Thursday, December 02, 2010

My new book: Innovators and Pacesetters of the Modern NV Wine Industry

December 2, 2010 Update

By John M. Olney
Web site:
Copyright November 1, 2008 all rights reserved
Wine Country Marketing and Promotions (WCM&P)
1370 Trancas St., #409, Napa, CA Phone: 707-299-9548
Web site: E-mail:

The Essence
of the
Napa Valley Wine Industry
 A Trilogy of Contributions by Individual and Team Greats 
Resurrection- ---- Innovators and Pacesetters ------- Inheritors
1930’s into the 1960’s ----- 1960’s through1990's ------ 2000’s and the future
Some comments about my books
from those participating in the interviews:

     BOOK I: The Resurrectors of the NV Wine Industry
     Using the Bancroft Library oral tapes and printed media interviews as well as similar materials at other libraries and depositories, build a book discussing how the individuals and teams unscrambled the thirteen years of the great failed social reform era brought about by enactment of Prohibition to rebuilt the once vibrant wine industry of Napa Valley
     I have been given a great opportunity by the PR firm for Peter Mondavi, senior owner of the Charles krug Winery and brother of Robert Mondavi He is turning 95 and the winery is about tio celebrate its 150th anniversary. Also accepting to be interview is Mrs. Eliabeth Martini, wife of Louis P. Martini, second generation of this 1st winery in St. Helena now owned by Gallo Brothers. And Harold Moskowite twice Napa County Supervisor, farmer, businessman and winery owner whose family has lived in  the upper valley  area where Lake Berryessa is located has accepted to participate.

BOOK II: The Innovators and Pacesetters of the Modern NV Wine Industry

     This may be the first book published of the trilogy and contains the results of interviews with  figures who have molded the Napa Valley Wine industry into what it is today.

    20  have already been nterviewed, 4 have accepted to particpate and I  await only one more to accept and I'll have 25 in the book.  Scroll down to view the complete list.  Just to mention a few, there is Jack Cakbread, Michael Mondavi, Ric Forman, Dan Duckhorn, Dr. Richard Peterson, Bob Trinchero, Andy Becksoffer and the list goes on. You can click here to go to the list of all participants and the status of my interview with them:
BOOK III: The Inheritors of the NV Wine Industry
     We will select 35 (plus/minus) appropriate off spring and new comers to discuss a common set of questions addressing the reasons why they did not or did continue family businesses or why the decided to start up a winery operation.

If you are interested in the questions and the invitees, continue reading below.
1. Major Contribution(s) to the wine industry. What would you most like to be remembered as having contributed to the American Wine Industry? This is probably a difficult question in that you might feel that it requires you to be “bragging” but it really is not that at all’ It is simply your assessment of the contributions you think you have made and continue to make.

2. Significant influence on you. What and/or who do you consider the most significant influences in guiding your thinking and actions in the history of your contributions to the American Wine Industry and how so?

3. Essence of Napa and its wine. Mr. Joel Lewis, retired ad & marketing executive and resident of Napa, recently posed a very interesting question to me as I drove him to SFO which I would like to pass on to you for your comment. “What do you consider to be the ‘essence’ of Napa Valley and indeed, its wine?” The word “Essence” is being defined as “the intrinsic nature of anything; that which makes a thing what it is.”

4. Land Use Codes.
     Part 1: Today there are winery owners who are large foreign and/or USA corporations, and wealthy individual members of the association who are not home based within Napa County and have the potential for exerting great influence within and on the NVV and county/city governmental leaders. Ultimately they can conceivably exercise substantial influence on local agricultural and non-agricultural ordinances and codes through the votes of their employees.
     The Napa Valley wine industry employs over 39,000. My question is, do you ever foresee, given this large number of outside-of-the-county ownerships, the possibility that they could join forces and erode the agricultural preservation codes that have been enacted to date? What I am trying to drive at is: Could some of these large multi-national companies/ wealthy and influential owners decide that some of their land holdings would be better suited to high-end housing development for the wealthy desiring the “Lifestyle” that beautiful Napa Valley and its hillsides could offer if the land was removed from AG Preservation? They could legally, through subtly suggestion, that there would be employee job losses because of down turns in the economic conditions of wine production; unless they got the land use votes they wanted to build homes/mansions to shore up their bottom lines.
     Part 2 - Recent times have shown the lack of interest by the off spring of old time family wineries in assuming the role of owners and producers to continue the family wineries. In some cases there is even legal action taken among the siblings some of whom just want to take their inheritance percentage out of the winery and move on with their own business interests. Do you foresee the possibilities that these off spring could conceivably take legal action against the county to remove AG Preservation codes on their family land so they can inherit rights that might lead to more money than staying in the AG business?

5. American Wine Industry Hall of Fame.
     Since the early 1850’s most of the great minds in grape feedstock for the production of wine have been moving and concentrating in the Pacific coastal states, particularly in California and more specifically in the northern counties above the Los Angeles basin.
     There is still significant wine production on-going in all the other states where their principal feedstock are fruits, berries, honey and native grape varietals, with some production from foreign grape varietal hybrids. These latter areas enjoy loyal wine consumer following and generate impressive tourism and wine sales numbers but nothing like that witnessed among the Pacific coastal states and in particular Napa and Sonoma Counties.
     To date I have identified a number of wine industry related Hall of Fame (HOF) programs but none are all-inclusive by representing the many facets associated to wine production, marketing and sales.
     What would you think of the potential marketability of an “American Wine Industry Hall of Fame, Museum and Foundation” located within the City of Napa to recognize those who significantly contributed to the growth of the industry (including all feedstock types used to produce a wine) since the discovery of the “new world” and display important artifacts associated to that history and from which the monetary proceeds would support academic pursuits in the history associated to all sub fields of the American Wine Industry?
     Please visit the Web site: n for the description of what the American Hall of Fame would encompass and encourage.
     I have even suggested such HOF, Museum and Foundation could fit well in the COPIA Complex - click here to read about those thoughts:

Primarily Growers/Vineyard management & development
Andy Beckstoffer -- Interview completed - - -
Very large vineyard owner in North Bay counties

Volker Eisele -- Interview completed -
Vineyard/winery owner. Activist for greenbelt, AG preserve, hillside ordnances, etc.

Ken Laird - waiting for reply- - - - - -
Very large vineyard owner in Napa county.

Salvador “Sal” Renteria -- Interview completed 
One of first large managers

William “Bill” Hill -- Interview completed, - --
Created the establishment of what would become the Hess Collection, William Hill on Atlas Peak Road now owned by Piero Antinori of Italy, and now co-owner in Big Horn. is on my 1989 SERIES “B” Wine Label Poster-map

Primarily Winemakers
Mitch Cosentino -- Interview completed -
Created Cosentino winery in Napa and Crystal Valley Cellars in Lodi and contributed to establishing Merlot as great wine by itself. Cosentino is on my 1989 SERIES “B” Wine Label Poster-map

Randy Dunn - -Interview completed - -
Often considered a “cult” winemaker/winery who re-established Howell Mtn name.

Ric Forman -- Interview completed.- -
Started as partner in Sterling then moved on to Madrone and now has own winery and consults many. is on my 1989 SERIES “B” Wine Label Poster-map

Tony Soter -- Interview accepted, DTBD, Spring 2010. .
Soter was a consulting winemaker in the Napa Valley where he guided such wineries as Araujo, Niebaum-Coppola (Now Rubicon), Shafer, Spottswoode, Viader and Dalle Valle. He now owns and operates Soter Vineyards in Williamette Valley, Oregon.

Primarily Small/Mid sized and/or Family owned wineries
Jack Cakebread -- Interview completed
Creator of Cakebread winery, wine photographer, land preservation, tourism guidance and many more wine business related organizations. is on my 1987 SERIES “A” Wine Label Poster-map

Dan Duckhorn -- Interview completed.-
Created Duckhorn and contributed to establishing Merlot as great wine by itself.

Agustin Huneeus -- Interview completed.-
Partner and acting President of Franciscan Estates in 1985. Under his leadership, the ailing company was transformed into a successful group of premium wine estates. In 1999, Agustin sold his interest in Franciscan Estates. Today, he devotes his time to Quintessa. He also maintains vineyard holdings in Chile, Alexander Valley and Napa Valley. Franciscan is on my 1987 SERIES “A” Wine Label Poster-map.

Francis Mahoney -- Interview completed
Creator of Carneros Creek winery. A major player in establishing Carneros as a great Pinot Noir district. Is on my 1987 SERIES “A” Wine Label Poster-map

Elizabeth Martini -- Interview accepted DTBD  No web site

A view of the industry from the perspective of a wife and mother.
Mary Novak -- Iinterview completed www.spo
Before there were “cult” wineries, she was one by starting Spottswoode

Warren Winiarski -- Interview completed No current web site
Founder: Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars ( ). Beside the winner of the 1976 taste-off, strong advocate of AG Preserve. . Is on my 1989 SERIES “B” Wine Label Poster-map

Primarily Executives in Larger Corporate type winery operations
Michael Mondavi -- Interview completed
- - -
Heir of a great wine and Napa Valley ambassador. Was once Robert Mondavi winery CEO. Now owns Folio Wine Partners. R. Mondavi is on my 1987 SERIES “A” Wine Label Poster-map.

Michael Moone -- interview accepted DTBD in spring 2010
Top notch large corporate executive who, through Silverado Partners headed a machine that took Beringer Brothers to a major player in the wine industry. As Beringer, is on my 1987 SERIES “A” and LUNA is on my 1989 SERIES “B” Wine Label Poster-map when it was originally St. Andrews

Dr. Richard Peterson -Interview completed - - -
Winemaker and business leader at large, medium and small wineries in a multiple number of counties. Wialliam Hill Winery is on 1989 SERIES “B” Wine Label Poster-map

Dario Sattui -- Interview completed - & Created the highly successful V. Sattui winery, deli and picnic grounds. Most recently completed the Castle de Amorosa, a 15 year building construction project, which is already a major destination for tourists. V. Sattui is on my 1989 SERIES “B” Wine Label Poster-map

Louis “Bob” Trinchero -- interview completed - - -
Creator of “White Zin and much more.

Ancillary Business (Insurance) development for the Industry
Ed Brovelli -- Interview accepted, DTBD- - No web site .
Developed first models to enable the insuring of winery operations.

Marketing/Advertising/Public Relations
Gary Ramona -- -Interview completed --  no web site
Headed teams at R. Mondavi and most recently at Fred Franzia’s Bronco - creator of “$2 Buck Chuck,” and now consulting with Antigal Winery and Estates of Argentina.

Industry Advocacy Group
Dr. Joh DeLuca --  Interview accepted DTBD
No web siyte
Headed up the California Wine Institute fom mid 1970's thru early 2000s

Charles L. Sullivan -- Interview completed- - - - - No web site.
Well noted historian, published writer and University Professor

Government Policymaking
Jim Hickey -- Interview accepted DTBD No web site
Planning Dept. leader of the determination of the definition of what constitues a winery

Harold Moskowite -- Interview accepted DTBD  No web site
Family owned ranch in upper valley area of Lake Berryessa where they were farmers.  Harold first became County Supervivior just as county struggled with land preservation codes, then built a winery and returned to be re-elected supervisor as the American Canyon area underwent huge growth.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Navigating My Blog site

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November 20, 2010

Nevada County Wine
I am trying to wrap up my book, "Empire Gold: Mines to Wines - The Past Meets the Present" on the 17 wineries of Nevada County.   Last Monday I interviewed the owner of Truckee River Winery and this past Thursday I complete the 17th and final interviews when I met with the founder and the winemaker at Nevada City Winery.  Now I can get busy writing up the history of the pre 1900 wine operations and the rebirth of wine productin in the county since 1980. 

After meeting with the folks at Truckee River Winery, I went on into Reno to have a little play time gambling at the Atlantis Casino.  I stayed overnight and decided I would collect some more driving time amd mileage data between Nevada County wineries on my way back to the Bay Area.  I took off on Hwy 20 from Hwy 80 and turned onto the Bowman Lake Road as shown on the map in the publication, "Nevada County Gold 2010-2011 Official Guide to Nevada County." This turned out to be quite an experience!  Click here --  -- to read my story,"Almost Lost in the Sierra's."

Napa County Wine
Work as slowed down on my book, "The Essence of the Wine Industry of Napa Valley."   The status of the interviews is shown below: 
Completed interviews (20)
Andy Beckstoffer -- largest vineyard owner
Jack Cakebread -- Cakebread winery
Mitch Cosentino -- Cosentino winery
Dan Duckhorn - - Duckhorn winery
Randy Dunn -- famed winemaker and owner Dunn winery -- reestablished Howell Mtn fame
Volker Eisele -- famed organic grower and owner Eisele winery Pope Valley
Randy Forman -- famed winemaker and owner Forman winery foot of Howell Mtn
William Hill -- vineyard/winery development
Agustin Huneeus-- famed former Chilian winery owner, hired to save Franciscan; now owns Quintessa
Francis Mahoney -- Restored Carneros district fame while owning Carneros Creek Winery
Michael Mondovi -- of R. Mondavi fame and now owns FOLIO
Peter Mondavi -- Founder of the Charles Krug - Mondavi Family Era
Mary Novak -- Spottswood - before the word cult existed her winery was “cult”
Dr. Richard Peterson -- vineyard/winery development, Monterey, Atlas, etc.
Gary Ramona -- PR/Marketing, formerly of R. Mondavi and Bronco/Fred Franzia - Two Buck Chuck
Sal Renteria -- vineyard/field hand management
Dario Sattui --creator of hugely popular Sattui winery and deli and now of the “Castle”winery in Calistoga
Charles Sullivan - famous wine historian/writer and college professor
Louis "Bob" Trinchero -- popularized Zinfandel and creator of Sutter Home White Zin.
Warren Winiarski -  The man who founded Stag’s Leap Wine cellars and won French taste off in 1976

Accepted. Now discussing date for interview (7)
Ed Brovelli -- devising ways to calculate and set risk for winery insurance underwriting
Dr. John DeLuca -- head of The Wine Institute, mid-1970 through early 2000’s
Jim Hickey -- gov’t policymaking side of industry
Elizabeth Martini -- perspectives from a winery owner wife and mother.
Harold Moskowite -- Winery owner, former County Supervisor
Michael Moone -- Last head of Beringer Estate now owner Luna winery
Tony Soter (in Oregon) -- Probably the first recognized “cult” winemaker creating some of the greatest

Hope to receive decision to participate soon (1)
Ken Laird -- large vineyard owner

I have over 60 hours of interview recording to be transcribed at the rate of about $200 per hour and a half of recorded interview time.  I have to plan the transcriptions to be completed to my monthly cashflow thus the current slowdown in developing the final draft book.

Recent articles
Lake County
I created separate blog site for my articles on Lake County wine-related activities and my write ups.  My article on the 11th Annual Lake County Wine Auction is presented there.I attendiedthe sold out Lake County winery auction event at which Jed Steele, now of Steele winery and consultant to Indian Springs Winery in Nevada County, will be receiving a conressional commendation from Congressman Mike Thompson honoring Jed's contributions to the Lake County, indeed, California and American Wine Industries. Jed was the original and famed winemaker of the Kendall Jackson Chardonnay that launched K-J on the path to becoming one of the top 10 largest American wine producers.
Calif. Vintners Hall of Fame
Well. the voting ballots closed on Sept. 17 for selection of the 7-9 nominees to be inducted into the California Vintners Hall Of Fame (CVHOF) come january 2011.  I had a particularly hard time with the abstracts that were presented on the ballots to the Electoral College to assist them figure out which were the best candidate this year to select.  Many of the abstracts contained false information, personal opinion, non=-germane civic and charity donation citations, and just plain bias comments which I cannot support.  I tried three tiimes have the representatives of the CVHOF sponsor - Culininary Institute of America, Greystone-St. Helena Campus- ammend the abstracts but to no avail.  Click here to read my comments on these problems and my recommendations for the future years ; American Wine Industry - Hall of Fame Programs - CVHOF Class of 2011 abnstracts

The CVHOF recently announced its selection of wine industry greats to be inducted as the Class of 2011.  You can read more at the site:

 My articles on other restaurant and winery visits

Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance and held in Menlo Park, CA. Click here:

Swanson Vineyards and Winery, Rutherford, Napa Valley. Click here to read the full article:

125th year anniversary of V. Sattui first making wine in America

Click here = Martinez, Ca, - Louie Bertola’s Restaurant and the Beaver Dam
Click here = A Tasting at the Famous Spottswoode Winery The original owner, Mary Novak, will be interviewed for my wine book described below
My articles on just fun things I find in my mind wanderings:
 I Have to Question What We Are Doing With the Celebration of our Heritage! CLICK ABOVE FOR FULL ARTICLE: Highlights of article are below:
February is Black History Month. With only about two weeks of time past in the month, I noticed that there are quite a few references to Black History as spot-like ads on many TV channels and radio stations.

I got to thinking about this in terms of my awareness of other nationality groups getting as much, or creating as much, exposure for their respective sub-nationalities.........What About Celebrating Being An American?

Posted 2/18/10  ABOUT COLD WAR SOVIET SUBMARINE OPERATIONS IN THE PACIFIC THERE IS SOME NEW INFO HERE JUST RELEASED BY THE CIA SINCE THE MOVIE DOCUMENTARY WAS RELEASED Originally Posted: 12/20/09  Click here =The CIA funding of Glomar Explorer salvage attempt of a sunken Soviet Submarine, K-129  The article related directly to my novel below: "The SOSUS Man."
Posted 10/28/09  Click here = Olney Returns to UOP Alumni Swim Meet - WOW!
My books in development
My non-fiction  WINE RELATED book draft currently in development.LAST UPDATED: 3/24/10  Click here =  The Essence of the Napa Valley Wine Industry - Book II - The Innovators and Pacesetters - 1960s to 2000’s  featuring interviews with 25 of the top Napa Valley industry stars

My NAVY OPERATIONS  novel draft currently nearing completion: LAST UPDATED: 10/27/09  Click here =  The SOSUS Man  About Soviet submarines in the Pacific featuring espionage and romance during the years of the Cold War with Russia (Then the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republic -USSR)
My articles on redevelopment in Napa County
 Posted; 6/24/09 Click here = I have to applaud those with vision to buy when others would not!
Posted 6/24/09 Click here =  Got to bring quality products to quality stores to bring buyers
My articles on COPIA, NV Wine Train and Napa River Oxbow District
Posted: 1/2/09 Click here = The Boardwalk and Park Place of Napa County - Oxbow River Walk District  River Terrace, Mckinstry, 1st St from Soscol to Silverado Trail.

Posted: 5/5/09 Click here =
What COPIA Could Become
Wine/Vintner Halls of Fame
LAST UPDATE: 11/25/09  Click here =The 2010 Inductees


Almost Lost in the Sierra's

So I had the map of Nevada County that is presented in the publication, “Nevada County Gold 2009-2010 Official Guide to Nevada County,” in my car as I was heading back from Reno. My intention was take the right hand turn onto “Bowman Lake Road” that the map shows departing in a north direction from Hwy 20 just after the Hwy 20 exit from Hwy 80. The road is shown going by a number of lakes (Spaulding, Fuller and Lindsay) continuing to Bowman Lake where the road turns westerly heading to Graniteville, North Bloomfield, North Columbia before finally intersecting with Hwy 49. The map route is shown below to the far right.(you can click on the images for enlargements)

. I decided to take this route because it seemed ideal for what I wanted which was a scenic drive in route to see the Malakoff Diggins hydraulic mining area. It was also a good route because it would take me towards Double Oak Winery which I include in my book, “Empire Gold: Mines to Wines -- The Past Meets the Present,” that will document the history of winemaking in Nevada County since the Gold Rush days starting back in 1848. I hope to have ready for publication by the summer of 2011.

It was about 9 am as I started up the road and I was thinking about how beautiful a day it was with blue sky and temperature about 60 degrees. The road was narrow but one lane in each direction and it was in great shape.

I came upon this valley near the beginning of the drive.

What I found of particular interest were the loose boulders scattered on the ridge above the tops of the tree line across the canyon.

Pictured below is a magnified photo of the boulder area.

As I drove on I found myself slowly climbing in altitude. What I particularly liked about the road was the mile markers letting me know how far along the road I was since turning off Hwy 20. It was about mile maker #4 that I noticed I was starting to run into patchy snow on the road where it was shady. This snow was from a storm that swept through the area a couple of days before my trip through this area. The snow was acting more like ice than that wonderfully powdery stuff.

I continued climbing and the amount of snow/ice continued to collect on the shadowed turns and dips away from the warming thus melting Sun. But I looked at the map and I was sure that I was okay as I passed the roads that led off towards Fuller then Lindsay Lakes and more. I kept going as I passed the 8, 9 then 10 mile maker but I was still climbing. But now the road became dirt and gravel. Every once in awhile I would run into a pool of melted snow water among the snow ruts and I wondered if I went through it that there would indeed be solid ground underneath or a deep hole? I found both as just about every other time I went through such spots, my car bottomed out hard against the sides of holes in the road.

By my mental calculations I thought for sure by now I would be descending and thus the snow and ice would be decreasing. Not true, in fact the snow and ice was increasing and the height of the middle grove of the snow/ice was reaching the height of trucks and SUV’s with their higher suspension systems. I was getting a little nervous about being out here all alone as I had only seen one truck coming down the road since I left Hwy 20. I thought about those travelers we have all read about who took off on what promised to be a scenic drive only to find themselves lost and/or stranded due to a combination of weather and hazardous road conditions. I imagined myself sliding off the road and falling down the mountainside lost forever until a stray hiker found my car and skeleton inside mauled over by bears, wolfs and big cats.

Now I had just passed another mile maker, #11, and I didn’t like the way the snow/ice were becoming more frequent and piled higher, meaning that very few vehicles were passing through this area. I decided I needed to turn around and get out of potential trouble. But, I couldn’t find an area where I could keep traction of my back tires while I turned the car and moved forward a few feet, then backwards a few feet, and repeating this process while slowing reversing my position on the road.

It was just about the 12 mile marker that I cam upon the sign that indicated that continuing on this Bowman Lake road was not recommended for regular cars or RV’s, but only high clearance vehicles. “Oh fine,” I said to myself, “why wasn’t this sign posted much lower on the road!” In fact it should have been posted at the beginning of the road where it departed from Hwy 20!! Needless to say, I finally found a place where I could turn around and I got the heck out of there as quickly, but safely, as I could.

When I got back home, I decided to look up on the internet the area where I had been driving . I found this web site: . It provides a great description of the lake with it’s waterfalls and the following comments about getting to the lake:

Location: Emigrant Gap, Bowman Lake, Tahoe National Forest, Nevada County…..
Elevation: 5600 ft. (+ 100 ft.) …….
Season: Jun-Sep……
Directions: From Auburn, drive east on I-80 for 40 miles to the Hwy 20 exit to Nevada City. Drive west on Hwy 20 for 4.3 miles to Bowman Lake Rd (Road 18). Turn right and drive about 15 miles to Bowman Lake. The last 5 miles is on a dirt road. At the end of Road 18, continue on the very rough dirt road for 3.2 miles to the east end of the lake, where Jackson Creek dumps into Bowman Lake, just past the campground. Park anywhere along here. High clearance vehicle are highly recommended.

I found many other web sites referring to visits made to the lake and unanimously they pointed out how rough the road was to reach the lake and cautioned those willing to try to only use 4X4 type vehicles.  I guess this drive was my "Hastings Cut Off" like the Donnor Party experienceds!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

“Old” SLHS Swimmers (1958-1962) Honor Coach

Back in  June swimming great, Brian Foss and his wife Marcia, coordinated and hosted a reunion of nine swimmers coached by perennial league winning coach Bob Brown during the years 1958- 1962 at San Leandro High School (SLHS) and A.A.U. days with the “RAD LAB” (Lawrence Radiation Lab., Livermore, CA.). Brian was able to locate more than shown below but distance prevented some from attending. Those who were able to attend are pictured below.  (click on any pictures to enlarge and/or if you want to copy)

From left to right: (Year graduated is shown in parenthesis) Roy Childs (‘59), John "Kip" Olney (’60), Jerry Macedo (’61) Frank DePace (’62), coach Bob Brown and Mike Chinn. (’61) Front rowTed Barstad (’62), Morgan Edwards (’62), Jim Perry (’62) and Brian Foss (‘60)

The reunion was held at the Foss home in Santa Cruz, only a few hundred yards from the ocean where we watched breaking waves through their living room window.

Coach Bob Brown, now 80 years old and in fantastic condition, was the focal point of the reunion as all in attendance thanked him for what he did for each of us not only in swim training and competition, but as a friend and counselor guiding his swimmers on to colleges and ultimately being better men. Brian presented coach Brown with a plaque thanking him for all those things he did for us during our teenage years.

During his tenure at SLHS, Coach Brown won the A.C.A.L. Swim Title three years in a row (1958-1960). A number of his swimmers achieved selection to High School All-American. He went on from San Leandro High School to become coach at Chabot College. and continued his career in helping swimmers achieve all that they could.

Colleges and Universities graduated from were Denver University, Univ. of the Pacific,and Univ. of Southern Calif, These nine swimmers have career backgrounds in Port Director (1- Foss) ,insurance (1 -Chinn), law (2 - Morgan and Perry), print shop owner (1- Barstad), univ. professor (1-Childs), swim coach (1- Macedo), wine writer (1-Olney ), and computer graphics designer (1-DePace)

The current home towns of attendees: Santa Cruz (Foss), Parker, CO. (Morgan), Napa (Olney), Almaden-San Jose ( Macedo), Fairfax (DePace), Stockton (Childs), Lafayette (Perry), Diablo-Danville (Barstad), Orinda (Chinn) and Tucson, Az (coach Brown).

Of those attending, Jerry Macedo went on in swimming to coach and manager Almaden Swim and Racquet Club for over 35 years. He also was in the army and coached swimming at the U.S. military academy West Point. John "Kip" Olney while serving as an officer in the Navy coached and swam for the 12th Naval District swim team (1967-68).

The reminiscing, which often took the form of telling some stories about each other back in the day, were refreshing and so worth getting together to share.

Performing the multiple roles of food preparation and servers, picture takers and just plain perfect hostesses were Marcia Foss and Jodie Blackburn. Jodie also was a former swimmer but in the Fresno area.

Marcia and Brian Foss

Brian getting Jodie ready to take picture of the group

Pictured below are photos extracted from the 1960 San Leandro High School Yearbook. The butterfly swimmer upper right is John “Kip” Olney, to the right is Diver Floyd Plumlee and below them are pictured Coach Brown and group of the swimmers from left to right top row: Dave Leonard, Gary Henning and Larry Pearson and front row: John “Kip” Olney, Jim Foley and Brian Foss.

The second page of photos is labeled appropriately.

Sunday, May 02, 2010


The Past Meets the Present

PART ONE of a three-part series:
An Introduction to the
Northern Sierra Foothills Wineries

By John Olney
(All photos by John Olney unless otherwise so stipulated)
Web site:  / E-mail:  
Phone: 707-299-9548

Copyright, all rights reserved by Wine Country Marketing and Promotions,
1370 Trancas St., #409, Napa, CA 94558 Phone: 707-299-9548

April 28, 2010
The day started with dark skies looming over the northern Sierra Foothills along a backroad residential community, named “You Bet.” The area is nestled in the typical rolling hills mix of dirt and gravel roads occasionally connected by short segments of privately paved sections.

This area is located about three miles plus east of historic Grass Valley, California and mile from the famous Empire Gold Mine. It is situated along Highway 174 which connects Colfax and Grass Valley. Colfax is the heart of the first discovery of gold by John Marshall in the stream of the lumber mill of John Sutter and Grass Valley represents the once largest gold producing mine in California. Its second owner was the William Bower Bourn family of San Francisco. William, the Second, brought the mine to its highest production before it was purchased by North Star Gold Mines.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the very beginning.

What brought my attention to this area is an interesting story that started with my decision to attend for the first time my San Leandro High School anniversary event scheduled for September of this year. Signing up for this function gave everybody my e-mail address and sure enough it wasn’t very long before some class members started contacting me. In particular was Nancy (“Nanc”) Boyce. She was my dream girl in my senior year and when we both moved on to College of the Pacific -- now the liberal arts college of the University of the Pacific, Stockton, California. But, a romantic relationship just was not going to happen.

After way more years than either of wish to mention, we re-contacted back in January and agreed to a meeting at which we spent a fabulous four hour lunch in Walunt Creek getting reacquainted. Then in April, Nanc and I decided to get together again. We both enjoy wine and Nanc had experience in the tasting room and private events at Arrowhead Winery of Sonoma while unbeknown to both of us, while I was working in Napa wineries (Mumm, Silverado and Andretti). I wanted to get away from the north Bay Area wine country so I suggested that I come up her way and we go to a couple of the local 15 wineries of the Northern Sierra Wine Country Association (Click here: ). She was fine with my recommendation, so I began looking up each winery on the Internet. I quickly found out that these wineries operated at different hours that I was used to back in the Napa-Sonoma wine counties. I was looking at mostly a Saturday and Sunday tasting room opening schedule and most did not open until noon. As I was interested in also doing an article on the couple of wineries we would visit, I would not be able to complete an interview on their busiest consumer days so I set about to schedule visits by appointment. I e-mailed them all and happily I received many favorable responses. I found myself now going to the northern Sierra Foothills to visit more than just a couple of wineries. Click here to see the participating wineries,and visit their web sites:

The Past - A little historical Commonality Between Napa and Nevada Counties

In looking up the wineries and the major towns which they surround, Grass Valley and Nevada City, I could not avoid reading about the gold rush days which created these towns. This brought to my attention a number of characters who had simultaneous ties to Napa County.

The gold country area was familiar with a very important Mormon gentleman named Sam Brannan. It was Brannan who ran around spreading the word about the discovery of gold at Sutter’s mill but only after he established three mercantile stores between San Francisco and Gold Country from which his inflated product prices made him one of the early wealthiest men in California. Brannan took a consort by the name of Lola Montez who would eventually leave him. She was famous/infamous in Grass valley as well. This was happening during the 1860’s when Brannan was founding the northern most city of Napa County, Calistoga, where his dream of soda springs resort fizzled out..

There were the names of William Bower Bourn, the First and Second, who purchased the Empire Gold Mine and developed it into the largest, deepest and most productive gold mine of California. It was in Grass Valley that William, the 2nd pushed for electrical power for his mines and forced the convergence of smaller power companies into what would become Pacific Gas and Electric (PG and E), founded in Grass Valley. The Langley and Bourn Mine just south of St. Helena, Napa County was rich in iron ore in the 1870’s. Important to Nevada County is the fact that simultaneous with gold mining in Nevada County, the largest mining production of cinnabar from which mercury is produced, was in Napa County.

In the mid 1870’s Bourn, the 2nd, was producing wine just south of St. Helena, in Napa County. Then in the early 1880’s, Bourn also built the great stone winery in north St. Helena across from the Charles Krug winery, known as Greystone," that now houses the Culinary Institute of America with its California Vintners Hall Of Fame. This was the first building in Napa County to have electrical power.

Back to the Present - The Wineries of Nevada County

As of this writing, we have visited nine of the wineries either at downtown tasting rooms and/or the actual winery/vineyard site.  The natural beauty of the foothills cannot be avoided. Everywhere we went and looked there were just beautiful views and settings.

Five wineries on Wednesday the 28th of April and four more on the 29th. I’ve got to tell you, I certainly should have figured out before I started driving to the wineries that I was dealing with country roads. Naively, I measured distance on a map between two points - BIG MISTAKE! All day long, except for the first winery on the days list, I was apologizing profusely for being late. Each winery in sequence totally accepted my being late and told me that they thought it was going to happen when they saw my schedule published to all. I say “my being late” because none of it was the fault of Nanc - it was all my doing. We’d finally arrive, I would apologize like crazy and they would just invite us on in with great big open arms as if we were right on time! Winery after winery we only experienced the most gracious of hosts so willing to share their wine and stories with us.

On Wednesday, Nanc had suggested that she might make some sandwiches for us to eat along the way between winery visits. But no, I had it all planned out and we would catch lunch at a restaurant as we went along our visits - BIG MISTAKE, AGAIN! We were running so late between visits that lunch was skipped. She wouldn’t leave her house on Thursday without bringing along sandwiches she made for us -Smart Girl!

In between the winery visits on Wednesday we were frequently caught in heavy rain downpours and even hail storms. We must of looked like two drown mice! The skies were dark but beautiful.

On the next morning, Thursday, I awoke to a beautiful, but thin layer of snow on the decks of the house, grounds and clinging to tree branches surrounding the home. This day gave us some sunny breaks mixed again with rain and hail then back to sunshine. It did not matter that we were at the very end of April and had anticipated the weather to be blue skies and warm. Over the two day period we got a little bit of it all!

PART TWO of three: 
My next article will be about the wines we tasted, but I want to wait until we have completed our tasting with as many of the wineries who will participate in our little project.  Wednesday, May 5 we visit four more and I hope to talk the last two into joining us this coming week.

Vineyards and Wineries of the Northern Sierra Foothills


* These wineries will be leasing space under the landlord, “Grass Valley Wine Company.”

Lucchesi Vineyards and  Winery - Click here:  

Downtown Tasting Room - open daily from 11:00am-6:00pm Phone: 530.274.2164
Address: 167 Mill St, Grass Valley, CA 95945
Winery/Vineyard - 19698 View Forever Ln, Grass Valley, CA 95945 By Appointment Only

Pictured below is Tasting Room representative, Megan McCreary.

Naggiar Vineyards - Click here:  

Address: 18125 Rosemary Ln., Grass Valley, CA 95949
Winery Tasting Room: Friday- Sunday: 11am to 5pm and Monday - Thursday: By appointment only. Phone: 530.268.9059 E-mail:

Below are pictured owner Mike Naggiar and his niece Alyssa

* Pilot Peak Vineyard and Winery - Click here:
-Located Winery Downtown Grass Valley Tasting Room Coming Soon at 151 Mill Street, Grass Valley
Winery and Vineyard Adress: 12888 Spenceville Rd, Penn Valley, CA 95946 Phone: 530.432.3321 E-mail:  
Winery Tasting Room open Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 pm. Other days by appointment only Complimentary tastings

This is owner/winermaker, Lynn Wilson

Sierra Starr Vineyard - Click here: 
Downtown Tasting Room : Open everyday, 12-5pm. Phone: 530.477.8282 E-mail:
124 W. Main Str., Grass Valley, CA 95945
Winery and Vineyards: By Appointment Only : 11179 Gibson Dr., Grass Valley, CA 95945 Phone: 530.477.8277
Mailing address: 203 Prospect Street, Nevada City, CA 95959

Photo below is Phil Starr (right) and son Jack.

Smith Vineyard - Click here:
Downtown Tasting Room Mill Street- Weekdays: 12-6 pm, Weekends: 12-7 PM Closed Tuesdays
Phone: (530) 272-7032 E-mail: christina@smithvineyard.com142 Mill St., Grass Valley, CA 95945
Winery and Vineyards: By Appointment Only. Call for time and location

One of the family owners, Christina Smith, is shown below


Coufos Cellars - Web site is under construction and they hope to have it up and running within a week
Address: 10065 Rough & Ready Road, Rough and Ready, CA 95975
Winery Open for Tasting: Saturday and; Sunday, 12-5pm only. Or call for appt other days
Phone: 530-274-2923 E-mail:

Owner/grower,  Henry Coufos, starts to pour us tasting samples

* Montoliva Vineyard and Winery - Click here: 
Co-Located Winery Downtown Grass Valley Tasting Room Coming Soon at 151 Mill Street, Grass Valley
Address: 15629 Mount Olive Road, Chicago Park, CA 95712
Open Saturdays and Sundays, 12-4pm. Phone: 530-346-6577 E-mail:

Photo below:  Mark Henry describing winemaking process to Nanc

Sierra Knolls Vineyards and Winery Click here:
Highway 49/Colfax Tasting Room Coming Soon
Address: 19635 Kingswood Ct, Grass Valley, CA 95949 Phone: 530.268.9225 E-mail:
Winery and Vineyard Tasting Room open Saturday & Sunday, 12 -5pm. Weekdays by appointment.

Owners Brenda Taylor and John Chase serving us their wine and guiding us around the grounds.

Szabo Vineyards - Click here:
Address area: Gold Fork Rd., Nevada City
Winery Tastings by appointment only. Phone: (415) 328-5611

Owner, winemaker, and hands on site construction laborer, Alex Szabo , presents his wine to us.


Avanguardia Wines - Click here:
Downtown Tasting Room, Grass Valley
Address: 13028 Jones Bar Road. Nevada City, CA 95959
Open weekends, 12-5pm Free tasting. Or call for appt other days at 530-274-9482.

* Bent Metal Winery - Click here:  
Co-Located Winery Downtown Grass Valley Tasting Room Coming Soon at 151 Mill Street, Grass Valley
Winery and Vineyard Address: 14364 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley, California, 95945
Phone 530-559-9533 E-mail:
Mailing address: PO Box 2508, Grass Valley, CA 95945-2508

Double Oak Vineyards and Winery - Click here
Address: 14510 Blind Shady Rd., Nevada City, CA 95959
Winery Tasting Room: Open Saturdays only  11 to 5, Mid-February through December. Open by appointment all year. Phone: 530.292.3235 E-mail:

* Solune Winegrowers - Click here:
Co-Located Winery Downtown Grass Valley Tasting Room Coming Soon at 151 Mill Street, Grass Valley
Winery and; Vineyard Address:16303 Jewett Lane, Grass Valley, CA 95945
Complimentary tasting at the winery, weekends 12-5 pm or by appointment during the week.
Phone: 530-271-0990 E-mail:



Indian Springs Vineyards - Click here:
Address: 303 Broad Street, Nevada City, CA 95959
Downtown Tasting Room - Open daily 11am to 5pm. Phone: 800.375.9311

Nevada City Winery - Click here:
Address: 321 Spring Street, Nevada City, CA 95959
Downtown Tasting Room: Open daily. Tours Saturdays at 11:30. Phone: 530.265.9463 / 800.203.9463

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Paso Robles AVA Event

28 Wineries Offer Their Products
to Media and Trade Members

By John Olney
April 24, 2010

Web site:  E-mail:  
Phone: 707-299-9548 

Copyright, all rights reserved by Wine Country Marketing and Promotions,
1370 Trancas St., #409, Napa, CA 94558  Phone: 707-299-9548

Thursday, April 22, 2010. Stacie Jacobs, Executive Director, of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance (PRWCA) was the Master of Ceremonies and opened the one hour event kick-off seminar with a general review of the location, mission, objectives and characteristics of this large and geologically diverse AVA . The AVA is located in the Central Coast area of California, just about halfway between San Francisco to the north and Los Angeles to the south. To examine this AVA in greater depth, click here:  (Click on any graphic/photo for an enlargement)

(map courtesy of Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance)

That’s Stacie standing in the picture below: (all photo’s by John Olney)

Following her presentation, Stacie turned the balance of the seminar session over to the well known wine editor of Sunset Magazine, Sara Schneider, co-author of Sunset’s 2007 edition of its very popular magazine/booklet series, “California Wine Country - A Sunset Field Guide.” The earliest version of this Sunset series was published in August 1968. Click here to read her thoughts on tasting wine: \

I first met Sara back in 2008, when we both served on the Nominating Committee to select the ballot list of potential inductees to the California Vintners Hall of Fame, Class of 2009, sponsored by and housed at the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone Branch, St. Helena, California. Click here for details on the Hall:

Sara, pictured above, performed the duties of moderator among three distinguished Paso Robles AVA winery representatives who would be speaking about their wines, and the seminar attendees who would present them with their questions. The seminar was limited to a small group of about 32 media/trade representatives. Needless to say, I was very pleased that I was able to submit my RSVP early enough to be accepted to attend.

The seminar format was to taste and compare red wines of two distinct price points with each of the winery representatives providing us their rationale supporting the difference in pricing structure. This was a very interesting wine seminar theme and concept which comes at a particularly relevant point in time given the general economic downturn of the past couple of years plus. So, what the attendees did was first taste the wines of all three in the price range of about $15-16 per bottle. Then we moved to the wines priced between about the $35 to $50 range.

Value Priced” Wines
J. Lohr Vineyards and Winery
The first winery representative she introduced was Steve Lohr, Executive VP/Chief Operating Officer of J. Lohr Vineyards and Winery. (He is pictured below)

Steve gave us a little insight into the history of his family in the American Wine Industry. His father Jerry Lohr started the first family vineyard in the Arroyo Seco AVA, Monterey County, back in 1972 and first winery in 1974 in the San Jose area. Next on the growth plan was a vineyard purchase in St. Helena of the Napa Valley AVA. Then in 1986, Lohr again decided to expand and this time chose acreage in the Paso Robles AVA. You can view much greater details on the family members, history, vineyards, wineries and their wines by clicking here: .

Steve selected the 2007 J. Lohr Los Osos (the bear) Merlot: Los Osos and Creston Vineyards. You can visit their web site listed above to review vineyard location and winemaker notes. The wine was certainly indicative of a “value priced” product as supported by my third extensive swirl it opened up quite nicely into a very enjoyable wine.

Clayhouse Wines
The next presenter was David Frick (pictured above), Winemaker at Clayhouse Wines. The winery derives its name from the 150 year-old adobe house that the proprietors, the Middleton Family, restored. As a historian, I am looking forward to visiting and touching the walls of this old classic. Click here to review all the history and chronology of growth and production for this winery:  . For the “value priced” wines he brought the 2008 Clayhouse Malbec from their Red Cedar Vineyard. Much of his discussion about this wine focused on the nuisances and difficulties of working with this grape varietal.

I only recently have begun tasting this varietal wine so my palate is still gaining experience with it. I found it with a long lingering spicy influence which I liked very much.

Ancient Peaks
The final presenter was Mike Sinor (Pictured below), Winemaker for Ancient Peaks Winery. Click here for history and details on Mike’s background, the owners, and their wines:

I found extremely interesting this little fact on their web site: “Margarita Vineyard resides in the historic Santa Margarita Ranch, which was first planted to vines by Franciscan missionaries in 1774."  Their web site also says that, “ Ancient Peaks and Margarita Vineyard are owned by three longtime local winegrowing families—the Filipponis, Rossis and Wittstroms….”

For the “value priced” Ancient Peaks wine, Mike presented us with their Cabernet Sauvignon from the Margarita Vineyard. My immediate reaction from the first sip was “Wow!” And, it just kept getting better with each additional intensive swirling and sip through three iterations. What a value wine! I had to see its blend: 92% Cab. Sauv., 4% Zin., 2% Malbec and 2% Petit Verlot. I don’t know what percent of which varietal made me like this wine so much, but I want some more of it, particularly at this price - $16/btle!

Higher Priced Wines

Now Sara got us all excited for round two of our tasting - the higher priced wines - when she really encouraged the winery representatives to give us the meat of why these wines are so priced.

J. Lohr Vineyards and Winery
Steve presented the Lohr Hilltop Vineyard Cab., a blend consisting of 90% Cab. Sauv., 4.6 % Petit Verdot, 2.8 % Merlot, 2.3 % Cabernet Franc and .03% Malbec. I must admit, the immediate effect on my palate and senses was that I was enjoying a very smooth wine. Steve described how the grapes were hand selected not only on the vine but in the sorting process on the way to the crusher. This wine just kept getting better with each swirl and sip.

An attendee asked Steve to discuss the move afoot to further specialize the AVA into eleven (11) distinct sub-appellations.  He described his winery's efforts to spearhead the segmenting which will be based on better defining the geological and climatic differences that exist as one moves around in the large Paso Robles AVA.  He feels optimistic that they will be successful in their attempts to better define the unique difference in the AVA.

Clayhouse Wines
David presented the Clayhouse Estate Petite Sirah-Show Pony from Red Cedar Vineyards. This wine also improved significantly as I swirled and sipped it. It had a most enjoyable flora- like nose to it. David gave us his insight into how much more of an in-field vine/grape selection process defines the final product of fine wine.

Ancient Peaks
For the final wine, Mike presented us the Ancient Peaks Oyster Ridge, a blend of grapes from Margarita and Whittstrom vineyards. This was a blend of 46% Cab., 24% Petite Sirah, 15% Merlot and 15% Petit Verdot. Again, I found a most enjoyable wine. Mike also provided his description of the increased selectivity process used to produce this more expensive wine.

Mike was asked by an attendee to comment on a rather local alleged debate  about whether the East or West side produced better wines. Mike carefully placed this question in perspective to the fact that Highway 101 basically divided the AVA and what the gentleman was referring to was simply that and not intended to reflect of wine quality on either as being better than the other.  He suggested that people were making more of the loose statement than they should be.

Wrap Up

Other than the Ancient Peaks 2007 Cab., the third wine tasted and priced at $16/btle, the higher price wines, $35 to $50/btle, were more pleasurable to my taste. That is not to say I didn’t find the lower price point wines just fine, because I did. I suppose that probably just like most folks during these economic times, my budget would require me to purchase the lower price point wines but when I have those extra bucks, I’m going to splurge with a purchase of the higher end wines.

This seminar session was very well organized and coordinated by the PSWCA. It was a great educational as well as delightful tasting event. Congratulations to Stacie and Sara. And, a special thanks to Steve, David and Mike for letting us hear their expertise and taste their wines.

As I still had a fairly long ride back to Concord, California, I only had time to taste a few of the wines of the other attending wineries. I tasted the Sauvignon Blanc from the booth of the Vina Robles Vineyards and Winery ( and found it very much to my liking.

The  next booth was Robert Hall  Winery ( )/ selected to taste the same varietal. This was also an enjoyable wine matching the style I like best.

Then I went back to reds. At the Opolo Vineyards ( booth, I first tasted their 2006 Sangiovese and found it much to my liking. I followed that with a taste of what seemed like an interesting blend of 2006 Barbara and Sangiovese that they call Montagna-Mare. I am a big fan of Sangiovese but this blended wine was just not for me.

My final taste was the 2005 Pinot Noir of the Maloy O’Neill Vineyards. ( This wine left an excellent lingering taste on my palate as I exited the event satisfied that I now knew some of the tastes in another AVA beside Lake, Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma.

This was an afternoon well spent and now I plan to travel to the Paso Robles AVA to experience more of their wines and expand my taste buds and experiences!