Winemaking. Life. The Dirt. Alison Crowe is a Winemaker Based in Napa.

Harvest 2013: “It’s Happening in Soledad!”

Harvest 2013:  “It’s Happening in Soledad!”


old billboard

“It’s Happening in Soledad!” The old billboard always made me wonder what exactly was happening there. Alien abductions? The Spanish Inquisition?
(photo source: Wikipedia)

For years, whenever I drove South on Hwy 101 in Monterey County and saw a certain superannuated billboard just north of the sleepy farm town of Soledad, California, an imaginary film clip would play in my head.  I pictured a couple, perhaps a Python-esque Eric Idle and Michael Palin,* dressed up as American tourists:

“Oh look, Marge!   It’s happening in Soledad!”

“Gee, Jim, that’s swell!”

Those of you who are frequent Highway 101 travelers know that the city of Soledad recently curtailed such roadway reveries when they replaced said billboard with a revamped model.

To wit:  The old one must have been designed circa 1972 in an era of disco balls and feathered hair and proudly declaimed, in Brady Bunch colors and font, that “It’s Happening in Soledad!”  Rainbow arrows like the stacked soles of my rubber flip flops pointed in a cheery chevron to a cartoon of the Soledad Mission and the Pinnacles National Monument.  As a UC Davis winemaking student driving between college and my Santa Barbara County hometown of Carpinteria, and later, as an intern at the famed Chalone Winery at the feet of the Pinnacles themselves, I have to admit, I was intrigued.  What exactly was happening in Soledad?   The plague?  A convention of 70’s hot-tub salesmen?  Alien abductions?   The Spanish Inquisition?

We’ll never know.  Well, at least, we’ll just no longer be as curious, which is the real loss.  The funky, cheeky graphic has been replaced with an altogether too-conventional and too Chamber of Commerce-approved sign whose tagline, “Gateway to the Pinnacles” makes it amply clear that camping, hiking and succulent-watching are all that the city elders think is happening in their burg.  But as I’m sure Jim and Marge would agree, plague-laden hot tub salesmen getting abducted by aliens just sounds so much more fun.

The new Soledad sign.  Nowhere near as happenin! (photo source

The new Soledad sign. Nowhere near as happenin!
(photo source KION 46)

But seriously, it IS happening in Soledad.  Harvest, I mean, and in and around Soledad.  The Monterey County Pinot Noir crop is poppin’ and we’re pulling in blocks from our estate vineyards up and down the Salinas Valley, the rolling eastern hills to the Santa Lucia Highlands.   This is indeed the time of year when thoughts of the Pinnacles are far from my mind as we bring in great-looking fruit from Arroyo Loma Vineyard, Alta Loma vineyard and others.  We’ve got only a few more days to go before the entire Monterey crop is in….and then Harvest 2013 for Garnet Vineyards will be in the barn!

Garnet Vineyards' Alta Loma Vineyard nestled up on the Santa Lucia benchlands.

Garnet Vineyards’ Alta Loma Vineyard tucked into the Santa Lucia benchlands.

But as long as the billboard is standing, “improved” graphics not withstanding, it will always still be “happening” in Soledad……….

Are YOU a fan of the old Soledad billboard?  Come on, you know you are!  Check out these T-Shirts  I found online!  The holiday gift-giving season approacheth….






*Forgive me, I saw Spamalot at the Napa Valley Opera House this last weekend.


Copyright Alison Crowe 2013.  Alison Crowe is the Winemaker at Garnet Vineyards- check us out at, Twitter @GarnetVineyards and Facebook!

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