By mid-summer 2022, We’d become experts at RV camping. We found some kind of compromise between the comforts of RVing and the nostalgia of tent camping. While we enjoyed the comforts of a bathroom and kitchen on wheels, glamping chairs, and carpet to boot, we decided the sleeping bags would stay. After years of tent camping, sheets seemed wrong, while zip-up flannel bags somehow seemed like a token to the good old days, even in summer. This was our final resolution between the two worlds.
Now it’s hard to imagine summer in the middle of winter, but let’s give it a try.
The warm dusty hues of the sun’s glow suspend like a halo in the heavens reaching the ground and surrounding the earth in a tapestry of light. The air sits heavy and still–not a breeze to be felt. Although the days are slowly getting shorter, summer has settled and it feels like it will last forever. The only reprieve is the over-taxed air conditioning of our truck when we pull into Six Sigma Ranch and Winery on a Wednesday in early August. Six Sigma is one of four wineries in Lake County to host Harvest Hosts guests. Once a member of Harvest Hosts, camping is free, while guests are encouraged to support the business hosting them. It’s a great deal. You get to stay overnight for free while enjoying the experience your host has to offer.
But this isn’t an ordinary weekday night at Six Sigma. It also happens to be the first Wednesday of the month, which also is Paella Night. Every month, a different chef creates their interpretation of paella. It’s an unforgettable evening of exceptional wine and a chance to meet with new and old friends while enjoying a sumptuous meal. This August, teacher and chef Anne-Marie of Woodland Community College demonstrates her and her student’s culinary art.
It doesn’t take long to find our campsite. After a quick stop in the tasting room to pick out a chilled bottle of Rosé and a couple of wine glasses, we settle into the evening with our friends. The summer’s rich yellow glow begins to pinken, and still, there’s no breeze other than the fans spinning from the porch. Of course, a sip of the chilled Rosé helps bring relief.
In the corner of the courtyard, a wood-fired pizza oven and kitchen area provide the space where Anne-Marie and her students are busily working on their culinary craft.
Time passes quickly while we catch up with friends when a server brings a small serving of chilled cucumber soup. The cool soup is light and refreshing, with just a hint of citrus that serves to whet the appetite. Before long, the clang of a cowbell rings, announcing dinner is served.
A line forms in front of the oversized, larger-than-life paella pan that masterfully cooks this one-dish meal served with a garden-fresh salad and bread. The art of making paella isn’t entirely about the recipe; it’s more about the technique. The perfect paella always has a crisp, flavorful layer of rice on the bottom. That means the rice has to cook undisturbed with the exact proportion of liquid to rice to create the perfect texture. That’s why you will never have the same dish twice. Anne Marie and her students masterfully create this culinary prize, making every bite a delight. Last but not least, a saffron lemon cake is served, “just because”, as Anne-Marie says. The delicate flavors bring the perfect ending to a perfect one of a kind meal and evening.
Before long, it’s time for some of our friends to say their goodbyes. But some of us are making an evening of it as we bring our unfinished bottle of wine back to our RV. Our conversation continues under the stars. In the late evening hours, a whisper of a breeze can be felt, and an owl hoots from afar, reminding us once again how still and quiet this summer evening is on Six Sigma’s Ranch.
Six Sigma’s Paella nights happen monthly, so check ahead before you make your Harvest Hosts reservation. For more information on Harvest Hosts, check out their website. But of course, any day of the week is the perfect experience at Six Sigma Ranch and Winery.
Six Sigma Ranch
13372 Spruce Grove Rd, Lower Lake, CA 95457
Phone: (707) 994-4068