Retiring in California Wine Country
Article by Scott Norton.
Napa is over-rated. That’s right, I said it, and I’m prepared to back it up.
Not that I don’t love Napa, don’t get me wrong – there are some great wines coming out of Napa Valley, and it’s pretty, and I love visiting there as much as anyone. When we lived in San Francisco, the first thing we did when we bought our new car was cruise up the coast to Napa. The wine train is awesome. That does not mean I have to retire there to prove my affinity for fine wines.
Yet, why is it that as we get older everyone I know who claims to be a wine lover waxes poetic about retiring to Napa to live among the wineries? Take a look around California for a moment. If you’re paying attention, you quickly realize that Napa is not the sum total of the wine industry in California. There are some great wines and beautiful wine countries for retirees to consider in California.
Remember those ads for some of the Napa wines that went on and on about the cool damp mornings and the hot dry afternoons? Hard to maintain my active adult lifestyle if the foggy mornings make my knees hurt, huh?
Consider this; how cool would it be to retire in a landscape defined by rolling hills, native grasses, oak trees and fruit orchards, that is also the ancestral home of California wine making?
About an hour outside San Francisco, up the river delta and along Highway 4 you end up in the Antioch, Brentwood, Mt. Diablo area. It’s an area still known throughout the Bay Area for agricultural products like cherries, corn and peaches. But up until prohibition, it was an area known for grapes. In fact The Mount Diablo region was the dominant grape growing region in the late 1800’s.
When, January 16, 1920, the Eighteenth Amendment was ratified, the era of Prohibition began. Within a few years, most of the vineyards were plowed under and replaced with orchards of walnuts and almonds. What survives today is an enclave of family owned vineyards and wineries with names like Tamayo, and Hannah Nicole Vineyards. To retire among these wineries is to retire in the roots of California winemaking.
Of course, at this point you might start to analyze your idyllic retirement dream and suddenly realize that, as a 55+ active adult retiree, you love wine but maybe you don’t want to live way out in the sticks surrounded by grapes and nowhere to shop and dine.
Relax, the region is fully modernized. Don’t tell anyone, but the water tower in Brentwood is where they hide the cell phone transmitters. It’s still the bay area, after all. Brentwood in particular is a great choice for wine loving active adults to consider for retirement. The idyllic wine country locale is within easy reach of Walnut Creek, where you’ll find Broadway Plaza – one of the best known shopping destinations in the Bay Area. Surrounding the mall is an amazing array of small high quality restaurants, many of which feature the local wines. There’s access to BART in Walnut Creek, as well as Pittsburg/Bay Point (which is a little closer than Walnut Creek), so really, retiring in Brentwood gives you access to the entire Bay Area Region.
If health care is a concern for you as you get older (as it is for everyone, really) you’ll be glad to know that Kaiser Permanente has several facilities around Brentwood, so you’re never far away from high quality medical care.
Then the question becomes, “okay, so where’s a nice place to live in Brentwood?”
Well, if you’re looking at your retirement as “Life’s next big adventure” then you should take a look at Trilogy at the Vineyards. Trilogy is a master planned community that’s specifically designed around active adult retirees. Now in particular is a great time to talk to the folks at Trilogy because the depressed housing market has created an opportunity to buy into a very well appointed retirement at a discount price. Amenities include architecture by award- winning Bassenian Lagoni Architects, a library, gourmet studio and a fully equipped fitness center. If you’re serious about your wine lover dream retirement, you should really check them out before the economic recovery drives the prices back up.