Tuesday, June 30, 2009

You Balance the Budget

On the eve of California's budget deadline, here's an interesting exercise courtesy of the LA Times: You Balance the Budget [opens in new window].

Monday, June 29, 2009

Morning Fog

I went down to the harbor the other day, just before the morning fog had burned off. Here are a few photos:

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Prayers of Adoration

To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal ...
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance ...
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Dinner Party

The other day we were joined for a small dinner party by some old friends, many of whom had lived together here in Santa Barbara in the early '70s. Mrs. Haley prepared sauteed salmon with a shrimp sauce, served with garlic potatoes and asparagus. For appetizers we had "bites" from Trader Joe's, and guacamole. For dessert there was fresh fruit on ice cream.

With the appetizers we poured the Longoria 2007 Chardonnay, Sta Rita Hills, a tasty white wine with flavors of citrus and melon, and just a hint of minerality . With dinner we had the Seasmoke 2006 Pinot Noir "Southing", a lovely example of fruit-forward Pinot Noir from the Sta Rita Hills. And finally with dessert we enjoyed the Quady "Electra", a red muscat dessert wine from Madera.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Clos Pepe Vineyard

Wes Hagen, of Clos Pepe, graciously allowed us to gather a few grape leaves from the vineyard. We went out on a beautiful afternoon last week and picked a couple of hundred large leaves, and took a few photographs as well.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Solstice was great as always. The parade began with live Tetris pieces, and ran for over an hour from there. This year's theme was "SPLASH!". More photos here [opens in new window].

Thursday, June 18, 2009

All God's Critters

All God's critters got a place in the choir
Some sing low, some sing higher
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire
And some just clap their hands, or paws
Or anything they got.

-- by Bill Staines

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

News From Foxen

We went up to Foxen the other day, and had a chance to see the progress on their new facility. It looks quite snazzy. Hopefully by expanding their production and storage capacity they will be able to more nearly meet their demand -- right now they have many more people wanting to join one of their clubs than they have wine for!

They also were pouring their first ever rose. This one, unofficially called "The Watermelon", is a rose of Mourvedre.

And check out their new labels! From now on their Bordeaux blends and Sangiovese will be labeled as "Foxen 7200, as a way of differentiating them from the Burgundy and Rhone varieties.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wine Cask Update

I ran into Doug Margerum at the Futures Tasting, and I asked him what he could tell me about plans for the Wine Cask. He said he was very hopeful it would be able to reopen under new ownership, perhaps as early as September. He will not be involved as an owner, but may have a consultant role.

There's been a lot of buzz in Santa Barbara regarding the Wine Cask, and we all wish them well.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Another Voice from the Botanic Garden

Landscape architect Owen Dell offers some thoughts in the Independent that are worth considering.

2009 Santa Barbara County Futures Tasting

The 2009 Santa Barbara County Wine Futures Tasting was held under the auspices of The Winehound on Saturday, and I was there to take pictures and do some tasting. I focused primarily on the Burgundian grapes that make our area so special.

In the wonderful w0rld of Chardonnay, I was immediately drawn to the 2007 Au Bon Climat Estate Chardonnay. It offered citrus and honey notes on the nose and on the palate, with some solid oak behind it. I also enjoyed the Melville 2008 "Donna's Vineyard" Chardonnay, slightly toasty with a mineral note. Brewer-Clifton was showing two wonderful 2008 Chardonnays: the 2008 Sanford & Benedict Vineyard, lush and viscous with a hint of flowery perfume; and the 2008 Gnesa Vineyard, showing pear and honey flavors -- very nice. But the hit of the show was the 2008 Foxen Steel Cut Chardonnay from Bien Nacido Vineyard. This is the first ever stainless steel Chardonnay from Foxen, and it's a beauty, with all the fruity loveliness available to taste.

I did enjoy a few other whites, including the Kunin 2008 Viognier, Stolpman Vineyard -- very nice with a good floral nose and a nice full body -- and the Demetria Cuvee Papou -- a Grenache Blanc/Marsanne/Roussanne/Viognier blend.

As far as reds went, I enjoyed the Margerum 2007 Grenache and the Sanguis 2006 "As the Crow Flies". The latter, poured by the lovely Drea O'Connell, is a Syrah with a bit of Grenache and 3% co-fermented Viognier. Chocolate, red and black fruit flavors, and a bit of oak make a wonderful combination -- this wine will probably be hard to find, as they only made 205 cases of it.

The Pinot Noirs were out in force, especially from the Santa Maria Valley -- one of my favorite Pinot regions. Alta Maria 2008 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard showed red fruit flavors with a nice complexity. Native9 Pinot Noir Rancho Ontiveros Vineyard offered a dark cherry flavor. And Paul Lato was pouring his 2008 Pinot Noir Solomon Hills, with a remarkably earthy taste to it.

From the Sta Rita Hills, there was the Melville 2008 Clone 828 Pinot Noir, deep and spicy, and Foxen's 2007 Sanford & Benedict Vineyard Pinot Noir, another world-class wine from them.

There were lots of other great wines, but I was limiting my tasting just a bit so I had to let them go. But I can safely say there's a lot to taste and enjoy from Santa Barbara County again this year. Thanks to Bob Wesley from The Winehound, and thanks, too, to Metropulos for the delicious food that accompanied the tasting. You can find more photos here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Craig's List Scam

I have been looking at used car ads on Craig's List lately, and there sure are a lot of scam ads out there... I have received this answer (nearly word-for-word) in response to several inquiries now. (I wonder how many wives have brought their Honda cars to Spain, only to find they cannot be registered?) Here's the email:

X-Originating-IP: []
Subject: 2005 Honda Accord EXL - $2950
Date: Fri, 12 Jun 2009 16:24:49 +0000
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 12 Jun 2009 16:24:50.0054 (UTC) FILETIME=[4EFD7260:01C9EB7A]


I'm SGT Thomas Sammito. This Accord EXL is in perfect working condition. This vehicle engine runs very, very smooth. No electrical problems on this beauty. This detailed vehicle makes the exterior looks like it just came off the assembly line. The car has 54063 miles. VIN Number: 1HGCM66825A031982
CD player Anti-lock brakes Driver Airbag Leather Sunroof
Passenger airbag Side airbags Air conditioning Cruise control
Power locks Power windows Navigation System!!
Here are the pics of the car:

As I know that my current situation is pretty special I want the deal closed only through eBay's Buyer Protection Program in order for you to be 100% protected. You will make the payment to eBay and they will hold the money until you receive the car. ONLY AFTER you receive the car and you inspect it(for 10 days) eBay will release the payment to me; in this way we are both protected. Anyway i am sure that if you won`t be satisfied about the car i will surely find another buyer in your area and there will be no need for you to ship the car back. I am located in Madrid, Spain and I was sent here with my department of peace maintenance. One month ago my wife moved here with me and brought the car with her but now we have to sell it back in the United States because we can't register it here; it has US specs and everything and registering it here in Europe will take for ever. My final price on it is 2950 USD. If you will take it for this price I am willing to handle the shipping. It will be shipped from here by plane with US Air Military Cargo so it will not cost me anything. You will get it to the nearest airport in your area and then it will be trucked forward to your place. You will receive the car in about 3 days. Please get back to me ASAP if you decide to buy and include in your e-mail your full name and address where you want it shipped so I can start the deal with eBay. You will receive all the transaction payment and shipping details from them.

Best Regards,
Thomas and Kathy Sammito

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dire Wolf

"In the backwash of Fennario
The black and bloody mire
The Dire Wolf collects his due
while the boys sing round the fire

Don't murder me
I beg of you don't murder me
Please don't murder me"

-- Hunter/Garcia

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hanne Sonquist

Hanne Sonquist, extraordinary wife, mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, friend, mentor, and active advocate for enhancing the lives of young children, died peacefully surrounded by her loving family on May 31, 2009, following a 10-year struggle with lymphoma.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Botanic Garden Volunteers Continue Strike

Here are the minutes from the Botanic Garden Moratorium Volunteers meeting on June 1, 2009. I deeply appreciate their efforts, but it does seem as though in this hour of need there ought to be some way to get the Board, the Administrators, the paid workers and the volunteers to all work together to repair the burnt-out garden.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Here's a little tip that I would like to relate

Many fish bite if you got good bait.

I'm a-goin’ fishing

Yes I'm goin’ fishing

And my baby’s goin’ fishing too.

-- Taj Mahal