“Alice Waters and Meryl Streep are the same person,” a long-ago Reddit thread claims, but while that argument has been debunked by general reason and a host of events at which the two both appeared, one can be forgiven for giving the Chez Panisse owner’s most recent Instagram post a second look — as Waters wanders through a “tunnel of gourds” at a Napa vineyard, she has a very Streep-by-way-of-Tim-Burton vibe.
The video was taken this weekend at Hudson Vineyards, a 2,000 acre ranch in Carneros that opened a little less than two years ago. Owners Lee and Cristina Salas-Porras Hudson have longstanding ties to Waters, as Cristina is a Chez Panisse veteran, and Lee’s been building out a ranch on the Hudson acreage since 1981, eventually designing “a collection of barns, a home, 200 acres of 17 different grape varietals, gardens, ponds, orchards and areas to raise hogs and sheep,” the Napa Valley Register reported some years ago.
For over a decade, he’s also been obsessed with gourds, cultivating giant pumpkins and what they call “gourd alley,” a covered walkway above which hang long gourds, pear gourds, and birdhouse gourds. They’re all cultivated by Leonardo “Leo” Ureña, an employee of Hudson’s since 1985 whose prowess in gourd growth is so vaunted that he’s a regular contender at big squash contests from Elk Grove to Half Moon Bay, and beyond.
Waters apparently chose this weekend to tour the vineyards gardens, saying that the gourds managed to temporarily distract her “from the 107 degree heat!” You can follow Waters’ gourd smacking and fondling footsteps by booking a private tasting at Hudson. Reservations start at $65.