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   Our last meeting was held at the home of new members, Steve and Kristen Riter in Alamo.  It was a warm evening so the meeting was sort of an indoor/outdoor event.  Kristen laid out a great spread of hors d’oeuvres and Steve had a bottle of his wine (I believe it was a Syrah/Merlot blend) for everyone on their departure.  I’d especially like to thank the Riters for “jumping into the fire” and hosting the event while so very new to the Contra Costa Wine Group.  There were right around 40 people in attendance for this meeting.  Well done!

     Our resident wine guru, Bill English, made a great presentation on the smells of various wine defects.  The CCWG acquired the kit and Bill took it upon himself to make up some PowerPoint slides highlighting the defects and their cures, if there were any.  I believe that there were a dozen little bottles of defect smells included in the kit.  A couple were “bogus” (to my way of thinking) but overall the kit was a great way to help winemakers recognize these defect smells and thus, help them to make better and better wine.  Thanks Bill for taking this task upon yourself and doing such a great job.

     It’s time again to consider donating some of your wine to a very worthy charity that the CCWG has supported in the past.  The Contra Costa Interfaith Housing (CCIH) organization is once again having their “Ruby Slippers-There’s No Place Like Home” dinner shortly after our 37th Annual CCWG Professional Wine Judging and Potluck Dinner on January 24, 2015.  Their dinner this year is a little earlier than normal, January 31, 2015.  They apparently schedule it the Saturday before the Super Bowl.  I will have specially marked boxes at the next meeting, Nouveau Night, December 5th and at our big event on January 24, 2015.  I will store the donated wines in my wine room until delivered so there’s no need to wait.  I will personally deliver these wines to the CCIH offices on Monday, January 26, 2015.  Please be generous.  Thank you.

     At the next meeting we will again vote on 1.) CCWG Officers and also members of the Program Committee.  Please consider volunteering at little of your time to help out your group. 2.)  I will also have a sign-up sheet for the 2015 Host Families.  The dates will be identified in that document so please do consider volunteering your home for one of the 2015 meetings.  “Regular” meeting hosts are given $100.00 to use for hors d’oeuvres and “Large” meeting hosts are given $150.00 to help defray the meeting costs.  If you have a particular month in mind but can’t make it to the meeting, give me a call and I’ll write your name in before the meeting.  3.) I will also have a sign-up sheet for volunteers at the 37th Annual CCWG Professional Wine Judging and Potluck Dinner being held on January 24, 2015.  That event would be impossible if not for volunteers!  Mark the date on your new calendars and do definitely plan on giving at least a couple of hours of your time to that event.  4.)  Related directly to that event is the need for drop off homes where members can take their wines prior to the event so that we can get them logged, bagged and numbered prior to the morning of the event.  I believe that I can again convince Bonneau Dickson to accept wines at his Berkeley home (West) and I’ll again accept wines at my home in San Ramon (South).  We are in need of a drop off home in Central Contra Costa County.  Give me a call if you’re willing to perform that duty or hit me up at the next meeting.  The job entails getting the wines ready for the blind judging and delivered to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Walnut Creek at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 24, 2015.  I will provide the bags, masking tape, marking pens and rosters to those in need.

     After my big blowup about a year and a half ago (hopefully most of you have no clue as to what I mean), we’re finally going to have a meeting that talks about “growing grapes!”  First, the meeting will be held on Friday night, October 24, 2014 to avoid any possible Halloween parties that members might want to go to a week later.  We’re going to be having a “Conversation with Q&A on Vineyard Management and How It Relates to Better Winemaking.”  Our host, Jim Felton will be at the front of the room but I expect many of you grape growers to be there to add in your two cents worth when it comes to dealing with a vineyard.  Apparently, right around 50% of the CCWG membership grow at least some of their own grapes.  Again, this will be the first opportunity for the group to discuss something other than making better and better wines.  If you grow grapes, be there!

     The meeting will be held at the home of Jim and Bette Felton, high in the hills of Danville.  DIRECTIONS:  From either direction on Highway 680 in Danville, take the Diablo Road exit and turn West.  Turn left onto Hartz Avenue, the “main” street of Danville.  Take the first right onto West Prospect Avenue.  After about ½ of a mile, turn slight right onto Sky Terrace.  The Felton home is on the right.  If you get lost with these directions, give them a call at (925) 838-8348.  Again, the next meeting will be held on Friday night, October 24, 2014 at the home of Jim and Bette Felton in Danville. The meeting will start right around 7:00 p.m. with the “formal” part of the meeting starting between 7:30- and 7:45 p.m.

Things to bring: 1) A folding chair; 2) a jacket; 3) a wine glass; 4) a bottle of your best for the hors d’oeuvres table.  If you haven’t made wine yet, bring along a commercial selection that you believe the attendees might enjoy; 5) a bottle or two of your best wine for the Contra Costa Interfaith Housing charity.

This newsletter is respectfully submitted,

Al Turner, Secretary, Contra Costa Wine Group