MIDSUMMER DAY MUSINGS

This is the time of year we look forward to, relish, and then miss when it’s over. SUMMER. Cool mornings and evenings, warm to hot days, concerts at town squares and vineyards, ripening fruits and vegetables, picnics……….aah.

At the moment the first apples and blackberries have arrived, cukes and the ever present zucchini are here, tomatoes are turning red; and in 5 – 6 weeks the king/queen of them all – wine grapes will be ready for harvest.



This past weekend we took a stroll down memory lane and spent a few days at the Russian River, watching my grandson and his seven cousins frolic in the river, hour after hour, much as we did many moons ago. I used to wonder how adults could bear just sitting on the water’s edge, talking and reading, while there was a river so close. Kids still wonder about the stranger ways of adults.

Rare proof that the world is not going completely to hell. Word is the legendary dive bar, Monte Rio’s Pink Elephant has been sold and will soon reopen in all its “splendor.” Will keep you posted.

BALI THOUGHTS AT 35,000 FEET

High over the Pacific on my way from Singapore to Hong Kong, then on to San Francisco and Sonoma County.

A terrific time celebrating Taft Street alum Andy Bartlett’s birthday. Fond memories –

  • Despite a huge growth in population and tourism, Bali retains its magic. Warm weather tempered by trade winds, mellow people, great landscape (flowers, fruits, rice paddies), and the varied and exciting cuisine.
  • We had a kitchen staff at the compound, and they were led by Andy’s wife Roz (a graduate of Cordon Bleu and the California Culinary Academy) and a crack Indonesian cook. As a result we enjoyed an ever changing array of Balinese dishes – Nasi and Bami Goreng, Beef Rendang, spicy tempeh, various sambals, Gado Gado . . . and much, much more.
  • One of the treats of the holiday was listening to the stories of Andy and his mates about life in Southeast Asia back in the days before tourism. In the 1960’s, for example, there were but three flights a week arriving in a Bali without hotels. How times have changed.
  • To top off visits to beaches, temples, museums, markets, music and dance presentations – every night at the convenient hour of 10 pm – live World Cup on the telly!

All in all, a stellar vacation. And the future is not too shabby either. I’ll soon be back in Taft Street country.

ASIAN ADVENTURE

We are here on the isle of Bali to help our dear old friend Andy Bartlett celebrate a significant birthday. Andy, one of the founders of Taft Street and its first president, spent years in Indonesia after graduating from Harvard Law School. It was on one of his trips back from Bali to his vacation home in Squaw Valley, California, that the idea of a winery that became Taft Street was hatched.



Kathy and I left our home in Dry Creek last Tuesday, and 23 hours later we arrived in Singapore, via Hong Kong. Here we met our son Matt, daughter-in-law Anne, and Otto. Spent a day in this ultra modern city of skyscrapers, state of the art metro system, and the best fast food anywhere. The city is dotted with funky looking food stalls with rickety tables and chairs, serving an incredible array of fresh, spicy Asian foods. Utterly satisfying. We stayed at the retro New Majestic Hotel, where each room was designed and decorated by a local artist. Ours was the aptly named Pussy Parlour; while Matt and company were lodged in a storybook theme room, albeit with barber chairs, kleig lights and dual bathtubs in the living room.


We arrived in Bali on Friday night and made our way to Batu Jimbar, a compound of luxury estates Andy helped develop in the 1970’s.



Wow! Architecturally stunning homes, parks, ponds, artwork, sandy beach . . . . An in house staff, including cooks preparing classical Indonesian cuisine; walks along the beach; kids laughing jumping in and out of the pool from early morning until they drop to sleep right after dinner; time for reading/napping; perfect weather, with tradewinds cooling the 80 degree temperatures.


One could get used to this.

Hens and Chicks Kind of Year

Local grape growers refer to grape clusters with different sized berries as “hens and chicks.” The unseasonably cool spring especially affected early maturing varietals such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and resulted in an uneven fruit set. More shatter, looser clusters, and fewer berries are the results. The good news is small berries, with a high surface–to-volume or skin-to-juice ratio, can produce concentrated flavors. What all this means is that although there may not be a big crop this year, it may very well be a very good one in terms of quality. There is quite a bit of time for Mother Nature to change things, however. We’ll keep you posted. In the cellar it’s bottling, bottling, bottling. In fact, we have bottling scheduled right up until the last week of August, when we shift into harvest mode. Most of the bottling is for our custom crush clients, although we will bottle our 2009 Russian River Chardonnay. The accolades just keep coming. The 2010 Orange County Fair results arrived, and the Taft Street 2007 Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir “Garagistes” won a GOLD MEDAL; while the Taft Street 2008 Russian River Valley Chardonnay earned a SILVER MEDAL. This week we’ll pour our award winning wines at the California State Fair: 2008 Russian River Valley Chardonnay “Garagistes” GOLD MEDAL; 2009 Russian River Valley Riesling SILVER MEDAL – BEST OF CLASS; 2008 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc GOLD MEDAL – BEST OF CLASS; 2007 Russian River Valley Zinfandel Cobblestone Vineyard GOLD MEDAL – BEST OF CLASS. It is high season now in the Tasting Room, as summertime visitors enjoy the bounty of Sonoma County. We are hosting several private tasting/food pairing events this month, with more scheduled later this summer. Groups interested in their own private tastings can contact Kaitlyn at the Tasting Room. If you are in the neighborhood, drop in for a taste of Sonoma County’s finest. Cheers, Mike Tierney President, Taft Street Winery

California State Fair Wine Competition

For over 150 years, the California State Fair has recognized the best wines of the state and the dedication of wineries and vintners in the Golden State’s viticulture and enology industry. Award winners truly are the best of the best! This year, Taft Street was awarded three Best of Class and three gold medals! For more information about the wine competition, see the 2010 Award Winners by winery (PDF).