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.




Utah- Set Number Three

We’ve been busy bottling this past weekend and I’m behind on the last set of Utah pictures.  Bottling went well and I’ll have a few updates in the next week or so.  All of our 2012’s are now in bottle and resting safely.  Everyone commented how good I’ve gotten with the forklift and I did finally fell like I knew what I was doing.

We finished up our Utah trip in Moab as a good base for Canyonlands and Arches National Parks.  We did a bunch of short 1-2 mile hikes at Island in the Sky in Canyon lands and one long hike at Devil’s Garden in Arches.  The day in Arches was our only day when it got really hot but we started early enough to avoid the worst heat.

Below is one of the ‘fins’ we hiked across at Devil’s garden.  This particular one ended up in an 8 foot jump down.










There was lots of scrambling over rocks and following very rough trail markers to stay on path as we wound around from arch to arch.











The arch below was at the end of the very crowded paved one mile trail from the parking lot.  To continue on though you had to climb up about 70 feet of rock at a 45 degree angle.  I called it the separator and traffic on the trail dropped 95%+ after that point.









The views in Canyonlands were fantastic and I used the wide angle on the phone camera a lot to get panoramas.





We spent two nights in Moab and the second night we spotted a sitting area above the drive port at the hotel with a couple people drinking beer.  Finding somewhere to drink in Utah is always a challenge.  We told them we were crashing their party and went back to our room for my mobile cocktail case and a couple of bottles of wine.  It turned out that they were a group of neuroscientist working on an article for the National Geographic.  Hopefully there will be a mention of us in the article that comes out next year 🙂  We ended up having dinner with the group of 6 scientist and artist friend they were hiking with and the reporter for the Nation Geographic.  We picked a good group to crash a party with.

I learned a lot about how the brain works over the few hours we hung out.  Did you know there is something called ‘Cultural Stimulation Threshold”?  Basically if you come from a place with a lot of noise and find yourself in somewhere quiet you create enough noise to feel comfortable.  I also learned you should get outside at least once a week and do something different from routine to keep your brain working at its best.










The desert was in bloom for our visit and I took lots of flower pictures.  This was a favorite.











We stopped in Ogden and then Reno on the way home.  The final trip picture:

Utah Pictures – Set One Valley of Fire to Zion

We left San Jose on a Thursday afternoon and spent the night between San Jose and Las Vegas.  Our first goal was St George Utah to spend the weekend with family there.  We loaded up the FJ Cruiser and packed in all our Primal food.  We were a little worried about finding non grain food in Southern Utah but it turned out to be pretty easy, especially inside the Parks.

Our first stop was the Valley of Fire out side of Las Vegas.  I really enjoyed it and we hiked for about 4 hours total.  We got lost once and had to use the GPS on Map My Walk to get us back to the car.  I really recommend this if the weather is right, especially if you’re like me and don’t really enjoy Vegas very much.









There were all kinds of great rock formations and tons of rock art in the park.  We were late for cocktail hour in St. George or I could have done 2 more hikes there easy!









After a great weekend with family we headed into Zion on Monday.  That’s Angel Landing below and we climbed that thing.  My day job actually called about 1/2 way up and wanted to know if I could get on a conference call.












A view of the trail and valley about 1/2 way up.









A good part of the hike includes climbing along chains.  My knuckles were banged up for a couple of weeks.









We also hike up the Narrow a bit and did the complete bus tour of the valley.  We spent the night just outside of the park and the next morning headed out towards Bryce Canyon with a stop to take a picture of Checkerboard Mesa along the way.


Vacation Pictures

We’re almost ready to get back to work. Harvest and barrel work ended the earliest ever for us in 2013 and we really enjoyed the extra time off.  In 2011 we finished all the harvest and winemaking related work on December 18th.  In 2013 we finished on October 26th.  That two months really made a difference in feeling rested and having some time away from the vines and winery.

I had two weeks off from the day job over the holidays so we decided to go to the Oregon coast.  We first went in 2007 to visit with Pinot producers who were making Pinot Noir we liked.  On our way home we found the little town of Newport and ended up going back there the next year.  We did the drive from San Jose in one shot, all 670 miles in a single day.  We left at just after 6AM and the weather was clear except for fog in central Oregon.

This was the view from our room.  We got a small place with a kitchen so we could cook and relax.


The town has a beautiful bridge that was built in the 1930’s in an art deco style.  Of all the bridges along the coast this is my favorite.  There’s a small bay with an active fishing fleet and some processing plants and a small assortment of shops and restaurants.  Because the town is small and 2+ hours from Portland it’s managed to stay fairly un touristy for a seaside town.  The big business in town is fishing and then the NOAA boats that are home ported there that you can see in this photo.



The bay has an oyster farm, they were fantastic and up river a bit a lumber mill.  The other big business in town is the Rogue Brewery and we spent a fair amount of time there.  Ok we went every day.  It was about a 3 mile round trip from our place to the Rogue public house so it seemed that going to get a beer was a perfect excuse for a walk.



We came back on the 2nd in one day also.  The weather was clear the entire time back except for morning fog along the coastal mountains.  There was almost no snow on Mt Shasta or Mount Lassen that we passed on our return.  We’ve had a very dry winter.  I went back to the day job on the 6th.  Our office location moved and to avoid a 90 minute commute I changed my schedule to come in at 6:15.  I get good sunrises, but the parking garage is just not the same as the boats!




We’ll be back at work Saturday pruning the Crimson Clover vineyard. We rally enjoyed the time off!

Seattle Trip

For New Years we took a 6 day trip to Seattle.  It was a perfect break before pruning started and we were back at work in the vineyards.  It seems like every time we’ve been to Seattle we had fantastic weather.  This was the skyline one day we went out walking.  You can just make out Mount Rainier.  The plan was to get a condo in Belltown and shop the markets every day for dinner.  We also hit the international market and some art galleries.

We planned on walking almost everywhere.  Seattle is a nice town to walk in and even though there are a few hills to climb you can walk to most everything in 30 minutes or less.









It was still chilly but we bundled up and spent a lot of time walking the town









Everyday included a trip to the market to shop for fresh ingredients for the nights dinner.  In all we ate out for dinner once.  Most days we had lunch out and dinner in.  We really loved getting something fresh from the market everyday.









This was the view down 1st street in Belltown from the condo we rented.  The market was about a 15 minute walk.









And this was the view out the front windows of the Olympic Mountains and Elliot Bay.  There were a few nice spots just on the block we stayed including Belltown Pizza where we watched the Seahawks game and Rob Roy where we had some great cocktail.









Some of the food actually had to come home with us.  This is a veal chop and Fois Gras we packed and had when we got home.

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.