Raising a Glass

October 2010

The old saying about the tantalizing weekend opportunities available to Orange County locals (“You can surf and ski in the same day!”) is due for amendment. We suggest: “You can surf and ski in the same day, and overnight in world-class wine country.”

Not that you’d want to try them all in a single day, of course, because that would be like skateboarding through Paris. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. But the Central Coast as a wine destination adds a tempting possibility that’s just a four-hour drive away.

Our cover story focuses on Paso Robles and its booming vino culture as a perfect getaway for people here with an appetite for good food, great wine, and a pace of life more attuned to the seasons than their smartphone. We enlisted Orange Coast senior editor and inveterate oenophile Anne Valdespino to show you around.

We also pay tribute this month to Marylin Hudson, Orange Coast’s book critic since 1993. The co-founder of the Round Table West book-and-author program and a long-time member of the National Book Critics Circle was 76 when she died Aug. 3 after a short illness. We note her passing now because she left us completed Books columns for September and October, both filled with her discerning wit and insight. The last of those columns begins on Page 34.

When Marylin died, Dean Koontz lauded her “social grace” and Joseph Wambaugh called her “irreplaceable.” I’ll just reiterate what I wrote after Round Table folded in 2007: “I felt like I was witnessing the passing of a generation, and wondered if it was the last that would ever venerate something as old fashioned as books and the people who write them.”

Marylin embodied a time when writing was a thoughtful act rather than an efficient burst of digitally transmittable information. (She still corresponded by handwritten letter, although she’d grudgingly use a fax machine or e-mail if deadlines demanded it.) Over the years, her Books for the Bookless program collected more than 180,000 volumes for prisons and halfway houses.

For us, she was a constant reminder that words can be sacred, yet still available to all. For that and a thousand other reasons, we’ll miss her.

Martin J. Smith

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