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Georgia’s DHDT Weekend: Part 3 & WINNER!

I got up at 5:30am for the third part of that rockin Sonoma weekend I had. It was hosted by Alan Campbell, a photographer, hunter, cook, farmer, abalone diver, wine maker… the list goes on. Suffice it to say, I want to be like him.

The plan was to go turkey hunting on his friend Charlie’s ranch in west Sonoma. And as I drove out of my hotel in the darkness, eight male turkeys were hanging out at the entrance to the hotel, fanning their feathers… mocking me perhaps. They really are smart. They always know where to be.

The ranch has been in the same family for 150 years. Charlie was a real cowboy, ie. he was sorry he couldn’t join us but he had to go ride horses. He left his two nephews with us though to go scout for turkeys in another part of the ranch.

This is a ranch in Sonoma: Pinot grapes and green rolling hills.

This is some of the best pinot soil around. That’s what they tell me at least, I’m not a pinot soil expert.

Alan started making hen noises with various contraptions. We didn’t hear much for quite a while. Turkeys are like ghosts. One minute you hear them, the next it’s like they were never there. And recent information is important… which is why the boys were scouting.

But then far off on a hill behind us…

…we heard a Jake start responding to our calls. (Let it be known that my southern hunting friends are laughing at me right now because the proper term is not “responding,” it’s “gobbling his ass off.”)

We went up the hill and through the woods to find him.

If you haven’t turkey hunted before, basically what happens is that male turkeys are particularly eager to mate at this time of year, and will come find the women turkeys. Which is why you make female turkey noises… to attract them.

The hill was beautiful. And that was the nice thing about turkey hunting in a vineyard. The beauty alone makes it worthwhile, not the amount of game you take.

I couldn’t say how much time had passed, which is usually the case when hunting. That’s the beauty of it, there’s a total stillness as you stand in the field or the woods or the vineyard and wait with heightened senses.

Alan called a few more times and we waited on some boulders. He responded…er… gobbled his ass off a few more times, but he had moved, further beyond the hill. And we think he already had quite a few ladies with him. One lone hen wasn’t going to be enough to make him leave the pack. He was a regular pimp right then, and there was no competing with that.

So it wasn’t an eventful morning… but it was a beautiful, quiet, still one. And those are magical.

We hopped on the ATV’s and drove through the ranch to see the sights.

This is where the grandfather of the ranch lives. The house has been there for centuries, and the other family members have built their houses around him.

This was his horse.

And we drove up hills like this. And I decided that I much prefer hiking in an ATV than by foot when the hills are this steep. I’m just sayin.

This made me feel like a G I Joe.

This made me feel like a sophisticated G I Joe.

This made me feel like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre on a picnic.

We drove the ATV’s back up to the vineyards for “lunch”… at 9 am.

Past heavy farm equipment, which has a special place in my heart. It reminds me of my days in France.

Alan popped open a bottle of the wine he makes…

Gave it a sniff…

A pour, a whirl…

It was divine.

And THESE. The man makes his own olives. He labored over these for 18 months, switching their brine water every other day.

I think he reached a new level of dedication. They were utterly incredible. I am going to stalk him until I get the recipe.

And then this homemade bacon. Anyone who feeds me bacon gets an A+.

And then he fed me this:

As well as a hard boiled egg from his chickens.

This was a fantastic turkey hunt. Even without a turkey in the bag.

______________________________

Giveaway Winner! Oh man I loved all of your answers, they made me smile and tear. The randomly selected winner is:

#2 Tara – “I am a down home kinda girl. Love the dirt between my toes and good southern food on my plate.”

Email: [email protected] to claim your prize!

______________________________

Now, one of the things I didn’t mention is that Alan is not only a photographer, but the photographer for the “Down Home Downtown Cookbook” by Chef’s Jeff and Josh. And so, in honor of their exquisite cookbook, I’m going to give a copy away to a randomly selected winner. All you have to do to enter is answer this question in the comments section below:

“Are you a down home or downtown kind of guy or gal and why?”

Winners will be selected on Wednesday at 9am PST! Good luck!

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13 Comments

  • Brandy.C
    Posted June 1, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Down Home Girl!!! 🙂 Raised in small town, NE .. I have a heart for the slower pace of life. I like to take it all in, feel the peace and beauty of people and this countryside .. hustle and bustle of "downtown" is definitely not for me! Although, there is a beauty to city life as well .. tolerable to me only in limited exposures, too much and I get down right exhausted! 😉

  • Tara
    Posted June 1, 2010 at 10:52 am

    I am a down home kinda girl. Love the dirt between my toes and good southern food on my plate.

  • Kari
    Posted June 1, 2010 at 10:52 am

    I think I am kind of both. I grew up in the country and then moved to the city for college and while I love reminiscing about my childhood I love living in the city:)

  • Carl B. Nettere
    Posted June 1, 2010 at 10:52 am

    I don't want to take sides here….there is so much good that comes from both. I just returned from visiting family in Japan, the foods found in Tokyo can't be out done. My grandmother (celebrating her 90th) lives in the country and the feast we had for the family was truly amazing! Down home is where it all starts, the roots. Downtown, there is a variety so many choices!

  • Patricia
    Posted June 1, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Downtown. I've lived in a big city my entire life and couldn't imagine life any other way.

  • Jon D.
    Posted June 1, 2010 at 10:53 am

    I'm a Down home boy! I grew up in central Ohio.That's where you never need to water your lawn or add anything to the soil.it's that good!You stick the plant in the ground and it takes off.My best memories are going hunting for mushrooms and puffballs with my grandmother.She had an eye for finding those delicous treats.We'd bring them home and she would fry those roons and puffballs in her cast iron skillet with butter.That's before Morels were $13/ Lb. Then in the fall we'd go out to my granfathers farm and pick sweet corn.The men and kids would be out picking corn and the women were in the big farm house kitchen cutting corn off the cob, blanching it and putting it up in freezer containers.It's the best.I brought some corn back to Colorado and my wife accused me of putting sugar in the corn.It's that sweet.Nothing like it out here.I love living in the country.You can actually see the stars here. In Ohio we fished out on Lake Erie for yellow perch and walleye.Now in Colorado with soil made of sandstone and clay I grow a garden in raised beds and potatoes in containers.Not quite as good but better than vegetables that have been on a truck for days.

  • Tori Groat
    Posted June 1, 2010 at 10:54 am

    If I must choose a label that best expresses my state of mind,  it would be a "down home girl". Why? Simply because that's where I feel more  creative, peaceful and free to live in the moment. I love to connect to nature.. To feel the dirt in my hands and  to take witness and appreicate where my food comes from. I feel joy when my children want to be in the kitchen with me and we can share in the pride of meal made together with love.  Call me simplistic; but my pleasures can't be bought by things wrapped in cellophane and processed thoughts– they are defined by the virtues craftmanship.                     

  • sara
    Posted June 1, 2010 at 10:54 am

    I am definitely a down-home girl…I grew up in rural Ohio, and while I didn't grow up on a farm, they were all around us and my parents did have an extensive garden. My parents live right next door to a fruit orchard, and there is just nothing like their raspberries in the summer, picked right off the bush. While I love the fancy farmer's market where I live now too, it just doesn't even compare. 😉

  • Heather
    Posted June 1, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Down home kind of girl living in a downtown world. I'm glad I still have a family farm to visit when I need to escape the city.

  • Bethany
    Posted June 1, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Quite down home! There is nothing like hunting for the food you put on the table. However, I have lived in several big cities for short periods of time, and I do appreciate all of the exotic foods and cuisine available there which just aren't easy to come by in the country. The turkey hunt/winery tour photos and your commentary were divine. I'm sorry you didn't get a turkey. But when they come a-struttin' in, there is really nothing quite like it. So I hope you get one soon!

  • Clayvessel
    Posted June 1, 2010 at 10:56 am

    No doubt I am a down-home girl canning tomatoes, growing herbs, milking goats and throwing pots. But I sure love to get dressed up, go downtown and have a nice martini in the nicest restaurant in town as well as sample the chef's specialties. Afterward it's back to blue jean reality.

  • Jason
    Posted June 1, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Down home born and raised. After college I ran off to LA for 5-6yrs

  • John
    Posted June 1, 2010 at 10:58 am

    More of a globetrotting lost soul than a down home guy but definitely enjoy and appreciate "down-homeness", especially when visiting my sister Heather and brother-in-law Alan Campbell 🙂

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