Saturday, August 30, 2008

Young Oak Vineyards - Vol. 21: What's The Buzz?

Our featured artist today is the enigmatic "Sade" (pronounced shaw-day). Born in London, her father, a Nigerian Economics Professor and mother, a British Nurse, she was raised briefly in West Africa and then in the U.K., Sade started out in the fashion business, tried modeling and finally landed in the music industry. She was is several groups before getting a record contract as "Sade" (the band), comprising of herself & her great backup band. This cut, "The Sweetest Taboo" is from their second album and is one of my favorites!

05 The Sweetest Taboo.mp3

We're going to take a break from summer music until sometime in the future. Thanks for taking the time to listen. Hope you enjoyed it!


What's buzzing at Young Oak Vineyards? Well, we found a great beeman who is trying to re-populate bees in Northern California, one backyard at a time! Allen Larson will bring a beehive to your backyard, service your hive and give you a minimum of 24 pounds of honey a year, but more like 40 - 50 pounds typically. So, we purchased a hive and had it installed by the southeast upper corner of our vineyard (that's the very front of our place, down the hill to the left of our driveway above the vineyard).

Although, I have often thought about building hives and doing bees, this is a quick & easy way to get started to help your allergies by eating local honey, help your grapevines or other flowering plants assure pollination, help our bee population recover from the "Colony Collapse Disorder" by spreading hives to new territories, and (and this is the big one) you don't have to do the dangerous stuff! But for the daring, Allen will suit you up, so you can assist him when he is servicing your own hive(s)! Check out Allen's website at: www.getbees.net

Hope you get the buzz,
John


Friday, August 22, 2008

Young Oak Vineyards - Vol. 20: Back To School!?

Hi all:

This post's featured musical artist is the consummate "Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks".  Dan went to high school in Santa Rosa and hit the San Francisco music scene in the late 60's. This cut, "I Scare Myself", is his signature piece, although I like his original "The Walkin' One & Only" when I want to tap my foot a bit!


Well, the grapevines are continuing to do well.  I noticed the Pinot Noir vineyard on Concepcíon Road, about a mile or two from my house, is now fully laden with grapes.  Last year, the vineyard master there told me that they typically pick in late August to early September, because the Pinot Noir grapes mature earlier here in Los Altos Hills due to the warmer climate, compared with some of the other coastal valley regions known for Pinot Noir (Remember the movie "Sideways"!). Mark Vernon, Ridge COO, mentioned that they usually pick 4-6 weeks after the grape turn to their dark color.  Well, we only have a couple of handfuls of grapes on our vines this first season as you can see in the picture below!  Maybe I will make a couple of glasses of grape juice for Kristen and I to toast you all!

I found a great description of the laboratory equipment & techniques from the Hardy Wine Company in Australia, used for the measuring sugar content of grapes and determining when to pick.  I have been exposed to this information in the past, but it will be interesting to re-learn about these methods.  By the way, the Hardy Wine Company, founded in 1850's, is now the largest winemaker in the world.  Through mergers and acquisitions, they recently changed their name to Constellation Wines Australia.

On a related note, Ron Mosely, the owner of Vinescape and the installer of my neighbor Mark's vineyard, will be teaching in the new Viticulture Program at Foothill College starting this Fall '08 term.  The "Establishing A Vineyard" class, which I would love to take, is on Fridays, so, unfortunately, I won't be able to attend.  I think I will try to sit in on at least one class, though.  Additionally, Foothill is offering a winemaking class on two Saturdays this Fall (Sept. 27th & Oct. 4th), which I am planning to register for!  Check it out and maybe we can take it together!!

See you after class,
John

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Young Oak Vineyards - Vol. 19: Here's My Card!

Hi all:

This post features the music of our famous, local Menlo Park residents & internationally known performers, "Tuck & Patti". Tuck is originally from Oklahoma, went to Stanford and performed in the LA music/TV scene. Patti, from San Francisco, is classically trained and met Tuck in 1978 while auditioning for a band he was in. The band didn't happen, but Tuck & Patti did and they have been making beautiful music ever since! This cut is "Time After Time", popularized by Cindy Lauper, but I like Patti's soulful version best with Tuck's great guitar work!


On a personal connection, we last saw Tuck & Patti perform at the Peninsula School Benefit a couple of years back with a tremendous improvised "scat" by Patti on "Tears of Joy". After the performance, as we walked to our car, my youngest daughter, Suzie tripped, fell & skinned her knee. As I helped Suzie up, Patti came running over the driveway with a folding chair for Suzie, helping her up & consoling her about her skinned knee! Thank you, Patti!!

What's going on at the vineyard, you ask? Well, ..., I got new business cards!!!

Otherwise, the plants just keep growing & growing! The grapevine that my daughter, Suzie was holding in my post of July 27, 2008 is now taller than me! I just have to watch the watering, not too much nor too little. And finally, there is the possibility of mold causing August rains! If it gets damp, I am told I need to dust the grapevine leaves with sulfur powder.

Hey, the new August 2008 issue of the "Wine Spectator" has their annual "world's best restaurants for wine" review. Seventy three restaurants received their top accolade and the nearest ones to Young Oak Vineyards are in San Francisco: Fifth Floor in the Hotel Palomar on Fourth Street, Michael Mina in The Westin St. Francis Hotel on Powell and Restaurant Gary Danko on Point Street.

Several peninsula local restaurants received the "Award of Excellence" or the higher mark "Best of Award of Excellence", including:

John Bentley's in Redwood City,
Bella Vista and The Village Pub in Woodside,
Marché in Menlo Park,
Fleming's Prime Rib Steakhouse & Wine Bar,
Il Fornio, La Strada, Lavanda Restaurant & Wine Bar,
Mantra Restaurant & Lounge, Quattro Restaurant & Bar,
Sundance The Steakhouse and Zibibbo all in Palo Alto!

One aspect of their listing is restaurants featuring "inexpensive pricing" with one local restaurants noted, Woodside Bakery & Café!

You can go to WineSpectator.com select the Dining & Travel tab and press the Free Restaurant Search button to search for restaurants all around the world. Here's to the enjoyment of the rest of your summer!

Saluté!
John

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Young Oak Vineyards - Vol. 18: More Grapevines!!

Happy Summer Everyone!

Well, here we are in the middle of the "Dog Days of Summer", but it has been a really mild summer temperature wise, so far.  To make things even cooler, our featured music is by Paco de Lucia, considered to be the King of Modern Spanish Flamenco Guitar. He was a child prodigy, making his first public performance at age 11 and is probably the fastest Flamenco guitarist ever.

Paco recorded this wonderful piece,
"Entre Dos Aguas" in the 1976 at the ripe old age of 29. (Hey guys, ... remember how psychedelic you looked with your long hair, your favorite paisley shirt, bell bottom pants & side zippered black boots, ... Oh wait, ... that was me!)  Well, this isn't Paco's most dynamic piece, but it is one of my favorites!  Push the play button to watch this short 5 minute video or listen while you read my blog below!  Olé!!



Now, about the goings on's at Young Oak Vineyards!  Ridge Winery has been planting some Cabernet Franc in the Santa Cruz Mountains, which they use as a blending grape.  And they have some leftover grapevines with no place to plant them.  These are potted grapevines with leafy foliage, more developed plants than the root stock/grafts we planted back in March.  Mark Vernon, Ridge COO, has generously offered some of their extras, as I have room for about 25-30 more grapevines at the bottom of our field on the south side.

Although somewhat obvious from its name, it has been recently confirmed, by DNA analysis, that the Cabernet Franc was crossed with the Sauvignon Blanc grape, to give us the Cabernet Sauvignon grape sometime during the 1600's in southwestern France (i.e.: Bordeaux).  Early planting records in the Loire Valley suggest that the Franc grape originally came from Brittany, consistent with the cooler climate found there.  I am excited to see how they will fair on my hot Los Altos hillside!

Just to make things fun, we have added a "billy" & "nanny" goat, to our menagerie.  The "nanny" goat is due pretty soon, so we will have a herd of "kids" to keep the weeds trimmed in the "North Forty".

These guys are pygmy goats from a herd in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Felton, where Big Mac (black) was the dominant buck & Ellie (tan) was the matriarch doe of the herd.  They are very gentle and come right up to eat out of your hand.

Ellie is a little stressed about leaving her herd behind & bleats a bit.  And Big Mac is a little skittish, but very gentle.  I think they will settle down in a few days. Definitely have to keep them away from the vineyard, though!

Well, I gotta go milk the goats now, but I'm having a little trouble finding Big Mac's udder!

John