Thar She…Is!

Humpback Whales IMG_0138

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Wine Sayings of My Uncle, 1839


In a scan of primary sources tonight I came across this gem of a book from the European Library.  From “Every Man His Own Butler” by Cyrus Redding, 1839 which is so wonderful my new goal is to own a copy. The entire book is fascinating, but at the end the author lists pages of sayings from his uncle about wine.  Progress sometimes means listening to the past.  Here is a sampling:

1. Bad wine is never worth good water.

2. Never believe the wine good because the owner tells you so.

3. Red wine poisons oysters.

4. Repentance is a home-made wine of our own brewing.

5. Never drink bad wine out of compliment; self-preservation is the first law.

6. Wine makes the soul go naked.

7. Of wine and love the first taste is the best; no second sip equals it.

8. Take care of the bung, and the wine will mind itself.

9. If you find your wine go too fast, put a second lock on your cellar and keep the key.

10. Good wine should drink smooth, like liquified velvet.

11. The best wine of all kinds is not that which costs the least,but that which costs nothing.

12. The bouquet of wine comes like a sunbeam, and must be enjoyed at the moment.

Posted in Grapes and Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts of Dad on His Birthday–In No Particular Order

Dad 2012

Walking close next to me on a snow-covered sidewalk in downtown Salt Lake City.  In front of me my husband carrying our newborn in her little carry car seat.

Outburst of uncontrollable laughter  in the bedroom next door every time Mad Mad Mad Mad World would air on TV.

Calmly, methodically sending the brush on its long pole carefully down the side of the pool.  Working his way slowly around its circumference.

The inevitable, yet always expected, “Hoooome Sweet Home” as we crossed into our driveway returning from a family trip.

Dancing in the winery amphitheater for his anniversary party.

Holding my mother’s hand in the church pews during service.

Standing beside me, walking me through the backyard he had cleaned meticulously on my way to be married.

The spontaneous hug for my Mother at the sink after dinner.

“I’m really proud of you” or “Your Mother and I are so proud of you” after graduation from UC Davis.  No doubt from Sacramento State, Santa Rosa Junior College and Marin Catholic High School as well— but I don’t remember those.

Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline blasting from the stereo

Fixing everything. Everything.

Sitting back, stirring his coffee and taking in the Christmas dinner conversation around him. Catching my eye and sending a laser wink in my direction.

“How’s my girlfriend?” asking about our daughter, across the miles.

Washing, scrubbing car grease off his hands before meals.

Fishing off the dock.  Feeding the ducks. Relaxing on the deck. Putting the boat into Clear Lake.  Taking the boat out of Clear Lake.

Teaching me how to water ski.  Circling. Circling. Circling the boat until I popped up out of the water…or gave up for another day.

Letting me drive the boat on his lap.  The yellow floaty boat key swaying, jingling as we bounced along the surface.

Year after year, as we both grew older, the back of his head, the right side of his face, from my vantage point in the back seat of the car.

Quickly, quietly pressing some money in my hand after a visit before returning to college.

Sitting on the back of a red Honda motorbike, hanging onto his middle on a winding road to church.

Lifting the storage door, De Soto peeking out from below, “Do you want it?” sheepish grin he could barely contain.

Easy chairs throughout the years, Scarlett or Kelly on his lap.  Reclined.

The now-frequent, not forced, often preceding mine, “I love you” that he drops at the end of a conversation.

Lingering images like dust specks.  Definable with shape.  Tiny wisps of fleeting moments.  Swept together from all corners and across the floors of my mind into one discernible pile of overriding feelings of Love, Gratitude, Honour, Respect and Awe.

Happy 87 years of living Dad.

Posted in Personal Sandra | 2 Comments

10 Reasons to Free My Grapes

I wrote this article, Top 10 Reasons to Free My Grapes, for the September edition of Orchard and Vine magazine.  All views are my own, of course.

Posted in Grapes and Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daddy’s Day

I could list many reasons why our 8YO has the privilege of a Daddy like hers, or I could just let this picture tell one thousand words.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment


I flew out of the Kelowna airport this morning.  There’s not much enjoyment in flying these days,  but nonetheless I almost look forward to flying out of there.  Is it that I enjoy security checks?  Maybe on the odd occasion, but generally no.  Do I like the yipping dogs in tiny under seat carriers dreading their journey?  Not at all.  And if you’re wondering, I don’t even like the post-security food available in the waiting lounge.

But I do like to eat at the White Spot because of one waitress that works there.

She has worked the room since I can remember.  Stressed, grouchy, impatient and sometimes rude travelers abound, but there is this waitress, always smiling, energetic, happy.  Genuinely interested in what you’re reading (“Do you like that book?  I have wanted to buy it.  Should I?  Nice!  I will definitely pick it up.”) Asking to where you are heading or what kind of day you’re having.  Not asking like small talk, but waiting for an answer and contributing to the conversation, not contributing to the noise.

I find this waitress fascinating.  In a low paying job with miserable people around her all the time and making a positive impact. She must, because here I am, a half a country and a half a day removed from her and I can’t get her out of my mind.

Small role.  Big impression.  Order me up another one of those, please, before my flight boards.

Posted in Local, Personal Sandra | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Wee Return to Natural?

The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first; Be not discouraged – keep on – there are divine things, well envelop’d; I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell. ~Walt Whitman

The vineyard we purchased almost 20 years ago, the vineyard in front of my home, has always been a good piece of land.  Nice slope on a high up bench, removed from the threat of frost and complex soils formed thousands of years ago from an alluvial fan.  The first vineyard planted on this site was Chardonnay, years before we took it over.  It was irrigated with overhead sprinklers (the norm in the 1980’s and 90’s), mowed frequently between the rows and sprayed throughout the season to keep any pests, weeds and fungus at bay.

Three years ago this Chardonnay block was showing its age and we decided to replant it.  We took the opportunity to replace the overhead irrigation with drip, the first such block at our home vineyard to go through that conversion.  Our vineyard practices changed thanks in large part to our new Vineyard Manager Andrew Moon (@Andrew_Tinhorn on twitter)  the spraying decreased, and in some cases were eliminated, and the drip no longer watered the mid rows (the land between the vine rows).

70% water savings.  Less spraying.  All good.  But there was still the question of what plants would establish themselves between the mid rows.  We are in a desert.  Cover crops (the grasses that cover the ground between the rows) don’t just…well…grow.

For two years the once green grass between the vines turned brown in the summer, some weeds moved in, we continued to mow.  This spring, when the snow had melted, we saw this on the ground throughout the new Chardonnay block, Draba verna. 

Draba verna has the tiniest little wee white flower, that grows naturally in sagebrush country, so it is native to the Okanagan.  It also happens to be a “beneficial” in that its presence helps to reduce damage in spring by cutworms that can crawl up the vine and damage the young, tender buds.

Perhaps Draba verna was here all along and we never noticed it when we were watering the thick grasses between the rows.  Perhaps it was here before our vineyard was planted in the 1980’s and now has made a return appearance.  Or perhaps, it has just found its way onto our land since we’ve changed our farming practices.

Whatever the case, I like what I see.  A wee return to natural?  We can only hope.

Posted in Eco Sustainability, Grapes and Wine, TInhorn Creek | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments