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Geyserville Grapevine - November 2014


Geyserville Grapevine - November 2014

This past month it has been especially nice to meet some of my readers around town and at my first Geyserville Chamber of Commerce dinner. I especially enjoyed the friendly and engaging presentation from the head ranger at Lake Sonoma, Joel Miller. I was surprised to learn that Lake Sonoma is not part of the National Parks system, but is actually a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers park, one of hundreds throughout the nation. 

In the past, many of the trails were best left to experienced, strong hikers because they tended to be very steep trails, but Ranger Miller has made it a personal priority to provide flatter, more even trails that can accommodate varying levels of fitness. I’m looking forward to getting over to Lake Sonoma soon and testing them out. You can too - the official website is at For further information, you can also call  (707) 431-4533 or just take a drive up to the Lake itself at 3333 Skaggs Springs Road. 


Coming from Southern California, rain is still almost an exotic experience for me. In San Diego, years with less than ten inches of rain are not uncommon and a year of eighteen inches a while back had all of San Diego to scrambling for new umbrellas and roof repairmen. I was surprised at how quickly the rainfall here brightened up everything. I realized that the trees couldn’t possibly be sending out new leaves and needles that fast. A little amateur biology assessment showed me the reason – it’s all the moss growing on the trees which really turns a bright green with the slightest encouragement of water. I had an easy way of confirming this – on our Great Tree here at the Isis Oasis Sanctuary, there is a velvety coating of moss which immediately turned to a deep, lush green. 

I’ve also spent some time exploring the “mystery” of our Great Tree, which is an official Heritage Tree here in Sonoma County, #51 to be exact. By the way, everyone is welcome to stop by and say hello to our multi-trunked tree. We’ve been told for a long time that it is a huge Douglas Fir, but lately, no less than three “tree experts” have suggested that it is something else entirely. Two of those suggested that it is in fact a Siberian Fir or other Russian fir. Since the tree’s age is estimated to be four to six hundred years old, that seems to hint at mysterious earlier Russian explorations of this area. Since the local story is that Luther Burbank himself first aged our tree while visiting John Bosch on the property, I contacted the Luther Burbank Home and Gardens in Santa Rosa to see if they had any record of this visit and if Burbank might have thought it was a non-native tree. The wonderful docents and volunteer research staff diligently searched through their archive, but weren’t able to find any verification. Supposedly some of our unusual fruit trees here also came from Burbank himself.

On Sunday, October 12th,  our tree also presided over our Memorial Service for our foundress, Loreon Vigne, It was very gratifying to see so many members of the Geyserville community in attendance to bid farewell to this remarkable woman. Thank you all for coming

Foodie Moment 

This month, I had the opportunity to stop by the Geyserville Grille at the Geyserville Inn, my first visit since its renaming – it was previously known as Hoffman House for a number of years. We sat out on the new poolside deck and I was pleased to discover that the menu is essentially unchanged, meaning that my personal breakfast favorite, the Crabcake Eggs Benedict, is still available, along with very satisfying hamburgers for lunch and other treats. At present, the Geyserville Grille is open for breakfast and lunch 7 days a week and dinner Thursday through Saturday. For more information, check their website at or give them a call at (877) 857-4343.

An unexpected and heartwarming “Foodie Moment” also occurred when Leslie Kirk Campbell and I were walking through Geyserville and found a fundraiser dinner in progress. 6-year-old Geyservillian Leah was attacked by dogs and needs ongoing funds for reparative surgeries. We popped in to contribute and enjoyed a wonderful baked ziti and chicken parmigiana dinner. Little Leah is doing great and serenaded us at the piano when she wasn’t running through the crowd, but her family still has a long road ahead to complete the medical procedures that she still needs. Contributions can be made at their GoFundMe page at