Friday, June 20, 2008

What!? You mean it's only been a month?

Sorry, I didn't mean to drag on for so long without an update.

We are making what should pan out to be a cool climate (Mendocino or Santa Barbara) Syrah, that incorporates a small amount of Viognier. We are researching vineyards to find out who has the best track record for good picking practices and high quality, properly ripened fruit. Most of the initial wine plan decisions were made on the basis of waiting for the fruit to emerge and show us how to treat it.

The Thursdays at Crushpad have been nothing short of a stinking riot. A little soul food (Hard Knox Cafe!) before hand and in depth, unpretentious wine learning during have turned this into quite the social club.

Yes, the wine plan will be posted soon. No, I haven't received my economic stimulus check (thank you George Bush and the wonderfully competent crew at the IRS.) Its looking like I am going to have to come out of pocket for this one. You are all still invited to participate: the group is Calling All Cali Syrahs, we will need help in coming months for things like names, labels, manual labor :).

I will post as soon as the wine plan is available online.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Let's make some damn wine!

If you have been within earshot of me over the last few days, you will see the title of this post becoming a regular theme. Crushpad is the best thing to happen to wine in a long time, and I am happy to have an opportunity to partake in it. As I said in my last post, I am going to use this as a launchpad for my crushpad project. I have a new link for you. Crushnet hosts group pages for everybody making wine. Check out our group: Calling All Cali Syrahs, and while you are there, join up and help us make some wine!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Crush This!

After an extended vacation from the Internets, I am ready to give this another go-round. It's incredible how difficult writing is when you aren't on the computer all day.

Early next month, I will be joining a group of friends on a winemaking journey that I expect to span at least 2 years. Since my initial introduction to Crushpad, I have met some wonderful people and an almost overwhelming passion for winemaking. I will be using this blog to document the progress of the project (in addition to Crushnet).

First things. . .
The concept is a co-fermented (meaning that grapes of different varietal will be combined prior to fermentation, and fermented together to more completely encourage the integration of flavor and aromatics) Syrah/Viognier. This concept was initially (and still best) realized in the northern Rhone district, Côte-Rôtie, where they typically add 3% - 5% Viognier to Syrah. Viognier is a full-bodied white grape that is prized for its intensely floral, honeyed aromatics. Syrah is a grape that rivals all other "noble" varieties in that, it is not only intensely flavorful and capable of producing massive wines, it is a grape that benefits greatly from its terroir, or taste of place. The addition of Viognier to Syrah helps to elevate the aromatics (Syrah, typically offering intense, deep earth, bacon, blueberry, and spice notes) with springish notes of honeysuckle, orange blossom, and white pepper. The combination can yield wines that not only age well, but offer a killer palate experience.

Ideally, I would like to see the wine spend 16-18 months in 16.7-20% new French oak. This will allow the wine to fully mature without taking on too much toasty oak character or excessive spice characteristics. Crushpad has an ingenious method of incorporating new oak staves into an otherwise older barrel, allowing single-barrel productions to benefit from a controlled level of new oak. There will be sessions for wine planning, in which all parties involved will be invited, if not encouraged to attend and offer their feedback on the direction of the wine.

To wrap today, I just want to say that I am incredibly excited to begin this journey and look forward to all of the connections that I am sure to make over the course of this process. I am very much a believer in the "living wine" and feel like this experience will draw us together like not many other things can. I will also do my bet to keep up with this blog, so if you need info, shoot me an email or a comment and kick my butt into gear. I also want to encourage eveyone making wine with this project to start thinking of a name as well as attending the Crushpad tasting seminars, hosted by the immortal Stu. Cheers.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Wine and Blackjack

Wine bars are like Blackjack tables. If you play at the $1 tables, you have to sit with the $1 crowd. If you want to sit with players, you have to go to tables that aren't crowded with Clowns.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Shitty Bartenders are the Worst People on Earth.

Yeah, that's right. . .bad bartenders, they're the devil. The bartender is charged with a great responsibility. . .to ensure that I can gladly justify paying exponentially-inflated alcohol costs by consuming it on their premises. Tonight was not the case.

There is a new wine bar on Polk Street, and it's a neat looking place. Mirrored glass, dark-wood and black leather bar, wine buyer with an adventurous palate. Tonight however, was an experience. I usually reserve my nights out to correspond to Dash's nights off, tonight was an exception. Dash was in a seminar and I was left to my own devices. So my initial thought was, "I can spend $15 on dinner at the local eatery, or I can stop in to this new wine bar and spend that $15 on a flight of wines," conveniently offered tonight, because business is traditionally slow.

Getting cash is always an issue, so I went to Walgreens and, expecting to taste through a few red wines, bought a bag of Lindt truffles and got cash back, instead of doing the convenient thing and getting cash at the ATM next door. Turns out, if you ever buy chocolate to taste next to wine, DO NOT, under any circumstances offer it to any member of the opposite sex. . .even if you mean well.

My observation of this evening is nothing less than this: women under the age of 65 that wish to congregate and drink wine should do so outside of a 50 foot radius of similarly aged males doing the same. . .because they just don't get along. Please don't misunderstand: I am all for people falling in love over too many drinks, or even just making a few bad decisions. . .but there is a time and a place. At 6:30 on a Tuesday night, it shouldn't be automatically assumed that I am attempting to bed the woman sitting next to me.

Anyway, I'm getting bored with this rant. Needless to say, this apathetic bartender did nothing to create an atmosphere conducive to anything that I was looking for, and left me feeling penalized for daring to venture into the "realm of social alcohol without the aid and protection of my girlfriend." Honestly?! The beauty of wine is also a huge detriment: it is wildly different to everyone that experiences it. To effectively drink wine socially, it appears, one must now "interview" wine bars in order to judge the best fit and feel. My take: Horse Shit.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Do-Over

Finally! After a solid month of dragging my well-dressed, unemployed ass around in the rain, I have two jobs. I am the new M(anager) I(n) T(raining) for the Peet's coffee on Polk Street, just a few blocks from my house; a HUGE change versus the 90 minute, one-way drive to Napa. I also am getting my first taste of high-end, first class dining. . .I just happen to be serving it up instead of eating it, but I don't mind. Dash and I are exploring new living arrangements (no, she isn't leaving me, we're just looking for a roommate and a bigger place). I finally have an opportunity to think about my life a few weeks in advance. . .and I am liking it.

Peet's Coffee was started in 1966 by the man that taught Starbucks to roast their coffee. There are only 170 stores and their commitment to their coffee is incredible. They are offering me everything that I loved about Starbucks, without any of the crap that I had to deal with. Plus, the coffee is incredible.

The Big 4 Restaurant is inside the Huntington Hotel, the last privately-held hotel in San Francisco. The experience is other-worldly, a low-key mix of celebrities, ancient CEOs, and women's social groups in their mid-70s. This is the eatery of the SF old money elite, and its rather refreshing to see (as compared to all of the "new money" in other parts of SF and ATL). These are people that expect perfection, and deservedly. . .the continental breakfast is $15.

All in all, I think that I have a lot of learning ahead of me in the next 6 months as I prepare to go back to school. It's all for the best, and I am delighted that my outlook and attitude have finally improved. It's amazing how much a bad job can destroy your ability to enjoy life. I am glad that I am through it and look forward to the future. Cheers!

Friday, January 4, 2008

OK, I'm tired of being unemployed already.

Is this an issue? Appellation America closes its doors on Wednesday and by Friday, I am completely over having the month off. Maybe its the rain, it is raining harder than I have ever seen it rain in the city, which sucks. I am not so masochistic to venture out for the sake of being out. Its just weird because I feel like I'm on a desert island with food, wine and the Internet.

So technically, I'm not unemployed because if I was, I could collect some of the money that I have been throwing away in taxes for the last forever. This time has allowed for introspection though, am I enjoying what I was doing, etc. That is one conclusion that I have arrived at: I am not thrilled about commuting to a desk again. Sure, I don't mind walking to a desk, or even rolling out of bed to a desk, but I definitely don't like commuting to a desk; desert island no. 2. Wow, it's really raining.

Additionally, I'm not sure how I feel about applying for a job over Craigslist. Sure, its a great place for an employer to post openings, but who wants to sort through 3,000 emails about the same thing (other than Garyvee)? How to utilize the functionality of the Internet while still conveying some kind of personality? Nearly every job that I have ever had was directly procured through fierce determination and persistence. That's not easy to accomplish via the Internet.

OK, I'm done (for the time being); we can chalk today up as job search day 2. More on Monday.