May 2013 Contra Costa Wine Group
Our last meeting was held at the lovely hillside
home of Rupert and Eran Perera. The hors d’oeuvres were wonderful and there was certainly lots
of great wine to drink. Thanks so much to Rupert and Eran for hosting this
meeting. There were right around 35 people in attendance and the outside fireplace was greatly
Our speaker for the
evening was John Bristow, DDS, from Benicia. John was one of our judges back in January and is
the head of a group of 45 people in the Benicia area that pool their resources and buy some really nice high end
grapes that they then turn into great wine. John is a graduate of the Enology program at U.C.
Davis and has built a very large “shed” (read winery!) in his back yard. He explained the
process of building it and then proceeded to tell us about his large group of “moneyed worker bees” (that’s
my designation). Their wines have taken Best of Show at several large tastings
around the state. We were fortunate enough that John brought four bottles of wine along with him
for us to taste. Unfortunately, no one was able to taste all four of the wines as they simply
didn’t make it around the circle of attendees. We sent the wines in both
directions! I’d like to thank John very much for his presentation and want him to know that
he’ll be asked to be one of our judges again come January, 2014.
Michele and I were
invited to dinner at the Poppy Ridge Golf Course restaurant the night before the last meeting.
The invitation came from the Amador Winemakers Association, a group of home winemakers. About 30
of their members were in the Livermore Valley for two days of private wine tasting and touring, all arranged in
advance. I was provided with some great information in advance about their group so I simply
spoke to them about how the Contra Costa Wine Group was organized and operated. The biggest
difference that I spotted was that their group has the luxury of a restaurant in Plymouth, CA for all of their
meetings, at no cost whatsoever to the group. They are also allowed to bring in their homemade
wines with no corkage charge. Their group consists of several commercial grape growers, a couple
of winery owners, lots of retired folks and their size is just about the same as us. About half
of their members grow at least some of their grapes. They’ve had outings like this one in
Sonoma, Napa, and Paso Robles in past years. As I noted in my talk, all it takes is a couple of
very good volunteers to be able to pull off that sort of thing. They annually buy grapes as a
group. Their process involves voting first on the type of grapes they want that year, how many
pounds everyone wants and who gets to go and pick up the grapes. They have group equipment
available to every member on a first-come-first-served basis. After those grapes are crushed,
they have a potluck picnic with lots of wine being poured. Members are not required to be part
of that process. Their group holds a Christmas party each year. They do rent
a room for that event. They do not have an annual wine judging competition.
Instead, some of their commercial winemakers evaluate their wines, one at a time, and provide them feedback at that
time. All in all, it was a very nice experience for Michele and me as they are a very nice group
of people and we all have winemaking in common with each other.
It looks like the CCWG
will have about 5 cases of wine that we’ll be pouring this Friday night at the Monterey Marriott for the WineMaker
Magazine Conference. Several of our members are attending the conference. The
four individuals not attending that will be provided name badges for the Friday night pouring are: Steve Abbanat,
Mike Orton, Paul Merrill and me. It looks like we’ll have 1½ to 2 cases of White/Rose wine, ½
case of Dessert Wine and the remainder will be Red Wine. Thank you all for graciously donating
your wines for this event. Again, now we just need to get that “Club of the Year” title back
The speaker at our
next meeting was arranged for by Mike Orton of Livermore. His name is Brian Geagan and he works
for Xtraoak.com. Brian will be making a presentation to us on all of the various oak products
that his company sells. I’m sure that it will be an interesting and worthwhile
The next meeting will be, Friday night, May
31st from about 7:30 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. or so at the home of Steve and Joyce Mirabito in Lafayette. Try and
carpool as I understand that parking is at a premium. You will be asked to park below their
home and you’ll be driven up the hill in a golf cart.
DIRECTIONS: From I 680 both North and the South,
take Highway 24 West toward Oakland. Take the very first exit, Pleasant Hill Rd. exit (#14)
North. After about 0.7 miles, turn left at the 3rd Stop Light onto Reliez Valley
Rd. Go through the 2nd Stop Sign about 1/8 of a mile and turn left onto Shangri La
Rd. The Mirabito home is located at 3432 Shangri La Rd., Lafayette. Their
telephone in case you get lost is: (925) 988-0255.
Be sure to bring a jacket, a wine glass, a folding chair and a bottle of your best
wine, or a commercial one that the group might enjoy, for the hors d’oeuvres table.
Again, Friday night, May 31st from about 7:30 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.
See you at the
meeting. I will be out of reach on an Alaskan cruise with Holland America through the
26th and then 3 days of fishing with the retired guys from my old office up at Lake Oroville the
28th, 29th and 30th . Retirement rocks!!!
Respectfully submitted, Al Turner, Secretary,
Contra Costa Wine Group