No blog has been posted since way back in early January. It’s not that life has been dull; rather, I’ve simply been in a lazy swoon. Perhaps it’s all due to a form of postpartum fatigue following the birth of our new winery. Thus & therefore, today’s blog is a means of catching up with the recent past, mostly through photos, though a couple of words will also be applied.
On January 18th I drove up to Sacramento where I had been invited give a talk at a meeting of the Sacramento Home Winemakers. Several members of the Sacramento group are also members of the Le Cuvier Elliptical Society, & I guess that the folks wanted to use my overview of Weird Winemaking as counterpoint to the vastly more rational approach presented by other speakers they’d had.
We started the evening with a perfectly scrumptious buffet at the home of Neal Shleffar & Donna Brown, all accompanied by wines produced by members of the Sacramento group. Across the board every wine was truly lovely, & in all honesty every bottle tasted would have been a hit in a so-called commercial winery. So if any of you have been thinking about trying your hand a home winemaking, the Sacramento bottles are proof positive that you don’t need to join the priesthood in order to make a very successful & enjoyable wine. A point of warning however: my host Neal has built an entirely separate building in his back yard to house his barrels & wine collection, & his obsession is starting to eye the living room for possible expansion. Donna is not giving an inch, but is clearly concerned. This too could happen to you. A fine obsession for sure.
Following our buffet, the meeting of the Sacramento Home Winemakers was held at a lovely old social club somewhere in Sacramento, but I know not where since I was being chauffeured about. There was a grand turnout for the evening, I think about 80 members of the group, & lots & lots of very good questions in response to my presentation on making wine without use of sulfite. Such was the wealth of questions that my assistant Robin Graham & I have plans to collaborate on a paper describing our technique, with Robin providing the science to counterbalance my own nonsense.
In closing on Sacramento, I want to sincerely thank everyone who participated, & especially those of you who did so much to orchestrate the evening. It was also fitting that a grand old drinking establishment happened to be located directly across the street from the meeting hall, & it was especially gratifying to have so many members of the Sacramento group insist on buying me night caps.
I did not rush back to Paso Robles. Instead, I chose to take a mini-vacation of sorts by wandering about through the Sacramento River delta. What a wonderfully wacky & lovely area this is, with curious little villages filled with people who appear to have no visible means of support. In the tiny town of Locke (built by Chinese immigrants in the early 1900’s) you can dine in style at Al The Wop’s restaurant. A bit further down river in Isleton you can gamble, sleep & eat, all under a single roof, at Rogelio’s whose restaurant “specializes in Chinese, Italian, & Mexican cuisine.” I spent my last night’s outing in Rio Vista where I was befriended by the two cousins pictured below. They were fine gentlemen, & it was an honor to find myself in the company of such knowledgeable indigenes who could fill me in on all kinds of esoteric detail & hidden history about the delta:
The following week, on January 26th, Mary & I drove to Death Valley for an Elliptical Society Wine Dinner & Weekend at the remarkably beautiful Furnace Creek Inn & Resort. Here is a view looking west from one of the room balconies:
And here we have the palm gardens leading down to the swimming pool which is itself constantly fed & refreshed by a giant running spring, a spring that is the true foundation for this oasis:
Mary chortling at Friday night’s wine reception:
Chef Mike serving one of the hors d’oeuvres at the reception. Actually, “hors d’oeuvres” is a misnomer because the wine reception was truly a movable feast:
A point of politics clearly being made:
The bar appears to have filled with Elliptical Members following the reception. Imagine that!
Mary & I stayed on at Furnace Creek through the following Wednesday in order to conduct very important business discussions which have officially been titled the “2012 Shareholders’ Meeting." A business expense, for sure. Sundown on our last evening gave us this view looking west from our balcony:
And this view looking east:
Moving forward to the present, we held our Spring Elliptical Society Pick-Up Party this past weekend (Presidents’ Day). The weather was perfect, & the almond orchards were in pink-white bloom making the view from atop our hill that much more spectacular. Several hundred Elliptical Members & their guests took advantage of the glory of it all to visit & taste the Spring wines, each accompanied by a separate hors d’oeuvre prepared by Chef Laurent Grangien of the eponymous Bistro Laurent here in Paso Robles. The camera was more or less on vacation, but events coordinator Dana Matterson did manage to snap a few shots of Saturday night’s wine dinner in our home, also prepared by Chef Grangien:
And lastly, here is a photo of the finished patio taken this morning. A fine place to sit, & soon the oak will leaf out to bring us shade: