cave tours:
If you like the author Jack London, Call of the Wild and The Sea Wolf, visit the State Historic Park:
The Dangerous Series, Book 2
What would you do if you witnessed a murder and no one believed you?
Executive assistant Skye Turner thinks most people are good until her beloved boss is murdered. The police call his death a suicide. What is the truth? She needs help to uncover the circumstances leading to his death.
United States black ops member Jon Lancaster is restless while he recovers from injuries received during his last assignment. Pretty and diverting, Skye is probably mistaken about her boss’s death. Still, he decides to assist her in deciphering the events of the day the man died and also dig though the clues left for her.
Can Skye and Jon control their growing desire for each other? Are they ready for the lurking danger waiting for them?