It doesn't take long to get from my house to wine country, and I live in Virginia, not California! An hour's drive from my urban home, I can leave the highway and start drifting along narrow, winding blacktop, where the hillsides are covered with rows and rows of vines. On a recent day trip into the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, my husband and I took a friend for tastings at two very different wineries, where we enjoyed the distinct flavors of unusual grape varieties while admiring the green countryside. I was struck by how different the Virginia terrain is from other wine regions I've visited—more wet and lush. I love to photograph vineyards (as much as I enjoy sipping wine with dinner in the tradition of my French family). On my travels I've visited vineyards in France and other parts of Europe, California, Oregon, Washington State, New York State, and even the far-flung wine country of New Zealand. In all these places, dedicated vintners try to make wines that are unique expressions of their terroir. This French word translates as "soil" or "land," but it describes that elusive combination of a particular grape planted in a particular soil, at a particular elevation and slope, and acted on by a particular but unpredictable climate. The variables are daunting, and the labor is exhausting. It strikes me that terroir is an apt metaphor for what we make of our own lives. We have families, schools, aspirations, and unpredictable events acting on us, yet we are each unique expressions of the human spirit. How do we become the best version of ourselves? Perhaps this is too serious a question to ponder with a glass of bright Virginia Riesling in hand, so I turn my gaze to the vineyards spreading out below the tasting room. The ordered rows are reassuring.