Saturday, November 20, 2010

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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!