They spent Christmas together in his cabin, and stood on the small porch in the early mornings, admiring nature at its finest. With his father gone then, and his mother many years before, he didn't want to go back to France for Christmas with his uncles, he wanted to spend it with Joy. She had no family to go home to either. Her mother had died young, of cancer when Joy was fifteen, and her much older father had been devastated and died of grief three years later. She and Christophe created their own world in the place he had brought her to, and he had cooked a remarkable Christmas dinner for her of goose and pheasant, which set off the wines he had chosen to perfection.
In the spring, he began building his château, just as he said he would. She learned that Christophe was a visionary of sorts, but remarkably he always did what he said he would, and turned his ideas from the abstract to concrete reality. He never lost sight of his goals, and she showed him how to get there. He described what he saw in the future, and she helped him fulfill his dreams. He had beautiful plans for the château.
He had the stone brought over from France, and said he didn't want anything too imposing or too large. He based the design loosely on his own family's four-hundred-year-old château, and gave the architect countless sketches and photographs of what he had in mind, with the alterations that he felt would work on the property he had chosen, and he was relentless about the proportions. Not too big and not too small. He had picked a hill with beautiful old trees surrounding the clearing where he wanted to build his home. He said he was going to put red rosebushes everywhere, just like they had in France, and laid it all out with a landscape architect, who was thrilled with the project.
The house was well under way by summer when he asked Joy to marry him. They had dated for well over a year by then. He was constructing his winery amid the vineyards, at the same time he built his château, which was a jewel. They were married at a small ceremony in a nearby church at the end of August, with two of his vineyard workers as their witnesses. They had no real friends in the Valley yet. They had each other, which was more than enough, for a start. They agreed that the rest could come later. They were
establishing their life together, and she had great respect for Christophe's passion for the earth and his land. It was in his bones and in his veins and in his heart. The grapes he grew were living beings to him, to be cherished and nourished and protected. And he felt the same way about his wife. He cherished her like a precious gift, and she blossomed and thrived in the warmth of his love, and loved him just as deeply.
The château wasn't yet complete on the first Christmas they were married, and they were still living in his simple cabin, which suited their quiet life. Joy was three months pregnant by then, and Christophe wanted their home finished in time to bring their first child there when it was born in June. Joy had quit her job in Silicon Valley when they married, since she couldn't commute that far, and she worked hard at helping him set up his winery. She handled the business and he dealt with the vines. Her belly was round and full when they moved into the château in May, just as Christophe had promised. They spent a month there, while she painted beautiful frescoes and murals at night and on the weekends, waiting for their first child to arrive, and she worked in the office of their new winery every day. He had named it after her, and called it Château Joy, which was the perfect description of their life.
They woke up excited to go to work every day, and had lunch together at the house, to discuss progress and the problems they were solving. He had planted their vines, using all the precepts he had grown up with, and two of his uncles had come to visit them, approved of everything they were doing, and said it would be the best winery in the Napa Valley in twenty years. The vines they had planted were growing well, and the château already felt like home to them. They had furnished it with old French provincial antiques they had found at country auctions and antique stores and picked out everything together.
The baby arrived as gently and peacefully as the rest of their plans had taken shape over the past two years. They went to the hospital in the morning when Joy told him it was time, shortly after breakfast. They drove down the hill and to the hospital, and by late that afternoon, Joy had a beautiful baby girl in her arms, as Christophe looked at Joy in awe. It had all been so easy and simple and natural. The little girl had her mother's pale blond hair and white skin, and her father's deep blue eyes, from the moment she was born. It was obvious that her eyes would stay blue, since her mother's eyes were blue as well. And her skin was so creamy fair that Christophe said she looked like a flower, and they named her Camille.