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Contra Costa Wine Group October 2012 Newsletter


     Michele and I had a fabulous 5½ week vacation.  We spent 2 days in Amsterdam, boarded our Viking River Cruise ship, and went up the Rhine River, up the Main River and Main Canal, down the Danube to Budapest for 15 days.  We then drove over to Prague, stayed there 3 nights before flying to JFK, then Boston for an 18 day New England stay.  The weather was, overall, quite good, both in Europe and New England.  We hit peak foliage colors during many of the days in New England.

     As I missed the September meeting, our Wine Czar, Bonneau Dickson, was kind enough to take notes for me.  Here they are:  

     The meeting was held at the lovely home of Bob and Ruth Hussey.  As she has done in the past, Ruth laid out a spectacular set of hors d’oeuvres.  She also graciously gave a tour of her art to several members.  As usual, there were many bottles of good wine but only two of them were white.  About 35 people attended including numerous new members, which was good to see.

     A discussion was held about how far members are willing to drive for a meeting.  The question was raised about whether attendance at the previous meeting at the Tom Coyne winery in Livermore was affected by the distance to Livermore.  Steven and Susan Abbanat asked if people would be willing to come through the Caldecott tunnel and to a meeting at his house in the hills of Oakland.  The consensus of those present was that the low attendance at the meeting at Tom Coyne’s winery was due to vacations in August, not due to distance.  The consensus was that members were willing to drive to Livermore or Oakland, but not to Brentwood.

     John Walkinshaw noted that he is supposed to present at the October meeting tips of the trade that he has received from club members.  However, he says that he has received almost no tips to date.  All members are encouraged to share your own bright ideas with John.  One area that we might compare among our members is how you keep notes on each year’s wine.

The question was raised of whether the group would like to have a wine and food pairing at a winery, in addition to or in place of a monthly meeting.  It is envisioned that there would be a charge for this event.  Some interest was shown.  The program committee will develop this idea further, defining where and when it might be, and conducting a survey of how many members would be interested in attending.

     Several people paid their annual dues.  Let’s hope that no one who wants to continue as a member forgot to pay on time.  As noted previously, anyone who did not pay on time but still wants to be a member will be placed at the bottom of the waiting list.


     The speaker for the evening was Mr. John Kinney, the owner and winemaker for the Occasio Winery and Tasting Salon at 2245B South Vasco Road, Livermore, CA 94550.  Occasio specializes in varietals that have been planted in the Livermore area for at least 100 years.  Mr. Kinney explained that “occasion” means “opportunity” in Latin, which he learned when he attended a Benedictine school.  As none of the members present spoke Latin, we were unable to confirm this factoid, and had to take his word for it. 

     Mr. Kinney’s topic for the evening was, “Recognizing and Treating Problem Fermentations”.  He gave out handouts with slides and explained that there are two main types of problem fermentations: slow, and stuck.  Within these, there are four types of problem fermentations:  Slow initiation—becoming normal; slow initiation—slow throughout; normal initiation—becomes slow; and normal initiation—abrupt stop.  He then gave recommendations on how to deal with each type of fermentation problem.

     There was an interesting discussion between Bob Hussey and John Kinney about making an “orange” white wine by leaving the white grape must on the skins for a while.  The wine came out with an orange color that suggested it was oxidized, but in fact it was not.  The color had been extracted from the skins.

     Thanks so very much Bonneau for taking these notes.


     While Michele and I were staying in far western Massachusetts, we decided to drive up to Manchester Center, VT, the home of WineMaker Magazine.  We met with Brad Ring, the Publisher and Alex Ramsvig, the Marketing Coordinator.  The business is in a rustic old home, fully restored and a rustic old barn, also fully restored.  They were very gracious hosts, all seven of them.  While there, Brad and I discussed the subscription rates for the coming year.  They will continue at $8.00 per year, currently included in your CCWG membership dues.  The “possible” change that is occurring is that an online version of the magazine is now available.  If any of you would like to stop accumulating piles of old WineMaker Magazines, please let me know before the 29th if you would like to start receiving it on your computer screen.  We’ll be sending in our check on October 30th so if you’d like to take advantage, please act now.  There was also a discussion about this years’ conference.  It’s going to be held in Monterey, CA in May.  The CCWG has previously poured their donated homemade wines at the conferences in Napa, Sonoma and Santa Barbara.  I’ll be asking for wine donations after the judging in January.


     I received a nice note from Joanne Schweibinz of CCIH.  We donated about 5 cases of wine to their event last year.  They were very successfully auctioned off at the event:       

     I am once again writing on behalf of Contra Costa Interfaith Housing. CCIH is having our annual major fundraising event: Ruby Boots 2013 – “There’s No Place Like Home” on Saturday, February 2, 2013.  To spice the evening up, we changed the theme from “Ruby Slippers” to “Ruby Boots” and look forward to a boot scootin’ event on behalf of CCIH!  Last year, The Contra Costa Wine Group made a very generous donation of wine for our event. Would­­­­­ your group consider donating wine again this year? It is very beneficial for charitable organizations such as CCIH to be able to count on the generosity of organizations like yours to help sustain the work we do.  

     We are pleased to report that last year’s gala was very successful and yielded net charitable proceeds of approximately $100,000.00. These funds were used to provide vital support services to the residents at our three programs in Contra Costa. The funding provided by our annual gala is essential to our ability to continue making strides to improve the lives of Contra Costa’s homeless and high at-risk families. Thanks so much for your consideration of this request!

Warm regards, Joanne Schweibinz, Director of Development Contra Costa Interfaith Housing


     Please bring your wine donations to the meeting next Friday.  I’ll continue to remind the group of this event until it occurs.  I’ll have the donation forms at the meeting.


     The next meeting will be held next Friday night, October 26, 2012 starting at around 7:30 p.m. at the home of Denis Beaman, who will be ably assisted by the multi-talented Linda Ormonde.  To help out John Walkinshaw, please bring along any winemaking innovation that you may have devised over your years of making wine.  I’m bringing a couple, Bonneau a couple and John has a few himself.  Several more brilliant ideas would be greatly appreciated.  After all, the primary focus of the CCWG is to help each other to make better and better wines each and every year! 

     This is also the meeting that is traditionally used to hear what went on with the year’s harvest.  I know that it’s been a weird season, but those attending would really like to hear where you got your grapes, how much you paid for them and what kind of “numbers” the grapes came in at.  We’d also like to hear of your successes and your failures in acquiring grapes this year.

     The sign-up sheets for hosting a 2013 meeting and helping out at the 35th Annual Contra Costa Wine Group’s Professional Wine Judging and Potluck Dinner will be there, just waiting for you to sign up!

 DIRECTIONS: From Highway 680 going southbound, in Danville, take Exit 38, Sycamore Valley Road keeping left at the off ramp to continue Eastbound.  Sycamore Valley Rd. turns into Camino Tassajara.  As you’re approaching Blackhawk Plaza, turn left onto Blackhawk Rd.  After a short distance, turn right onto Silver Maple Dr.  Tell the Gate Attendant that you’re there for a meeting at the home of Denis Beaman.  Then, take the 2nd left onto Full Moon Way.  The address is 416 Full Moon Way and will be on the right.

From Highway 680 going northbound, in San Ramon take the Crow Canyon Rd. exit and turn right to go East.  After about 5 miles, passing Camino Tassajara at the Blackhawk Plaza, the road becomes Blackhawk Rd.    After a short distance, turn right onto Silver Maple Dr.  Tell the Gate Attendant that you’re there for a meeting at the home of Denis Beaman.  Then, take the 2nd left onto Full Moon Way.  The address is 416 Full Moon Way and will be on the right.   Should you get lost, you can call Denis at (925) 736-5259.

     The meeting will be held indoors but it would be a very good idea to bring along a folding chair to sit on.  Also, be sure to bring a bottle of your best homemade wine, and a wine glass for sampling, something that far too many people have forgotten in the past.  If you haven’t made wine yet, please bring an eclectic bottle of commercial wine that you believe the membership might enjoy.

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