Vinesse World Headquarters, as we like to call our humble office, is located in Westlake Village, Calif.
Westlake Village is in Ventura County, where L.A.’s 818 area code ends and the 805 area code begins.
Ventura County is the county immediately south of Santa Barbara.
Which is a roundabout way of telling you that our office is not all that far from one of the most beautiful communities in the world – and the gateway to Santa Barbara County Wine Country.
When you’re lucky enough to live near such a special place, you tend to take it for granted. This came to mind last week while I was passing through Santa Barbara on one of my frequent trips to California’s North Coast Wine Country (i.e., Napa Valley and Sonoma County).
Sometimes I’ll fly north, but I much prefer to drive. Yes, it takes longer, but it also helps clear the mind, especially when I’m lucky enough to catch a rental car that has Sirius XM Radio. Tuning in to The Loft and The Spectrum channels just seems to make the time fly… if not the car.
While approaching the southern end of Santa Barbara last week, I noticed some kind of rattling in the rear portion of my rental car. When I’d tap on the brakes, the rattling turned to vibrating.
So I pulled over, called the rental company’s 800 number, and was directed to a local outlet that, fortunately, was just a few miles away.
A replacement car was not immediately available, but two customers were due to return their vehicles within the hour. Rather than sit around twiddling my thumbs, I called a cab and headed over to the foot of State Street, then walked out on Santa Barbara’s famous Stearns Wharf.
Among the shops and eateries on the wharf is a wine-tasting room, a place I’d normally go were I staying the night. But since I had a long drive ahead, I took a pass and tracked down a double non-fat latte instead.
I then walked back to the car rental agency, where my replacement vehicle had just been washed and refueled. With an updated contract in hand, I continued my drive… and within 20 minutes, I was surrounded by the vineyards that hug Highway 101 around the eclectic towns of Buellton and Solvang.
Even though I’d made that same drive dozens of times before, this time it was different. This time, because I’d been forced to slow down just a little bit, the colors of the vineyards seemed more intense and the sky looked a lot bluer.
I’m not even sure “bluer” is a word, but you know what I mean.
It was a good life lesson: Embrace every experience, and never waste a day.