California Sun

Happy Sunday.

Here are a few stories you missed in the California Sun over the last week.

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Sun sampler


Smoke hung over a vineyard outside of Calistoga in Napa Valley on Sept. 30, 2020.

Samuel Corum/AFP via Getty Images

California's wine country owes its world-class reputation in part to its dry, Mediterranean climate. Some now wonder if it can survive: In the last six years, the region has faced 23 major wildfires covering nearly 1.5 million acres. Dominic Chappellet grew up on a Napa vineyard that his parents bought in 1967. Asked if he thinks about whether his vineyard will be around for the next generation, he didn't hesitate: “Every day.” Bloomberg


The view from Mount Tamalpais.

Rory Hewitt, a Bay Area software architect, has an unusual remote office. Several times every summer, he does his shift inside the Gardner tower, a fire lookout on Mount Tamalpais, the highest peak in the Marin Hills. Every 10 minutes, Hewitt gets up and scans the horizon for smoke as part of his duties as a volunteer wildfire watchman. “A boring day is a good day,” he said. The Guardian

This time-lapse video of views from the lookout makes it no wonder why people volunteer. 👉 Vimeo


Julius Shulman/Getty Research Institute

👆 You can wander the home in this iconic photo, and even lounge in one of the vintage chairs.

Julius Shulman's picture of the Stahl House, showing two elegant women surrounded by glass in the Hollywood Hills, became a symbol of postwar sophistication during Southern California's modernist architectural movement. People who've taken a tour of the home rave about it.

The L.A. Times' Christopher Reynolds: "My suggestion is as soon as you finish exploring the place, take a seat somewhere and just gaze for as long as you possibly can. Then exhale. It’s tranquil up there."

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An online tour of Southern California's famed Case Study homes. 👉 Curbed


Holbrooke Hotel in Grass Valley, pictured above, is said to be the "crown jewel" of historic hotels in Gold Country. In its 19th-century heyday, the hotel hosted U.S. presidents and luminaries such as Mark Twain and Lola Montez. Newly renovated, the rooms have vintage radios and rotary telephones to complete the old-timey effect. Alta included the Holbrooke in a guide to "the Secret West," with the best few hidden gems in each of 10 California regions.


Gif created from video by Fundacja Dla Biebrzy

Beavers are amazing.

Ecologists looking to revive a dried-out floodplain in Placer County turned to nature's engineers: beavers, a once abundant species that went to work building dams to retain water. The result was "insane," said Lynnette Batt, a conservationist. “It went from dry grassland ... to totally revegetated, trees popping up, willows, wetland plants of all types, different meandering stream channels across about 60 acres of floodplain." Sacramento Bee


A failed 2013 initiative imagined California split into six states.

CC BY-SA 4.0

The New York Times opinion section is doing a series exploring "bold ideas to revitalize and renew the American experiment." The latest: Break up California, Texas, and Florida. "America needs new states not only to provide representation for those living in territories but also more urgently to provide adequate representation to those who have congressional representation but whose votes perversely carry less weight because of their state’s size."


Muennig designed the Tree House at Post Ranch Inn.

Mickey Muennig, who died last month at the age of 86, gave Big Sur its signature flowing architecture. Originally from Joplin, Missouri, the architect moved in 1971 to the coastal community of Bohemians and rebels and quickly become known for his unconventional creations, often dramatically cantilevered at the edge of plunging cliffs. He designed the Post Ranch Inn, the Baths at Esalen, and the Hawthorne Gallery. Dwell gathered some fantastic images of Muennig's best works.


Thanks for reading!

The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.

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