Thursday, August 29, 2013


I've seen the sun look like this. It was in 1964. I remember there were a lot of fires in the hills above Rincon Valley when I was a kid. Usually they burned ten or fifteen acres of somebody's pasture where some teenagers were smoking or lighting off fireworks. Rincon Valley Volenteer Fire Department would come out with their engines and dads would head up the hill with wet blankets and shovels, and a brigade of kids with shovels or hoes or maybe nothing at all would be stationed a safe distance from the flames. 1964 was different. The Hanley Fire burned 52,000 acres from Mt. St Helena to Brush Creek Road. The Nunn fire was spreading east from Kenwood. We all listened to KSRO to find out how close the fires were. They reported that they were evacuating Community Hospital. (Or County Hospital, or Sutter, or whatever.) Folks were watering their roofs. Highway 12 was crowded with evacuees. We sat at the top of our hill looking out over the valley and watched the red glow, sometimes an occasional flare when an oak tree burned. Or maybe a barn or a house. We'd have seen the same looking east if the the hills hadn't blocked our view. More than 300 structures burned, 150 homes. I was more afraid then than I've ever been. The next day, half the desks at Sequoia Elementary were empty. We knew where the fire had burned - we could see it. We knew whose ranches were burned. Those kids weren't at school that day. And as the sun lowered into the smoke-filled horizon, it became an orange disc in a haze of grey. Much like the picture.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hi wine lovers. I work in a pretty premium winery in Russian River Valley. If you know me, you know where. I'm gonna ask my boss if I can use real vineyard names and stuff, but wineries get pretty hush hush about stuff this time of year. Last year I wrote a running commentary on my facebook page during crush. I'm going to do it here this year so I can reach a broader audience. Also so I don't bore all my thirty or so facebook friends with all this winery shit. That said, we finished bottling yesterday and we got grapes today. We don't bottle a lot of wine, so we don't have our own bottling line. We bring in a mobile line, built into a semi trailer. Of course, they schedule their work months in advance. So they pulled out yesterday, and grapes came today. Grapes aren't as predictable. We got a little under four tons from our 'Reserve' vineyard. I think a lot of wineries use 'Reserve' either for a blend that they think represents their best or a blend of things that can't stand on their own. We have a vineyard that's kind of inside another vieyard (?) that we call 'Reserve'. Since I've been at the winery, we've only put it into our non-vineyard blend. We got a little under four tons of Reserve today. Little tiny clusters of little tiny berries, I was told. I don't know the brix yet, and I don't know if I could tell you anyway, but they tasted nice and sweet and kind of like blackberries, to me.