Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Peek Behind the Scenes at Dutton-Goldfield

Last week I got the opportunity to visit Dutton-Goldfield at the winery space they share with Balletto. Sarah Kelley gave us a pour and tour of the facility and Brandon Lapides, the assistant winemaker, showed us a bit of the process while the harvest was underway. For a relative newbie like myself it was very informative and great fun to see the harvest action and a behind the scenes look into wines that are literally made in my backyard. I can see the Russian River Valley and the Dutton-Goldfield winery from my office window. (I almost sound like Sara Palin-- I can see the Russian River from my house!)

Watching the bins of grapes come in and get tossed into the machine that crushed them and spit out the stems (I think it's called the de-stemer) reminded me of a huge sausage grinder at work. Maybe not the the most appropriate analogy but that's what came to mind for me. Take a look.

The Dutton-Goldfield portfolio of wines offer a snapshot of the Russian River Valley & Green Valley AVA. Each wine is a direct expression of it's unique climate and location. Of the wines we tasted I was most impressed with the Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir RRV 2007 , the 2006 Sanchietti Vineyard Pinot Noir, and the Cherry Ridge Vineyard Syrah.

Now as I watch the fog roll in and out in the valley below, glass of Pinot in hand, I have a greater understanding of what the weather can taste like. You can view a map of the vineyards here and read more about the wines and the people behind them here.

NEXT POST: Hands on Harvest

Monday, September 21, 2009

What I Read This Summer

Summer flew by as usual but I was able to get in quite a bit of reading despite the time wasting distraction of Twitter. I average a book a week, sometimes more. Is there such a thing as binge reading? If so, am I book bulimic? Oh well, there are worse things I guess. Here in no particular order are some of the books I read this summer. The links in most cases go to the authors site rather than amazon. If possible I suggest you buy your books from your local indie bookstore. Indie Bound is a good resource for locating the store nearest you. It's more important than you think.


Blackberries in the Dream House By: Diane Frank --Lyrical long tone poem about a relationship between a geisha and a buddhist monk.

An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church's Strangest Relic in Italy's Oddest Town By: David Farley --I loved this whacked out book about a town in Italy and it’s preoccupation with a scared relic. You can find Farley on twitter here.

August Heat By: Andrea Camilleri, Stephen Sartarelli--Another in the Camilleri series about Sicilian detective Inspector Montalbano- if you like Sicily you’ll like this.

La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language By: Dianne Hales--I enjoyed this book. But unless you have a real love for the Italian language you might find this to be more than you bargained for. Hales is on twitter @becomingitalian.

Wind Shift By: Andrea De Carlo--Have only read De Carlos previous books in Italian, and this, his first written in English, leaves much to be desired.

The Ramen King and I: How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed My Love Life By: Andy Raskin-- Another book I learned about on twitter. This was like the Male version of Eat, Pray, Love -- Eat, Pray, F#*k. Raskin is on twitter @araskin

The Enthusiast: A Novel By: Charlie Haas-- Captivating and thoroughly enjoyable. Hass is on twitter @Charlie_Haas

Yellow & Green: Not an Autobiography of Marcy Chen By: Marcy Chen--I learned of this book and of Marcy Chen on Twitter so did not really know what to expect. It reminded me of the movie Double Happiness which is also about a young ABC (American Born Chinese) woman navigating the world at large. Chen used to be on twitter but her account is no longer available. UPDATE: Chen is back on twitter @marcychen

A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table By: Molly Wizenberg-- Was okay, but somehow I expected more from this blog to book, book. Wizenberg naturally is on twitter @mollyorangette

The Learners by Chip Kidd- Interesting but it’s no Cheese Monkey. The Cheese Monkeys is still my favorite Kidd book. Kidd is on twitter at @chipkid

Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling With D.H. Lawrence By: Geoff Dyer (second time read)--This is one of my all time favorites. If you are a writer you will love it and if you are not a writer you will love it.

The Ongoing Moment By Geoff Dyer—Fascinating epistle on photography and the archetype of photos by the leading photographers of the last 100 years.

Trawler: A Journey Through the North Atlantic by Redmond O'Hanlon--Fabulous, funny, crazy, romp into the deep sea of O'Hanlon's brain riding on a perfect storm of narrative.

Narrow Dog to Indian River by Terry Darlington--Two Brits and their dog. take a long skinny boat down the Intercoastal waterway on the Atlantic coast.

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky--Duh of course he's on twitter @cshirky

Out of Exile: Narratives from the Abducted and Displaced People of Sudan By Craig Walzer, Dave Eggers, and Valentino Achak Deng --Amazing and devastating personal stories from interviews conducted by Walzer with the Sudanese.

Marco Polo Didn't Go There: by Rolf Potts -- Collection of Potts' stories and his comments on the story behind the story. Rolf is on twitter but keeps a very mute low profile @rolfpotts

Buddha or Bust: In Search of Truth, Meaning, Happiness, and the Man Who Found Them All by Perry Garfinkel -- This sojourn into the world of Buddhism and the road to enlightenment is funny and informative. Perry is sort of on twitter @PerryGarfinkel

Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah Macdonald-- An Australians quasi- spiritual experience setting up house in India.

So, what did you read this summer? Next up: Fall Reading List.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wines of Portugal - Spotlight on Quevedo

I'm still catching up with posts from WBC09. But this one is long over due.

On Saturday evening at the WBC09 there was a tasting of the Wines of Portugal sponsored by Vini Portugal. Prior to the event I met Oscar Quevedo and Nadia Adria on the bus, and I was eager to sample the Quevedo wines and learn more about their winery. Oscar and his accomplice Nadia perfectly reflect the young, hip, new generation that Quevedo seeks to reach as they position Port as an accessible every day wine.

Although the Quevedo winery was founded in 1991, Oscars Quevedo’s ancestors have worked in the Duoro river valley in Portugal and produced red wines and Port from port grapes of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, and Tinta Barroca for several generations.

Both sides of Oscar's family (His father and his mothers side Guilhar-Morias) have been in the port business for over 130 years. So you might expect that Oscar's career path was pre-ordained to join the family business. But Oscar followed his own interests and decided to study finance and economics. After he received his degree, he worked as an investment banker in Spain and Geneva. It is only recently that the lure of family tradition won out, and Oscar joined Quevedo as their Marketing Ambassador and Export manager.

Oscar travels the U.S. and Europe promoting their brand with seminars and tastings to show the range of the wines. Part of his mission is to introduce new audiences to the wonders of port, and change the perception of Port as something only enjoyed after meals with dessert and a cigar.

One of the challenges of Port is that you sometimes have to wait 30 years to really appreciate it. So Oscar suggests Quevedo Porto Rose, as a great wine to drink in cocktails with a spritz of soda water or twist of lemon, and a nice introduction to Port without the wait.

Surprisingly, it in the U.S. that Oscar has found some of the most knowledgeable Port enthusiasts. Michael Wangbickler is one example of such an enthusiast, and his blog The Tawny Times can be found here.

Oscar views bloggers as well as traditional media as the key to spreading his message and uses many tools of social media including twitter to increase the brands reach. Quevedo's comprehensive web site is a great place to learn more about their history and wines and it includes short videos of the current harvest and wine making process. You can also follow Quevedo on twitter at @Quevedo and Oscar at @oscarswine. But the perfect place to start might just be with a glass of Quevedo Special Reserve Tawny Port. Afterwards, let Oscar know what you think!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

PART III -Gen-Yine Road Trip

Note: While the Gen-Yine Road Trip is a parody, it is based entirely on real events of Project Yine, I mean really, who could make this stuff up?

After 18 hours on the road our girls arrive at Ashley’s Uncle Terry’s house

S: OMG! Like who lives here Hugh Hefner? What a bachelor pad.

Uncle Terry: Come in Girls, have a cigar, your gonna fly high, your never gonna die, your gonna make it if you try.

A: Uncle Terry!!

S: Um what is he saying? Sounds like he’s quoting song lyrics or something.

A: He is, but don’t worry you’ll get use to it.

UT: Sit down have something to eat… Oh did I tell you the name of the game? It’s called riding the Gravy train….

Uncle Terry sets out an amazing array of food and drink and cigars and they all feast. While they dine Uncle Terry plays a steady stream songs about the lovesick and lonely and 70’s rock ballads.

UT: So Sharayray are you in the market for any surgery?

S: Uhh No.

UT: Well some day you will be. Here take my card. You know we are just dust in the wind. Just a drop of water in an endless sea…but if you ever need gastric bypass give me a call. How do you think my little Niece here can eat so damn much!


A: He’s just kidding. Come on Shana, let’s go out to eat, I’m still hungry.

UT: See you later girls. Remember maybe a great magnet pulls all souls towards truth or maybe it is life itself that feeds wisdom to its youth.

Uncle Terry lights up a cigar and plays k.d.Lang ‘Constant Craving’ and stares out into the night sky.


The next day our heroines leave Arizona for their final destination-California. This time Shana drives while Ashley takes a little snooze.

A: —Hey I swear I just saw an enormous hot link drive by.

S: What are you talking about?

A: A great big sausage, like a huge hot dog.

S: I didn’t see anything. I think you meat eaters are all crazy.

A: So where are we? I’m hungry.

S: You just ate 30 minutes ago!

A: Well I could go for some bacon burgers and side of fried clams.

S: Eeesh.. Ash, are you sure your Uncle didn’t alter your stomach?

A: No way. I’m just hungry a lot. Hey look up ahead it’s the border!

S: I see it! The border of California! Oh I can feel it! Oh yes! So close…Yes, Yes, Yes, here it comes—AIYYYAAAA (sound of a breaking glass)

Just seconds after crossing into California a 30 foot long all beef wiener comes crashing through the back windshield and wedges into the dashboard.


A: Holy Bacon Bits!

Yes friends, the worst has happened… Our heroines have been rear ended by the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile in broad daylight. Luckily no one is seriously injured but Ashley’s car and the Wienermobile are in bad shape. As Ashley deals with the police and tow truck, Shana decides to interview the Wienermobile driver.

S: So, like, what do you like to drink when—

Wienermobile Driver: Drink? Who said I was drinking? I never ever ever drink and drive the Wiener! NEVER! Nooo. That would be so wrong!

S: Chill out dude, I just meant what do you like to drink when your not driving the wiener….um that sounded weird…I mean what do you drink when you’re off wiener duty, oh nevermind...Dude you should get another job. Seriously!

A&S get a lift to the closest town and rent a car for the remainder of their journey to Healdsburg. As they drive the last few hours of their trip they talk about all that they have learned with the Gen Y-ine Project and survey.

S: Well, there was not much wine drinking going on outside of Austin and our buddies from Another Wine Blog-- Amy and Joe.

A: Yeah it seems like most everyone under 29 drinks beer.

S: And it seems that the beer they do buy is mostly local stuff.

A: Yeah home crafted and home brewed --local favorites rule! Well, right after Budweiser they rule.

S: And the few Gen Y-iners we found that did drink wine said it was because someone told them about it.

A: Yup, word-of-mouth seems to be the major influencer.

S: And Social Media, while everyone was on it, and uses it, and swears by it, does not seem to be driving a lot of actual sales for wine or beer.

A: Yeah seems to be the case.

S: So Ashley

A: Yes, Ray Ray?

S: I think I knew all this already, before we even started this whole trip! I don’t think I really uncovered anything new about Gen Yine and in the process I suffered unbearable heat, horrible food, witnessed the consumption of untold amounts of bacon and other hideous meat products by you and everyone else, had the worst nightmare of my entire life, and then to top it all off-- got road reamed by the freaking Weiner Mobile!!!

A: So?

S: So I’m thinking where should we go on our next Project Y-ine road trip!!!

Cue music- Waterloo by ABBA as the sun sets slowly over the pacific and our heroines blaze into the night.

Waterloo - I was defeated, you won the war Waterloo - promise to love you forever more Waterloo - couldn’t escape if I wanted to Waterloo - knowing my fate is to be with you Waterloo - finally facing my waterloo


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