Maria Finn has been a contributing writing for Sunset Magazine, Gardenista and The Food & Environmental Reporting Network. She’s written for Saveur, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Wine Spectator, and The San Francisco Chronicle among many other places. She is the author of five books: a multi-media “The Whole Fish” (TED Books 2012), “A Little Piece of Earth” (Rizzoli, 2010), “Hold Me Tight and Tango Me Home” (Algonquin 2010), “Mexico in Mind” (Vintage 2006) and “Cuba in Mind” (Vintage 2004). She is currently completing a novel “Sea Legs & Fish Nets” loosely based on her experiences working on an all-female fishing boat and starting a DIY/Recipe book on coastal foods.
Did the retreat meet your expectations?
I really didn’t have many expectations since it was such a new experience. But it was a wonderful spot, the people at the winery were engaging, friendly and fun to spend time with. The space and time to spend writing and reading was invaluable.
What was the most unexpected part of your stay?
I really liked the people working in the Moshin tasting room, and meeting the owners Amber and Rick. Often, I headed over a little before closing time. I’d taste wonderful Pinot Noir, and chat with the Moshin people. It was the best way to end a day of solitary writing.
What was the most enjoyable aspect of your retreat?
The feeling of being “away” in wine country, and also getting work done.
Did the vineyard setting inspire you and/or your writing?
Yes. It was a really beautiful setting, with some people around, but mostly very quiet. One evening I was reading the novel “The Garden of Evening Mists” and I put it down and went outside for a walk before it got dark. A light rain had been falling, and the vineyards were clouded over and it was beautiful and felt like I had just stepped into the novel I had been reading.
What did you work on during the retreat?
I worked on a book proposal for a “Transcendental Cookbook” about eco-system based on Coastal Regions. It’s a how-to on harvesting and making salt, gathering seaweed, digging clams, and catching herring and other small fish. The goal behind it is that people eat seafood differently, and engaged with wilderness in an adventurous way.
You can’t write 24 hours a day! What other activities did you do during the retreat—any napping, hiking, or exploring the local area?
Yes! I went hiking in Armstrong Redwoods State Park, took a yoga class in Healdsburg, did a little wine tasting in the area, found a wonderful Korean-American diner in Guerneville, and went to karaoke night at the R3 Hotel bar in Guerneville.
Can you sum up your experience in eight to ten words?
Sanctuary, immersion, perspective, wine that inspires.
Any other comments or impressions about the retreat you wish to convey?
I’d once again like to express my gratitude to Marcy Gordon for organizing this, and to Rick and Amber Moshin for opening up their guest room to me. Also, I believe the manager Julia Lander played a big part in it. Being hosted in a residency gives writers such a great sense of support. Freelance Writing is a field with so much uncertainty and struggle that to experience generosity and feel valued for a week really goes a long way. It was an incredible retreat in many ways.