The Family Table
Gary had wanted to buy a huge house in the rolling, rural outskirts of the small city of Napa. Stephanie preferred to be closer to the down-home blue-collar county seat that sat separated, culturally, by a Great Divide from the wine country upvalley. It was more like the towns she'd known in San Gabriel Valley as a child, with things close by. But they both agreed on a house in St. Helena, the hub of upvalley. Less than a mile west of its turn-of-the-century Main Street, the new house on Pinot Way was on a cul-de-sac.
Life in St. Helena was not very different from that in Diamond Bar. The house was far bigger; shaped like a U, it had redwood siding and glass-walled wings facing each other and onto a wooden deck that led to the pool. This time, the Ramonas were able to hire one of the top landscape designers in the Bay Area to design terraces down to the pool and three gazebos for entertaining. But Gary still ran the actual building -- landscaping, pool, and the new barbecue.
The girls could ride their bikes or walk to school. Even Holly, though shy, had adjusted easily. Stephanie joined Meadowood Country Club and befriended a group of neighborhood women, bonded by children and the cul-de-sac, as she had at Diamond Bar. The "mother network," as the children called it, tracked their movements with the efficiency of a military warroom.
But in some significant ways it was not Diamond Bar. Stephanie's home was in Bob Mondavi's valley. The winery was just down the road, in Oakville, an almost daily reminder of Gary's other life and of Stephanie's obligations. Marj Mondavi had been replaced by Margrit Biever, who had married Bob quietly in 1980, shortly after the Ra