Settling In

No we haven’t totally dropped of the grid, so it’s time for a quick catch up.  We did get moved in to our new place in September and finished our move out of Chaine d’Or and in to our new place in Salinas in December.  All our production was at the new facility last harvest and we have a bunch of new wines and some old favorites we’re working on from 2014.  We’re very happy with the new facility and it was much easier on us with the additional help to handle set up and clean up.  The drive was also much shorter and easier and we put far less miles on the FJ this Fall.

We’ve been very busy of course with all the moving and settling in to our new home.  The building that will become the tasting room is all cleaned up and ready to go, we’re just waiting on the government now for permits.

I thought the best way to run through an update was with some pictures:

First the little kittens are growing like crazy and loving their new home.












We got the bar set up in the new house right away:












We’re still eating Primal:












And we did go to New Orleans on our annual trip:










Spending way too much time in the care of Fay at Coops:










When we got home there were never ending chores and clean up to do.  We hauled away 8 truck loads of yard debris, cut down treees, repaired things and just general new home stuff like stacking a cord of wood:










We had frequent  wildlife visitors with the turkey’s being the most common:










And they like the backyard too:










Stefania hasn’t shot anything yet but she’s ready just in case:












We put a new cellar in and we’re trying to decide what to plant which means lots of research:












Which means more Primal food lick smoked duck legs:

primal duck









With the New Year I’ve started a garden:










And have more seedlings ready to go in:










All this is enough to tucker out a kitty and keep us from writing regularly.  We may be on a monthly summary now, at least until we get the tasting room going.




Still More Primal Food

Well the first picture is not 100% Primal it’s a corn finished steak from Joe’s in San Jose, but it was still damn good.  It’s weird to go to Joe’s and not have bread and ravioli but I really didn’t miss it too much when I dove into this steak.  I put my finger in the picture to give some scale to this monster.  We’ve been eating out a bit more than normal lately, look for big news #2 and #3 for why.  There was a Manhattan that went with this also that I didn’t get a picture of.  Ok, two Manhattan’s since cocktails are best in even not odd numbers.

Stefania does a lot of quick summer salads like the one below for us.  Fresh tomato with feta cheese and avocado over some lettuce.  There are some olives in there too and she tops it with olive oil and a little vinegar.












Another salad.  Spinach with bacon and red bell peppers.










This is grass fed 100% primal beef below.  We pick it up from Moon Meadow Ranch.  They come to the farmers market every Sunday near our house.  Grass fed is one of the things you’re supposed to do for Primal.  This really is great beef and worth the extra money to me.










One last picture.  It’s not food but the internet can always use more kitten pictures.  Bressie and Drew are growing like crazy and doing well.


Some Primal Pictures

We’re still on track with our ‘Primal’ eating.  We’ve added organic corn tortillas back in for extra carbs from time to time and besides there’s really no way to have a taco without them.  We end up having tacos a lot now.  I cook up a couple shells in coconut oil and we fill them with lots of fresh veggies and pork, bison beef, or fish.  The tacos on the left though were from a party at our Crew Chief Jerry’s house this past Saturday.  There was lots of food and wine and beer plus dancing.  We opened a bunch of the wines we had just bottled and the 2012 Mourvedre and 2012 Nueva Casa de los Padres where both really excellent.

We have a few neighbors who have gardens on our block and there’s an informal food exchange we all do.  Our house is a popular drop off point for extras because we give back out bottles of wine.  Below are some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers I sliced and drizzled with olive oil.










This is a pretty typical Primal dinner.  Lots of protein with organic free range chicken and wild salmon.  I herbed both up and grilled them together.  There are steamed organic carrots and blackened brussels sprouts cooked in butter.  I steam the sprouts then finish them in a cast iron pan with butter.











I’ll try to keep posting regularly.  We’ll have some big news to share soon.  Good news and lots of it!

More Catching Up – What We’re Eating.

One reason we’ve not been blogging has been the number of other things we’re working on and doing this year.  There’s been lots of hiking, including a trip through the National Parks in Utah (I’ll get some pictures from that trip up soon, it was fantastic) and right before that we started the Primal Blueprint and did a 21 Day Challenge.

There really was not a huge change to what we were cooking and eating and I already had a good workout routine going.  There were somethings in the blueprint that were hard to believe, like you’d eventually stop thinking about what you’re eating, or you’d go 10,12,14 hours without feeling hungry, but those things have all happened.  The plate below I call a Primal Treat Tray.  The salami is home made and cured in our wine cellar.












We’re eating lots of meat and grass fed beef when we can find it.  I’ve joked with friends that this is the ‘Rib Eye and Bourbon Diet’.  I’ve had more rib eye steaks in the last 4 months than I can count.  One of the attraction of this plan was that unlike other similar plans drinks are ok, and wine is highly recommended!  Bourbon is actually the top recommended spirit as if I wasn’t in with the wine.










We’re also hitting the farmers market a lot and eating lots of veggies and berries.  I thought I’d miss bread a lot but I’m not missing it at all.  When I did try some a few weeks ago it made me sick for hours.  Scary to think you have to build a tolerance to digest bread and if you loose that it makes you feel terrible.  I’m down 26 pounds and feeling great.  I’m never hungry or feel like I’m giving something up and there’s no counting anything, you just eat when you’re hungry until you’re full and skip the grains and legumes.  Our hikes are averaging 6-8 miles now instead of 4-5 and we’re feeling well prepared for harvest this year.


Dinner at Our Place

Every year we make a donation to the Washington Open School in Santa Clara. Usually we do a case of wine or a couple of magnums. Last year they asked if we could do something bigger so we offered a wine dinner at our home. The package was a four course dinner paired with our wines and we were told it brought in a huge bid. We had the winners over on Friday night and Stefania prepped the house and dinning room.  We’re still trying to figure out what art to put in the living room so for right now the chalk boards to track football scores are in the space along with the banner for the Roller Girls.


dinning room

We started in the living room and bar with some fresh fruit and a selection of cheese.  I opened our unreleased 2010 Chardonnay and the just bottled 2012 Chardonnay.  We wound through the what would be five courses and a dessert on the patio about 11PM.  I started with a Caesar salad with grilled shrimp.  Then Stefania had a soup and I followed that with lamb chops over cabbage and mushrooms in red wine.  I added a few slices of home made sausage to the plate.  We finished with Filet Mignon and summer squash.
the bar

We put a dent in the wines working through some unreleased wines and some from our library.  I though the 2011 Nueva Casa de los Padres was the highlight.  The 2006 Uvas Creek Cabernet Sauvignon was also really good and I was surprised that the 2012 Chardonnay wasn’t showing any bottle shock.

We really enjoy putting together dinners.  Charity events are a rarity but for friends coming into town it’s something we try and pull together.  It might not always be as many courses but it will always be something good!
the line up


Nothing really wine related at all for this post other than I was on my way back from the winery doing punchdowns when I stopped at Ranch 99 Market. That’s a large Asian market in the Bay Area.  My objective for the trip was to pick up some ribs for dinner.  The pork there is always much fresher than what I can find anywhere else.  I also bought some pork belly to make bacon and browsed through the seafood section.

Ranch 99 can be a bit of a challenge for me.  Most of the guys there who are not Asian are ‘in the way’ while they shop with their Asian girlfriend or wife.  At the store on Wolfe Road and the one near my day job in Milpitas though they mostly recognize me and will help me at the counter.  The first few times though trying to buy a fish I actually had to hold the fish up to get my turn in line.

The Chinese granma’s though are another thing.  I get bumped, jostled, pushed and prodded to get out of the way.  It helps once I have a few things in my basket or if I hold up a fish!  One thing I’ll always look for is live crawdad’s.  They are not always in stock but when they are I’ll buy them.  The crawdad took a long route into the Asian Market.  It’s a New Orleans and Louisiana specialty that was picked up by Vietnamese fisherman who immigrated to Louisiana.  When I get crawdads I actually attract a small crowd seeing what I’m doing and how I’m picking them out (get the live active ones).  It’s all really fun though and the boil always makes me miss New Orleans.

cooked crawdads

Dim Sum Cellar

Bottling is a particularly busy time of the year.  There’s lots of work and it requires lots of hands.  We’re lucky to have friends who come out and help on the days we need them to.  The days are long and the work is terribly boring.  We usually keep everyone doing the same task so it can be 8-10 hours of just sparging bottles with nitrogen and lifting them on to the filler.

We don’t always stop for lunch too if we’re bottling and the line is rolling we’ll just go right through.  We might stop for a few minutes for water, and bathroom breaks but as soon as the forklift can move one lot out of the way we’ll usually start on the next lot.  If there is time though we will stop and have lunch in the cellar.  Usual winery food is to order in pizza, or run out for burritos our sandwiches.  The pizza and burritos are not really an option in our location and the sandwich thing gets boring pretty fast.  For our last bottling our friend Ingrid fixed that problem by picking up Dim Sum on her way to the winery.

dim sum 2


It can be a challenge though, as we don’t have tables and only two chairs so we improvise.  Stefania laid some towels over a completed pallet of wine.  A few buckets turned upside down worked for chairs.  This actually worked out as a great lunch idea.  It was filling but not heavy and easy to set up and clean up.  There were a few beers cracked, which you can probably see below.  Beer fuels winemaking in the Fall, that’s for sure.


dim sum

Onion Chutney and Sausage Making






It’s been a pretty good growing season so far and there really isn’t that much to tell you about the grapes or activities at the winery lately.

I take that back, it’s been an amazing grape growing season so far.  Veraison is just around the corner and soon the bird nets will go on, the last spraying for mildew will be over then we watch and we wait.

In the meantime, we’ve been having a great time in the kitchen.

I dabbled with a mostly made up recipe for curry onion chutney using the ingredients below.





The next photo is the onions reducing in the vinegar, sugar, apple mixture.








And while I am busy tinkering with chutneys and pickles,

Paul has been learning the fine art of sausage-making.









The first attempt at sausage making was a huge success!










Spicy Italian

Sweet Italian

Boudin Noir



The Picasso image was taken at the Art Institute.  It’s from the “Original Etchings for the Texts of Buffon” display, and dated 1936.  I liked that he captured the grapevine, leaves, clusters, and tendrils so completely.  I also snapped a couple more photos from that particular grouping and a handful of other very colorful paintings of his.  I’m not sure yet how I feel about the folks with iPads snapping photos of all these famous works…I think it’s great we can share art across many mediums, and although it wasn’t really intrusive, I wanted it to be rude and it wasn’t.

Thank you Windy City for blowing my hair all crazy on our walk over to the Art Institute.

That’s Mrs. Oleary’s cow, they blame the cow for knocking over the oil lamp that burned the city down (that’s my quick summary about the cow). It’s actually a horrible story, a lot of people were killed, and miles of the city were destroyed.









Random photo of a perfect ice ball in an Old Fashioned.  I have become obsessed with the perfect ice ball…









Another Picasso etching, I’m a Capricorn and have a thing for goats and goat art…











Paul took me to a Cubs game.  It was cold.  We drank beer and ate hot dogs.  It snowed.  The Giants won.  I’d like to publicly thank our friend Allison for suggesting we take blankets, they saved our frozen butts.  Did I mention it snowed?  At noon, at a baseball game, in late April.  Snow.








We met friends at Caro Mio in Chicago, a lot of friends actually.  I’m not sure I could begin to describe the scene, but for 20 people, there were easily twice that many bottles of wine that we opened.  The food was family style Italian and perfect for the event.  Good Food, Good Friends, Great Wine!

We did get to showcase our latest release and some of our previous vintages for newcomers to try.  Only a handful of new faces this time, we are becoming regulars to Chicago and getting to be very close friends with more folks, this winemaking gig has been a lot of fun, I won’t lie.



Life happens.

So a quick update on the kitchen tractor.  I fixed it!  Ages ago actually, but here are some pics totally in random order.  I’m using this blog as a test, to see how the new platform work outs, seems like when I get really comfortable with a program it gets changed (and not always for the better) but I digress.

First photo is the completed repair with the new metal transmission cover, next to it the lube-y goo so it works smoothly, and top right is “in the shop” pending receipt of parts.

Bottom two pics are the guts cleaned out and waiting for new gears, not sure why I didn’t take a pic of the new parts in place before the lube-goo, must have been excited.

The very last photo is of the parts in order of assembly, a reminder that I needed to replace the pin in between the two gears.

And yes, that is a bottle of chardonnay on my work bench with a botched label on it.



Ok, figured out how to get text down here finally.  I’ll get the hang of this soon.  Lots of other pics to post up and chatter about.

The big news for 2013 is that things are going along wonderfully in the vineyards and the winery.  The lab work for the 2012’s came back solid and we’re starting to see bud break in the vineyards.

Cheers, Stefania