Thursday, December 23, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Some Myths About Bottled Water and the Documentary To Perpetuate Some of Them

This post is with thanks to a reader,The Lemon Lady.

This movie is a great example of misleading information. The other documentaries these people were involved in (Who Killed the Electric Car, etc.) are a bit propagandist, but that is neither here nor there. These people do come from a worldview typically at odds with mine, but I love to post contrarian views for fairness. Granted, I do not believe that there is a secret cabal to kill electric cars. Oil, gas, and coal will still be burned to supply their energy needs. I, likewise, do not believe man in causing Climate-Change (formerly know as Global Warming). I also do not believe that plastic bottles leach chemicals into the water they hold. See:
  1. "Water Bottle Myths -- Reusable? Poisonous?"
  2. More Water Bottle Myths

All that being said, I do believe that the plastic produced has harmful, long-lasting effects on our environment. This effect has no impact of Climat-Change, but its effects are on the biological life forms that exist on our planet, more than other forms of pollution. The author of "Bottlemani: how Water Went On Sale and Why We Bought It," makes these points in an interview on the Dennis Prager Show entitled, "The Cult of Bottled Water" (Broadcast on July 31, 2008). (There is another interview with Denis Prager where Elizabeth Royte makes some great points on the show entitled "Where Does Our Garbage Go?" originally broadcast on August 17, 2005.) That is, there is not much evidence for the "leaching effect" but there is evidence that plastic stays in our environment far too long. So with all that said and you understanding my rejection of many parts of this documentary, here is the intro to it:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

House Passes Beer Resolution -- I Love a Politician Who Loves Good Beer

Politico Story:
While most of Washington was focused on Tuesday's election results, the House was busy doing something else: Passing a resolution about beer.

House Resolution 1297, sponsored by Rep. Betsy Markey, supports "the goals and ideals of American Craft Beer Week."

"We've got quite a number of microbreweries and entrepreneurs that are creating jobs, and we wanted to celebrate that this is a craft," Markey told POLITICO.

"I think beer has been a tradition since this country was founded," said Markey. "We wanted to celebrate entrepeneurship — and good beer!"

Markey is obviously partial to brews from her home state of Colorado, but she won't claim a favorite.

"You can't just have one," said Markey. "It really depends on what mood you're in. Sometimes, I like a light beer — I might want a Skinny Dip — or otherwise prefer a heavier brew."

The real question is: Why would anyone vote against this?

"It does seem like a no brainer," said Markey.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Monkeying With Wine -- Plus the "Sock Monkey" Has Evolved

Baboons with a taste for Chardonnay grapes are terrorising farmers in South Africa's Western Cape wine region, munching tonnes of grapes ready for harvesting, local media reported on Monday. 

Farms in the Franschhoek Valley had been emptied by rampaging Chachma baboons, who sneak into secured plots and help themselves with top grade grapes, The Times newspaper said.

"They can easily wipe out up to two tonnes of grapes a week when you are not watching, and that makes about 1,500 to 2,000 bottles of wine," said Mark Dendy-Young, farm manager of La Petite Ferme.

Dendy-Young said he had lost up to 40 percent of his harvest last month to the baboons.

He said the thieving was unwittingly taking farmers back to the traditional ways of French wine making, where few grapes are harvested.

"In some parts of France, they would let you yield only a small amount... the baboons are doing it naturally for us," said Dendy-Young.

Baboons with a taste for Chardonnay are terrorising farmers in South Africa's Western Cape wine region eating tonnes of ripe grapes ready for harvesting, local media reported. Farms in the Franschhoek Valley have been emptied by rampaging Chachma baboons, who sneak into secured plots and help themselves to a feast of top grade grapes.

'They can easily wipe out up to two tonnes a week when you are not watching, and that makes about 1,500 to 2,000 bottles of wine,' said Mark Dendy-Young, farm manager of La Petite Ferme who lost up to 40 per cent of his harvest last month to the hairy pests. He said the thieving was unwittingly taking farmers back to the traditional low yields.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Top of the Wine News -- Paso Robles (Daily News)

The Daily News ran a wonderfully rich and vibrant story on one of my wife and I's favorite getaways, Paso Robles. There is an "E-Edition" of the Daily News to subscribe to if you are not in the Los Angela's areas. Here it is:

PASO ROBLES - The February issue of a respected wine industry trade publication gives only one of the world's wines both a rarefied 98 score and the top spot in the "highly recommended" section.

Near perfection came from Saxum, a well-regarded but obscure winery in Paso Robles, a one-time California cow town becoming a superior wine-producing region known by few non-aficionados outside the state.
Located on California's Central Coast, the Paso Robles viticultural area's consistent quality and relatively moderate land prices have combined for phenomenal growth.

In fewer than 20 years, the number of wineries has grown from 30 to 250 and counting, plus at least 600 hopefuls making boutique bottles at custom crush co-ops to hawk at restaurants and local wine bars.

Esteemed reviewer Robert Parker has said the region of rolling, oak-studded hills holds California's greatest potential. Winemakers swear by a climate and limestone-infused soils that mimic the southern Rhone region of France.

Most are family operations that make fewer than 5,000 cases a year, which make them impossible for distributors seeking consistent availability to market nationally. Saxum bottles fewer than 3,000 cases and its wine club has a wait list. (The winery's 2007 James Berryhill that earned Wine Spectator's 98 - and 100 from Parker in October - sells for $67, compared with $375 for a French 98 in the same issue.)

"The reason people don't know Paso is because they don't see it in the marketplace. Maybe 20 are distributed now; it would help the region to have more," said Deborah Baldwin, co-owner of Justin Wine Co., founded in 1981 when there were seven wineries in the region.
Hugging the coast midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the 666,618 acres of the Paso Robles Viticulture Area is California's largest - three times the size of Napa. It comprises just more than half of the Central Coast wine region that stretches 250 miles from San Francisco to Santa Barbara.

Grapes have grown there since the Mission padres settled in the late 1700s. In the 1980s, the flat and sprawling east side became home to large commercial wineries such as Eberle and Meridian and later Gallo, Robert Mondavi and Kendall-Jackson farming 25,000 acres. But the cooler west side, where 5,000 acres are planted across hilly terrain, is where winemakers are scoring with critics.

With a production of 70,000 cases, Justin has tallied international accolades and become the region's vaunted behemoth and image maker: its 1994 Isosceles, the iconic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, was named "Best Blended Wine in the World" at the London International Wine & Spirit Competition. Wine Spectator named its 1997 Isosceles No. 6 in the world.

There is a wait for Isosceles reserve, but prices range from just more than $60 for Isosceles to $18.50 for the winery's screw top "Orphan" blend of leftover juices from the hand-harvested single vintage.

Justin draws 40,000 visitors a year, many of whom meander the wine trails to discover a new favorite or obscure winemaker. Or, not obscure: Miss America 1957 Marian McKnight owns Carmody McKnight with her husband. Former NFL defensive back Terry Hoage produces 2,100 cases of Rhone-inspired wines nearby.

"We realize we're all in this together," says Justin Baldwin, who believes the success of one increases exposure and recognition for the others.

Paso Robles has half as many wineries as Napa, but like Napa its climate includes coastal breezes and stifling inland valley heat. The wine boom and influx of oenophiles have transformed downtown Paso from an ag town of 18,000 in 1990 to a bustling tourist mecca of 30,000 with a lineup of sophisticated restaurants lacking in other cities its size.

"The wine here just kicks butt," says Bruce Davison, visiting Gray Wolf with his wife, Genevieve, from Los Angeles, three hours away by car.

In a state known for Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, the new crop of vintners in Paso Robles are self-described "Rhone Rangers," plumbing limestone soils of the Pacific Plate with Syrah, Grenache and Mouvedre vines from the southern Rhone region of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

The terroir is so similar, when wine importer Robert Haas went looking with the sixth generation of France's Perrin family of Chateau de Beaucastel fame for a New World site, their four-year search ended in 1989 at a 120-acre site west of Paso Robles.

For their Tablas Creek they imported clones of the French winery's prized 13 varietals that could be legally blended into Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines (today the number is 20), and pioneered the organic growing movement.

Growing organically "is an important part of making wines that reflect place," said Jason Haas, Robert's son and general manager.

As if on cue he bent over to pick a lady bug from a clover leaf in a vineyard of Grenache Blanc.

Relatively affordable land prices made it possible for Rich Hartenberger, a former hospital bedding salesman from Chicago, to own Midnight Cellars with his family. They're just over the hill from the ultramodern winery of Ron and Marilyn Denner of the Ditch Witch fortune.

Most hand-craft their wines with small staffs, so odds are tasting-room visitors will be served by the owner/winemaker.

"You can walk in any time and see me here," said former environmental attorney Jeff Pipes, who with his wife, Florence Wong, has created at Pipestone Vineyards a 10-acre organic, solar-powered feng shui paradise that he plows with a team of draft horses.

Napa prices for land and the best wines are beyond many peoples' reach. But Paso is much more approachable, Justin's Deborah Baldwin says.

"The winemakers here today didn't come here with an attitude," Baldwin said. "Will it stay that way forever, I don't know."

Almost 8-Years in Prison for Stealing $4 Worth of Cheese

This is a tough call. Maybe the judge knows how violent this ex-con can be and he doesn't want someone getting hurt on his watch? I have to tell you, if I knew I was going to get this amount of time for such a cheesy offense, I would have taken something other than a  bag of Tillamook shredded cheese! Some aged Gouda perhaps, how about some Parmigiano Reggiano:
A Yolo County judge on Monday sentenced a man who walked out of a store with a package of cheese in his trousers to seven years and eight months in prison.

Prosecutors had originally sought a life sentence for Robert Ferguson under the state's "three strikes" law. They dropped that bid last month, saying a psychological report had convinced them that a life sentence wasn't warranted....

....No weapons or injuries were associated with his crimes, Brushia told the judge....

When it came time to sentence Ferguson on Monday, Judge Warriner chose a middle ground. He accepted a probation department recommendation to disregard the prior strikes and to sentence Ferguson to the upper term for petty theft with priors.

The judge gave Ferguson 825 days of credit for his time in jail awaiting trial and said Ferguson would be required to serve half his sentence in prison. He will be eligible for parole in less than three years.
...(read more)...

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Mayo Clinic Diet

Wine Tasting with Helen Buehler of Buehler Vineyards

 Helen shares 3 of her favorite Californian wines with Gary and talks about the wine business in Napa.

Sunday, January 03, 2010