2010 picnic photo

Home About Us Newsletter Photos For Sale or Trade Contact


November/December 2012 Contra Costa Wine Group Newsletter


     Our last meeting was held at the home of Denis Beaman out in Blackhawk.  There was quite a spread of wonderful hors d’oeuvres laid out by Denis’ able “assistant” Linda Ormonde.  The turnout was fairly low at about 30 people total in attendance.  I’d like to especially thank Denis and Linda for doing such a great job in setting up for the meeting.

     The meeting was a “doubleheader” as it’s the “regular” month for the Harvest Report and then, John Walkinshaw arranged for members to present to the attendees items that they had devised to help in their winemaking or in the storage of their wines. 

     John went first and being an engineer, came up with some great ideas on how to store your wines with the minimum of space.  He then showed us the cart that he made for transporting full carboys and had pictures of his modified moving dolly that is also for moving full carboys.  Bill Rose sent me a presentation on his “Old School” method for cold fermentation.  I’m sure that it provided food for thought for many of the attendees.  Bonneau Dickson talked about Tom Coyne’s Ion Exchange system for handling high acid and high pH wines.  He uses the tops of cottage cream containers to cover the wine glasses while conducting blending experiments.  He also showed an “Ullage Adjuster” that he was willing to sell for just “$29.95” even though it cost him about a nickel.  I presented my “Submerged Cap Fermentation System” and also showed a roll of the very wide blue Painter’s Tape that I use to close my carboys when they’re not in use.  I add a Potassium Metabisulfite solution (about a quart) to each carboy before closing them up the blue tape.  I’ve found that it works very well.  Then, two websites were presented for keeping a record of your winemaking.  Site #1 is: http://www.conrado.com/images/wine/winerecord.pdf and Site # 2  is:

http://www.winemakermag.com/images/stories/logchart.pdf  Both were very usable.

     We then talked about this years’ harvest.  There were far fewer grapes available to home winemakers this year.  Many, many vineyard owners entered into long term contracts with wineries to lock in their prices, long term.  The grapes that were either grown by members or were found elsewhere gave all indications of being a spectacular year.  The numbers for Sugar, pH, TA and YAN were all quite good.  We had a great discussion about grapes.

     About a case and a half of wine, both purchased and homemade, was gathered for the Red Boots Wine dinner being held the weekend after our January judging and benefiting the Contra Costa Interfaith Housing charitable organization.  I would implore you to bring an extra bottle along with you to Nouveau Night, our next meeting.

     I’ll have sign-up sheets at Nouveau Night for volunteering your services at the Professional Judging on January 26, 2013.  I’ll also have a sign-up sheet for Hosting our 2013 meetings.  We need a large home for White & Dessert Wine Awards Night on Friday, February 22, 2013.  We need homes for “Regular” meetings on July 26, 2013; September 27, 2013 and October 25, 2013.  We then need another large home for Nouveau Night on Friday night, December 6, 2013.  Please step up and help your organization out. 


This is the 2nd year of the MAJOR change to the judging process.  NO WINES MAY BE DELIVERED ON SATURDAY MORNING, THE DAY OF THE JUDGING!  All wines will have to be delivered NO LATER THAN TUESDAY, JANUARY 22, 2013 to one of the three drop off homes located in the “Bay Area.”  Those homes are as follows:


          Pleasant Hill – Donna Guedon, 85 Collins Dr., Telephone: (650) 888-0444

          Berkeley - Bonneau Dickson, 2428 McGee Ave., Telephone: (510) 845-8625

          Alamo – Mike & Ann Koch, 215 Pebble Ct., Telephone (925) 552-7827

          Note to these individuals: I will be bringing 50 Pre-Numbered Paper Bags, Masking Tape, a black Sharpie and Sign-In Sheet and Instructions for each of you to the Nouveau Night event.  I’ll have Mark Brown send each of you a blank Excel document that is to be used to hasten the check-in process that has hindered us in past years.   


          As we have a lot of new members in the group, I feel that some information on how our judging works is in order.  To be able to enter the judging, everyone should have a minimum of 5 bottles (explanation follows) of each entry in their possession.  If you’re attending the potluck dinner that night, you need to bring only 2 bottles of each entry to the drop off homes listed above.  If your wine is given a First Place award, you will be called and told to bring an additional bottle with you when you come to the dinner.  If you are unable to attend the dinner, or don’t know yet, you need to deliver 3 entries to that drop off home.  This is because everyone wants to taste the First Place and Best of Show wines upon their arrival for the dinner.  One ounce pouring spouts will be placed on all of the First Place and Best of Show wines.  Note that, if you aren’t quick enough after the dinner, any unopened bottles of wine remaining will be collected and donated for Rupert Perera’s American Cancer Society dinner.  Please don’t be “quick.” 

          The additional 2 bottle “requirement” is so that the First Place wines can be tasted at the Awards meeting that follows in either February or March.  Those two meetings are usually very well attended, thus the need for two additional bottles!  We alternate years, so for 2013 the Red Wine Awards will be handed out on Friday, March 22, 2013.  The White, Dessert and Fruit Wine Awards will be handed out on Friday, February 22, 2013.  First Place winners are asked to provide a simple handout to those attending the meeting explaining all of the details about the winning wine and present it, briefly, to those attending the meeting.

          Our next meeting is one of the biggest and most fun events of the year.  It’s “Nouveau Night” where members bring their “works in progress” and have them judged by everyone in attendance.  We divide the wines up by Red and White (no Dessert or Fruit wines), place them on two or three different tables and go around sniffing, sipping and spitting.  If you drink any of the Red wines, you’ll end up with a really purple tongue by the end of the evening!  I’ll have note sheets, ballots, tape, marking pens and paper bags for the blind tasting.  Get a little of your new wines into a bottle NOW so that they’ll get over, at least a little bit of, bottle shock.  You only need a piece of masking tape on the bottle identifying the varietal or blend and the name of the winemaker.  I’m expecting a lot of wines to not be through Malolactic Fermentation (like mine) yet due to some of them being harvested so late this year.  We already know that it’s a 2012 vintage!  Certificates suitable for framing will be awarded to the winners of this event and handed out at the Potluck Dinner on Saturday, January 26, 2013.

The Nouveau Night meeting will be held Friday night, December 7, 2012, starting at around 7:00 p.m.  We’ll start the “program” promptly at 7:30 p.m.  Please try and be prompt as we need to get all of the Nouveau wines into a bag and then get them randomly numbered.  Late arrivals cause the tasting to be a lot less “blind” because their wines get the higher numbers.  The meeting will be held again (thankfully) at the home of Marv and Carolyn Schick, 2303 Belford Drive in Walnut Creek.  Unfortunately, Carolyn is still hampered by her walking cast and simply cannot be up and around to prepare the hors d’oeuvres for this meeting.  Thus, those attending the Nouveau Night meeting are being asked to bring a plate of hors d’oeuvres with them.  It would probably be best to place them on a paper plate and number between 12 and 20 individual hors d’oeuvres.  It would be especially nice if the straight out of the grocery store type of hors d’oeuvres were avoided.  Sorry to be so presumptuous.   


DIRECTIONS: From Highway 680 going South, take Exit 48, toward Treat Blvd./Geary Rd.  Turn left onto N. Main St.  Turn left onto Treat Blvd.  Take a slight right onto Bancroft Rd.  Turn left onto Ygnacio Valley Blvd.  Turn right onto Wiget Lane.  Turn right onto Belford Dr.  The Schick home, 2303 Belford Dr. will be on the left.    

From Highway 680 going North or Highway 24 from the West, take the Ygnacio Valley Blvd. exit.  Turn right onto Ygnacio Valley Blvd.  Turn right onto Wiget Lane.  Turn right onto Belford Dr. and the Schick home at 2303 Belford Dr. will be on your left.  If you get lost you can call them at (925) 945-6199. 


          Bring a bottle of your best homemade wine for the Hors D’oeuvres (half) Hour Table, your Nouveau entry, another for the Contra Costa Interfaith Housing dinner, your plate of hors d’oeuvres and a wine glass for the tasting.  There will be no chairs for sitting at this event.  For those of you that haven’t made any wine yet, please bring a bottle of commercially made wine that you believe the group will enjoy.  I’ll see you all there.


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Respectfully Submitted, Al Turner, Secretary, Contra Costa Wine Group