Food * Travel * Projects

Happy New Year!

In an effort to recap 2011 there will be a series of blogs with photos that capture the highlights of last year.   It might take me a week or longer, but hopefully I can keep it interesting.

As I scrolled through the photos, it’s clear I have a problem taking pictures of my two cats, loaves of bread I’ve baked, and pretty much food in general.  We did a ton of travel last year, spent a lot of time with our friends here and around the country, and enjoyed a couple of road trips to see my family.

We were in Miami in February and experienced our first Cuban Pig Roast in a Caja China box.  By September I had my own box and did the first pig for Labor Day weekend.  In October we went to New Orleans and met  friends of the owner at Finnegans Easy.  They invited us to a pig roast in the French Quarter which we gladly attended.  Then in December, to celebrate a milestone birthday for Millie, I roasted the pig shown in the photo above (heavily seasoned with Paul’s dry rub mix).

We actually hit New Orleans twice in 2011, once in February, then again in October.  The flights from San Jose to Miami stop and change planes in New Orleans, so we took advantage of an extended layover.  Paul found a cigar shop on Canal Street that we popped into to take a break from walking.

With money leftover from tax refunds, Paul finally got to see the deck built – something he’s wanted to do for the past several years.  With the help of our friend Eric, we demolished the concrete patio and prepared the area for Millie to build. She finished it just in time for the pig party in September.

Up next, pictures from work.  Vineyards, bottling, harvest, etc.

Harvest is Upon Us

It has been a combination of getting used to the new blogging tool and being really busy that’s limited our writing. Neither Stefania nor I are really comfortable yet with the new blogging interface so we’re not writing much. Hopefully we’ll pick it up some in the next few weeks.

We did get to Vegas and had a fantastic time at Rock and Roll Wine.  Train was much better than I expected.  The concert was a blast and we partied and hung out in the cabana all night.  The next day we swam and sunned and watched the football games outside.  If you can make it to Vegas next year for the event, it’s highly recommended.

Offer letters have gone out and orders are humming in.  Almost everyone seems to want more Haut Tubee and I don’t think we’ll have enough to go around.

We’ve also been out checking on all the vineyards.  It looks like Pinot Noir will be first up this Saturday, then the Crimson Clover vineyard next weekend.  Stefania and I will be in the winery Friday getting everything cleaned, prepared and ready to go.

We’ll try and pick up the blogging some more as we harvest and work over the next few weeks.

Mountain Climbing

Where do I start?

The photo is of Mt. Belford.

In addition to getting ready for this harvest season, Paul and I have been busting our buns to get into good enough shape to climb this mountain.  Why?  Long story, for another day.  The short version is that we’ve been doing the stairs at Communications Hill in San Jose, and let me tell you what, it’s no picnic.  On our first day out to test them, we did one set.  From the very bottom, all the way up, and back down.  Thought I would die from heart or lung failure…so.out.of.shape.  Ugh!

The next time, I did what I should have done the first time out and took a hit off the asthma inhaler before driving over there.  We did two sets, up and down, up and down.  Better.  By lastnight, we successfully did “the hill”, five times.

In between hill climbs, we went over to Calero and hiked our normal trail, the hard way, and never stopped.  The stairs are working!  Usually, on the incline, we stop to catch our breath at least three times, sometimes more.  We didn’t stop! Woohoo! There were a couple of times I thought I should, but then the trail would level off just a bit, long enough to catch my breath and we kept going.  Felt great.

Things I really need to blog about that are vineyard and winery related are coming up soon, this is my test blog to see how the new platform works out. So far so good…of course I’m not to “publish” yet, so we’ll see what happens.  Wish me luck.


Wine Amplified – Rock and Roll Wine

Saturday September 17th we will be pouring at our only public event for the year. This will be the second year in a row we are attending Wine Amplified by Rock and Roll Wine on the Beach at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The headline band will be Train. For more event details and ticket information see:

For the event we have a full cabana at Mandalay Bay with room for up to 12 people to hang out and watch the concert. We don’t really consider this a promotion trip as much as a great concert and a really fun time. This year we’d really like to open the cabana up to friends to hang out with us. No extra charges or strings, just show up and drink wine with us in the cabana. It’s really a great experience and we’ve asked for a cabana next to the stage. If your interested and will be in Las Vegas drop us a note.

We’ll be sending out a note via email to our mailing list members as well. We hope you can make it. It’s really a great event!

Back for Business

On July 3rd Stefania and I set out on short notice to Colorado for a family emergency.  We were gone a total ten days.  We made it to Denver in two days and celebrated the 4th of July at a V.F.W. post in Boulder, CO.

It was a very busy and stressful 10 days.  In all we covered 3275 miles on the trip driving I5 to I80 to I25.  We also had a day we had to drive into the high country in Colorado to the Collegiate Peaks area.

It took us longer to get home.  We were both pretty tired and did shorter lengths through Utah and Nevada.  We arrived home Tuesday afternoon and were back to work on Wednesday.  We are a few days behind in emails and of course haven’t been doing any blogs.

I do have a few lined up though and will be writing soon about an upcoming event in Las Vegas, provide an update on distribution and some thoughts on this years odd weather.  Look for those over the next few days.

Travel, Prescriptions, Vineyard Updates.

You may have noticed that there was no Part 3 to the Memorial Day Vineyard Tours. We never got to the Harrison vineyard and Chaine d’Or. I was sick. It came on Sunday and by Monday I spent most of the day in bed. Tuesday I missed the day job and only worked a 1/2 day on Wednesday.

We had travel planned for the weekend to New Mexico to visit a friend of Stefania’s. Traveling with a cold seemed like a bad idea so I wanted to get as much rest as I could to see if I felt well enough to go. I also thought I might have something else going on with me as three colds is very very unusual, and I just had the last one a month ago. It seemed like I might have something besides a cold.

I scheduled a rare trip to the doctor to see if maybe some antibiotics were needed. It seemed to me that I had something a little more serious. The doctor agreed and wrote out a prescription for me.  How rare are these trips to the doctor and prescriptions?  Well this is a brand new doctor for me so he asked: “Where do you usually get your prescriptions  from?”  My answer:  That’s a good questions.  I’d say it’s been over 10 years since I’ve had a prescription so just about anywhere would qualify as ‘the usual place'”.

The antibiotics really seemed to help.  My lungs are finally feeling really clear for the first time since January when I first picked this bug up in Seattle.  The trip to New Mexico went off well.  There was smoke in the air from a huge fire in Arizona but the skies were still great.

Stefania and I each bought a little art in Santa Fe and had some good meals while Stefania caught up with some old high school friends. I also picked up some Pinon nuts for my Dad for Father’s Day. I have a little more travel later this week and then we’ll finally finish the vineyard tours on Saturday.

Road Trip Part II

One of the things I wanted to do on this trip was see ‘fly over’ country from the ground. I’ve been across Nevada and Utah many times but never through the back country except for one trip up Hwy 95 to 168 with Stef in 2001. We decided to take 2 1/2 days getting back and stay off the interstate.

It would be a good time to travel in the desert as it was cool and there had been lots of recent rain which left everything green instead of brown. The first leg of the trip would be through the town of Santa Clara and up old hwy 91 through Gunlock to Vejo and Hwy 18. This was the only time we got lost on the trip, missing the turn to Gunlock and not knowing we were lost until we hit the ‘Welcome to Arizona’ sign about 9 miles past our turn.

An interesting thing about Santa Clara was that many of the yards in town had grapes growing. We guessed they were not wine grapes but probably planted for jelly making by the early Mormon settlers in the area.

Once we got on the right route to Gunlock we came across this rare sight of the Gunlock Falls.

Stef and I hiked down off the road and up the falls away to take these pictures.

We heard many of the locals hiking the falls that day and on the road say they had never seen them flowing. The reservoir was full and the falls serve as an overflow. It’s been a very wet year in the west.

From Gunlock we continued on hwy 18 through Enterprise and to hwy 56. This is ‘Crop Circle’ territory. When you fly over the desert and see the giant round circles and wonder who in the world is farming out there? This is the place, Western Utah, and every farm seemed to be owned by someone from the ‘Holt’ family.

As we entered Nevada hwy 56 became hwy 319. We turned in the town of Panaca north on to hwy 93, the ‘Great Basin Highway’. Other than the town of Ely, which I would guess has 4000-5000 residents each town we’d go through was no more than a few hundred people. Some that showed on the map would turn out to be modern ghost towns, with 10-15 empty buildings and just 3-4 occupied.

At the hwy 93 turn we stopped at Cathedral Gorge for some more hiking and picture taking.

We’d hike up to the little overlook below only to find out you can access it from the highway. There are hundred of little caves in the sandstone and original facilities built by the CCC in the 1930’s.

On Sunday we saw more elk, deer, antelope and a golden eagle among the highlights.

Sunday night we stopped in the Hotel Nevada in Ely and had dinner at the Jailhouse Restaurant. This is completely Chevy Chase/Vacation movie stuff. We stayed in the Micky Rooney room at the hotel. Each room is named after a star who once stayed in the hotel.

Monday we headed west on hwy 50, ‘The Loneliest Road in America’. I didn’t take pictures as we went that day, just enjoying all the mountain passes covered with snow as we went through them and more deer, antelope, wild horses and wildlife. The entire time from leaving St George in Utah, until arriving in Fallon Nevada I would pass just two cars and be passed twice also.

The highlight of day two came about 90 miles outside of Austin Nevada, a town marked with a large hand painted ‘Speed Trap Ahead’ sign. As we rounded a large turn Stefania said; “Why are there so many cows moving along the hill?” As we cleared the turn right along the road there were five cowboys moving the cattle on horse back. I know this is a rare sight. In New Mexico when my uncles moved cattle, horses where mostly brought just for nostalgia. Most of the work was done with trucks and ATV’s. I always felt like the horses came out just so the kids from California could ride them and I always looked like Billy Crystal in ‘City Slickers’ with sneakers and a ball cap. There were no trucks or ATV’s in sight though.

We arrived in Tahoe about 3PM and I had reserved us a room in the Marriot Timber Lodge with a full kitchen. Stef and I cooked dinner that night and enjoyed the luxury. The next morning we continued on hwy 50, then 5, 580, 680 and 87 to home. We arrived back at 2:30 PM with 1527.6 miles behind us.

Road Tripping Part I

Last Friday Stef and I headed out to visit her brother and mother in St George Utah. We got on the road and took our traditional picture. 5:44 AM and 44 degrees. Most of the trip would have temperatures in the 40’s or lower. A cold front was passing through the desert as we traveled.

Our first stop for gas was in Tahachapi Pass. In all we’d go through about two dozen mountain passes on our trip and almost all of them had snow. On the way to the Central Valley we saw Tule Elk along the road. Interstate 15 had the worst drivers I’ve ever seen. Friday afternoon from Los Angeles to Las Vegas brings out a terrible group of drivers. There were always 15 cars in the fast lane for every car in the slow lane, which meant the slow lane moved faster. Still no one would get right.

We made it through Vegas with just a slight traffic delay and passed through the Virgin River Gorge. We rested that night and the next morning went out visiting and then on a hike to Snow Canyon in the Red Rock Mountains. The storm was breaking up and it stayed cool with high clouds all trip.

One of the trails on the trip was called ‘Butterfly’, so I kept my eyes open for caterpillars and spotted this little blue colored one almost right away. I was thwarted in all attempts to figure out what this little guy is because ‘blue caterpillar’ is a character from Alice in Wonderland and every Google image was either from the movie or scores of mommy blogs featuring their little precious dressed for Halloween.

The desert was in full green bloom. A pretty rare thing from my trips through and this little cactus I particularly liked.

We hiked out to an overlook of the main valley and across a series of lava flows.

Stef and I took turns taking pictures of each other.

I spotted this little tunnel and climbed up the rocks to get a better view.

This was the view from the top after the tiny bit of rock climbing.

And these little red flowers had just bloomed in a crack in the rock.

The activity was full justification for Stef’s brother to BBQ up a huge plate of ribs for dinner that night!

And he opened one of my favorite wines a 2001 Cline Mourvedre Small Berry Vineyard.

Saturday afternoon we visited a few art galleries in St. George after the hike. Sunday we packed up and had brunch with Stef’s mom then headed out across the desert, deciding to avoid the Interstate’s. More pictures tomorrow.