Friday, June 25, 2010

We Got Fourth - That 'Aint Bad!

The results from the San Francisco Bay List competition are in, and Foursight got fourth place for Best Anderson Valley Winery! Now, given that we've had our tasting room up and running for just over a year, I think that's pretty darn good. That's also out of 11 nominees, including some very well established wineries in the area.

Thanks to everyone who voted for us!! We love you! Too see the results (and those who we're going to overtake next year, evil laugh!), click here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

We Survived!

Yesterday was the last day of the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival -- the second of these festivals that we've been open for. This is a weekend-long reggae and world music festival attracting thousands of very colorful people to our small town. The streets are parked up, people with dreadlocks and more colors on together than I have in my entire closet walking around, and the intermittent smell of fried foods and weed wafts through town.

I do enjoy reggae - it's nice to open up the winery windows on a nice weekend and listen to the music. And I don't begrudge anyone the right to come enjoy a 3-day concert and have a good time. However, the presence of several thousand new-age hippes and reggae enthusiasts makes for terrible business, and that's when I begin to feel like the curmudgeonly full-time resident of a tourist town.

They serve great food inside the fairgrounds, along with beer and wine. Therein lies a problem -- our local restaurants do a terrible business during the weekend because festival attendees eat and drink inside and locals don't go out in Boonville because there's no place to park. Wineries here in town sell little wine because who wants to pack a bottle around and have it sit at your campsite in the summer sun? But plenty of people want to taste - only if it's free, of course. And the music's good, but when 1 a.m. comes along and your bed is vibrating with the drums, then it's not so fun anymore.

There are always exceptions to the rule, but it's an interesting study in human behavior and a chance for us to decide if it's worth being open next year or if we should close on Sunday so we can enjoy Father's Day too. Chances are we might. But for right now I'm sighing in relief because, so far, no one's vomited in the bathroom (yes, that happened last year), and I see cars streaming out of town in long lines. That means that tomorrow morning I can actually get a dark chocolate mocha at Mosswood without waiting in line for an hour (vendors shut down last night). Hooray!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Fruit Trees

This morning I did a quick lap around the back of the winery, where the original homesteaders planted their fruit trees. I was curious to see what fruit we might actually get after all the cold and rain this spring.

This property was a sheep ranch, and people planted things that they could eat, plus just a few pretties like rose bushes. We have a fig tree that we relocated when we built the winery, several apple trees (including one that's hollow but still produces!), walnut trees, a loquat, wild plums, a quince bush, a peach tree and blackberries of course, which grow wild here.

The homesteaders made a lot of jam from the quinces and used the skins and seeds to produce pectin to firm up jellies and other items (quinces are very high in pectin, which is why it's fairly easy to make things like quince paste from them). The walnuts and apples are fairly self-explanatory, but I have no idea what they could have done with the loquat.

So, with a little research, here's what I found out about loquats: native to China, also high in pectin, can be eaten raw or cooked into jellies, sauces or desserts. So the pectin thing makes sense, but it still seems an odd choice for this area. I mostly hate the tree for its giant leaves that dry up, fall off, and accumulate right where I have to sweep them up every day - namely right by the front door of the tasting room!

Our winter garden just starting taking off, so I expected to not see much fruit on the trees. I was mostly wrong. Every tree but one apple and the fig has at least a small amount of fruit on it. The loquat has a few fruits, but I never seem to catch them at the right time and so have never done anything with them. The fig is disappointing as I love to roast them and make fig and feta pizza - maybe they'll be later this year? The wild plums always have fruit, but nature gets most of it.

Wild plums are pretty fascinating in themselves. Here's what the Web says about them: " The wild plum is one of nature's rarest and most unique fruits. It grows at the edges of Oregon, California and Nevada's northern high desert at altitudes between 4000 and 7000 feet. Here it tolerates great extremes of heat, cold, alkaline soils, and drought. In its native state, the wild plum grows on a large bush five to six feet tall. The fruit is similar to a cherry in size and has a distinctive tart flavor. The Indian tribes of this area gathered the ripe fruit and dried it for winter to garnish their wild fowl and game."

Well, I can tell you that Boonville is not in any of the areas that these are supposed to grow, but we have three or four trees here that either have red or yellow fruits when ripe. They are tart, yes, and the birds always seem to get most of them the second they ripen (they just know, I swear!). But they are pretty delicious even though the fruit is too small and the pit too big to do anything but dry or eat raw. I would imagine those same birds probably brought these here originally.

I feel lucky to have all these great trees here on the property. They feel like a gift because they just take care of themselves for the most part. They're dry-farmed and organic by neglect, but we get to at least enjoy a small bounty every year from them, and I'm sure 100 years ago the residents felt much the same. We've only owned this property since 1950, so we're relative newcomers. :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Comments in Other Languages

I've been getting a lot of comments on this blog in other languages, especially Asian languages that I definitely have no hope of reading or translating. Now, while I appreciate that people (or spammers, perhaps!) are taking the time to submit a comment, I can't in all honesty post those comments as I don't know what they say. It's the same reason why, when t-shirts with Chinese letters became really popular when I was in high school, I didn't buy them. They could have said "I'm a dumb American and I suck" for all I knew. Just my personal thing. So, I apologize to anyone who has commented and had comments rejected. I hope you understand.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Party at Foursight!

Here are the promised photos of the Foursight Open House at the AV Pinot Festival last month. We hired a band, made a TON of delicious food, and started popping corks! That day we debuted our 2009 Dry Gewurztraminer and previewed the 2008 Zero New Oak Pinot, which had a great reception (several groups begged us to purchase bottles that day, even though we had to tell them no as we won't be releasing the wine for months.)

We estimate that we hosted a few hundred people that day, plus kids and plenty of dogs of all kinds. This party also serves as a pick up event for our 3-Bottle wine club, so it's great that we can both meet new people and visit with our old friends.

The day ended with entertainment by Ozzie the labrador, when he dug up a golpher from the back lawn and flipped it in the air for all to see! We were a bit embarrased, but several customers got out their video cameras. I'll be searching the internet to see if Ozzie's golpher-catching video went viral! You can't say that dog doesn't have a talent...

We're looking forward to the next party in October! We'll announce the date when we have it on the calendar.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Harpin' Boont

Here's a youtube video posted by a very nice travel writer, Jules Older, that features Bill Charles, Nancy Charles and myself talking about Boontling! Of course, the star of the show is long-time valley resident Wes Smoot, who my father helped track down for the story.

Boontling, for those who don't know, is a language invented here in Anderson Valley years and years ago. Only a handful of people still speak it fluently. My father can tell some mean nursery rhymes and speak some full sentences, whereas my brothers and I can only really translate words and small phrases.

There is one side note that I always tell people - this language is chock full of sexist, racist and otherwise non-politically correct words. You have to think about the times that it was invented during. Of course, there are also plenty of words for every day items and tasks, and a lot of ranching and farming lingo as those were the big games back then.

There are a few things in the valley still named in Boontling, but, honestly, it's mostly by brightlighters (outsiders from the city) who come here and think it's cute to name things in Boontling. We did name our wine club Eight High, but I think we have the four-generation history here to do it justice. (See the full meaning of Eight High and wine club details here.)

The morning this was filmed I was dealing with a sick horse, so excuse the lack of make-up and thank goodness he didn't film my nasty clothes! I did say he was nice, right?