This past couple of weeks have been pretty wet and dreary in California. I never thought I would say this, but man I am sick of the weather. It’s been cold, damp, wet, and soggy for too many days in a row. I get it, we need the rain, we need the snow, but even the cats are getting stir crazy. So much so that yesterday we braved the weather and picked up new toys for them, a rather life like looking gopher was the winning gift and I’m genuinely concerned that I might mistake it for a real one next time it turns up.
In the meantime, I’ve been having fun looking at photos from when I was a kid, and who doesn’t love a photo of one very surly Stefania?
Here, at my birthday in ’73 looking perfectly snotty:
Yes, that’s pretty much how I feel about all birthdays.
My sister sent me the next gem, I don’t know the exact year for sure, but it would have been her high school graduation in Chile, so some time around 1975 I bet.
I would like to point out my mom’s cigarette, what appears to be the graduation program in my right hand, and what’s that? A glass of wine in my left hand? Yes, of course it is, and I can tell by the glazed look in my eyes that I was very likely drinking it!
Chile was where I first learned about wine, grapes, winemaking, and cork orchards. My “uncle” Tolo was in charge of vineyards and winemaking and invited us on several occasions to participate in the activities there. I remember bottling and glueing the labels on to the bottles.
I would also like to point out my fashion choices, or those of my dear mother, I’m rockin’ the socks and sandals look, and I hate to admit it, but the plaid skirt my sister is wearing was a regular in my school clothes rotation sometime in the 80’s, rockin’ it.
We’ll be open in the tasting room this weekend but closed Monday for the holiday.
Has it really been over ten years since we pruned over 20 acres with our small crew, on weekends and while working full time at real day jobs? Oy! I do miss it, and we have plans to help our friends that currently own vineyards but…I’m not in any hurry (at my age) to recreate this adventure from scratch again. Been there, done that, still don’t have a t-shirt. We bought the property in Gilroy with the intention of planting the back half with vines. We’re heading in to our fifth year here and have all but abandoned the idea of grapes. Why? There’s a lot of the “been there done that attitude”, mostly mine, there’s the necessity of deer fencing even more of the property which kind of ruins a lot of the aesthetic that is here now, and finally the watering logistics come in to play. We bought the property with a dry well so water is an issue. Although we came up with a very functional and affordable workaround for supplying water to the proposed vineyard site, see above.
Add to that our ages, old and older (not really, but let’s play with that for a moment). At say, 50 years old, plant a vineyard, have the first real estate harvest by 54, barrel age for another couple of years, hang on to it in bottle for another 6 months to a year to release the wine…well, you see where this is going fast, no where.
Some of my favorite memories of working in the vineyards were during pruning. Most people would think that harvest is the most exciting time, and it is, but there is also a lot of stress during harvest. Pruning on the other hand is leisurely and therapeutic. It’s a reason to be in nature for several hours in a row while your mind is focused on nothing but the task at hand. All thoughts of the day job, the housework, homework, etc are far away.
One time, at Chaine d’Or, we were there on a Saturday and the sun was extremely high, the skies exceptionally clear, and I could feel myself getting sun burned. I cursed the heat and the high sun and said I would need to remember sunscreen and a larger hat for the next day. Well, the next day was literally freezing cold, gray, and overcast bordering on miserable and right at 3 o’clock it began to snow on us. I said, that’s it, I’m done for the day, pack it up, we’re going home. Luckily we were nearly done and needed one more trip back up the mountain to finish.
The vineyard in these photos was not 20 acres, at the time, we were managing several properties, in Woodside, Los Altos Hills, Portola Valley, Bonny Doon, Corralitos, San Jose, Coyote Valley, Saratoga, and Monte Sereno. I think I captured them all, I always forget one or two.
For more photos and less text, I started an Instagram account called StefaniaWine.
In order, stale leftover popcorn that has been resurrected with melted caramel candies, then bourbon balls coated in cocoa and white chocolate, and Paul stir frying leftover protein and veggies for us.
Not that this is typical of how we spend our weekends after pouring in the tasting room and visiting with you, but yeah, pretty much it is.
The photo of the Gochujang was from a newsletter email I sent out with the recipe for my dads “Famous Korean Short Ribs”. This sweet and spicy sauce was his “secret” ingredient and he loved using it often. I think some of his favorite meals were inspired by his service time spent in Asia.
The bourbon balls recipe came out of an issue of Imbibe Magazine and it turns out they are crazy easy to make and unholy to eat before they have mellowed for at least a couple of hours. [For the record, all of these photos are from January 2018]
Paul and the staff going over the pouring menu. Note the very cool vintage stove in the back.
We hosted a sit down wine tasting dinner for 10 in the new space last September.
We had The Milias Restaurant cater the meal and Paul came up with a great wine menu featuring nine of our Cabernets.
And that concludes the tasting room overhaul and first few blogs of 2019.
I made it! And it wasn’t too painful. If I felt like spending more time on wordpress trying to figure it out I would but Paul keeps saying he’s changing blog and website platforms again so I haven’t invested the time in learning. So, for now, you’ll have to put up with junky formatting and awkard photo to text placement, I’ve tried altering it with no luck. I’m calling it Artsy.
The saga continues as the machinist and grape-stomper keep at it.
South wall Dutch Door construction. The objective here is crossflow ventilation, a view out the back to the hillside and eventually a deck we can step out onto and expand the seating area to the sunny side of the structure in the cooler months.
East wall Dutch Door getting it’s reclaimed wood treatment. Most of the pieces of wood were old fence boards, fence rails, and otherwise less than desirable scraps headed to the burn pile or landfill. I helped Paul trim, rip, and sort by size.
Exterior East Wall. The only place we could find the hinge hardware that suited the structure was on amazon. They really do have everything. I need to find one more door photo for this post and then we can wrap up the next blog with some finished construction photos. I’d like to track down a family kodak moment too if I can and include it.
While Paul was trimming out the dutch doors, Dan set himself up working on the swinging saloon doors. So far we’ve been able to keep the piece of lichen intact but eventually it will drop off and we’re already seeing wear and tear on the paint.
Using a giant header beam that was once part of the workbench that was built in to the original structure, Paul and Dan framed out what would be the first set of double dutch doors on the south facing wall. Dan’s help building and designing the doors was instrumental to the project as neither Paul or I have any construction experience. We actually think Dan just watched a lot of YouTube videos. 😉 that’s an inside joke I’ll explain later on down the road.
The plywood in the photo is covering the hole while the doors were being assembled.
Next photo shows the window on the east wall which was removed and sent down the street to Todd’s house where he used it for his man cave slash garage bar. I’ll need to have him share photos of his space next, it’s amazing how he utilized barrel staves for the walls.
I can’t explain the sequence of events in the two photos very well, it appears that we took out the cafe lights to install flourescents when in fact the opposite is true.
And if you’re following along with the story line with me this far, you’ll notice I had to do some editing to the prior post. It has been two years since my last blog after all. Cheers, more photos on the way.
Alternate Title: How Paul Spent His Second “Sabbatical” After the HP Lay Offs
When we moved to Gilroy in 2014, the second garage (shown here) was open stud construction, with one wall separating the two car garage side from a large sized storage room. Each side of the building had a window. Pretty basic construction, built in the 70’s without a permit, more on that as the story develops, and a tin roof.
With the help from Dan the neighbor, a retired machinist, they managed to turn a basic structure into a super cool space. In the mean time, I took my brother Mike’s coin collection and turned them into cool epoxy top counters.
Based on the last time we put anything up you would think so. It’s been well over two years since the last blog. How is that possible? We have so much to tell you and get caught up on!
Tonights post is basically meant to make sure I remember my user Id and password, and also how this wordpress thing works.
Photos from last year and commentary are in the queue, no really, I’m working on them now while I watch the Seahawks and Cowboys. Oh alright, I’m not really working on them right now, but I will be soon, very soon.
We had an impressive downpour earlier today while there were guests in the tasting room. I’m thrilled we have rain and clouds, means we’re done with freezing overnight temperatures for awhile. I’m hopeful the citrus trees survived the last week of cold. Of all the things I miss from the old house in San Jose, the margarita grove is number one. The mature lemon, lime, and blood orange trees were awesome and well pretty much I’m just rambling. Go Seahawks, but more importantly, Go SAINTS!!!
Holy Sh*t we are up to our eyeballs in tomatoes this year. Luckily we both enjoy cooking so Paul made a lot of marinara sauce using onions, garlic, and peppers all from the garden, and I made ketchup.
The ketchup recipe I ultimately ended up following suggested that I smoke some of the tomatoes. That worked out perfectly because Paul has been firing up the smoker on weekends when the tasting room is open and enticing guests with the aromas of ribs, brisket, sausages, and pork shoulder (and tomatoes).
The first couple of batches of Paul’s marinara sauce did not include smoked tomatoes but the last ones did. In the photos, the first pot of sauce is the marinara and the deeper hued one is my ketchup. Interesting side note, I subbed in part of a leftover bottle of our Viognier for the cider vinegar and the next round had some leftover Chardonnay in it.
I have a tiny rant about the ketchup recipe if you’ll indulge me for a moment. The instructions are to blanch the tomatoes first and then peel off the skins. I absolutely refuse to do this step. In winemaking we leave the skins on and then after pressing we discard them. I used the same concept for both our sauces. The tomatoes all went in whole, (no stems, no cores), and after burbling etc, I ran everything through the blender and then pushed it through a sieve to remove skins. End Rant.
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