Friday, December 18, 2009

Feliz Navidad

Happy Holidays to our customers, friends and family!

First Skiing Trip of the Year

The past few days Joe and I went to Tahoe for our first California tracks of the year (we skied in New Zealand this summer). It was cold and beautiful in North Lake - the first big storm had just hit last weekend and they had a layer of fresh snow.

The weather was pretty mediocre for skiing -- it half-snowed, half-rained on us most of Wednesday -- but we enjoyed it, and I got to try out my new Kingswood skis on California snow for the first time. They cut through all the bumps and crud really well, although at slow speeds they felt a bit like boards strapped to your feet, but that's what you get with powder skis, or so my personal ski expert tells me (yeah, that would be Joe).

We ate and stayed at the River Ranch Lodge at the bottom of Alpine Meadows and Hwy. 89. The rooms were cute but mostly comfortable (hard beds, close to the road) but dinner was fantastic. We brought a bottle of Roederer and some Pinot down and enjoyed crab cakes, buffalo wings (yep, Joe wanted wings), a spinach salad, rack of lamb and trout. The price was really reasonable and the restaurant was fairly busy for a Wed. night. Alpine employees had filled up the bar by the time we left.

I did Joe a favor on Thursday and let him hike out and ski with his buddy, Matt. No Kristy babysitting for at least one day, while I played tourist at Squaw and then went to visit our friend Sarah and their baby, Suzie.

Overall, it's going to be a great ski season and I'm looking forward to hopefully at least a handful more days before it's over. Unfortunately, I forgot the camera this time, so no snow photos until Christmas, when we hope to take Ozzie to the snow in Shaver Lake.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Surprise - We're Vegan!

I first became aware of vegan wines about five years ago when I was tasting at a winery in Healdsburg, just off the square. All of the wines on their tasting sheets were labeled as vegan, organic, biodynamic, or a combination of them all (there are issues with that, but that's for another blog post). At that point I thought that was interesting, but promptly forgot about it until about 2006, when we started making our own wines for Foursight.

Having studied wine a bit I understood that animal products were used in the process at some wineries -- for fining in particular. The basic idea is that these animal-derived products settle down to the bottom of the tank with the large particles and the wine is racked off of the lees (sediment) in the bottom. Most wineries nowadays filter, which means that any parts of anything should definitely be caught by a sterile filtration. However, that doesn't solve the problem for vegans worried about the ethical issues involving animal products.

When we started making wines, we started with the idea that we simply like unfined and unfiltered Pinot Noirs better. So, that issue was solved for our Pinot Noirs. As for our Sauvignon Blanc, we did choose to fine it to make sure that nothing precipitates out when the bottle is chilled. When fining whites you have several choices - bentonite (from clay), isinglass (sturgeon swim bladder), and a few other, less common fining agents (from egg, milk, even animal blood -- the last one being illegal in the US, thanks).

For us, the decision to use bentonite only on our SB (no fining on the Semillon) was that we not only wanted everyone to be able to enjoy the wines, but that we also preferred the bentonite when it came to the quality of our wines. So, it worked out perfectly.

What got me started on this issue recently was that a very nice editor from Vegetarian Times came to call a few weeks ago, writing a story on vegan wines. When you search online for vegan wines you get a wealth of knowledge about the issue -- one that most people don't realize is even an issue. And that's sad. Wine is supposed to be a natural product, and that's something we stick to here.

So, long story short, surprise to those who thought they knew us, Foursight is vegan! And proud of it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mushroom Recipes

This weekend is the start of the Wine & Mushroom Festival and Nancy Charles has made some mushroom appetizers for our tasting room visitors to enjoy. They're absolutely delicious and go very well with Pinot Noir. Here are the recipes -- all are very easy to make:

Marinated Mushrooms

1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp ground dry mustard
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 pound small button mushrooms (or cremini)

In medium saucepan, mix vinegar, olive oil, onion, salt, parsley, dry mustard, brown sugar and garlic. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Stir in mushrooms. Simmer 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a container and chill in the refrigerator until serving.

Mushroom and Almond Pate

2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms (3 oz)
1 cup oyster mushrooms (3 oz)
½ cup stemmed and sliced shitake
½ cup coarsely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup sherry
1 tbsp minced fresh tarragon
½ cup toasted, slivered almonds
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

Cook first 5 ingredients 8 minutes, or until tender. Add garlic and cook. Add sherry, stir and remove from heat. Add tarragon and let cool. Transfer mixture to food processor and add remaining ingredients, blending until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Garnish with red bell pepper strips, toasted almonds and parsley.

Mushroom Caponata

2 tbsp olive oil
1 eggplant, unpeeled, cut into ½” cubes
8 oz mixed mushrooms, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ red onion, diced small
1tbsp parsley, chopped
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
21 grams tomato, diced small
1 tbsp capers
Salt and pepper

Saute eggplant in olive oil in batches, until tender (about 5 minutes). Add salt and pepper. Cook mushrooms, garlic, onion and parsley 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add vinegar, tomatoes and capers and cook 2 minutes. Add eggplant into mixture, along with pine nuts and a pinch of sugar if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can add 1 additional tbsp vinegar or ¼ cup tomato sauce if desired.)

2010 Alsace Festival

Tickets are now on sale for the 2010 Alsace Festival - a celebration of the most delicious white wines produced in the Anderson Valley. Tickets are only $65 per person for the grand tasting -- complete with wine, food, and live music. It's a great event -- get your tickets at!
Participating wineries include: Annie Amie Vineyards, Breggo Cellars, Chateau Grand Traverse, Claudia Springs Winery, Esterlina Vineyards, Greenwood Ridge Vineyards, Handley Cellars, Husch Vineyards, Lazy Creek Vineyards, Londer Vineyards, McFadden Farm, Foris Vineyards Winery, Navarro Vineyards, Philo Ridge Vineyards, Brandborg Winery & Vineyard, Toulouse Vineyards, Zina Hyde Cunningham, Graziano Family of Wines, Zin Valle, Robert Sinskey Vineyards, Fogarty Winery and many more...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wine Club Par-lay

This past Saturday we had our first wine club pick-up party and open house. We hired a very talented band from the Mendocino Coast, some friends (luckily one a caterer) made delicious fall foods, and we opened the cellar to friends from near and far. We popped bottles of Pinot and Sauvignon Blanc, and event opened some of our 2008 Semillon, which we just released (one whopping barrel made). It was a great day and we look forward to having many more.

90 and 91 Points: More Scores and Reviews!

Scores and reviews on our 2007 Pinots have begun to come out, and we're very happy so far. Here's a look (more can be found on our Web site):

Burghound recently rated all three 2007 Pinots 90 points and above -- one of the highest group ratings in the entire California Pinot issue, with well known names abounding:

2007 Zero New Oak Pinot: 90 points
"A fresh and relatively complex nose resembles that of the 'All-In' with the primary difference being that the wood is less obvious with lovely, balanced and pure medium-bodied flavors that possess good concentration and length on the sappy finish and mildly dusty finish. This is really very pretty and fashioned in an understated style..." - Allen Meadows

2007 All-In Pinot: 90 points
"A very pretty and impressively complex nose features notes of ripe red berry fruit, plum and violet aromas that are trimmed in a discreet touch of wood and merge into rich, delicious and pure middle weight flavors that possess an appealing mouth feel before culminating in a sappy and nicely balanced finish... This should reward 3 to perhaps 5 years of cellar time." -- Allen Meadows

2007 Clone 05 Pinot: 91 points
"The oak, if not completely invisible, has largely been successfully absorbed and allows the pretty red and blue berry fruit aromas that are nuanced by violet and spice hints to shine. The detailed, fresh and solidly focused middle weight flavors are delicious as they offer good breadth and a finely balanced, dusty and sappy finish. ..." -- Allen Meadows

The San Francisco Chronicle reviewed their favorite 13 of more than 50 Mendocino County and Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs, and our 2007 Clone 05 Pinot was included in the favorites. They wrote: "The Charles family has quickly left its imprint with its new label. They isolated fruit from their Pommard clone and gave it extra oak. The result is smoky and heady, with allspice and cocoa accents on a dark-fruit base. Finessed tannins make it immediately drinkable."

Wine Enthusiast magazine will be awarding the 2007 Clone 05 Pinot Noir 90 points in the December 2009 issue!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Harvest 2009 Complete

We're finally finished with this vintage's harvest. As I said before, everything looks great. The last fruit to be brought in was the Semillon, which the family got together and crushed ourselves after night-picking the evening before (thank goodness with some help). Photos are below. And we're all uttering a collective sigh of relief.

Below: Inspecting Semillon fruit after bringing it into the winery that night
Above: Compacting the press load with VERY sanitized rubber boots

Below: Cleaning out the press after one load

Below: Pressure washing is a very large part of winemaking

Birthday Day Off

For my birthday this year I asked for a day off. (Sad, I know.) But about 3 weeks after my actual birthday, which falls mid-harvest here, I got that day off. Joe and I started out by renting kayaks at Big River, near Mendocino. This is a great place to kayak because it's a tidal estuary (or some such formation of those words). If you time it right, the tide will either effortlessly float you up the river, or back down. We floated up, paddled way too far, then struggled all the way back. It was a good arm and shoulder workout, that's for sure. Along the way we saw otters, birds, fish, and a bunch of bicyclists and a few other kayakers. We opted to not take any dogs, which I think was smart for our first visit. It was great (Catch a Canoe is the name of the company, located out of the Stanford Inn).

After kayaking and beating Joe at a kayak race, we changed in the parking lot, then went to Mendocino. We tasted at Breggo's new Mendocino tasting room, then caught a very early dinner at Cafe Beaujolais. Neither of us had been and the food was fantastic. The wine list was solid but brief. We finally selected a glass of Roederer L'Ermitage for starters and a half bottle of Skewis Pinot Noir for dinner. MMMmmmm...

We even made it home and into bed early. Yes, I must be getting old. ;)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

2009 Harvest at Charles Vineyard

Harvest 2009 is in mid-swing for the Charles Vineyard! So far we have picked Pommard Clone Pinot Noir for Schramsberg Vineyards and the Foursight 114,115,777 and Pommard. This past week we picked Papapietro Perry's fruit and some Pommard for Russian Hill. Tomorrow (Monday) and Tuesday PP's 114 Pinot Noir will come of the vine, as well as the Sauvignon Blanc for both Foursight and Navarro Vineyards. Whew!

It's an exciting and exhausting time of the year, especially with the tasting room. Let me tell you -- picking grapes at 6:00 a.m. then scurrying home to clean up and open the tasting room makes for a LONG day. But a good one.

Everything looks fantastic this year. Flavors were there from the beginning, the weather's been cool and even for the most part, so sugar progression is also steady. The only interesting thing about the 2009 fruit is that, in the earlier picks, there were still a few green berries hidden amongst some clusters. It was rare, but you'd have an entire ripe cluster with one green berry. The seeds would accordingly be green inside, but it wasn't common. To that end, we decreased the amount of whole clusters we're using by a bit, to accommodate increased tannins from green seeds and stems that were in some lots.

This weekend we had the tiniest of sprinkles and some dry lightning, which made everyone hold their collective breath. However, no fire issues, and not enough rain to really do anything.

In Anderson Valley, we're happy to report everything looking great so far.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Puppy Photos

I've been banking puppy photos in my camera, so I thought I'd post a few of the best while I'm blogging for the day.

Last week Joe and I had a day off! We took Ozzie to the beach for the first time. It was sunny and gorgeous in Elk, and he really loved wandering around and sniffing out everything, and I think he actually smelled everything. The first thing he brought back for us was a vertebrae of some animal, which we quickly buried back under the sand. That's typical Oz: the other morning we heard crunching from outside and he's laying in the front yard chewing on a cow skull that he found god-knows-where. A week before that he disappeared for an hour and came back with almost an entire deer carcass - skull, spine, ribs and one leg intact. UCK!

Gross stuff aside, he's pretty darn cute. Labs are growing on me.

Ozzie at the beach in Elk

Above: Ozzie looks like a bullfrog!


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Harvest 2009 Begins!

Here are some photos of the first 2009 pick, followed by my two cents:

We start as soon as we can see...

Above and Below: Picking!

Above: Nancy Charles taking photos of a hard day's work

Loading up the grapes after weighing

Dexter wants out

We harvested our first Pinot Noir grapes on Tuesday, for sparkling wine (Schramsberg Vineyards in Calistoga). After such a terrible growing season in 2008, we were looking forward to seeing how everything picked out this year. Overall, it's looking absolutely fantastic out there.

On Tuesday we assembled shortly after 6:00 a.m. and chatted while we waited for the sun. In another 15 minutes we were able to see enough to start picking. We had two crews, with myself my mother and two others riding on the tractors to sort and do quality control. The QC job consists of picking out leaves, sub-par fruit (hardly any) or any other MOG that gets into the bins. (MOG is material other than grapes.)

It was the crew's first pick of the season, so they were pumped up and picked extremely fast. It was hard to keep up on the bins, but we managed mainly by hardly ever looking up. I have to say, I have less photos from this first pick of the year than in the past, just simply due to a lack of time to stop and take a pause. Oh, and extremely sticky fingers with not enough time to wipe them off before applying them to electronic equipment.

We did have one calamity of the day: Just a few minutes into picking our tractor died in the middle of the row, hooked up to a trailer rapidly filling with grapes. It was on my mother's crew and apparently something happened with the fuel pump (I'm so not a mechanic). Anyway, the tractor was D-E-A-D, much to the chagrin of the crew. It had to be disconnected from the trailer and pulled out of the row, then another tractor was carefully backed down the row (not an easy thing to do) to replace it. All in all, it didn't put the guys back very long, but we do have a dead tractor to deal with before our next pick in a few weeks.

How did everything look for the start of 2009? Fantastic. We sent 18 tons to the winery that day. Crop levels are back to normal and the grapes taste a lot like they did in 2007 - even though they're not ripe enough for still wine yet they already have flavor. There have been a few years when we waited for flavors to come about before picking, but this year they're already there, much like in 2007. I have a funny feeling that this is going to be a fantastic Anderson Valley Pinot Noir vintage.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Welcome to Twitter

Today I joined Twitter. I said I wasn't going to do it, damn it! I don't have much time for Facebook updates and blog posts, let alone tweeting. The last thing I needed was to be on twitter via my cell all day long. ...

Well, I broke down. I was curious. I didn't have any customers... whatever. I joined. I know my age group, in general, loves this kind of stuff. And yes, it's pretty cool, I'll give you that, but it's exhausting! Between the winery 4 days a week and the Winegrowers Association the other three (plus a significant amount of overlap in each direction) I don't do days off. And I don't particularly have a "normal" desk job where I sit for 8 hours a day. So, I find it difficult to be good and disciplined about social networking. I guess that's why everything has a mobile app - my blackberry is one device that's stuck to me 24-7.

I think I'm going to try and teach my dog to twitter for me. Well, not the lab, but maybe Tet the border collie will get the hang of it. ... Here's to hoping.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New Zealand Rieslings - Our Favorites

Our biggest wine surprise in New Zealand were the Rieslings - beautiful wines that, given the very high acidities, tasted perfectly balanced with some residual sugar in the wines. Many wineries back-blended late-harvest Riesling into their earlier harvests to balance those acidities, which was a new technique for me.

Our favorite Rieslings came from the Marlborough region - most known for their Sauvignon Blancs.

Here are some tasting notes from our travels, scoring the Rieslings for their nose, mouth and finish. Joe's tasting system, developed many years ago, is quite simple. Each one of those elements (nose, mouth and finish) gets a score. If we like it, it gets a plus; if it's average, it gets a slash and if it's sub-par it gets a minus. Slight adjustments can be made upon second and later tastings (ie as the wine opens up in the glass).


Hawke's Bay (eastern north island - more known for big reds)

Vidal Marlborough Riesling 2008 -- $16/bottle
Score: /+/
This winery isn't in a region that's known for aromatic whites, so they sourced the fruit from Marlborough, in the south island. Beautiful in the mouth, but a little flat in the nose and short finish. Floral, lemon, citrus, etc. Great tasting experience and a fantastic restaurant attached. Great value for the price.

Martinborough (southern north island - known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay)

Martinbourough Vineyard Manu Riesling 2o08 -- $28/bottle
Score: /+/, changed to /++ upon later tasting
The Manu Riesling has approx. 25 g/L of residual sugar, with some botrytis influence, yet not sugary sweet. We wrote: "VERY DIFFERENT." You can taste the honeyed influence from botrytis yet the wine overall is not a late-harvest. Never had anything quite like this. We brought a bottle back to save for later consumption and I've been patiently keeping my hands off it until we feel it's fully rested from the trip.

Te Kairanga East Plain Riesling 2007 -- $21/bottle
Score: /+/
Has 2.6 g/L of sugar, a solid wine but again not as aromatic as we would have liked for a Riesling (maybe we're just spoiled in Anderson Valley).

Marlborough (northern south island -- known for Sauvignon Blanc)

Cloudy Bay 2005 Riesling -- $29.60
Score: Not scored - must have skipped a wine!
RS is very well hidden in this wine at 5.4 g/L - tasted more crisp and dry than expected - nice, delicate aromas and flavors. TA of 9.3 to 12.6 for the various pickings. The winery is separate from their vineyards - a gorgeous cellar door and restaurant attached (sadly the restaurant was closed the day we were there).

Fromm Riesling Spatlese 2007 -- $26
Score: ++/ and +++ upon second taste
The hands-down best Riesling producer alongside Framingham (below). This wine was one we had at the fantastic restaurant Martin Bosely's in Wellington. More Alsace-style than most - slight RS sweetness but very aromatic and gorgeously balanced.

Framingham 2004 Dry Riesling -- $25.90
Score: /++
Fermented 4 months on the lees, with a final pH of 3.0. Little flat in the nose, but definitely dry and crisp with good acidities.

Framingham 2007 Classic Riesling -- $20.90
Score: /++ to +++
Another gorgeous Riesling from this producer, with bracing acidity at 7.9 and a pH of 2.9! This producer doesn't talk RS, so we don't know the exact levels for the finished wines, although the Classic was less than the following Select Riesling. Only 11.5% alcohol.

Framingham 2007 Marlborough Select Riesling -- $30.90
Score: +++
This wine was definitely a step up on the RS chain, but still balanced with a baffling 9.1 TA and 2.75 pH! Two passes of picking are blended together to create this wine - this is one we're very interested in trying here at home. Alcohol of only 8.0%. Listed in the book 1,000 wines to try before you die.

Central Otago (southern south island -- known for Pinot Noir)

Peregrine 2005 Riesling -- $22
Score: /++
Bottle aged about an extra year, this wine had a beautiful mid-palate and finish - the nose didn't jump out of the glass, but not that many wines do in all actuality. Peregrine was one of the only architecturally designed wineries we visited - a gorgeous facility meant to look like the falcon it was named for. We preferred their Pinots, but did really like this Riesling and a few others.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Via Rocks

Of all the press we've gotten since we opened (Wine Spectator scores and Chronicle accolades, gold medals and mentions in area newspapers and magazines), one single, 1/2 page article has trumped them all. Earlier this summer I was in Via Magazine (the AAA travel magazine), speaking about traveling to Anderson Valley. There was a photo of me in the Charles Vineyard and my recommendations when visiting the area, along with a few mention of our winery -- Foursight Wines. Ever since that issue came out, I've had friends, family and strangers alike all saying the same thing: "Hey - I saw you in Via Magazine." That one article has probably brought more people to our tasting room than anything else. It's amazing. I do realize it's widely read and it's a well put together publication, but I never expected the response we've gotten. As I titled the post, Via rocks.

Click here to read the article.

Monday, August 10, 2009

SF Chefs.Food.Wine

Yesterday Joe and I did the first annual SF Chefs.Food.Wine event in the middle of Union Square, San Francisco. We arrived and parked at a parking garage about a block and a half away at 10:15 a.m. (oops - didn't realize there was a garage actually underneath Union Square). Doh! Anyway, we had pre-shipped our wines, so at least we were only lugging some printed materials, wine openers, etc. I had arranged for the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association to have a table split with Foursight and a SF-based AVWA members and local grape grower very nicely volunteered to help come pour at the AVWA table. Other wineries in attendance ranged from a small group of Anderson Valley producers to Napa, Sonoma, Livermore and New Zealand.

They tented most of the square, and had restaurants from the Bay Area lining the entire outside of the tent, with food that ranged from sushi to dessert. There was a demonstration area in the back (where we were), where they did cooking demos and cocktail competitions. They also had cookware, cocktail booths where margaritas and other drinks were being mixed up, and book signings by famous chefs. It was a cool set up, except for one thing: IT WAS 1,000 DEGREES INSIDE!!!

San Francisco was already in the 70's yesterday, and with all the ovens going and people everwhere we sweated behind our booth for a solid 5 hours! It was probably 90+ degrees in the tent, and the same humidity with all the cooking. That was absolutely miserable. I resorted to fanning myself with an Anderson Valley appellation map for most of the afternoon.

It would have been a great event to be a consumer at, albeit pricey at $125-150 a ticket. However, that ticket did include access to some seminars going on all around Union Square (AV producers were doing an Alsace-style white wines seminar at Farallon restaurant that we missed because we were packing up and too late to attend). We poured through an OK amount of wine (we've had more people at other events by far), but we did get to meet some really nice folks and got a chance to chat about our appellation and winery.

Overall, I'm not sure if we'll do it again, but every event is an experience, if nothing else. Due to the heat, we were so exhausted by the end of the day we rushed home to have tri-tip at the Ambulance Fundraiser, where it was cool!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wedding Photos

Wedding photos are much more difficult to wade through than honeymoon photos, alas. So, for now, here are a few of my favorite, more unusual snapshots from the big day:

Taking the ring bearer swimming after the blazing, 105-degree ceremony.

Celebrating with a 3-liter of Roederer Estate.

Check out those grapes!

What a great backdrop for the head table.

Honeymoon in New Zealand Photos

Friday, July 24, 2009

Back from the Land Down Under (well, the little one)

Joe and I just returned from our honeymoon trip to New Zealand. It's been a crazy last few months with the wedding (planned it ourselves), plus a 3-week trip all across the land of the Kiwis.

My recent lack of posts was purely selfish - a combination of being too busy and not wanting to touch the computer while we were on vacation except to deal with a few business e-mails we had to attend to. I felt pretty bare between no computer and no cell phone. Odd is this age to not be strapped to electronic devices all day, every day...

The wedding was amazing. Well, except for the fact that it was the second hottest day this year, other than the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival (Kristy doesn't get to pick any more important dates.) It went off with few hitches that I noticed, fortunately. Noticed is the key word here. We did have a power surge in the vineyard music for the ceremony and I walked up the aisle in complete silence, only one fist fight (I had no idea until the next day) and some break dancing. But otherwise, very civilized. :)

We spent all night visiting, dancing, and generally annoying our neighbors. The Foursight wines flowed and so did the Roederer Estate Brut. Mmmm... It was the biggest, loudest, and best party we've ever thrown and everyone seemed to have a great time. Mission accomplished.

More posts to come with photos and gorgeous snapshots of our time in New Zealand.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Pinot Report 91 points!

I have to admit it - we missed an accolade for our Pinot Noir! The Pinot Report gave our 2006 Charles Vineyard Pinot Noir 91 points in it's February issue this year. Unfortunately, that was around the same time as the Alsace Festival and we completely missed the issue. (oops) Anyway, yet another great score for this incredible wine. Too bad we don't have an endless supply. ;)

The Loss of a Friend

Life has been a twisty turny busy crazy ride here at Foursight Wines. On Monday, a good friend here in the valley died suddenly at work. He was only 48, and it shook all of us to our core. It reminded me that life is short and you better love what you're doing if you're spending 7 days a week in the office, because sending some routine e-mail could be your last moment in life. We'll all miss him very much.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Carnage After...

Pinot Festival last weekend was fantastic. And HOT. 95 or so at least on Saturday during the grand tasting. Two years in a row makes you believe in global warming. We had a few new wineries - LIOCO, Chronicle Wines, and Waits-Mast Family Cellars. I unfortunately only had a chance to try a few wineries, but I think overall a very strong group of wines and wineries this year.

On Sunday, May 17 (during the Pinot Festival) we had our grand opening here. We hired a local swing band, had antipasto platters, fruit, desserts, and a host of other foods. Many of our family friends came to help (thanks everyone!) and we originally were set up outside. By the time 11:00 a.m. rolled around it was already nearing 90 degrees, so we moved the party into the cellar.

For the rest of the day we ate, drank and made merry (well, those of us not working). It was an exhausting day, but well worth it. After three days of Pinot Festival, by this time I had moved on to a morning Red Bull. :)

Overall, our open house/grand opening was a huge success for us. We had hundreds of people through, evidenced by the racks and racks of glasses we had to wash throughout the day even though we rented extras in hopes that we wouldn't have to do dishes during the event. Sales were great, and we welcomed quite a few new wine club members into the family.

We were amazed that several groups told us we were one of the busiest tasting rooms in the valley on Sunday. Several of the older, better-known wineries were actually quite slow according to these visitors. I guess people were seeking out the new places to go and taste.

Now we're into memorial day weekend and it's busy again (a good thing). Joe and I are actually starting to plan our New Zealand honeymoon and are getting excited. On top of it, the summer growing season has commenced and the vines are starting to flower, so the cycle of activity begins again.

We love summer!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Countdown Begins

This is my last blog post until Pinot Fest (May 15-17) is over, so here's all the latest and greatest at Foursight:

- Our 2007 Sauvignon Blanc was just named one of the year's best in the June 2009 issue of Wine & Spirits Magazine. I'm amazed - between the 91 points, 90 points and editor's choice, gold medal and now year's best, this wine has rocked it. Especially for a white wine, where 90 points is general considered a bit of a glass ceiling. I know we love it, but we're apparently not the only ones.

- Our grand opening is next Sunday, May 17, so if you're in town please stop by and say hello. We're having food, wine of course, and maybe a few surprises. Hours are 10-5 at 14475 Hwy. 128 in Boonville. (707) 895-2889 or

- The Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival is a big event for us (and the rest of the valley). Even with a tough economy, our grand tasting has sold out yet again, so only a few events are still available.

For Foursight, it's when we debut our new wines, so look for our 2007 Pinots at the grand tasting on Saturday (at Goldeneye Winery). It will be interesting to see how a Pinot Festival is with a tasting room. My younger brother, Tim, is in today - learning the ropes. My brothers will be helping to man the tasting room next weekend, which the rest of us are busy running the event or pouring our wines. The only person who will be missing on Sunday will be Joe (sadly), as he has to help at the Londers' open house.

Until then, pull, pour and enjoy!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Beer Festival

This past weekend was the Boonville Beer Festival. Alas, Joe and I were working and couldn't go, but I have to applaud the people watching from the tasting room windows. It was pouring, and there were thousands of people camping at the fairgrounds (right across the road) or down at the brewery. On Saturday morning we watched them walking in the rain to the fairgrounds. Many were smart and brought boots and rain jackets and hats (which scared Ozzie to death), but there were many others walking around in soaking wet sweatshirts and jeans. Fun...

There were quite a few beers in-hand starting at about 11 a.m. I thought it was amusing that all the pre-lubrication was from cans of beer that came out of ice chests, not the local bottles from the brewery (cheap beer to start the morning off right). By the time the festival had been going for a few hours, we started to see sheriff's cars with people in the back. They'd drive north empty and south full. Making laps to the Ukiah jail.

Taps were closed at 5 p.m. and the gates closed at 6 p.m. We were supposed to go to a party at my brother's in Cloverdale that evening, but after watching the stream of cars heading out of the valley (with some very questionable drivers), we decided to stay home.

It always amazes me the difference between something like a beer or reggae festival and our wine festivals. You just simply don't see sheriff's cars full of people being arrested at a wine festival. People don't pee on the side of the downtown restaurants or pitch tents anywhere there's an open space, someone else's front lawn or not. At last year's reggae festival we even had people bathing in the spigot where our tasting room is now. And the sheriff's department gets notice of all events because we have to pay for permits to hold them, which need to be signed off on by local law enforcement. You don't exactly see the sheriff's department sending five cars to hang out outside the Pinot Festival, whereas they were definitely all over town for the beer festival.

A different crowd, definitely, but more importantly, a different mentality. And, interestingly enough, the people we had in the tasting room this weekend weren't here for the beer festival. We did have a few groups in and we charged a tasting fee for those just wanting to go through wine flights before drinking beer all day, but the majority of visitors on this busy weekend were going to or coming from Mendocino - the normal procedure.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Colds and Stories

Finally have given up the hope that I have allergies and have given into having a cold. Not much fun this time of year, when the weather's gorgeous and the grass is green and my horses are looking very eager to get out and go on a ride. sigh...

On a good front, though, we just had a professional photographer out just last week. One set of photos (which I hope feature little Tet the McNab) were for Via Magazine - the June/July issue. I was interviewed as the executive director of the Anderson Valley Winegrowers and the Q&A will be about visiting Anderson Valley.

The second set of photos that were taken that day were of me holding our pyrometer (temperature gun) and measuring our Sauvignon Blanc for Practical Vineyard & Winery (also a summer issue). We're going to be featured in an article about wine temperature as we're the first winery use a pyrometer (normally for mechanics to monitor the temperature of various engine and other parts) on our wines.

Serving temperature and wine is amazingly important. Joe and I always say you can tell a good white wine when you can drink it at room temperature and like it, but that doesn't necessarily mean it wouldn't taste better at cellar temperature. For instance, we've found we like our Sauvignon Blanc at 55-60 and our Pinots at 65-68. With the pyrometer we can assure that temperature anywhere we go.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pre-Summer Sale

Just for our mailing list and blog followers, we're now doing a special pre-summer sale to celebrate the almost 90-degree weather we're having! (Amazing.)

From now through April 30, 2009 we're offering free shipping with at least 6 bottles of our 91-point, 2007 Anderson Valley Sauvignon Blanc in your cart. That means free shipping on everything you order, plus at least the 10%, 6-bottle discount.

We also just learned that Wine & Spirits Magazine will be naming this same Sauvignon Blanc one of the year's 10 best in an upcoming summer issue. And, with warm weather like we're having, this wine rocks. It's been flying out of the tasting room.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone! The Charles family got together this morning for ham, eggs and homemade biscuits with homemade raspberry jam - a family tradition that dates back to my grandmother from the Dakotas (on my father's side). They only thing we were missing were the mimosas, which weren't needed after last night's Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir tasting. :)

My two brothers - Matt and Tim - and Matt's girlfriend Joann all joined us for Easter dinner last night, along with friends Rose and Gary. Joe decided that we are too busy to plan a formal tasting so he brown-bagged five Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs from 2006 for us to taste.

This was the consistently best flight of wines that we've tasted blind. Truly all impressive in their own right. I had only two wines that I thought were a little less impressive - one because it needed at least a few more years in bottle to tame the acids, and the other because I got an impression of stemminess from it. I have to hand it to the Sonoma Coast - a region I area like Anderson Valley - I always find something that I like there. (What, did you think we just drank Anderson Valley all the time?)

Here were the wines and how I ranked them:
1. Landmark Grand Detour Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir - I was seduced by the Pinot funk in the nose. I don't know how Eric does it, but he does it every time. I found the rest of the wine (mouth and finish) on-par with the others, but it was the funk that stood out.
2. Kosta Browne Kanzler Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir -- Because of the much higher percentage of new oak it seemed so much more ready to drink than the others. The only minus was that the alcohol was 14.9%, which is not the highest Pinot I've had by far, but because it was so much higher than the other wines in the flight (as such that stood out). Altogether a very nice wine, although normally out of my price range at about $65 a bottle.
3. Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir -- A very nice, elegant wine, but needed several more years to soften the acids up. Lean and mean was my description for the mouth, but balanced and some pretty fruit in the nose.
4. Roessler La Brisa Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir -- Muted in the nose right now but overall a nice mouth, with soft fruit and a moderate finish. Would have been higher had the nose been there.
5. Alesia Chileno Valley Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir -- At first whif I got asparagus and all kinds of green veggies out of this wine, but also in the mouth, which leads me to believe it's due to the 100% whole cluster fermentation. Simple stems. Was more subdued upon returning to the wine later in the evening. (This is Rhys' appellation wine brand.)

Hope your Easter weekend is as good as ours!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Real Life in a Tasting Room

It's only our second weekend open, which means that all our friends and family trickled in the first weekend and now we're seeing a few familiar faces, a few other winery owners to "check the place out" and a decent amount of random people we've never met. It's great, but we're definitely not slam-packed just yet.

Here's how my day goes:
- get up and complain to Joe about having to get up 7 days a week for something
- feed horses, the cat, the two dogs, then me
- get pretty (generic term for presentable to the public)
- choose clothes that haven't been near a horse in the last year
- go to the tasting room
- go back to the house (because I forgot something - it's inevitable)
- go back to the tasting room, unlock the doors and start stocking up on wine glasses, putting out our signs, and opening wine and checking the bottles for corkers (none yet)
- put on eclectic music for my own enjoyment, then change to something a little less random upon opening time
- scamper about cleaning and getting ready
- CHAOS or YAWN (depending on the day). If yawn, watch Ozzie the puppy sleep and work on the laptop (go blog posts!). If chaos, call in reinforcements (the mom and pops).
- do most steps already listed in reverse and go home and try and will dinner to appear by itself

To be honest, though, it's a lot of fun to be able to pour your own wines for people and get their reactions. When I first graduated and came back from Europe, I desperately needed a job and started working in a Napa tasting room. It was a great experience that I'm grateful for but some of the wines were only drinkable with 7Up and a few ice cubes. It's WAY different presenting a wine you farmed, picked and made - and love. And it's a lot of fun to try and guess what people will like - individuality of palates is an amazing thing.

So, as I round out the last hour of my work day, I'm listening to some Bob Marley (it's Mendocino County - reggae is VERY not random), debating whether I should actually join the twitter world (yes I'm a millenial but my god I don't think I have the time) and just heard a car pull up. Off to work!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tasting Room Opening

Photos from our first day of tasting! We amazingly had a few random group, even without advertising, and of course lots of friends!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

And we're off!!!

We just got it - our official approval to open the tasting room. So we'll be open starting this Friday. Our hours will be Fri-Mon, 10-4:30! HOORAY! We've only been working on this since 2006, so you can understand we're absolutely elated. Wish us luck or come visit us - or both, preferably.

Great new find - red wines

On Sunday my parents, Joe and I did a little Yorkville Highlands tasting and discovered what we believe to be one of the best-kept secrets of our area: Pendleton Estate. They are on Highway 128, not too far from the Cloverdale side, and produce some fantastic Cabs, Zinfandels and red blends from grapes like Grenache and Mourvedre. Yum! And the pricepoints are more than fair ($17-35 for most of the wines). My parents even signed up to the wine club during our visit, which says a lot.

The reason why we went is actually a bit funny. When they were building their French chateau on the hill, I bet everyone that it would be a winery. No one believed me - not a single person. Well, I won, and I'm very glad I did. Check them out at

Monday, March 23, 2009

Big Cold

Last night was our first frost night of the growing season. Our tiny little buds are just beginning to peak out here and we got down to 27 degrees - not a good combination. So, about 11 p.m. (VERY, VERY EARLY for it to be that cold), on went the sprinklers! This morning we awoke to a vineyard covered in frost and ice, although not quite as dramatic as last year's icicles (see below for the 2008 winter vineyard wonderland).

I think the hardest part about it is that, in most cases, the vines don't exactly have indicators of damage. They don't have leaves this time of year (the leaves are in the tiny buds), so it's not like a house plant where you see wilting or discoloration and you know the plant's not happy. Their roots are feet below the soil (and a permanent cover crop, which we keep to allow beneficial insects in our vineyard and to cut down on vigor), so no clues there. In really bad cases of severe frost, all those little buds will just fall completely off and all that year's growth to-date is lost. For anything bad but not that severe, what we mostly see is a decreased crop load and that's not evident until much later in the season. So, as a grape grower, roll the dice and hold your breath! And we'll be hoping for a mild spring - I think everyone (my father especially) could use one.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Still Waiting...

We had hoped to have the Foursight tasting room officially open this weekend. As you can tell because I'm in front of my computer right now instead of pouring wine, that didn't exactly work out for us.

Unfortunately, our final paperwork didn't go through in time for the weekend. So Joe and I find ourselves with a rare weekend off, after scrambling all week to try and prep the tasting room for our soft opening. I took the week off from my day job and have been making tasting sheets, laminating materials, trying to get some photos framed, washing wine glasses - you name it. You learn in the wine business to be very patient (or to pretend to be at the very least). We deal with state, federal and local governments offices so there's a lot of waiting and signing and fees and then some more waiting. Right now we're in the final waiting period. Hopefully we'll get some good news next week.

So what do we do with our first few days off in months? Today Joe's playing frisbee golf with some friends that had planned to come up for our first weekend (at the AV brewery - a great course). I'm doing taxes (hooray!) and making our grand opening party postcard. Yeah, I should have gone to play frisbee gold and drink beer. Tomorrow I think we'll try and taste through some of the Yorkville Highlands wineries that we have yet to visit. Weekends around here, even if they are technically off, involve some fixing of broken things in our 30-year-old house (toilets leak, septic systems malfunction - you name it) and cleaning. Lots of cleaning. Such is life, right?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Puppies and Weddings

Ozzie is growing, growing, growing. Today he's spending his first day with my parents in the vineyard - lowering and raising wires. After we prune we have to reset the wires (they keep the foliage going straight up during the growing season). The bottom wires get pushed down and the top wires up to the very top. This is because the foliage starts out small and grows rapidly and it's easier to match the wires to the foliage as it grows than visa versa.

Look at thos paws - he's going to be BIG.

Bob and Pam, Joe's parents, made us an arch for our wedding this summer, which after pruning we wrapped with canes from our vineyard. It's gorgeous after a little decoration and we're going to use it in the tasting room landscaping after the wedding. Joe and I have also finally booked our honeymoon tickets to New Zealand, so now we just have to plan the rest of the trip. Three weeks, both islands - paradise! Although we will be wearing long johns because it will be winter. On the upside, we'll get some skiing in.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A return to normalcy

Things are just now beginning to get back to normal in our lives here. The Alsace Festival went as well as can be expected for any large, consumer event. We had some snafus (like the coffee vendor being an hour and a half late on Saturday morning, and believe me, when farmers and winemakers don't get their morning coffee by 8 a.m., they're not happy). We had some press juggling and other items that kept me busy (and exhausted) but everyone who was able to just pay for the ticket and go had a fantastic time and didn't see any of the chaos behind the scenes.

The building was gorgeous (see below - these were taken before we let anyone in so you can actually see the set-up) and it didn't rain the day of the grand tasting, so that made us all happy. Overall, we barely saw the effects of the poor economy - our attendance numbers just about held to last year's, so I consider that to be a good thing given people's lack of expendable income.

On the home front, this week is my week to catch up on all the tasting room preparations that I've been putting off: ordering sandwich signs, getting some printed materials prepped, ordering boxes and bags, and many other items. I kind of forgot to date an important document amidst event craziness (oops), so our tasting room has been pushed back about a week - we'll be opening the doors in late-March, not mid-March. I'll announce the date when we get there - I'm now afraid to commit to anything because the ABC makes you start your 30-day waiting period all over again every time they find something not exactly right. It's a frustrating process, but we're getting there...

In other news, we're still getting a lot of rain and our pond is nearing full, so we should be able to irrigate and harvest a crop this year. Just a minor thing. :) We also finished pruning for the year - sorry there aren't any photos but I actually didn't have the time to help this time. I was stuck in the office. And finally, Bill and Nancy Charles are off to pour at the World of Pinot Noir this weekend, so please stop by and say hi if you plan to attend. They'll be at the grand tasting on Sunday in Shell Beach.

Until next time...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Puppy Photos

It's raining, raining, raining here and I'm stuffing nametags for the Alsace Festival this weekend and listening to Lily Allen (her first CD was better). Anyway, here are some puppy photos to tide everyone over. The last one was taken just a few minutes ago. As you can see, Oz is a pretty chill guy.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

February Sucks

Yes, I admit it - February sucks. There's a reason my parents always vacation this month. Granted, the current attempt at rain is pathetic and nowhere near the amount we need to be able to irrigate our grapes, but because it hasn't been raining, it's been FREEZING. I come down to my office in the morning, crank the heater to 70 and it takes 5 hours to get it to bearable. My fingers have been cramping up because of the cold all morning.

The new puppy, Oz, is getting big enough to jump on furniture, which is a joy (rolling of eyes) - he's already learning how to intimidate the UPS man from the other two. Although he's the only one that will eat the cookies he tosses at them. Actually, the only thing I've found the little guy doesn't eat is orange peels. At least he draws the line somewhere. :) He's making progress on the collar, though - no more running into walls head-first.

As Alsace Festival nears, my blog posts will continue to be a bit thin. However, the bright spot in all this is that we'll be opening our tasting room the second weekend in March, knock on wood and barring any unforeseen circumstances. Wish us luck, per usual.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Life Before Alsace

We're now officially over a week with our new puppy. Sleep is lacking but he's awfully cute so it mostly makes up for the middle of the night bathroom breaks. On the bright side, at least he warns us now before he has to do some numbers (you know, 1 and 2). He also sits and comes to us, especially if you're holding anything resembling food.

One small problem we're having is that he hates his collar. Every time we put it on he goes berserk and runs into a wall. It would be funny if we weren't so scared about him damaging his developing brain by running head first into the baseboard heater. So I'm trying small doses when we're outside (not that many walls or large objects to run into out there). Yikes.

Things are quiet on the winery front. We'll be bottling our 2008 Sauvignon Blanc in early March, so we're proceeding with finishing that up. We have a pouring for our SF Chronicle medals at the end of February, followed by the World of Pinot in early March. Every day I eagerly check the mail for our government paperwork so we can get started on what we need to open the tasting room. Nothing yet...

It's another gorgeous day here today, which makes us all very angry. Thank goodness rain is in the forecast because grapegrowers around the state are looking at probable water shortages for their vineyards. It's estimated that, in our area, if we don't get 15 inches by summer irrigation season that many vineyards won't have enough water to get a crop. That means that growers and wineries with vineyards are purchasing crop insurance this year with a "loss of irrigation" clause. It means that at least they'll be getting some money in return when they can't irrigate and don't get any fruit to sell. It's scary, so everyone please do your best rain dance for us. We need it desperately.

The only upside to something like this happening is that, yet again, wine production will be down in California. Small productions = scarcity = at least stable prices in this economy. That won't make up for the lack of wine to sell, but at least prices won't have to take a nosedive like the rest of the economy.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tasting Room Photos

Here they are! Tasting room and winery photos. My father and everyone who worked with him did an absolutely amazing job. The building is gorgeous as is the interior. We were worried about it coming out too Tuscan-looking on the inside, but I think we avoided that cliche. Altogether, it looks amazing.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


The tasting room just got its final inspection and it's officially ready to occupy! Now in the wine industry that means nothing. If we were selling office supplies we'd already be in there selling product. We have to have approval from two government agencies now to be able to operate in the building. Then we have to post our intent to sell alcohol sign for 30 days. THEN we can truly get open. So for all of you actually following our progression to being open, it's soon! I won't name a date because then inevitably something will happen. But once we get all posted and ready to go I'll let everyone know.

Anyway, we chose a name for our little pup. After long deliberation we decided to go with Ozark (or Oz/Ozzie for everyday use). Thanks for the suggestions - it was a tough one but we're fanatical about everything having a story behind it and this way it's pretty clear where this guy comes from (yes, the Ozark Mountains run through Arkansas). :)

As I keep promising, tasting room photos to come very soon. We've been peeling up the protective cardboard off the floors and doing more and more clean-up each and every day.

Monday, January 26, 2009

New Puppy!

Joe and I got a new puppy yesterday! He's a black lab/pointer mix from Arkansas that was at the Willits Animal Shelter. Apparently labs are a huge problem in the South and are overflowing shelters, so they fly litters of puppies out here to try and adopt. We had been thinking about getting a tasting room and winery dog for quite a while (and one not quite as obsessive and work-oriented as our McNabs). So when our friends Mike and Rachael got a puppy from the same litter, we jumped on it.

He's very sweet, very big, and is black with some white speckled patches that must come from the pointer. We've had him since yesterday afternoon and he hasn't had any accidents or chewed anything he's not supposed to. I'm shocked. :) (Yeah, an hour after writing this I'd find out that wasn't true. Ah, puppies...)

Anyway, now we need your help - this guy was temporarily named Bubba, but I'm not sure we want to strap him with that for the rest of his life. He is going to be a big boy, but take a look at these photos and send me your suggestions for what we should name him. We've been talking about Ozark (Oz or Ozzie for short), Beau (from Beauregard, because he's a Southern gentleman y'all), Bacchus (greek god of wine) and a few others.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Trim and Pruning

I apologize for the lack of blog posts during the past week, but we've been doing the 7 days a week thing again - working our day jobs during the week and spending our weekends working on the tasting room. It's quite amazing how close it's getting to finished.

Last weekend we stained windows (no easy feat when they're 25 feet in the air) and trim pieces, and this week they all went up. We actually have two functioning toilets and one functioning sink, with a tasting bar to come in the next week or so. We had originally hoped to have all our paperwork submitted and post our "intent to sell alcoholic beverages" sign this week so we could be open for the Alsace Festival in February. No luck there - we just couldn't make it happen that soon.

Rosemary and lavender are about the only plants that can survive our frosty and wet winters, so we'll soon have the beginnings of landscaping outside. We've also been working on the parking lot - digging trenches for dividers and scheming on how to separate parking spaces.

In other family news, the parents will be going to Australia on a nice vacation in the near future. It's their second trip, so they're going to do the Margaret River region this time. As I just mentioned, the Alsace Festival is February 21-22 (see more info at It's a great event and I encourage everyone to think about attending (we'll all be there), butit also means that I'm close to full-time with the winegrowers association until it's over. Joe's working away at Londer and we're slowly bringing the wedding pieces together. We're still working on a DJ, but other than that most of the major bookings are done.

In Foursight news, our 2006 Charles Vineyard Pinot Noir just received a double gold medal from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition! And, to make it even better, our 2007 Sauvignon Blanc got a gold medal! We're stoked.

I'll post tasting room photos soon, but figured you've all seen a toilet before so I'm going to wait a few more days for additional progress. :)

Monday, January 5, 2009

2008 in Recap

It seems like everyone feels a need to reflect upon the past year when we finally hit a new one. I understand why - it makes us feel like we've accomplished something, we can take pause and reflect upon the important events (good and bad), and we can take some lessons from all the things we F&^%ed up in the past 12 months. :)

Instead of rehashing our crazy past year, which has been amazing and surreal, I'm going to give y'all some insight into what we have going on in the next one. It's my new tradition. I have no New Year's resolutions for 2009, only the fond hope that I make it through this coming year unscathed and with my sanity.

1) Opening our tasting room (after suitably stocking it with supplies, moving our office, etc., etc.)
2) Throwing a huge opening party to coincide with the AV Pinot Fest, which Kristy is in charge of (both of them, actually)
3) Kristy and Joe planning a wedding and getting married on-site
4) Releasing our 2007 Pinots and 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, plus our 2007 late-harvest
5) Anxiously awaiting scores, reviews and awards, per usual
6) Pouring at the World of Pinot, possibly the SF Chronicle tasting, the AV Pinot Fest, and several more throughout the summer and fall
7) Canceling all our weekend plans so we can pour wine for visitors (yes, we're mostly excited about this one)
8) Installing landscaping all around the tasting room and winery
9) Trying to figure out how we deal with drunk crowds during the beer fest and fair (both of which are literally across the street from us)
10) Bill and Nancy going to Australia, Kristy and Joe honeymooning in New Zealand
11) All of us working day jobs

The list could go on and on. Either way, Happy 2009. Come visit us when you have a chance.

How we spent the New Year

How did we spend the first few days of 2009? I have one word for you: PAINTING. We painted on January 2, we painted on January 3 and we painted on January 4. We have neck cramps, back spasms, and shoulder aches. We're taking horse-sized aspirin, and it was completely worth it.

Joe, my brother Matt, my father, my mother and myself all painted the Foursight Wines tasting room and winery this past week. It was fun until we reached the ceiling (I have no idea how tall the thing is but I have to say that we could barely reach it with a roller on a pole, standing on scaffolding Bill persuaded the sheetrockers to leave for us.) We painted the tasting room oyster with one accent wall of Mochernut (tee-hee) suede paint by Ralph Lauren. Seriously - it looks like suede. Altogether the tasting room looks like a mocha with foam on the top - I want to eat it (or, er, drink it) every time I go in there. The winery's antique white - pretty standard.

There's something so very final about painting walls. Even though there are no toilets, sinks, furniture, lights or really much of anything else, it feels almost finished because it's painted. Big illusion, yes, but it makes me feel like any day now we'll just pop open the doors and start doing business. I'm sure that will be true before we know it.

Happy New Year!!!