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Imagine a world with no limits...what would you eat? Where would you go to eat? Who would you share these Divine Delights with? ...Read More


From young root clippings in dry, arduous conditions to fruit bursting with the essence of the surrounding countryside, grapes are cultivated over a long period of time to bring you an explosion of sensory impact...Read More


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Archive for California

Harvest Dawn – Napa Valley Bike Ride

in California     

Last weekend I did a dawn bike ride through much of Napa’s wine country.  My route took me through parts of Oak Knoll, Stag’s Leap, Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, St Helena, Howell Mountain and Chiles Valley.    The heat had been on for a day and I fully expected to see the pickers and the hoppers operating at full.  Imagine my surprise to see NO activity on the last Saturday in September.  Harvest was late but all reports said it had started.  In an average year, harvesting from dusk to dawn is often considered preferable.  Not this day.  Once again the week had been cool and the sugars had not developed for harvest.

That day and several to follow saw temperatures in the high 90’s and breaking over 100.  I had a concern that there would be a repeat of the crop damage from August’s heat wave but have since learned it did not happen.  This weekend, while hot, did not have as radical temperature fluctuations which would have increased the problems. 

So what about the fruit?  Universally, the berries and clusters are smaller and most forecasts are anticipating a below average harvest weight.  Typically, a longer hang time benefits the resulting wines’ color and complexity.  This year we clearly don’t have fruit ripening too quickly but with this tricky year and at this early stage, it is too early to judge the results.  Like the growers and winemakers, you and I will have to wait and take this saga one day at a time.


CA Wine Country: Sunburned Grapes and Storage Issues

in California, Wine     

Life has been hectic for me as well as the wine country.  At the time the grapes were way behind schedule and the growers and vintners were hoping for a good late summer.  That weekend we got 3 days of >100 degrees, all records.  The last day we saw a temperature swing of over 50 degrees and over >20 degrees of that was from 2:00pm until before sunset.  Ahh, the wonders of the SF Bay weather.  The result of the heat was a disaster for the grape crops.  Canopies had been trimmed way back to let in sun to aid in ripening during the cool year and ward off powdery mildew.  The heat wave literally gave the grapes sunburn and cooked them where they hung.  Crop damage ranged from 5 to 50% depending on location and grape type.  Since then we are back well below normal and we again pray for high but not hot temps.

What does this mean?  Well the grapes are still behind schedule and harvest is just starting.  Most of harvest is complete by mid October in an average year and the farmers are hard pressed to see how that will happen this year.  The dreaded RAIN word has even been mentioned for this weekend.  Even if it is small it would just be more salt to the wounds.  Obviously, the later the harvest goes the more the chance for serious rain problems.  If we were talking about average to slightly below average harvest (tonnage) a few weeks ago I have to believe the forecast is less today, though I have no official word. 

I heard of another problem also raising its head, which it does on occasion.  Storage issues.  With a compressed crush, I guess there is a question where the later picked fruit will go.  Typically there is more time to get the juice crushed and to the right storage.  I need to learn more about this.  The last time I recall this problem it was an early harvest following a huge year, so many vintners hadn’t moved the wine to bottles due to timing and simple old demand.

It sure is a tough year to be in the wine business.

FWIW, I opened a 1991 Cain Five last weekend and it was still fabulous.  I still have a few good bottles left in the cellar.


Family Wine Makers Association Tasting

in California, Wine     

I did go to the Family Wine Makers Association Tasting on Monday.  It was interesting to see who attended and who did not.  There are always lots of names I have never heard of but this year it was unusually high.  The Central Coast was also poorly represented.  The juice was good, Of Course.  I only spent 3+ hours there, which isn’t enough time by a huge margin.  I am also out of practice and probably let too much escape down my throat.  Not surprising, I saw less Syrah than in the past.  I did taste a few more GREAT Cab Francs, alas at big prices.  At least one was above the price of their Oakville appellation reserve Cab Sav.  Yikes.  The harvest is running late throughout the state.  The Santa Barbara people talked about being 1-2 weeks behind, while Sonoma, Mendo & Lake were talking up to 4 weeks behind. Lots of concern about getting it in before the rains hit.  The crop size is expected to be below average and mildew has been a problem.

Thoughts on Food

Chef Raffie

Chef Raffie presenting dessert

Imagine a world with no limits…what would you eat? Where would you go to eat? Who would you share these Divine delights with?

I have a very dear friend, Chef Raffie, who is a world renowned personal chef in the elite circles, and he makes food come to life through all the senses. I believe this is why he is so successful. He makes food a memorable event. He takes something that is essential to our survival and elevates it to unprecedented levels. It nearly borders on the glorification of food.

Life is full of opportunity to explore a spectrum of food experiences…only you can limit yourself. Life as most people know it, is to experience the world in a state of duality, yet that is not the Truth…merely a stage of understanding. In a dualistic mentality, each ingredient will be tasted and judged as good or bad, hot or cold, raw or cooked, unripe or ripe, and on and on. In a dualistic world,  ingredients have an existential shelf life.

Although I am not yet an Enlightened soul, I read from some who are that food, like our bodies, doesn’t exist. It’s an illusion –part of the Dream state that we must eventually wake up from. Since I am curious about this new way of thinking, I wonder about the day when vinegar will not produce a taste or reaction. I am referencing the tale of the three vinegar tasters that is used to compare Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism. One found it sour and made a face, another found it bitter and made a face and the third one found it sweet and smiled. I need a name for the fourth vinegar taster who says, “I didn’t taste anything!”

Occasionally, you will hear me singing “Food Glorious Food” from Oliver, sung by the ever wonderful Artful Dodger when the mention of food is brought up. It is glorious! Really good food makes my heart sing! It’s alive with vitality and when that hits my bloodstream, I can’t help but feel wonderful all over. I never call myself a food snob, I just declare that I am very discerning about what I put in my mouth. I want every mouthful to be quality in terms of texture, taste, smell, color, energetically, and so forth. It is truly living by the senses which can, admittedly, get out of hand.

And yes, I preach moderation in the hopes of learning it, but I hardly ever practice it. Would you, if you had the opportunity to eat only the best of the best foods around? I live in California where the organic produce is exceptional –and that includes the wines! (Confession: I have not found a good organic red wine, yet, so that last bit is a reference to wine as a produce item, not an organic produce item!)

I’d love to hear about philosophic thoughts on food…and your confessions! Foodies, in my honest opinion, are not moderate in their appetites. So, how do you create a balanced way of eating and drinking?

Live well and be happy,