WL’s Gary Vaynerchuk to Attend Dec 6th Fort Mason Tasting

Ξ November 26th, 2008 | → 2 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, Wine News |

GVOn December 6th, Gary Vaynerchuk of WLTV will attend the 2nd Annual Fort Mason Tasting Event in San Francisco. The public gathering will take place at the Golden Gate Room and be from 6pm to midnight. The event promises to be educational for the newbie as well as for the skilled palate. And just plain fun. Gary is well-known for his boundless energy and approachable, good nature.
In the interests of ‘full disclosure’ I must say that two writers for this space are the hosts. Both Brandon and I threw the first wildly successful Fort Mason event well over a year ago, long before Reign of Terroir was a twinkle in my eye. We very much enjoyed his refreshing presence as did the 120 souls in attendance. We pledged then and there to host another for our good friend.
This tasting differs from most in that the wines are provided by the guests themselves. It is humbly requested that all who attend bring a bottle to share. If there is a tasting theme it is loosely built around organic and biodynamic wines. But no wine will be turned away!
Because all sign-up monies are plowed back into the evening it is hoped our budget will be sufficient to provide plenty of simple wine-pairing foods. But please bring a little something to share!
Stemware will be provided.
Hope to see you there!
The sign up page. Attendance will be capped to ensure a collegial atmosphere.
Useful links:
For those flying into SFO.
For getting to Fort Mason.
And for Parking at Fort Mason,
($8.00 for the whole night!)
For SF Taxi services.
Hotels and Motels near Fort Mason.
49er logoOne word of caution! Gary will be attending Sunday’s football game between the Jets and the 49ers at Candlestick Park. For reasons completely unfathomable to this writer, it is Gary’s well-known ambition to one day own the New York Jets.
So to all Niner fans attending Dec. 6ths Fort Mason Tasting, please wear the team colors!
Go Niners!


New Restrictions Ahead For Common Vineyard Pesticides

Ξ November 24th, 2008 | → 2 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, Technology, Wine News, Wineries |

wfcb logoThe San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday, November 20, of the projected extinction of most native game fish by the end of the century. Their story is based on a recently released report, Salmon, Steelhead, and Trout in California, principally authored by Prof. Peter Moyle of UC Davis’ Dept. of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology. Prof Moyle lists the reasons for raising the alarm,
“Decades of lax controls on farming, logging, grazing, mining and road-building have filled and polluted streams…, while the removal of streamside vegetation on the North Coast, in Sierra creeks and on inland lagoons has warmed the water and harmed fish.”
NOAA logoThe S.F. Chron’s story follows upon a Nov. 18th press release from the non-profit, public interest law firm, EarthJustice detailing the partial resolution of a legal battle begun in 2002. In association with the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, and other salmon advocates,
“EarthJustice obtained a federal court order [in 2002] declaring that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to consult with NMFS [the National Marine Fisheries Service] on the impacts that certain pesticides have on salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest and California. As a result of that lawsuit, EPA began consultations, but NMFS never issued biological opinions or identified the measures needed to protect salmon and steelhead from the pesticides.”
Indeed, very little happened. So it was in June of 2007 that EarthJustice sent NMFS a letter threatening further legal action. Progress was finally made.
“In 2007, the salmon advocates filed a second lawsuit and entered into a settlement agreement with NMFS that establishes a schedule for issuing the required biological opinions. The biological opinion released today [11/18] is the first of several decisions that will be released over the next three-and-a-half years and will assess a total of 37 pesticides.”
NMFS logoThis first biological opinion released by NOAA takes specific notice of three common pesticide ingredients, diazinon, malathion, and chlorpyrifos. All three are organophosphate insecticides. Some of the new rules proposed for use of the chemicals, submitted to the EPA for final approval, are the following:
• Buffer zones of 1,000 feet for aerial application and 500 feet for ground application between where the pesticides are applied and salmon streams.
• Strips of a minimum of 20 feet of grasses, bushes or other vegetation on agricultural sites adjacent to surface waters designed to absorb runoff from pesticide-treated fields.
• Restrictions on applying pesticides in windy conditions that could carry pesticides into nearby streams.
• A prohibition on applying pesticides when a storm is predicted that could cause pesticide run off into nearby streams.
“The new mitigation measures must be implemented within one year.” according to EarthJustice.
The measures are designed to keep these pesticides out of critical salmon habitats, the various rivers and streams of Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California. No small task. According to research gathered by EarthJustice, chlorpyrifos has been found at harmful levels in the Willamette, San Joachin, Tulare, and the Central Columbia basins.
Diazinon is found in all the above and also Puget Sound.
Harmful levels of malathion contamination were found, again, in the Willamette, San Joachin, Tulare, and Columbia basins. Add to this King County, Washington streams.
Leaving aside the practices of other states for a later post, the specific use of these pesticides in California vineyards is routinely recommended by UC Davis (certainly in the position papers linked in bold) for a number pests, particularly, but not limited to, the control of mealybug and their Argentine ant protectors. A good, early overview of the damage wrought by this pest and approaches to its control may be found in a summation published in Practical Winery and Vineyard, Nov./Dec. 2004.
Further, of the forward thinking organization Central Coast Vineyard Team, their Mission statement reads,
CCVT logo“The Central Coast Vineyard Team will identify and promote the most environmentally safe, viticulturally and economically sustainable farming methods, while maintaining or improving quality and flavor of wine grapes.”
Yet they recognize the daunting task facing pesticide reductions. A recent post reads,
“Winegrape growers apply chlorpyrifos to control ant and mealybug populations. From 2001 to 2003 chlorpyrifos usage in winegrapes has increased from 4,700 lbs. to over 14,000 lbs. in San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties. The recent introduction of vine mealybug (Planoccocus ficus) in major winegrape growing areas poses a major economical threat to the industry. Recent registration of chlorpyrifos to control mealybugs and ant populations (associated with protecting mealybugs) has likely lead to this increased usage of OP’s [organophosphates].”
Their praiseworthy approach:
“Central Coast Vineyard Team’s (CCVT) project will implement and demonstrate a series of on farm management practices within Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties. These on farm management practices will encourage monitoring to reduce the use of high risk chemicals. If treatment is necessary CCVT will encourage the use of low risk materials to control pest populations in an integrated program.”
PWVHowever, a similar program undertaken by UC Berkeley, has already met with mixed results. As first reported in the May/June issue of Practical Winery and Vineyard, Spring Mountain Vineyard attempted an assault on the mealybug with a complex blend of half a dozen parasitical/predatory insects, pheromone traps, and what they call the “judicious application of more target-specific insecticides”. Their conclusions were decidedly ambiguous. One researcher notes,
“that a key is to first suppress the mealybug densities with properly applied insecticides. The sustainable tools will not rapidly reduce large, damaging mealybug populations, but they have proven capable of maintaining low density populations below damaging levels.”
Another adds the echo,
“Any vineyard manager who has a large mealybug infestation should first knock it back with an insecticide.”
The larger point is not whether productive research in integrated pest management is underway, it is; but whether the first three of a total of 37 pesticides now under review by the National Marine Fisheries Service, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and malathion, their destructive contribution to salmon and steelhead mortality now ratified, might just be the tip of the iceberg. Inasmuch as the SF Chron’s article cited above reports the growing threat of extinction to most native game fish, there is no reason to believe NMFS will confine its assays of a pesticide’s risks to salmon and steelhead mortality alone. Indeed, EarthJustice and other public-interest, environmentally-minded law firms may well understand better than most the political climate change the United States has recently undergone. One can easily anticipate further lawsuits in the near future to compel the EPA to expansively fulfill its Congressional mandate. And new legislation would hardly be a surprise.
Moreover, what might become of the very notion of ’sustainable’ vineyard practice, an amorphous concept arguably rudderless during the last 8 years of the environmentally hostile Bush Administration? What might happen should the new Obama administration actually take healthy rivers, lakes, and coastal waters seriously?
The writing is on the wall.


Fresno State Winery Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Ξ November 21st, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, Wine News, Wineries |

Fresno Winery bannerOn December 5th Fresno State Winery will celebrate their 10 years in the wine business with a party featuring the release of a special Anniversary 2007 vintage Syrah sourced exclusively from the Fresno State Vineyards. Fresno State Winery has the distinction of being the nation’s first and still the only licensed university producing and selling student-made wine. Cornell will soon follow suit, I am sure.
I well remember last year finding one of the school’s many wines in Trader Joe’s here in Santa Cruz. I initially wondered why someone would court legal action with such a label! I bought a few bottles for a dinner that evening. All my guests were pleased. The student-made wine was surprisingly good. In fact, have a look at the many awards they’ve won over their splendid 10 year history.
The Fresno State Winery release party will particularly center around one of the winery’s most important founders, enologist Dr. Carlos Muller.
Should you be inclined to attend the celebration please RSVP the winery by November 26th, at 559-278-5391. Sign up for their wine club while you’re at it!


Solar Power’s Troubled Horizon

Ξ November 18th, 2008 | → 1 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, Technology, Wine News, Wineries |

An enormous number of wineries have gone solar in the United States, the majority here in California. With respect to power requirements, solar often satisfies 100% of operational energy during active periods, the crush, for example. Extra power after crush may then be poured into the grid for a modest return. This summer Jarvis installed 520 solar panels, Far Niente went big two months earlier with over 1300 photovoltaics. Among those wineries already solarized, Grgich, Merryvale, Rodney Strong, Fetzer, Peju, Cline Cellars, St. Francis, Quivira, Shafer. Foster’s will install solar power systems at six of its California wineries, Beringer, Asti, Chateau St. Jean, Etude, Stag’s Leap and Meridian. Of course, the largest winery solar project in the world is Constellation Brands, US branch Gonzales Winery in Monterey County, California to be completed soon.
And these California wineries are just a few of the many world-wide going solar.
But all is not well with the production of solar panels, as well as with that of computers and their chips, cell phones and flat-screen TVs. A recent paper published in Geophysical Research Letters (subscription required) by M. Prather and Juno Hsu, both of UC Irvine, strongly indicts an especially powerful, long-lived green house gas, nitrogen triflouride (NF3), used as a cleaning agent in the production of the products listed above. The paper, titled NF3, the greenhouse gas missing from Kyoto makes the grim argument, through a careful marshaling of the scientific evidence, that NF3, a man-made gas, has 17,000 times the climate warming effect of CO2. From the paper’s abstract:
“Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) can be called the missing greenhouse gas: It is a synthetic chemical produced in industrial quantities; it is not included in the Kyoto basket of greenhouse gases or in national reporting under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); and there are no observations documenting its atmospheric abundance. Current publications report a long lifetime of 740 yr and a global warming potential (GWP), which in the Kyoto basket is second only to SF6. We re-examine the atmospheric chemistry of NF3 and calculate a shorter lifetime of 550 yr, but still far beyond any societal time frames. With 2008 production equivalent to 67 million metric tons of CO2, NF3 has a potential greenhouse impact larger than that of the industrialized nations’ emissions of PFCs or SF6, or even that of the world’s largest coal-fired power plants.”
Indeed, the Kyoto Protocol, popularly known as the Earth Summit, does not list NF3. As Richard Conniff writes in a brilliant summation,
“In fact, NF3 had become popular largely as a way to reduce global warming.[....] The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began actively encouraging use of NF3 in the 1990s, as the best solution to a widespread problem in making the components for everything from cell phones to laptop computers. [....] So when the semiconductor industry announced a voluntary partnership with the EPA to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 10 percent from 1995 levels between 1999 and 2010, NF3 became the replacement technology of choice. [....] In 2002, the EPA gave a Climate Protection Award to the largest NF3 producer, Pennsylvania-based Air Products and Chemicals Inc., for its work in reducing emissions.”
From Air Products and Chemicals Inc.’s web site,
“Air Products continues to advance the technology for replacement of C2F6 cleaning agent for silicon chip production acilities with NF3, nitrogen trifluoride.”
C2F6 or Hexafluoroethane was harder to break down. Some 60% of the gas was released into the atmosphere after use. (And its potency as a green house gas was understood as 12,000 greater than CO2. Hence its inclusion in the Kyoto Protocol.) NF3, by contrast, was said by Air Products to sufficiently degrade during processing to result in less than a 2% escape rate. The dispute is over this number. Is it verifiable? Well, when Ray Weiss and and Jens Muehle of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography researched NF3’s presence in the atmosphere they discovered,
“The amount of the gas in the atmosphere, which could not be detected using previous techniques, had been estimated at less than 1,200 metric tons in 2006. The new research shows the actual amount was 4,200 metric tons. In 2008, about 5,400 metric tons of the gas was in the atmosphere, a quantity that is increasing at about 11 percent per year.”
Richard Conniff again,
“Ray Weiss and his research team at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography reported that NF3 is now present in the atmosphere at four times the expected amount, with atmospheric concentrations rising 11 percent a year. Working from annual production estimates of 4,000 metric tons, Weiss figured that about 16 percent of current production is ending up in the atmosphere.”
Therefore, it is strongly felt Air Products estimate of a 2% release into the atmosphere is woefully low. And here’s why. The figure depends upon state-of-the-art manufacturing technology; many other companies still use inefficient, older technology. Very simple.
So, how does this bear upon the solar panel industry?
“Amorphous silicon thin-film solar photovoltaic cells, manufactured using NF3, are slightly less efficient than crystalline silicon solar cells, the dominant technology. But they are cheaper to produce and expected to supply a rapidly increasing share of the solar market, for both large-scale and domestic applications.
“Because thin-film is a new technology, manufacturers generally use the latest equipment. But a knowledgeable source, who asked to remain unidentified, recently visited thin-film solar researchers in Asia. ‘They were unaware of the NF3 issue. They were using a remote plasma, but they were also using quite a bit of NF3. They weren’t sure they had it set up right for 98 percent destruction. It wasn’t really on their radar.’”
Now, the evolution of solar panel technology may be roughly broken down into three phases or generations: crystalline silicon, thin-film, and nano tech, that slated for mass production soon by companies such as Bloo Solar. Some insight into their protocols may be found here. Which solar panel generation a given winery may have purchased, whether crystalline silicon or thin-film, I was not able to absolutely determine. However, a Mitsubishi rep wrote me the Constellation installation in Gonzales is of the crystalline kind. Good news.
And more good news, well, sort of. Mr. Conniff writes of an already existing alternative to NF3. Flourine.
“According to Paul Stockman of Munich-based Linde Gas, fluorine has zero global warming potential and no atmospheric lifetime. But it’s also highly toxic and reactive. So instead of being shipped in bottles like NF3, it must be generated on site using special equipment. Stockman, whose company manufactures NF3, said fluorine will become essential in thin-film solar manufacturing, because faster cleaning times mean a substantial boost in productivity.”
An industrial accident waiting to happen…
I would encourage readers to read the primary sources linked above. Further, I encourage wineries to do a little extra research. Ask solar panel merchants from where they source their thin-cell panels, ask whether the factory is state-of-the-art, whether a 98% destruction rate of NF3 is guaranteed. It might feel awkward, but for an industry which justifiably prides itself on its environmental responsibility, it just might make a difference. In the long run. Always the hardest.


Eftalya – Views across the Bosphorus

Ξ November 17th, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, Restaurant Reviews, Tasting Notes |

Eftalya Arnavutköy (Arnavutköy Mah. 1. Cad No:32 Arnavutköy – Besiktas / Istanbul)
Eftalya Beylerbeyi (Beylerbeyi Yaliboyu Cad N0:36 Üsküdar / Istanbul)
September to May is the best time to enjoy fresh seafood in Istanbul and sitting almost directly opposite each other across the Bosphorus are a pair of restaurants that showcase the best the sea has to offer. Both are called Eftalya (after a mermaid in an ancient tale) and on my most recent visit to Istanbul I enjoyed meals in each.
Eftalya ArnavutkoyEftalya Beylerbeyl
On the European side is Eftalya Arnavutköy in the Besiktas area of the city, just north of the main bridge across the continents. Seated at a window table there was a clear view of the the brightly lit bridge, the lights changing between the primary colours at regular intervals. The meal started with a delicious piece of salted tuna, which dissolved in the mouth, and was accompanied by a rich aubergine (egg-plant) puree made with a good dose of garlic.
European main courseThis was followed by a salmon salad with a Caesar-style dressing, a plate of tender calamari rings, grilled prawns and a selection of pickled vegetables to nibble on – ochre, cucumber and cabbage. The final course was a grilled fish delight with a succulent swordfish steak plus two other types of fish I couldn’t get translations for, but they were superb nonetheless.
European wine rackThe restaurant had a decent selection of local wines on show in a large wooden rack in the entrance hall. To go with our food a light and refreshing local wine was poured – the Sarafin 2007 Sauvignon Blanc from the Aegean and Marmara regions. This showed some classic grassy, pungent flavours and was more New-World in style, but with a mellow buttery aspect to balance its dryness which went well with the fish.
The following evening we made our way to Eftalya Beylerbeyi, on the Anatolian side of the straits. This time I was with a group of more than 60 people and a boat had been laid on to take us over the Bosphorus. The ride itself was enjoyable, sailing under the bridge across one of the busiest shipping channels in the region, however most entertaining was watching the captain try and dock with Eftalya’s private jetty – the strong current kept taking hold and he couldn’t quite get the front of the boat lined up, taking 4 or 5 attempts before finally getting it right, much to the amusement of the other restaurant guests watching through the windows!
The starter this time was based on Mackerel but equally delicious and with the same Aubergine puree, although more smokey and with less garlic. We were all seated over 5 large tables and the large group meant conversation was varied and constant, so my note taking was limited, but the food kept coming at regular intervals; small fried fish, fish cakes with Indian spices, flame-grilled squid and assorted vegetables and salads.
Asian main courseThe main dish was a large grilled fillet of a delicate white-fleshed fish (again unidentifed, but superb!) with similar garnishing to the previous night.
Wine was a mixture of red and white Turkish labels including Sarafin and Kavaklidere – all uncomplicated and easy-drinking to go with the informal atmosphere. Considering the number of people the service was very efficient and the food was every bit as good, if not better, than the previous night.
Both versions of Eftalya are well worth trying if you enjoy seafood and, if you get a good seat near the windows, you’ll have a stunning inter-continental view across the Bosphorus to add an etxra touch to the evening.


Cal. High School Viticulture & Enology Scholarships

Ξ November 14th, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, Wine News, Young Winemakers |

UC Davis V&E logoNovember 30th is the 2009 Rossi Prize scholarship application deadline for graduating Napa Country high school students pursuing a degree in viticulture and enology at UC Davis. (PDF link here.) The $20,000 Rossi Prize was established in 1979
in order to benefit viticulture and enology students from the Napa Valley, and to honor the memories of their late parents and brother. The Rossi family has been involved in grapegrowing and winemaking since the early 20th century and has been an integral part of the agricultural history of the Napa Valley.
The Rossi’s have a very distinguished viticultural history in the Napa Valley and with UC Davis. Their generosity is legendary. It was in late 2007 that Napa valley native Louise Rossi’s estate donated 12.7 million dollars to the University. The full details may be read here.
CAWGGWith a less pressing deadline of April 3rd, 2009, the California Association of Wine Grape Growers, through their affiliate, the California Wine Grape Growers Foundation, offers qualifying high schoolers the following:
Up to two scholarships being offered each provide $1,000 per year for four years (provided studies continue to be completed satisfactorily) at any campus in the University of California or California State University system. Another four scholarships each provide $500 a year for two years at any California community college.
However, the scholarships offer comes with a praiseworthy, culturally significant requirement. (application PDF here.)
Only the children of vineyard workers employed in the 2008 or 2009 winegrape growing season are eligible to apply. However, children of wine grape growers may request a waiver from the eligibility requirement based upon financial need.
The Foundation also offers the Robert Miller Scholarship for Viticulture and Enology. This is a more general prize for viticulture and enology students on the Central Coast planning to attend either the Alan Hancock Community College or CalPoly. (application PDF here)
Cal State Fresno also offers significant wine ag scholarship awards, but I found their portal difficult to research. However, interested parents and students will find a way!
I will locate other Cal. enology and viticulture scholarships for another post soon. Anyone with relevant info is invited to write Reign of Terroir with details.


Nov.15th, Santa Cruz Mtns. Passport Day

Ξ November 11th, 2008 | → 1 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, Wine News, Wineries |

SCMWA logoThe Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association (SCMWA) is promoting its membership wineries for the final time this year with a November 15th Passport Day. Participating wineries throughout the appellation will be open from 11a.m. to 5 p.m. I hasten to add that many of the other wineries in the AVA will also be open but will not be taking part in the Passport program this time around. A complete list of the AVA’s wineries may be found here
It is important to check each participating winery’s web site to make sure it is in fact open. I discovered, for example, that although Fellom Ranch is on SCMWA’s list the winery is not open this Saturday.
Surf City Vintners mapAdding to this Saturday’s festivities will be the addition of Bonny Doon Vineyard to the Surf City Vintners complex on the West side of Santa Cruz. Their new tasting room quietly opened to the public this Monday. They are as well favored with an excellent kitchen and chef.
The final day of Bonny Doon’s old tasting room on 10 Pine Flat Road will be Sunday, November 16th. The facility will them become the exclusive domain of Beauregard Vineyards.
Along with select wineries the Passport may also be used at a number of restaurants for food and Santa Cruz Mountains wine discounts, and free corkage. Check with each restaurant for specific details.
Limousine services are also available.
Drive safely!


On the 90th Anniversary of Armistice Day

Ξ November 10th, 2008 | → 1 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time |

Vinous matters can wait. Today Donna, a writer for this blog, and I would like to take a moment to reflect on the 90th Anniversary of Armistice Day.
Donna first. She provides a biography of her father, Ernest B. Childers, awarded the Medal of Honor. She closes with a personal remembrance.
Ernest B. ChildersErnest B. Childers was born Feb. 1, 1918 in Broken Arrow, Okla. He was raised on a farm that was part of his father’s original Muscogee (Creek) Nation tribal allotment. He was the third of five sons and learned to be quite a marksman from his father, who was considered a great hunter. After his father’s death, Childers was responsible for feeding the family during the Depression years. His mother gave him one .22-caliber cartridge every day to kill a rabbit for dinner. He told a Tulsa reporter in 2002 that he learned how to be a very good aim, because if he missed, the family didn’t eat.

Childers graduated from Chilocco Indian School where he boxed and learned mechanics. He joined the Oklahoma National Guard while at the school in 1937 to earn extra money. After completing basic training at Ft. Sill, Okla., his unit, part of the 45th Infantry Division, was activated and deployed to Africa during World War II.

By the time he arrived on the beaches of Salerno, Italy in September 1943, Childers, a first lieutenant now, learned many soldiers in his division, including his school friends, were pinned down by machine-gun fire in the mountainous terrain near Oliveto. On Sept. 22, he organized a group of eight soldiers to clear the way so his division could advance. In the pre-dawn hours, he came under fire, fell into a shell crater and broke his ankle. He crawled to an aid station, only to see it destroyed by an incoming shell. The doctor and several of his friends perished.

I crawled back and told my men to lay down a base of fire over me,” Childers told a Washington Post reporter in 2005. “You see, I had to crawl because of my broken ankle…I couldn’t tell that, as I was crawling, I was crawling up a slope of a hill. I came up behind one of the German machine gun nests that had us pinned down.”

As the Germans were turning their machine guns toward Childers, he was quicker and shot them dead. From his position, he saw a second nest and pitched rocks to make them turn around for a clearer shot. The Germans thinking the rocks were grenades jumped out of the machine gun nests and when they leapt out, he shot the first one and another was shot by one of the soldiers covering Childers as he crawled up the hill. “I assume they thought it was a hand grenade, because nobody throws rocks,” he said.

According to his Medal of Honor citation, Childers single-handedly captured an enemy mortar observer at a house further up the hill.

The German must have been watching the action, because when he came out toward me, I was on my knees training my .30-caliber carbine on him,” said Childers. He then yelled to one of his men to take him prisoner because he was out of ammunition. “My body was wet with sweat since the German was fully armed and I was holding an empty rifle on him. That German was the only surviving German in the entire action of that day.”

After recovering from wounds in North Africa, he fought at the Battle of Anzio, where he was wounded again. While recovering in a military hospital in Naples, he received word Lt. General Devers wanted to see him. Childers panicked because he wondered why a general would want to see him. General Devers presented Ernest, now a second lieutenant, the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest award. Childers always reported it was just a small ceremony at a horsetrack and it was only discovered recently after he passed away, the ceremony was a huge military parade with both American divisions and the British 8th Army attending. He later came to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Franklin D. Roosevelt while on bond tour. After his bond tour he returned to France to continue to fight through the end of the war.

Childers remained in the Army after the war and was stationed in Austria during the occupation. He taught jungle training in Panama and winter training in Alaska before retiring in 1965 as a lieutenant colonel.

He worked briefly with the Job Corps program in Washington, D.C, but that ended after he suffered a heart attack. When he retuned to Oklahoma, he began speaking to students about the emotional costs of war.

After the September 11, 2001 terrorists’ attacks, he wrote a widely circulated statement condemning vigilante attacks on Arab Americans.

Even though I have darker skin than some Americans, that doesn’t mean I’m any less patriotic than any other American. I am appalled that people who call themselves ‘Americans’ are attacking and killing other Americans simply because of their hair and skin color,” he said.

Childers was the recipient of 13 medals and bars, including the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart and the Oklahoma Distinguished Service Cross. In addition, he was honored in 1966 by the Tulsa Chapter of the Council of American Indians as “Oklahoma’s Most Outstanding Indian” and, in 1985, the Ernest Childers Middle School was dedicated in Broken Arrow, Okla.

Childers died on March 17, 2005 after a long illness and is survived by his wife, Yolanda, of 59 years; three children, Elaine Childers of Tulsa, Donna Thirkell of Houston, and Ernie Childers of Augusta, Ga.; and a brother.
How I know the Story
When Ernest Childers was a young boy, his father died of dust pneumonia as a result of the Dust Bowl in the 1930’s leaving his mother to take care of 5 young boys during the depression era. Tina raised geese on the farm to use their down to make feather beds to generate money to feed and clothe her children. At the farm, there was a large pond about 200 yards from main house created by the construction of a long sandstone as the Dust Bowl was raging and an above ground water source was a much needed luxury. The water created a habitat for wild animals ensuring a meat source for the families survival. Ernest was responsible for hunting the families meat source for the daily meal. He was given one bullet a day to get the evenings dinner. If he missed, the family would go hungry that night. This is where he learned to be a precise marksman.
The pond also brought predators his other job was to protect the flock of geese. It’s a simple job except geese are aggressive animals with sharp beaks and long sharp spurs on their wings. He hated those geese. His body was always covered in deep abrasions from their attacks, but those geese were integral to their survival and he had to make sure they were well taken care of. He told me how he used to creep into their pen as quietly as possible bringing their pail of grain to feed them and then slowly creep back out as not to get them riled up and attacking him. When the predators came around, the only way he could defend the geese was taking rocks and throwing them at predator’s heads to hurt or kill them.
I find it amazing how the years of caring for geese, defending against predators with rocks and hunting with only one bullet would give him the skills to crawl up a hill in great pain with a broken foot on September 22, 1943 in Oliveto, Italy. What is not detailed in the official citation is Dad only had limited rounds of ammunition in his rifle. As he pulled himself up the hill with his arms and one good foot, he didn’t simply throw rocks into the machine gun nests, but took a single rock each to hit the German soldier in the helmet so they would turn around and Dad could line up the shot. The Germans thought the rocks were grenades and jumped out of the nests allowing Dad to take them out single handedly.

The Admin writes
Many years ago I lived in Paris with my wife-to-be. When we first arrived in mid-November a chance meeting with a German nanny in the Gard du Nord sent us along the Clignancourt metro line to the heavily working class/immigrant 19th arrondissement. Just off the metro stop Colonel Fabien, near the grim Communist Party HQ, and not too far from where Edith Piaf was born on the steps of Rue de Belleville 72 (our first pilgrimage), we’d walk up the Rue des Chaufourniers to our cold water pension. The 6 storey building had all the romance of a cinder block. No heat, no hot water, and a shared toilet in the hall, just a sloped hole in the floor flushed by pulling a thick chain. The Hotel Modern was its name.
GitanesThe French owners, an extended family of three generations, lived on the first floor. They ran a café frequented everyday by elderly regulars, most commonly their live-in pensioners, two of whom constantly argued. Both were veterans of World War 1. One aged gentleman was quite round, tall, he always wore a hat. He lower lip was a brown-stained groove where he tucked a smoldering Gitane Maïs (as a former smoker of French cigarettes, take it from me, these were the most harsh and unpleasant in all the world). Even when he spoke with great agitation the dark cigarette never moved. The other fellow was quite short with a beret. They began their mornings with a glass or two of a simple vin du table and ended the evening with Pernod. They lived one floor above us.
We were to find out days later that these two vets were in fact great friends, that their arguing began with our arrival at Hotel Modern! The heated exchange was over whether it had been necessary for the United States to enter WW1. The family/owners tried to intervene with humor, sans success.
Not to be outdone, one of the family, the aged matron Margarite, she regaled us with stories (well, the same one told many times) of her work during WW ll, of hiding Jews and resistance fighters in the Hotel, of holding off a smirking German patrol with an old carbine.
Their twenty-something son, on the other hand, wanted nothing more than to come to America and, as he explained with a poor accent, “lay on a Miami bitch”. He never did understand why my wife and I asked him so many times what he planned to do when visiting Miami’s shores. Need I add that he smoked wretched Stuyvesant Blondes?
I was reminded of these folks when I recently read about the passing of Lazare Ponticelli, France’s last Great War veteran. He was 110 years old. Please give it a look.
Welcome HomeWhat follows are a just few bright sites I found to help us understand how we commemorate this day.
In the United States, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954. The change was designed to include for public observance the sacrifice of America in all her wars, particularly in light of World War ll’s recent conclusion. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs runs a very informative site on the holiday. We lost over 115,000 souls in WW l.
The British Commonwealth knows it as Remembrance Day. It remains centered on WW l. The BBC has a wonderful online data base for families wishing to know more of their histories.
A poppy.November 4th through the 11th Canada has an especially moving tribute to its 68,000 fallen in WW l. The names of the war dead will be “projected over a week of nights onto the National War Memorial in Ottawa, buildings in other regions of Canada and onto the side of Canada House in Trafalgar Square in London, England”.
In France and Belgium it is a national holiday. Celebrations in France, perhaps owing to a studied independence from the over-bearing authority emanating from Paris, are as numerous as they are varied in each of her departments. I will mention that in Compiègne, site of the signing of the Armistice, ceremonies will take place. (Compiègne is also known as the town where Joan of Arc was captured.)
Flanders’ FieldsFrom World War l alone, over 18,000,000 military and civilian deaths and 21,000,000 casualties are recorded. I have little more to add but a poem, In Flanders’ Fields by Lt.-Col. John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

To all veterans, thank you, thank you.
This November 11th I’ll be wearing a poppy.


Better Spät Than Never, German Pinot

Ξ November 7th, 2008 | → 2 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, International Terroirs, Tasting Notes, Wine News |

Better Spät’ than never.
Not long after Reign of Terroir started I posted an article on my experience of German red wine following a short business trip. The title, “Better dead than red”, should leave you in little doubt on my feelings after the trip. Since then I’ve not had many chances to taste a Teutonic red and have kept my purchases to the whites (and with German Riesling being so good that isn’t a hardship!), however over the last few of months I’ve had cause to rethink my dismissive attitude so, in the spirit of balance and fair-mindedness, it’s time to write a defense of what many still think is indefensible.
AachenFirst was my August vacation in the south of the Netherlands. On a gloriously sunny Saturday we drove across the border to the beautiful old city of Aachen (capital of Charlemagne’s Frankish Empire) and spent a delightful afternoon walking through the narrow streets. I found myself a small local wine shop (Aix Vinum) and spent a few minutes discussing my poor experience of local red wines with the manager. He agreed that Trollinger and Blauer Portugieser are not where people should be looking and suggested some different options for me to consider – all Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) and all, relatively speaking, expensive! I decided to spend 30 Euros on one of the recommendations, the Philipp Kuhn 2003 Kirschgarten Spätburgunder, a small Pfalz producer.
Only time will tell if it was worth it, as it is currently in the cellar and could stay there for another few years, however I am optimistic about its prospects after the following events.
Best PinotMid-September saw Decanter Magazine publish the results of the 2008 Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA). This 352 page tome weighed me down on several recent trips and it took nearly a month before I had worked my way through all of its categories and recommendations. What surprised me, and I expect a lot of other readers, was that the winner of the International Pinot Noir Trophy was a Spätburgunder, the Weingut Meyer-Näkel 2005 Dernauer Pfarrwingert Grosses Gewächs from the Ahr. Up against the best (in show) from New Zealand, Chile and Burgundy the judges were amazed by how “seductive” and velvety it was, a far cry from the weak and uninspiring offerings I had a year ago as my introduction to German red – however at over £40.00 a bottle it is also a serious hit on the wallet!
Then in October I had a flying visit to Munich, only a single night in a small hotel, but I jumped at the chance to try their menu’s only regional red, the Gutzler 2006 Cuvee “Im Barrique Gereift” (Barrel aged) – a Spätburgunder, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Dornfelder & St. Laurent blend from Rheinhessen. This was light, slightly acidic with a lot of wood on the nose and a dark berry aspect. Spicy and smooth in the mouth it was medium bodied with a slight bitter aspect on the first attack into the mid-palate – adding interest. A well made wine worthy of 3/5.
Lastly Episode 566 of Wine Library TV saw Gary Vaynerchuk explore the delights of Baden with 3 Pinot Noirs. The irrepressible Wine 2.0 Messiah had a good hit rate with two of the three offerings breaching the infamous 90 point barrier;
WLTV- 2005 Oberrotweil Pinot Noir Select, $25, ”very intriguing wine, …very charismatic”. 91pts.
- 2005 Oberbergen Pinot Noir Select, Estate Bottled, $24, “solid but simplistic”. 81pts.
- 2005 Karl H. Johner Pinot Noir, Kaiserstuhl, $25, “Disturbing nose (!)… intense with gorgeous cranberries”. 90pts.
Gary’s closing comments hit the nail right on the head when it comes to Spätburgunder, the quality is definitely there, although at a price point that could be prohibitive to most wine drinkers looking for value. However for those, like me, who continue to trawl the world’s vineyards for new experiences then a quality German Pinot Noir should be on your hit list – and now more than ever there are plenty to choose from. Zum Wohl!


A First Look At Bonny Doon’s New Tasting Room

Ξ November 4th, 2008 | → 2 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, Tasting Notes, Wine Bars, Wine News, Winemakers, Wineries |

Let me start off by saying that I like Mr. Grahm. I have met him a handful of times over the past year. He’s an American original.
I was fortunate to be given a glimpse of Bonny Doon’s new tasting room. Randall Grahm has been overseeing the effort for what seems like an eternity. Now we know the last day of their tasting room on the outskirts of the hamlet of Bonny Doon will be the 16th of November. The new tasting room, at 328 Ingalls St. on the west-side of Santa Cruz, will open first for a wine club, subscriber-only event, Day of the Doon, November 8th and 9th. Over 300 souls are expected.
On November 15th the doors will then open to the general public. Coincidentally that Saturday is also the occasion of the quarterly Santa Cruz Mountains AVA Passport event. Bonny Doon’s new tasting room will be open 7 days a week, from 11:30 to 5:30 (though there is a hint of wriggle room concerning the hours of operation).
The room is quite expansive, the ceiling’s high, appointed with skylights. Plenty of natural sunlight pours in, and on cloudy days and late afternoons the warm wood panelling and tungsten lighting adds a rustic, country feel.
The space is divided into two main areas by a pair of intimate booths placed against towering floor to ceiling staves. The booths can accommodate 6 to 8 folks. On either side of the booths are passageways, one a simple decorated hallway rounded by a fountain, the headwaters of which are topped by a cow horn, a sign of the biodynamic wines Mr. Grahm now produces from his Ca’ del Solo vineyard. The other passage leads through a faux-barrel, as can be seen. Both lead to the second tasting area where Bonny Doon’s most exciting addition to the tasting room experience may be found, a well-appointed kitchen.
The kitchen is the territory of a fine local chef, Sean Baker, currently of the Gabriella Café. He will design the menu of tapas-style dishes. The effort will be to provide small plates that strongly complement the wines poured that particular day or week. The menu will be updated regularly to best match the current flite. The tasting room café will be open Thursday through Sunday from 11:30 to 5:30.
On average there will be 10 wines poured, all of Bonny Doon’s current portfolio. As many as 15 to 20 wines may be made available from time to time. The additional bottlings occasionally served will be spirits, past vintages, library wines or special cuveés from Bonny Doon Vineyard’s long vinous narrative.
To the immediate right of the second tasting bar pictured above, near the second door, there is a modest selection of gifts: sweaters, caps, locally produced lotions and soaps, etched or frosted stemware and decanters, and both industry-standard texts and biodynamic-themed books.
As all the photos above reveal the tasting room is in its final detailing. Work remains. Of particular interest will be how the Biodynamic Lounge comes together. Located in the main tasting area, tucked on the other side of the tasting bar, the Biodynamic Lounge has yet to be fully appointed. The space will be not only for general seating, for wine and food enjoyment, but also for after-hours winemaker dinners and other special events.
Indeed, speaking of after-hours, my understanding is that the entire tasting room may be rented out for special events.
In addition to a glimpse of the tasting room space I was treated to a taste of four of Bonny Doon’s biodynamic wines. This pleasurable experience will be the subject of a forth-coming post.


Chef Morten at the Djingis Khan, Lund, Sweden

Ξ November 3rd, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, International Terroirs, Restaurant Reviews, Tasting Notes |

A Swedish Hotel, a Danish Chef and an unforgettable experience.
Lund it is one of the oldest cities in Sweden and has a rich history, however nowadays you could be forgiven for not knowing much about it. It is therefore surprising to find in this out of the way town, in an out of the way hotel, a chef who personifies the word maverick. His name is Morten, and after 2 stays at the hotel I’m convinced he is a genius!
As some background the hotel is the Djingis Khan named not for the infamous Mongol Warlord, but for a comedy review put on by University students every 5 years! During my first trip to the hotel I was unprepared for the first evening, on asking for the menu I was told there wasn’t one – each night the meal selection was of Morten’s choosing, simple as that. If you asked he told you what it was, otherwise it arrived on the plate and you ate it. Although it sounded strange I was treated to some delicious food (this was over a year ago so forgive my addled memory that I can’t recount what I had). I stayed in the hotel a further 2 nights and each evening food was served blind and thoroughly enjoyed. To further add enjoyment Morten likes selecting wines that stretch the otherwise conservative Swedish lists – I savoured delicious reds from Cigales and Puglia, Barbera from Lombardy and Viognier from South Australia.
So some 12 months later I was hoping Morten was still there so I could revisit this oasis of food and wine culture. Sure enough he was walking up from the basement and there was a flash of recognition on his face and a “see you for dinner?” as I checked in.
CusumanoAs I sat down at a free table he explained he had been to see the dentist that day so way not feeling great, as such he apologised that all he could offer was a sandwich, which was fine with me. A glass of Cusumano Nero d’Avola / Syrah, the Benuara 2007, warmed me up with its young, fruity vanilla-cherry nose, the Nero d’Avola aspect initially showing, but which developed into herb and pepper aspects as the Syrah came through. One of the most intriguing things about the wine though was its closure – a Vino-Lok (VinTegra) glass stopper, something I’d previously only seen on German whites. Even though it’s been more than 4 years since they’ve been used commercially it’s still unusual to see bottles with this closure type in the U.K.
The “sandwich” arrived, and it turned out to be as inappropriately named as it possible. Gourmet plate, 2 lightly toasted, thin sliced, pieces of baguette style bread encasing cheese, ham, salami, salad leaved (including rocket) tomato and fennel all topped with a fried egg, the warm yolk mixing with the other ingredients to combine into a taste sensation, aided by a few fresh blackberries on the side of the plate and decorated with a stripe of balsamic glaze. This was a perfect flavour combination and one of the best sandwiches I’d had for a long time. Each ingredient melded perfectly, the salami, the roquette, the texture of the cheese & tomato, the oozing yolk of the fried egg. Even on an off-day Morten created food to be enjoyed.
The Cusumano took a back-seat to the meal; it couldn’t match the food and ended up being used as a digestif at the end, although it was delicious in its own right. Over time the wine definitely developed in the glass, the peppery Syrah component showing through but never losing its front-forward fruit. 3+/5.
Following the meal I asked what other wines Morten had behind the small hotel bar. First out was a South African white, the Rijk’s Private Cellar “Iceberg”, which we initially couldn’t decide whether this was some unusual new grape variety, but actually is a blend of 75% Chardonnay, 19% Sauvignon Blanc and 6% Chenin Blanc. I’ve had experience of this producer before, having enjoyed their excellent Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc in the past (see a Tale of two Chenins). This blend was a highly aromatic wine, almost pungent in the mouth, and was bone dry, pleasant enough. 3/5.
BortoliThe next taster was something special, a golden glass of de Bortoli “Noble One” Botrytis Semillon, 2003 vintage. This was delicious; a tangy, sweet & sour caramel nose with some citrus, maybe a touch of chemical epoxy or tar. The deep golden colour suggests something older but the taste is young, sweet with a vibrant acidity and good length leaving you salivating long after you’ve swallowed the last drop. 4/5.
As we chatted Morten told me of his friend Erik Gemal Jensen at Le Sommelier restaurant in Copenhagen, recommending it to me next time I’m in the city. I’ve had a quick look at the web-site and it does look promising! Apparently Morten and Erik worked together a few years ago (although I didn’t get full details it involved wine). Then there was another blind tasting, a floral white, elegant and dry. I hazarded a guess at South America but was embarrassed when shown a bottle of Sancerre. As soon as it came out the floral nose took on a certain pungency which screamed Sauvignon Blanc and reconfirmed my abject failure at any and all blind tasting experiments!
As it was getting late we said goodnight, Morten had a dentists appointment the next day but was hopeful he’d be working in the evening. When I came down to the restaurant the second night I was relieved to see him behind the bar, his visit to the dentist hadn’t been as bad as he’d been expecting, although the evening’s menu was once again a sandwich of unspecified construction! To keep us both going (I’d been joined by my Danish colleague Birgitte) a glass of Viognier, the Bridlewood 2005 Reserve, Central Coast, California was poured. It had a buttery, floral nose, heady and perfumed with an oily texture, thickly coating the mouth with a peach-stone aspect and long finish. 3+/5.
The sandwich arrived and it was even better than the night before; woodcock, asparagus, apple slices and salad leaved, again with the blackberries on the side, delicious again. The semi-dry Viognier went well with the ingredients, even the asparagus. During the meal Birgitte chatted to Morten in Danish and gleaned some interesting background information. In the late 90’s he spent time in France – La Rochelle and a couple of years in Bordeaux. He’s also an artist and had no formal Chef training, working at the hotel out of enjoyment.
The red of the evening was Lindeman’s Cawarra 2007 Shiraz Cabernet, which had an excellent nose – ash, spice and lots of fruit. However the taste was a little underwhelming, no variation from start to finish and a little dull. 3/5 in the way it was made, but for me 2/5 for “excitement” (or lack thereof).
Final EveningMorten and me
Again Morten presented me with a blind-tasting; a white with a smoky nose, dry with a fair amount of oak. I guessed half-heartedly at a Pouilly Fumé, detecting some characteristics I associate with Sauvignon Blanc, but once again I was wrong, and it turned out to be an Alsace Gewürztraminer, the Kuentz-Bas 2005 . In my defence I claim this was one of the most atypical Gewürztraminers I’ve ever had, I didn’t get any of the Alsace style I am usually so fond of! – even after the “reveal” I had trouble reconciling the taste, but it was a decent 3/5 nonetheless.
We finished with more of the Bridlewood and another glass of the Noble One from the previous night. I’m planning another trip to Lund in December, so I’m looking forward to at least one more evening of blind tastings and delicious food with Morten at the Djingis Khan, a partnership that guarantees unusual and surprisingly delightful food and wine.


From the Vineyard to the Glass, Winemaking in an Age of High Tech


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