Vino In My Dino

  • Gather Round a Glass

    May 15, 2020 10:45

    Gather Round a Glass

    Welcome to the virtual world of wine chats. Chat rooms and virtual meetings were already in place before this-I wish I had stock in Zoom! Other platforms have their place but lately this is a way to have a direct conversation and talk to people face to face (virtually because we are sheltering in place and practicing our social distancing). Gathering around a glass of wine and your screen of choice while sitting at home-what could be more fun?

    Back in the days (seems like so long ago now) I traveled to national markets the wholesalers would set up what we call ‘work withs’, a way for me to meet with retail and restuarant accounts. Each day I’d work with one sales representative and they would take me to appointments they had set up prior to my arrival. I would get in a car each day with a new person-who up until this point were complete strangers. Almost sounds like the making of a thriller movie right? We’d chat a bit about what was coming up for the day-how many appointments, who I would meet as I presented the wines and what they were interested in for their customers, where the day would end. I’d update them on what was going on at the winery and vineyards at the moment or fill them in on the background of the wines we’d be pouring. After a few minutes, in order to learn more about the person I was riding with, I’d start to ask general questions-did you attend college? How did you get into wine? When was your first ‘ah ha’ moment and what wine started the journey they were on? Conversation typically flowed because, hey, we’re in a car driving 20 minutes or more to our first appointment and we learned a bit about each other. I rode with people who love some of the same things I do (besides wine) like Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, favorite authors or genres, chocolate, and travel. While we weren’t gathered around a glass of wine we certainly shared great conversations about many interests.

    So how about turning that experience into one I can have with you? We'll sip and savor the moment, we don’t need a car-we just need a communication platform. I do better when I can see people and share a conversation that way. Let’s gather, share some stories and find out what we have in common-wine being the first thing. There are many platforms on which we can have a chat-we’ll find one that works for both of us. We are at home, relaxed, maybe with a glass of wine in hand, ready to chat about your hobbies, your family, your pets, favorite movies or books. The world of topics is pretty vast.

    Who’s Zoomin Who?

    Zoom is the appointment oriented platform-we set up the time and day and send you the link. Skype is available anytime but it would be wise to schedule a time so we are at our computer and ready for you. Facebook Live schedules events at a certain time and allows you to type in questions to the speakers (it helps to have someone else there to read over the questions and call attention to those that didn’t get answered) and Instagram Live is a format where we talk to the audience about specific things and questions can be sent but it is mostly a one way conversation. Which one works for you? As we make our way toward new ways of reaching out, this is an alternative to a tasting room visit. So let's gather around a glass no matter where you are-it is the new wine adventure-one where you don't have to hop in a car or on a plane. We'll bring the adventure to you!

  • What’s Your Vintage Story?

    May 7, 2020 14:00

    What’s Your Vintage Story?

    The word vintage can mean different things. To me in the wine world it denotes the year the wine was made or even a wine of high quality. To a car buff a vintage car is everything. Bell bottoms in your closet? You have vintage clothing. The word in most cases brings with it a nostalgia for things from the past or, in the case of harvest year, informs us of what took place in a particular season.Julie and 1960 Port wine

    In previous blog posts I talk about how the vintage tells the story. 2015 was influenced by the drought with a smaller production and highly concentrated fruit. Or the name tells the story. Three Vineyards is a Bordeaux blend and is sourced from 5 estate blocks. Or the vineyard tells the story. Bushnell Vineyard has been part of the family since the 1940s and grapes have been sourced from here for 8 decades. Our wines are defined by these stories. Consider then how the vintage tells YOUR story.

    A little background on where I am headed. I freely admit I am a boomer and I love Facebook-there I said it. I find all kinds of information there especially what my wine loving friends are drinking or talking about. The other day I ran across a post from Jon Peterson and I told him I was going to steal his idea. He gave me permission so here we go:

    Jon is from the great state of Maryland and shared on his FB page recently about a tradition he and his wife began a while ago. Here is his original post: "Supporting a local Italian restaurant last night, Luisa's Cucina (whose owner is also a neighbor)with a young Barolo from our cellar. Elizabeth and I usually take a minute to talk about events that happened in the vintage year of wines we open. This time, 2015 was the year our daughter got her Bachelor's degree plus, she's a big fan of Nebbiolo!" This concept stopped me dead in my (scrolling) tracks. Up until this point I have always focused on what happened in the vintage-the weather, the production, the quality. I’ll never look at a vintage or a wine the same way again.

    How about you? I'll invite you to tell YOUR vintage story: The wine on hand doesn’t need to be old-reflect on the vintage in front of you-2018? What was going on in your life that year? How about 2019? For us the marriage of our daughter brings great joy recalling the day. I have been hearing through the grapevine that a lot of people are ‘drinking their cellars’ because, well, COVID-19. That means there are quite a few stories you have to tell! Memories around a particular wine during this time of sheltering in place can be bittersweet-the bottle of wine purchased on your last trip to a winery, the wine served at your wedding 10 years ago or gifted from a good friend. If you have older wines on hand check those out as well-where were you in 2012, 2001 or 1998 and what was happening then?My personal vintage 2020

    Our own vintage stories, those stories that have been shared with me over the years, are what makes this age-old beverage called wine such a memory-maker. When you drink a beer or have a cocktail there isn’t much to the story other than what’s in the glass at the moment. Wine exists to make our day or commemorate an occasion. I look forward to holding a bottle of 2020 and reflecting on this year. I know I’ll remember this COVID virus, sheltering in place, the miles of walking around town and having a grandson born in the middle of it. How about your VINTAGE story? Share them with me by sending them to julie@pedroncelli.com. I look forward to reading the stories unlocked by the vintage on your bottle of vino.

  • Pandemic Pantry: Julie and Julia

    April 30, 2020 13:29

    A picture is worth a thousand yums don’t you think? How many of us take photos of our beautifully plated dinners in a restaurant? Or at home we’ve made something special and want to show it off? There are many examples across social media when it comes to showing off our creations. I realized there were just a handful of photos included in my recipe section of the website-how interesting is that? So I made a goal starting during this pandemic and working from home to recreate a few recipes a week and photograph them in order to be included alongside the recipe. Kind of a riff off of the Julie/Julia movie.

    In fact some of you might remember how we have been connected to Julia Child over the years. The weekly magazine, Parade, featured photos of celebrities and their refrigerators. Julia is standing in front of her door-lo and behold our Chardonnay is there and the only wine in her fridge! We are also part of the National Museum of American History’s Food Transforming America where many of my family’s artifacts (including my grandmother’s polenta pot) are in the same exhibit near the recreation of Julia’s kitchen. And here we are replicating many of the recipes from the website just like the movie. For a refresher, this is what I wrote 4 years ago:  https://www.pedroncelli.com/vino-in-my-dino/post/womens-history-month-julia-child/


    Now onto the recipes!

    Braised PorkBraised Pork Shoulder with Butternut Squash and Prunes

    Notes: When I tried this I immediately regretted not doubling the recipe. Such a subtle sweetness that complements the braised pork. Paired very well with our Mother Clone Zinfandel, the fruity notes from the Zin making this a zen meal.


     

    Pork Tenderloin with Spicy Soy Glaze

    Notes: For a quicker turn around you can make the glaze ahead of time and marinate overnight, then just brown it in the pan and roast in oven-or grill it-either way this is a very tasty combination. It packs some heat and we liked it with our Sonoma Classico or you might even try our friends.red with it.

    Spicy Pork Tenderloin

     


     

    Braised Fennel and CeleryBraised Fennel & Celery

    Notes: This is a side dish which we paired with steak and roasted creamer potatoes. I suggest pairing the veggies with Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc but with the steak we paired up with our Three Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon and it worked. This would be a great side dish for simply prepared chicken or fish.


     

    Moroccan Chicken with Roasted Lemons and Green Olives

    Notes: This one was a delicious surprise-it was very easy with it all being made in one pan. Browning the lemon wedges and then roasting with the chicken-so tasty. Paired up with our Sauvignon Blanc it was the perfect ending to our busy shelter in place work at home week.Moroccan Chicken


    Sloppy TomsSloppy Toms

    Notes: A crowd pleaser and kid pleaser all in one-from our daughter’s cookbook 30 years ago and we have been making them ever since. You can use beef for Sloppy Joes but we like the taste of the ground turkey. Use your favorite form of bun and dig in along with a bottle of our friends.red or Sonoma Classico.


     

    While the Julie in the movie took a year to make all the recipes in Julia’s Art of French Cooking this might take a little longer. If you make one of the recipes, tell me how it turned out, which wine you paired it with and how you first came to know Pedroncelli. I'll make it worth your while... All you need to do is send to my email address julie@pedroncelli.com and as Julia would say Bon Apetit!

  • A Note from Home: Learning Curves

    April 24, 2020 10:53

    A Note from Home: Learning Curves

     

    It is day 43 of sheltering in place and the original predictions of this time ending May 3 in Sonoma County have been extended to June. Batten down the hatches for another month of staying home and keeping everyone safe. While we flatten the curve what are the learning curves we have faced? What have we learned about ourselves, our town, or our work habits? Getting better at time management or bread baking? How about our kids/grandkids, entertaining ourselves or our resilience in getting through these times?Home Alone Photo

    The other day we talked to some folks in Kansas & Missouri (via Zoom) about those changes and what they mean to our current lives. Among them were enjoying not having to be somewhere at an exact time, more freedom, more productivity, having the time to learn new things like managing your inbox or taking an additional online class to educate oneself, more creativity, challenges of having kids at home-keeping them focused and busy without too much screen time/device time. Limitations set before COVID have loosened up because screen time on devices has never looked so good to the parents working from home. Just think how much we’ll all look forward to school back in session along with a regular routine! 

    I received many responses in the last week with updates on home life and how you are doing-really. Here are other ways you are learning:

    John from Florida responded: “I just bought a new Fender Telecaster to add to the collection so that’s how I have been passing the hours and days of this awful hunker-down.   I download blues backing tracks and jam along to those.  Love playin the blues.”

    Kellie sent a thoughtful note:  “Well this past week I would say I had a "ho hum" attitude. Deep in my mind I couldn't find hope or anything positive to look forward to. My cooking spirit was flat lining. My clothes closet was getting stale. My hair felt limp and lack of luster. My habit of washing, drying, folding and putting away in the same day waned and the crocheting on the couch ceased. 

    I am realizing that I function much better if there are plans for the day, week and even months ahead. With this virus it has derailed some of my focus. And then I realized I have Grace and Grit. Hearty stock. Thrive and survive attitude. An optimist constitution. All these realizations emerged right after I got real with my thoughts and spoke them out loud to some of my family. 

    So you asked how am I really? In this moment on this Sunday morning sitting in my breakfast nook, I feel optimistic, light hearted, ready to take my dog on a walk on the golf course, then exercise on my stationary bike and then sit down and attend an online David Whyte poetry session titled "Courage in Poetry. "

    Zoom imageWe are all learning something new about ourselves and our situation. I’m learning to really like the Zoom meetings I am hosting and participating in these days. Since I am staying home from travel I find the time afforded me makes writing more of a habit. (I also enjoy not having to get up at 3:30am to get ready for a trip.) Also, learning how to prepare for the 'afterCOVID' life and the new normal we'll experience brings to mind other learning curves. Air travel following 9-11-it was forever changed and is now considered a part of the airport experience. Learning curves are everywhere in our lives-vaccinations developed, historic changes, even the small things like forming a habit.

    What are we learning? We can do it. We can get through it. Try something like a wave and a smile. And we’ll get through it together, six feet apart.

  • A Conversation on Sustainability

    April 21, 2020 09:47

    A Conversation on Sustainability

    April is Down to Earth Month and today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day so no time like the present to talk sustainability. Our vineyards were certified sustainable on our 90th anniversary 3 years ago and the winery the following year. Let’s see how we are doing in the vineyard and winery by checking in with Mitch Blakeley, fourth generation family member, who led the certification process. He knows the vineyard and cellar very well as he has worked with his dad Lance, who is Vice President of Operations and Vineyard Manager, since he was in eighth grade.  Mitch and Sustainable Sign

    For starters, here is some background on the meaning of sustainability. The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance was formed to help grape growers and wineries practice sustainable winegrowing by following these tenets: good for the environment, good for the community and good for grapes and wine. To start the certification process Mitch filled out a few hundred answers to questions ranging from energy efficiency to packaging, vineyard practices and water use among others. Once finished we are audited and, since everything was in good order, we were certified. One of the reasons I like the sustainability program is it encourages doing better as we go forward. Each year we pick a project and work at getting better or smarter in both the vineyard and winery. Each year the auditor reviews the progress and approves another year of certification.

    Why is the process so important to us? It put a pin in what we have been doing for 90 years-being good stewards of the land. Our responsibility is to the environment, to those who work for us as well as our community at large and the continuous improvement gives us higher quality in our wines. For the greater good don’t we all recyle, use alternatives to plastic, walk if we can avoid driving hence causing less pollution? It is a collective action both as an industry and as a family that spurs us on to do better.

    Mitch updated me on the latest audit and certification and the efforts we have made. “I’ll start with the winery. In the last few years we have made changes in better lighting efficiency, the barrel program, and water use. For last year’s project we focused on glass. Our glass was imported from China for many years. We made the decision to source as close as we could to the winery and chose a northern California company. To give you an idea of our scope, we produce 55,000 cases or 660,000 bottles.” (Editor’s note: We have also stayed away from the ‘heavy’ bottles knowing these add more to the carbon footprint.)

    “Last year our vineyard project focused on decreasing the use of pesticides in the vineyard. The most consistent pest we treat for every year are the sharpshooters-they are devastating to our vineyard. Using approved preventatives, we treat early and often to suppress whatever the vineyard may be exposed to and so far we have seen about the same level of success in the past few years by cutting rates and at longer intervals. This helps with operating costs and overall health for the vineyard. Our project this year is to replace our tractors with new models that are more fuel efficient as well as put out less emissions. We are going to apply for the Carl Moyer Grant from the state of California to help fund the replacement of the old tractors.” 

    I asked him if he has noticed any changes since becoming certified, “In my opinion I have seen an increase in quality in the vineyard which shows in the wines; in the vineyard it is the new plantings where we are changing the way we farm and they are showing very good quality; our Wisdom and Three Vineyards are recent projects and we have been more aggressive to stay on top of diseases. One of the new practices includes using rope to tie vines as compared to plastic ties; the rope or twine disintegrates over a couple of years. The plastic constrict the vine to the wire which we found created an open wound for disease to enter-with just this one small change it is helping overall quality and health of the vine.”

    Thank you Mitch-I enjoyed our conversation. If you have any questions or need more information about our program please let us know by sending an email to julie@pedroncelli.com  Until next Earth Day keep up the good work.

     

     

     

  • A Note from Home: How are you doing? Really.

    April 18, 2020 10:35

    A Note from Home: How are you doing? Really.

    Well, how are you doing a month into our sheltering in place? No, really. How are you doing? We'd love to hear. Over the past ninety three years we've come to know so many people in so many places. And we feel cut off. So, really: How are you?

    Are you pining for the ‘old’ days? What freedom (!) we had in February. We could go for lunch without giving a thought to spreading germs-now masking up and ordering curbside is the way to go; how about stopping to talk to a neighbor in the street-we are now keeping 6 feet or more away from each other; perhaps a drive to the coast or mountains for some fresh air and now, due to current orders, you are hitting the streets. I’ve started to categorize yards-they have olive trees, they have dogwood trees, they have the most beautiful hedges etc

    Obviously here in Wine Country spring has fully evolved into blooming trees, flowers, birds nesting and the grapevines leafing out (not to mention the pollen count is high).  Mother Nature continues on without realizing the streets are quieter, the air is cleaner, people are staying close to home, and a virus is being slowed down because we are following the order in place. We have a ways to go before we are set free from this cocoon, hibernation, lockdown, staycation or whatever you have come to call it.

    Perhaps new habits are being formed. I remember reading that it took about two months to form a new habit or break a bad one. I googled habits and came across a recent article by Tara Parker-Pope in the New York Times published mid February-which now seems like a century ago.  In it there are a lot of good ideas and information and it contained this tidbit about developing a habit: “The study, published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, showed that the amount of time it took for the task to become automatic — a habit — ranged from 18 to 254 days. The median time was 66 days!” We are 36 days into this and it is looking like at least 30 more-coincidence? I think not.
     
    My new habits are around working from home. I squeeze in a laundry load so I don’t have a mountain of work to do at the end of the week; I eat lunch on our deck and take in the green view of oak trees and new growth over the fence; I am making one or two recipes a week from my website listings because now we have time to photograph the dish and upload it-slow work but I will make my way through the hundreds listed as the year progresses thereby forming another habit. Discipline is another one-I gained the "COVID10" over the last month because I was snacking and eating things I don’t normally eat like sugar and carbs. April 13 dawned and I knew I needed to make changes-so back to low carbing and no snacking. How about you? Any new (good or bad) habits formed lately?

    Walking is a new normal for us-between 9 and 10 miles a day around town-I mentioned to Ed that this mileage is a one way trip to the winery-but I don’t think I’ll start walking to work after this is over-or will I? Besides flowers and yards another thing I’ve seen on our walks around Healdsburg are chalk drawings and inspiring quotes. This one greeted us today and I think gives us all hope for better days ahead. Until next time stay well while keeping six feet apart.

    Chalk drawing with Jasper

  • Cellar Update: Business as Usual in Unusual Times

    April 16, 2020 16:10

    Cellar Update: Business as Usual in Unusual Times

    Like the birds singing and the vines pushing leaves, the wines in the cellar don’t notice our shelter in place orders and cellar life goes on as usual in an unusual time. And cellar work like bottling and barrel work are considered essential and we are allowed by the state of California to carry on with production. Without this support I am not sure how our wines and vineyards would survive a long pause in the middle of things.

    Our team, pictured above, include winemaker Montse Reece along with cellarmaster Polo Cano on the right and cellar assistant Beto Cortez. April is the height of production for them and knowing how important it is to keep on schedule when it comes to bottling, I asked winemaker Montse Reece to give me an idea of what goes into the preparation. Here is a step by step glimpse at what it takes when she works with the team to ready the wines:

    “First I make sure we are going to have everything we need for bottling on time: glass, corks, labels, capsules. In the cellar the wine in question has to be blended, fined (in the case of reds), stabilized (for whites and rosé) and filtered. Editor's note: The tank pictured here is being cold stabilized-which means chilled close to freezing to drop the tartrates out-if it wasn't cold stabilized you would get 'wine diamonds' which are harmless and definitely don't taste good.Cold Stabilization Tank

    Before the wine gets to be bottled I run all the analysis: acidity, pH, alcohol, volatile acidity, malic acid, residual sugars, sulphur, specific gravity, CO2 and make any final adjustments if needed.

    A few days before bottling, Cellarmaster Polo Cano will filter the wine. We use a crossflow filter. After that he and his crew will sanitize the line and get it ready for bottling. On the morning of bottling day the filler bowl, housing and filters are sterilized for 20 min at 180F. Polo does the sterilization by combining hot water and steam.

    Once we start bottling, Polo and I do line checks, the first check is at the beginning (7:30 am) with three more spanning the day. We check the oxygen concentration inside the empty bottle before it enters the filler bowl as well as the dissolved oxygen in the wine once it is in the bottle, the vacuum pressure in the corks or the torque pressure in the screw caps, wine temperature, fill levels and pressure on the filters.”

    Friends Red BottlingSo many layers of checking and cross checking happen with each and every wine bottled, and remember we make 21 different wines, and what does this mean for you? It delivers a bottle of wine with great attention to detail and the resulting consistent quality. These wines will be released over the next few months just as we are coming out of our shelter in place. As time moves on so does Mother Nature and continues to bring us warmer weather. More of our wines will be bottled and the vines will march toward vintage 2020. 

     

  • Postcards From Home

    April 10, 2020 09:48

    Post Card View

    Postcards from Home

    Bee in RosemaryI send my grandsons postcards from the road when I travel on business and of course when we are on vacation. I thought I would share ‘postcards’ from home with you.

    I’ll take you all on a walk around the winery and vineyards for some spring views, sharing the beauty we are experiencing in my former home and surroundings.

    As I have indicated spring is definitely in place around the winery and vineyard and Easter seemed like a good time to share the hopeful sense that nature and the season brings to us.

    The 2020 vintage is in place and beginning to show among the vines with budbreak beginning in mid-March and followed by first leaves. The natural progression and timing has the vineyard right on time for this part of the growing season. We received a couple of inches of rain in April which helps keep the vines happy and without damage to the new growth. First Leaf

     

    In other areas around the winery the hills are a soft green and show the promise of spring in the flora and fauna around us. Nice warm days are ahead and all the more opportunity to get out and enjoy these moments, even virtually.  Green hills and vines   Spring Barrel  Jasper in the Daisies  Yellow Rose

    Hope does spring eternal as the curve is flattened, we stay at home connecting in different ways with our friends and family, and knowing that nature hasn’t recognized we are at a stopgap and will continue her march toward summer and fall without fail-bringing great hope to me and I hope to you.

  • Varietal of the Year: King Cabernet Sauvignon

    April 9, 2020 10:06

    Varietal of the Year: King Cabernet Sauvignon

    I am focusing on our other flagship wine this year: Cabernet Sauvignon. Did you know it is the most widely planted wine grape in California? Here are my thoughts on what makes this varietal special, thriving here in Dry Creek Valley Sonoma County.

    Cabernet SauvignonFirst up, the stats: Cabernet Sauvignon is king of wine grape acreage in California with 93,241 (bearing and non-bearing) total acres. It bested its’ rival Chardonnay by 93 acres. By comparison, about five years ago, there were 6000 more acres of Chardonnay than Cabernet Sauvignon-just in case you are keeping score. In Sonoma County (12,090 acres) it is the second most widely planted, with Pinot Noir almost equal and both bested by Chardonnay as the number one most planted grape. Dry Creek Valley, where Cabernet rises to the top winning the title of ‘most widely planted’ with 3200 acres, reigns as #1.

    Now for a bit of Dry Creek Valley wine grape history. The first grapes were planted, Zinfandel among them, in the mid-1800s with wineries following in 1872. The area burgeoned with production right up until Prohibition ended commercial winemaking in 1919. During this dry time many of the vineyards were pulled out by grape growers in order to make a living and were replaced by fruit trees and other crops (this area was known as the buckle on the Prune Belt for this very reason). Once Repeal made it legal to make wine again it took some time to get back into the business of developing a market, planting vineyards, and took a World War to engage the nation’s palate again. While my grandfather already had zinfandel and petite sirah on the home ranch he dabbled in planting Riesling and Pinot Noir among others.

    It wasn’t until sons John and Jim bought five acres on West Dry Creek Road in 1965 that they became the first growers in the valley to plant Cabernet Sauvignon. They saw an appreciation for this varietal from those who served overseas and had become acquainted with the wines of France and Italy. Now they wanted to give customers a wine they appreciated. This vineyard would become known as our Wisdom vineyard. Beginning with this vineyard we learned over the next 5 decades what it takes to get the best out of this grape. We now farm 31 acres along the bench and valley floor. If there is a site specific grape I believe this is it.

    Cabernet Sauvignon

    What makes Cabernet Sauvignon distinctive from our vineyard and valley? The location for one. Our estate vineyards are located in the northern end of the valley. Wisdom is on the valley floor on the ‘dry’ western side of the valley and our Three Vineyards and Block 007 are on an eastern bench across the way where the soils are gravelly loam with great drainage. Another distinction is in the trellising. Finding the right vine systems to maintain production and canopy are important because the vigor of the vineyard can get in the way of ripening. Canopy and crop management become key to a wine with a quality fruit profile. Cabernet Sauvignon needs sun to ripen and a long growing season. Dry Creek Valley’s climate is here to help with its’ ideal number of warm degree days paired with the all-important marine layer, cooling down the grapes at night. Both are the foundation of fruit development maintaining aromatics, acidity and balance. Hallmarks of our Cabernet Sauvignon show flavors of plum and berry fruit combined with tobacco or sage notes (Winemaker Montse Reece describes this as ‘greenier’) and wrapped in a firm core of tannin or 'grip' as John Pedroncelli would call it. 

    The combination of site specific planting, aspects of climate and soil, picking at the right moment after the desired hang time-Cabernet is usually one of the last grapes harvested-and, once at the winery, the choices of oak and aging give you a Cabernet Sauvignon you can enjoy upon release or has the staying power for the cellar. Either way it is fitting to consider the wisdom gained over 55 years of farming the king of red wine grapes.

    Wisdom Cabernet Label

     

  • Note From Home: Holding Steady

    April 2, 2020 08:48

    Knee deepWe’ve been knee deep before-take a look at my uncle John standing knee deep in a flood-this is right outside of our cellar some 60 years ago. We’ve seen a few decades of challenge, we’re farmers after all and are holding steady. This current crisis, while we stay at home and do our best to keep our heads above water, is another challenge much like the Great Depression, recession, fires, or 9/11. 

    What did we do when met with those challenges? We held steady and found ways to deal with the situations. My grandparents, who had just bought the property two years ahead of the Great Depression and in the middle of Prohibition, managed by working the farm to support their young family as well as selling the grapes to make a modest living.  My dad Jim created friends.red to offer a recession-friendly priced wine and found a spot for grapes without having to pull out vineyard. Two years of major fires tested us and made us more resilient-bringing the community together. And the 9/11 tragedy brought the country together.  

    One of the joys of writing these notes are the responses I am receiving from you. You inspire me with your stories and memories, you’re keeping busy with eyes to the future and the end of this thing called Shelter in Place. Here are some snippets of the comments and observations:

    We are hanging in there discovering how to clean closets, walk together and talk to one another. It will pass and maybe we all can learn from this.

    We are hanging in there. I am bored sitting at home. Over 40 years of making (sales) calls and now a different world.

    We are using this time to relax but be productive, too, because once we can bust out into the real world, I’m planning to visit as many restaurants as possible and get back to the gym! 

    Wisdom from a 70+ year old friend: "What is this teaching me?" For me it's teaching me to be resourceful with what I have. I have a garden that feeds us. A refrigerator full of main staples. A sink with running water. A husband that can still provide. Two sons. One now living in with us and the other getting home safely from Brazil and quarantining in the bay area for 2 weeks and soon will join the clan. My love language is cooking. So this is where your wine comes in...I open a bottle of Pedroncelli wine, play some country music in the kitchen and create a yummy, intentional and nutritional meal for my family. That scenario is my solace, my peace of mind. Thank you Julie for your heartfelt and authentic correspondence. 


    Hold Steady LadsAs a healthcare worker in Washington State I am directly involved in caring for patients who are infected I would just like to say thank you. You and all the others who are sheltering at home are all playing a big part in beating this beast. We will get through it! I have a trip to Sonoma County tentatively planned for June and am hoping and praying it will happen as planned.  I can't wait to drink some Friends with friends. Stay well. 

    I'm inspired to spend this time to be more productive in my writing, I've cleaned out my 'closet' of files, I'm spending time being thankful for what I have, learning to be patient while waiting to hug my grandsons (especially my newest one), following Shelter in Place orders because it will help end this, and holding onto hope for gathering together again.

    What does it take to hold steady? How about courage and wisdom. It takes courage to be a farmer and producer to get through this time, it takes courage to rally the forces around us, be creative and not be overwhelmed. It takes wisdom to know 'this too shall pass' and learn what this situation is teaching us and then passing this wisdom along. Hold steady, hold tight and hold on-6 feet apart.