Monthly Archives: September 2009

Helping Winemaker B and Kram Harvest Their Grapes

I have a little story about going to work with my son.  You’re like what; you can go to work with your son?  Yes, we can, we did, and we had a blast. 

It all began last Saturday, ah…I remember it well, like it was just three days ago.☺  This is how my story goes…we woke up at Brandon and Kim’s house and Brandon, who is the assistant winemaker at Dutton Goldfield winery had  already gone to work at the winery before we awoke.  So Larry, Kim and I had a light snack of fresh fruit knowing that where we were heading off to was going to serve us breakfast.  We left the house around 9:00 and by 9:30 we were at our destination in Glen Ellen, Sonoma Valley.  We were at Dave Kram’s father and stepmother’s (Jerry and Lily) house.  They have a small weekend ranch home that was originally built around 1900, on 18 acres of land.  The house has two bedrooms, one bathroom, a living room, dining room, kitchen and an enclosed front porch.  A perfect size house for two or four not the eight that were staying over.  The property has about 1/4 acre of grape vines, mostly Syrah with some Viognier, that they planted nearly 4 years ago.  Brandon is the winemaker for the Kramatage wine and Dave is the vineyard manager.  The goal for the day was to harvest the Syrah, as they already harvested the Viognier Labor Day weekend.


               Larry and Jerry after Breakfast                                      View from Kram’s vineyards

We got introduced to the whole mishbucha (Yiddish for group) and preceded to eat banana pancakes, bacon and fruit.  We sat outside on their patio while we ate and got to know each other.  The dogs Truman, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, that weighs 115 pounds and Dotty, a 14 year old Dalmatian, were trying their hardest to beg some pancakes off of us.  A little background on Dave Kram.  He and Brandon are friends from their teenage youth group days.  They were paired up as buddies when they went to Israel with a large group from the Bay Area.  They both ended up going to U C Davis together and Dave ended up joining Brandon and graduated in Fermentation Science as well.  However, as Brandon works in the wine industry Dave currently doesn’t so winemaking is a passion and hobby of his.


              Brandon and Dave

After a bit we got together and started picking the grapes.  Unfortunately by the time we went out to the vineyard to pick the grapes it was 90 plus degrees outside!  So we melted very quickly.  We were out there for about 45 minutes and got her done.  I love the feel of a bunch of grapes in my hand.  They are delicate yet substantial at the same time.  Then we cooled off under the big oak tree, I had water in one hand and beer in the other.  There were some snacks of guacamole, salsa, chips, cheese and crackers.

          Lori harvesting grapes                             Lori and others de-stemming these grapes

After rejuvenating a bit we got to work on part two of the days task.  We had to de-stem all the grapes.  We used a piece of equipment that Brandon had rented.  You put the grapes in from the top, turn the crank and the skins and juice come out the bottom into a bin and the stems come out the side.  Very cool.  It took a number of people to get this done though.  Fortunately, as the day went on we acquired more invited guests that we roped into helpers.  We needed four or five people to hold the de-stemmer down, one cranking the wheel and two to three adding in the grapes from the picked bins and one or two to lift the machine every couple minutes to remove the stems that didn’t come out on their own.  This was a good hour of work.  Once that was all done it was clean up time as this was a very sticky proposition.  Luckily the water pressure that died earlier was back working again.

Brandon labeled the barrels, put them in his truck to take home cool down and let sit, before crushing and letting the grape juice start to ferment and turn into wine.

We sat and hung around as more and more people arrived.  Then supper was served.  The Kram’s had made a feast!  There was bbq chicken breast with a Habanero sauce, pork ribs and lamb chops.  Besides that there was a fantastic cold Chinese noodle salad with a choice of a spicy or soy dressing.  There was a green and a fruit salad as well.  No one left there hungry.  There were nearly 30 people there to celebrate in the harvest.

                      Supper ala Kram style                                                          Beautiful grapes

Larry and I had never harvested any grapes other than our own in our backyard.  We have two vines; they had over 180.  It was fun getting the little kids involved, the sister, cousins etc.  

The only disappointing thing about all of this is that we will be missing the pressing of these grapes next weekend.  That would pretty much complete the harvest cycle for me.  But I did have a chance to crush my grapes this summer.  We did it the “Lucy” way.  That is another story to tell at a later date.

Chronicles of Lori’s Slim Down Journey – 1st week

Well, I weighed in on Friday and to my surprise I gained ½ pound!  This is why I hate trying to lose weight.  I’m going to rationalize it by saying that the weight I gained is due to muscle weight since I walked 3 times during the week and started to lift weights.

I originally was going to write more often, but I’ve decided to write about once a week.  This way it’s not too boring for you and it will also give me more time to write other things on my blog.  I’m writing this while I’m eating chocolate chips.  Why, you might ask are you eating chocolate chips if you gained ½ pound?  The answer is because I’m craving chocolate and I can weigh the chips on my scale and know how many calories I’m ingesting while soothing my horrible craving.  Today also was Yom Kippur, the day to atone.  Larry and I stayed home and fasted all day (another reason why I feel that I deserve chocolate).  While the chicken for dinner (see recipe below) was cooking dinner we did our closing prayers for the holiday and we broke our fast by dipping apples into honey.  Yum!

Lori’s Sweet Honey Baked Chicken:
I took 2 eggs and ¼ cup of honey and whisked them together in a baking dish.  In another dish I had 4 cups of Natures Path, Organic Flax Plus – Pumpkin Raisin Crunch cereal that I had bought at the natural food grocery store.  I put the cereal into the food processor and gave it a few clicks.  Some of it was ground and some of it was still whole.  I put it into the dish and added salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and garlic powder.  Mixed it all up.  Took the cleaned chicken thighs and soaked it in the egg/honey batter turning it several times then placing it in the dish with the cereal.  Tossed the chicken on both sides to make sure that the cereal got all over the chicken.  Then placed the chicken in a different baking dish that was sprayed with Pam.  I placed the chicken in the oven at 400 on convection bake for 45 minutes.  Do not turn the chicken.  It will get nice and crunchy on the top and stay moist on the bottom.  I served this dish with baked sweet potatoes and sautéed spinach with garlic.

Happy New Year!  I hope it’s peaceful, sweet and healthy for you, your family and friends.  

Festivals and Other Wine Activities – October-December 2009


                                  Wine Festivals 2009
                                 September – December

September 26th – 28th – Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival 10 am – 5 pm – Historic Sonoma Plaza The oldest festival in California, 112th annual.  There is wine tasting, food, arts & crafts, beer, and all sorts of things to see.  Along with this there is the the Raising of the California Bear Flag Re-enactment. The first Bear Flag was raised in the Sonoma Plaza. Then there are grape stomps, live music all weekend on two stages, and Sunday the local parade.

October 3 & 4 – Amador Vintners Harvest Wine Festival “The Big Crush” – 10 am – 4 pm Amador County, Sierra Foothills (35 miles east of Sacramento).  Over 32 wineries, $30 Sat/Sun $20 Sunday only, $10 designated drivers. 

October 3 – Mt. Veeder Appelation Wine Tasting3 pm – 6 pm – Vintners Golf Club, Yountville.  $50 per person.  Over 14 wineries represented.

October 10th – Celbration of Harvest Festival 1 pm – 4 pm – Rancho Sisquoc, Santa Maria – $65 per person.  Join the 100+ members of the Santa Barbara CountyVintners’ Association tocelebrate the joys of harvest and the season. They will all be therepouring their latest releases.  They we’ll be joined by their culinarycolleagues from the areas finest restaurants, caterers and specialtyfood purveyors. There will be live and lively music to fill the air,and a silent auction full of large format bottles, verticals andhorizontals to benefit local charities and food banks.

October 17 – 1st ever Carneros Harvest Passport – 10 am – 4 pm  Over 18 wineries pouring their award winning wines.  $49 in advance, $59 at the door. 

More to come, keep your eyes peeled.

Chronicles of Lori’s Slim Down Journey – Days 5-7

Two days ago I got up and took Elmer for a 20-minute walk.  We did 2 of the neighborhood hills.  Then I went to play bridge.  There were no edible temptations at the tables so that was good.  Luree the hostess, had out fresh cantaloupe, grapes, and pretzels.  Mid morning I took some fruit.  I heated up a Trader Joes beef and barley soup box for lunch.  I said no to the cake for dessert but I did take a bowl of the strawberries and raspberries.  I was very proud of myself.  At work I brought ½ cucumber cut up and a dozen small carrots.  I had that for my mid afternoon snack.  For dinner I had a ham sandwich on an Orowheat light bun.  I had some of my trail mix, especially the dried fruits and almonds.  On the way home from work I stopped off at Blush frozen yogurt shop and picked up Larry and I small sizes for dessert.  No toppings.  This was good, as I hadn’t had my milk portion for the day.  

Yesterday I just couldn’t get out of bed early enough to do my exercising.  I had cold cereal with banana for breakfast and a Fiber One bar for a snack.  For lunch I had a piece of chicken and an orange.  Dinner was a potluck at our bocce ball championship tournament.  I brought an orzo salad with spinach, pine nuts, tomatoes, Gorgonzola cheese, basil and roasted garlic-lemon vinaigrette.  The main dish there was pasta with a meat sauce.  I was pretty good.  I started out with two slices of baguette with Brie spread (probably shouldn’t have done that).  Then I took a little bit of the pasta and sauce, my salad, no garlic bread and some fresh fruit.  I shared a ½ beer with Larry.  Then the dessert came out and I lost my willpower.  Three cakes were there!  I had a little piece of each cake.  I feel a bit guilty, but also happy that I got to enjoy the cake but not go crazy like I could have.  We won the first game 10-5, lost the second game 10-5 and then lost the last game 10-9 in the dark!

Today Larry and I took Elmer for a ½ hour walk.  For lunch we went to a new Thai restaurant in town.  I had their papaya salad.  No great temptations today.  We will be having hot dogs tonight with some friends.  I will be serving corn on the cob and salad with the meal.  I plan not to have a bun with my dog.  We will be eating late enough to not have the urge to have dessert.  I did have an apple for my afternoon snack and was still very hungry.  So I had some trail mix and I’m trying to get my 6 cups of water down.  Having a little bit of trouble with that today.

I give myself a “B” for the three days.

I’m going to have a challenging weekend with going out to dinner tomorrow night and then going to an event on Saturday night.  But I will be staying active as we are going to be harvesting about 2-3 acres of grapes for Brandon to make the wine from this season.  I will keep you informed.

Chronicles of Lori’s Slim Down Journey – Day 6

Wow!  My challenge started off with a bang.  On day 2 I was all set to go for a walk in the morning before my long day of sitting, melting candles, for my Mom’s booth at the Lafayette Art and Wine Festival.  But just as I got my sneakers on my Mom called in a panic.  She only had one melting box, she needed two, and that she couldn’t get through to Tap Plastics on the phone, could I please go and order the plastics she needs to put a box together and bring them up to her a.s.a.p.  There went my walk, right out the window.  So, Larry and I went there, ordered the plastics and while we waited shared a bagel and cream cheese from the local bagel shop next door.  The bagel also wasn’t on the agenda.  We finally got to Lafayette and then found out the the employee at Tap Plastics cut 4 out of 5 sheets the wrong size!  We made due with two of the pieces and went on with the day.  Sarah who was also working with us went to get lunch and ended up bringing back food from Panda Express.  Yum!  So an hour later I found myself at Panda Express ordering lunch for Mom and I.  I got the black pepper chicken and some lo mien noodles.  All was good except that I ate the whole order!  The only good thing about that was that the temptation to go to Cold Stone Creamery, which we were sitting right in front of all day, was removed.  UNTIL… a Cold Stone Creamery employee came out with samples of ice cream cake!  I couldn’t resist!  It was the middle of the day, it was hot and I was starting to get hungry.  The good thing was that it was a small portion, but I did eat the whole thing!

We came home and Larry had made us a fantastic cold flank steak salad with a side dish of a cold potato salad made in a French style with no mayonnaise, but balsamic vinegar, olive oil, herbs, green beans, and a few tomatoes.  Everything was delicious, light and cool.  It was the perfect ending to not such a perfect day.

I feel that I survived the day ok.  I give myself a “B-”.

Chronicles of Lori’s Slim Down Journey – Day 1

Today I came up with a great idea while I was supposed to be concentrating at work.  Well, the work that I do on a part time basis, besides my website, my Blog, and volunteer work in the community, is being a recruiter at the National Food Laboratories.  The job is very tedious, doesn’t use up a lot of brain cells, it just takes time and energy.

Anyways, while I was leaving a message for yet another person who wasn’t home, I was thinking that I would love to have my readers help me along for a very hard goal I have set for myself.  My goal is to lose 25 pounds by my 50th birthday on April 14.  I am 5’2”, small boned, and there is no reason for me to be at the weight I’m at right now!  I have been on Weight Watchers and a number of other diets over the years but the main problems are:  I love food, I love to eat food, I love to cook and bake, I love to read about food, and as you all know I love to drink wine with food.  Herein lies the problem.  

So I was thinking that if I could go through my challenge of losing the weight while still keeping up with all of the things that I love, that would be perfect.  Knowing that you are reading and cheering me on, or perhaps even doing it with me, will be a great support; then I won’t be all alone.

A lot of my challenges lie in the fact that I have many temptations to not eat properly.  

For example, between bridge, bunco and Assistance League meetings I’m at other locations where I don’t have the control of the food served at least 8 times a month.  The hostess is the one in charge of dessert and snacks.  I always look to see what the snacks are and hope that there isn’t anything that I will have trouble resisting, like M & M’s.  I always ask for a small portion of dessert, and they try to accommodate me, but inevitably I get a “small” piece that is too big.  And when I should take just one or two bites and be happy, I usually finish everything on my plate. Problem #1!  

Where I work, because it’s so boring, people tend to bring in food to help pass the time away.  Problem #2!  

Larry and I love to cook together.  We do try and cook healthy, watch our carbs, but we are still cooking good food.  We also love to have a small bowl of ice cream most nights.  I count that toward my calcium, milk, fat and fruit (if I put banana in it) requirements.  Problem #3!  

I have some medical issues and need to eat 6 smaller meals a day rather than 3 large meals.  Problem #4!  

I know that I need to exercise.  I try and get out and walk or ride my bike for a half hour at least 5 days a week.  However I’ve lately had the desire and need to sleep 9 hours a night.  The extra hour of sleep is eating into my work out time.  Problem #5!  

Problem solver:  Me!  I need to change some of my choices, deal with some temptations and overcome some rationalizations.  With your help I’ll lose my 25 pounds in 7 months, which is about 1 pound each week.  I realize that this is a tough goal, but I am more determined than ever.  At Weight Watchers I was losing an average of ½ pound a week.  If all goes well, by my trip in December to Cancun I’ll be down 12 pounds.  This will help me to feel better about walking around in a bathing suit.  

I know that losing this weight will be a big help in my health and mental being which is very important to me.  The main things I need to work on is making sure that my eating and snacking options are healthy choices, and doing the exercising.

I plan to blog most every day the challenges that I have come across, and ideally how I dealt with them.  I will weigh in every Friday morning, naked☺.  I will be very honest and hopefully humorous.   Wish me luck…….. Here I go!

On the Road Again…Reno

This time we headed up to Reno for Labor Day weekend.  I have a lot of family in Reno.  My dad and his girlfriend Sue, brother & sister-in-law, Marc and Angela, two sisters, Mary and April, their significant others Brian and Laura, 4 nephews, Shaye, Zach, Will and Jesse and my niece, Maddi all live there.  So when I come up I have a lot of visiting to do!  The main reason for this visit was to celebrate my dad’s 74th birthday.

We had a nice bbq at Marc and Angela’s home (which is where we shacked up).   Everyone came over and we had a great time.  There was delicious bbq’d chicken, green salad, bean and brown rice salad, and watermelon slices.  I made an appetizer of caramelized bacon since it was “international bacon day”.  Let’s just say that it was so good, 1 slice was left out of 2 pounds.  I also made a fruit punch for the kids and Zach’s pregnant fiancé, Rosie.  The punch consisted of 2 quarts of pomegranate juice, 1 large can of frozen limeade with 3 cans of water, 1 small can of frozen orange juice with 3 cans of water, 1 orange sliced and 1 lime sliced plus ice to cool it down.  On the side I served sparkling wine and sparkling water for people to put into the punch, as they desired.  Mary made carrot cake cupcakes with a cream cheese-vanilla-lemon frosting.  Go check out her new cupcake business, Mix Cupcake Co, if you are in the Reno area.  We brought and opened a bottle of Clarey Ranch ’06 Syrah, Dutton Goldfield ’07 Syrah and a Terre Rouge ’06 Syrah blend.  A fun time was had by all.  After everyone left Marc, Angela, Larry and I watched the Cal vs. Maryland season opening game.  It was fun to get into the football spirit, but Cal blew them away 52-13.

The next morning we went to the Nugget Rib Cookoff festival in Sparks, NV.  There were 8 of us.  This was great fun, especially if you like ribs and bbq sauce.  There were tons of booths each from a different state or city within a state.  For example there were ribs from Phoenix, Texas, Chicago, Australia, and New Jersey.  We found the New Jersey one to be our favorite ribs. The ribs were tender but not fatty and they were barbequed to perfection.  We drank beer and margaritas while we ate and walked through the different craft booths.  If you don’t like ribs they also had pulled pork sandwiches, corn on the cob and other bbq’d items, not to mention funnel cakes, ice cream and other sweets.  The weather was perfect, in the mid 80’s with a light breeze.

In the afternoon we rested and got caught up with work for a while.  We made a nice salad with leftover bbq chicken for dinner.  We then headed out to the movies to see Julie and Julia and met up with Mary and Brian.  We all loved the movie.  Being a foodie myself, and having done my internship after culinary school in Paris I had a lot of interest in that part of the movie.  After the movie we went out to a restaurant called The Chocolate Bar.  We had dessert and coffee.  We tried their chocolate fondue for two but we added a shot of dark chocolate and ordered strawberries, bananas and cheesecake for dipping.  The table also ordered mud pie and apple and blueberry crisp ala’ mode.  Everything was delicious, the atmosphere and service very good.  I would go back there in a heartbeat.

Sunday morning we had a delicious breakfast of egg scramble with vegetables and cheese made by Angela.  Afterwards we packed up and got on the road as we were invited to two bbq’s back in the Bay Area.  We left Reno just a little after 10:00.  As we were driving into Reno on Saturday we were in a lot of traffic due to construction near Truckee and we noticed that there was a lot of traffic going the other way back home, for the same reason.  So, to avoid that we went around to hwy 50, through Lake Tahoe thinking that it would save us an hour or so.  Well, since we got such a late start and this was Labor Day, everyone and their mother were also heading home this way!  What should have taken us 4 hours at the most, took 7 hours!  We had to cancel going to the earlier bbq and got to the second one 2 hours late.  Oh well, at least we got there, ate some more bbq chicken and ribs with our good friends and drank a mean, but good, margarita which seemed to go down a bit too fast.

So this is the end to my Reno/Labor Day story.  We had a good time, saw much of the family and then topped it off with friends and home sweet home.


As if one needs an excuse to go to San Diego, I have one for you.  The 6th Annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, November 18-22, 2009.  It’s an international showcase of the world’s premier wine and spirits producers, chefs and culinary personalities, and gourmet foods.  There will be over 800 wines, 70 of San Diego’s top fine dining restaurants, wine tasting seminars, celebrity artists, cooking classes by award-winning chefs, and over 30 gourmet food companies and exhibitors participating in the week of festivities.

“The Festival puts a national spotlight on the trend-setting cuisine created by our participating chefs, drawing an amazing crowd of wine and food enthusiasts. This year will be no exception and our talented roster of celebrity chefs, winemakers and personalities make this the most exciting in our event’s history,” says Michelle Metter, the festival’s co-producer.

Southern California’s largest wine and food experience features a week of action-packed culinary events including:

•    The Tommy Bahama Rum VIP Party (Sunday, November 15) – Media, Chefs and VIPs will hit the beach at W Hotel for a preview of what’s in store at this year’s San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival at the Tommy Bahama Rum VIP Party. By invitation only.

•    WineRave 2009 (Wednesday, November 18) – WineRave San Diego kicks off the Festival by hosting 25 of the edgiest wine and spirits on the market today mixed with a DJ and the uber cool ambiance found only at the W Hotel. Price: $45 in advance; $60 at the door.

•    Wine Tasting & Cooking Classes (Thursday & Friday, November 19 & 20) – Held at the Macy’s School of Cooking and the San Diego Wine & Culinary Center, nationally acclaimed chefs, award-winning winemakers, and culinary personalities host a number of wine tasting and cooking classes that are sure to turn up the heat. Price: ranges from $45-$85.
•    ***The Master Sommelier Reserve Tasting featuring AIWF Silent Auction (Friday, November 20) – An exclusive and elegant evening for collectors of fine wine hosted by an elite group of master sommeliers.  Guests can taste the pride of the vine from 160 wineries, enjoy live entertainment, and indulge on some scrumptious fare from 10 gourmet food companies.  Location: Wonderhaus Building. Price: $100 in advance; $125 at the door.

•    ***Grand Event (Saturday, November 21) – This mega-tasting is among the largest of its kind in the nation.  Features over 170 wineries and spirits producers, 70 of San Diego’s finest restaurants, 30 gourmet food companies, the “Chef of the Fest” Competition, VIP tent, cookbook author signing, live entertainment, and more.  Location: Embarcadero Park North.  Price: ranges from $125- $175.

•    Celebrity Luncheon featuring AIWF Big Bottle Live Auction (Sunday, November 22) – Features 15 celebrity winemakers and a world-class menu prepared by nationally acclaimed chefs.  The luncheon will culminate in a spirited live auction with jet-setting vacation packages, large format bottles, and one-of-a-kind items that are perfect for the serious wine and food enthusiast.  Location: San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina. Price: starts at $150.


Wine and food enthusiasts have the opportunity to experience Southern California’s largest wine and food festival with affordable packages that put them right in the action. 

Wine Weekend “Grape Escape” Package:
2 tickets to the Reserve Tasting
2 tickets to the Grand Event (General Admission)
2 nights hotel (Choice of participating property)
Packages range from $679 to $890 based on hotel selection

Wine Weekend VIP Treatment Package:
2 tickets to the Reserve Tasting
2 VIP tickets to the Grand Event
2 Cooking or Wine Tasting Class tickets (Choice of wine or cooking class while supplies last)
2 nights hotel (Choice of participating property)
Packages range from $829 to $1037 based on hotel selection

Participating Hotels include:
San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Hard Rock Hotel San Diego,
Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego and the Omni San Diego.

Proceeds from the events live and silentauctions benefit the American Institute of Wine & Food culinary andenology scholarships for students and professionals in San Diego.  Todate the Festival has raised over $125,000 for the AIWF scholarshipprogram.

A complete schedule and line up of all events for the 6th Annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival can be found by visiting the website or calling 619-342-7337.
If you go, reply to this blog, tweet me, text me 925-872-7987 or email me at so we can hook up.  The events with *** are the two that Larry and I will be attending.  Hope to see you there in beautiful San Diego!