Mary Cressler is a wine, food, and travel writer and founder of Vindulge Wine Education & Consulting -- enhancing the consumers wine experience through classes, seminars, and consulting. Mary is a columnist for Palate Press and active contributor to Wine.4.Me. As a freelancer Mary has written for Barbecue America Magazine, Bottlenotes, Serious Eats, Snooth, Oregon Wine Press, The Gorge Guide, Multiplicity Magazine, and others, in addition to her blog Vindulgeblog.com. A frequent tasting panelist and judge for wine competitions; she is also a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers.
What was the most enjoyable aspect of your retreat?
Being able to work with no pressure for time. I have two young kids at home, so I am forced to get my work done at specific times of the day (when they are at school, or sleeping, etc.), I am interrupted often. During the retreat I was free to work when I was inspired, with no boundaries for time, and nothing to disrupt my focus. It was freeing. I was also able to really clear my head, which is something difficult to do with my regular schedule.
What was the most unexpected part of your stay?
Probably how quiet everything was. It was February and a quiet time of the year for the town of Oliver. Though I didn’t have many expectations going in, except for assuming it would be quiet and peaceful. It was both and so much more. The house was gorgeous and large with views of the entire valley. Quite stunning.
What did you work on during the retreat?
A few articles with looming deadlines. The start of a book proposal. I was also able to get quite a few things from my “b” and “c” list of priorities done. As mentioned above, with my kids I’m often working on what’s most important or whatever deadline is next. Those are my “a” list priorities. Other projects, not as urgent, get put aside and often never accomplished. I was able to focus on many of those less urgent projects. It felt so great to finally get some of those items checked off.
What other activities did you do during the retreat—any napping, hiking, or exploring the area?
I definitely allowed myself to sleep in a couple of the days (it felt so good!). There’s also a nice hike called The Golden Mile Hike, that starts at Tinhorn Creek and continues from there. I “attempted” the hike, but didn’t make it far since it was pretty wet on the ground, and the higher in elevation I went the more snow there was. I didn’t bring proper shoes for that. But did manage to go for a short hike, and a couple runs. I also visited the tasting room at Tinhorn Creek and got to try their lineup of wines, and also visited the nearby Hester Creek Winery.
Any tips or advice you think might be helpful for future residency applicants?
Just take advantage of the setting. The property is quite beautiful with incredible views. Take it all in.
Can you sum up your experience in eight to ten words?
I can sum it up in two – peaceful and productive.