To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf with Villa Job Sudigiri
Nobody has Virginia Woolf beat on feelings. Or rather, her characters—specifically the ones in To The Lighthouse—beat on feeling. It’s hard for me to write that and not think of how, for so long, it was a slight against writers, specifically female, and most specifically Woolf herself. When I write it now, in the middle of a global pandemic that’s unfolding at lightning speed, I mean it with utmost praise. Today I had a lot of feelings. A lot of thoughts about feeling that couldn’t find solid ground. And then, they receded. I imagine many people feel this way, especially now. I take comfort in Woolf ’s world for that very reason. Everything changes. Time passes. It’s a novel ruled by emotion, the silent interior world that makes metaphor and lushness out of seemingly serene surroundings. Everything is a tunnel deeper into itself, “a fold unto a fold”: like waves crashing and receding, the distant shoreline, a rocky bank—nothing is solid, or what solidity there is appears only for a moment and then, like a thought you can’t quite hold to, it’s gone again. Or perhaps, more accurately, passed along. At times, this constant moving can be unsettling: on what inner-world banks have we landed now? But everything changes. Time passes. And we are more connected than we think.
“It’s all come to an end,” says Mrs. Ramsey, the novel’s magnetic protagonists. But it hasn’t. It’s only shifted perspective. The narrative in To The Lighthouse never ends. But of course it ends? The book is over and the destination reached? Woolf ’s world colors everything around us with “a faint green quickness,” leaving the reader (me) slightly out of harmony—feeling two things at once—and so I continue to puzzle it out long after I’ve finished, to feel the presence of her characters even after I’ve shut the book. I imagine that’s why there are people who spend their lives studying Woolf. Each sentence is like a gift to unwrap, a glittering chain to be unstrung with the head of a pin. Woolf is not an emotional writer. She makes art of it.
Do you remember summer? Maybe. Either way, it doesn’t matter because the Sudigiri from Villa Job in Friuli, Italy is something I want to drink all the time; something I don’t want to end. Like the “smell of salt and weeds.” Or feeling “like a tropical fish oaring its way through sun-laced waters,” which isn’t something I’ve ever experienced but imagine vividly. Like this book, there’s something almost out of harmony about the wine: both lush and austere. The Villa Job vineyard is located in the Friuli peninsula, ninety meters above sea level, a place referred to as “the terrace,” which is the kind of setting Woolf ’s characters know well. The Sudigiri is 100% Sauvignon Blanc, sees two days on the skins and open barrel fermentation. Truly, it’s unlike anything else. So drink it and think about how you feel.
Virginia Woolf ’s bio is too long to fit here. Maybe you’ve read her, or maybe you haven’t. She seems to be a divisive writer, which I appreciate. She is considered one of the most important 20th-century modernist writers. She was both immensely privileged and also not. Her novel The Waves is forever my desert island book, in part because I’m still trying to figure it out. To The Lighthouse was written in 1927, in the midst of her most “productive” years of literary success: 1925 to 1929. She died in 1941.
Villa Job winery is owned and operated by Allessandro and Lavinia, in the Friuli region of Italy. Surrounded by forests and rivers, and high above the sea, the soil is rich and varied: sand, silt, clay, sandstone, and marl. The winemaking couple farms and produces biodynamically, using indiginous yeast and traditional Friuli varietals. About their wine making process, they’ve said: “producing wine is a moment of joy and happiness,” which feels like a place to linger.