Monday, December 13, 2010

Wine Making By The Light of the Moon

Err, more like light of the garage. Our fruit from Borra Vineyards in Lodi finally arrived! I won a ton of Zinfandel and a ton of Barbera at the TWGGA conference earlier this year and after multiple false starts getting the fruit here, it arrived first thing Monday morning at Pheasant Court Winery. We struck up a deal that Pheasant Court pay the shipping, we help with the winemaking, and they could sell the wine under their label. We just want a few cases in the end.

So, on our day off from Benton-Lane, Bobby and I went out to Pheasant Court to process the Zin and Barbera after dark. Pheasant Court is a small operation that is done in what is basically a barn adjacent to Charlie's, the winemaker/owner, house. The "crushpad" was his driveway. Brix levels were taken and both wines are projected to be pretty big- probably in the 14% range. After crushing and de-stemming, we got a grand tour of the cellar and talked wines and vines with Charlie. Via horse trade, Bobby & I scored a bottle of Chardonnay made from Woodhall grapes for a bottle of Bobby's 2009 Pinot Blanc (also Woodhall fruit).

Tomorrow will be pitching yeast and taking more accurate Brix measurements. And then all the excitement and wine management begins! Cheers!

Loading the Zin into the crusher/de-stemmer

Checking the quality of fruit

Processed Zinfandel!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Like Kitten Mittens, Only Funnier

We fitted Bailey and Hank with booties to wear while hunting or hiking in rocky or rough terrain. It takes some getting used to on the dog's part, so as you can imagine the first time wearing them was a quite an experience. After getting the shoes on, we asked each dog to walk across the kitchen floor, hilarity ensued. See video below:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank You, Vets!

I have never been to a Veteran's Day parade, let alone in one. Well, today was my lucky day. Albany's family owned restaurant Brewsters had a float in the parade and I got to ride while Bobby drove the tractor. We tossed plastic Easter eggs (as Brewsters' "mascot" is a rooster) filled with candy and a coupon to the restaurant. Kids of course went bananas for anything being thrown their way. There were even some adults pushing and jostling to get an egg. Who knew they would be such a big deal?!? We even duped a high school kid into dressing up as a rooster for the parade. He made a pretty comical rooster, but the children loved him!

We rode all the way through the main street of downtown where the street was PACKED with people. I learned this morning that Albany's Veteran's Day Parade is the largest west of the Mississippi. Pretty impressive! Maybe one day it will grow as big as the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. :)

Dwayne, Stacey (Brewsters' proprietor and Bobby's cousin), Alex, Brian, & Emily on board our float!

Farmer Bob drives the tractor

The tractor all decked out and ready for the parade!

In all the hustle and bustle of getting organized and being in the parade it was easy to forget why we were celebrating. I just want to take the opportunity to thank all of our veterans and those who are currently serving our country. We would not be the amazing nation we are today without you. All our thoughts and prayers are with our military today. God bless our troops and Happy Veteran's Day!

Monday, November 8, 2010

In a Jam

One of my first activities at my new home in Oregon was to make jam. I was a little hesitant to take on this project, as I feared the amount of work would be overwhelming. Turns out, it was was super easy!

Using fresh picked blackberries (my personal favourite), we mixed the berries into almost a puree. After the berries were smooth, we added sugar, lots of sugar. Letting the blend stand for 10 minutes, we heated up the pectin and water to make a gel. The final step was to stir in the pectin to the berry mix and pour into containers! Et voila, blackberry jam!

Toast and biscuits taste so much better with a little homemade jam- especially since it came from my own two hands!

Don't mind the terrible hair, but you can see my stack of blackberry jam and the blackberries before they get mixed in with the pectin. Lip smackin' good!

Friday, October 29, 2010

On the Oregon Trail Once Again!

Some of you may be beginning to think it's an annual event for me to jam pack my Mini Cooper full of stuff and drive cross country to Oregon. Well, this year is a little different. My road trip to Oregon is of the permanent kind. My boyfriend Bobby and I set out from Fort Worth, Texas to commence our one way trip to Albany, OR.

We quickly blew through the Panhandle of Texas eager to get to Colorado, stopping for lunch at a peculiar, yet somehow famous restaurant in Amarillo called The Big Texan Steak Ranch. They are known for their food challenge, offered to any guest who is willing to risk major indigestion and heartburn, to eat a 72 oz steak in under an hour. Neither of us dared to attempt the challenge, but cheered on the one guy who did- he threw in the towel with a little more than 5 minutes left on the clock. We were back on the road, looking to beat our own clock and be in Denver by nightfall. Since this is a permenant move, I brought my adorable Goldendoodle Bailey with me. He was wedged between the window, my giant suitcase, and our camping gear. Traveling with a dog means quite a few more stops and longer duration at each stop, which also meant we only made it to Pueblo, Colorado our first night. Somehow, Bobby was able to find a brewery in Pueblo walking distance from our hotel! and the icing on the cake was that they allowed dogs!

Bailey and me in the Big Texan wagon

Waking up well rested the next day, we piled back into the car and turned our sights north to Boulder. Not a long drive, but we had a busy day of brewery tours planned. Last year my friend Kevin and I focused on California wineries, this year is all about the beer. We grabbed lunch and a monster taster tray at Boulder Brewery. Next, was a mean game of Scrabble and samplers at Avery's Tap Room. And just for the record, I finally beat Bobby- there is a photo of the
scoresheet to prove it! Turns out we enjoyed our time in Boulder far too long and there was no way we would make our next goal of Yellowstone Park by a reasonable time. So, upon recommendation of the friendly staff at Oskar Blues Brewery, we decided to camp in Lyons, CO. Dinner on the small town's main street and a sweet spot by the river made for a lovely evening.

Our enormous taster tray at Boulder Brewery- good thing we shared this!

Tired of being stuck in the back, Bailey decided it was his turn to drive

It was FREEZING the next morning when we woke up! No matter what Bobby did, he was unsuccessful in getting me out of my sleeping bag. I finally pep talked myself out of the tent and we were on the road yet again. The drive from Lyons to Estes Park is beautiful! You'll wind your way through canyons and along mountain roads. The road then opens up to the gorgeous town of Estes Park. Much to Bobby's delight, Elk greeted us almost immediately upon entering town. A bull elk playing in the brush, while a cow elk cooled in the lake. We came to a quick stop for another elk to cross the street, hop the fence, and enjoy the perfectly manicured grass of a golf course fairway. Clearly, he didn't read the sign that only golfers were allowed on the course. Now, a day behind schedule, we had to keep moving through Estes Park despite our desires to stay and explore. We were determined to reach Yellowstone by that afternoon. We powered through most of Wyoming, stopping in Laramie for lunch. Lucky us, we discovered Altitude Brewery in downtown. After a delicious sandwich and yet another taster tray, I decided I needed more of their seasonal Pumpkin Ale. We walked out with a growler. Where to stash more beer, as we had picked up a few beer souvenirs at some of the other breweries? After a day of hard driving across Wyoming, we decided to stop for dinner and stay overnight in Dubois, just an hour outside the park. We didn't want to drive through the Grand Tetons and part of Yellowstone in the dark, so thought it would be better to leave from Dubois first thing in the morning. We stayed at a cute motel that was comprised little log cabins. They even had a horse corral.

The stunning view of Aspens turning colours and the Grand Tetons from Jackson Lake

After a good night's rest, we were on the road headed to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. End of September is a phenomenal time to visit both parks. All the trees were on fire with yellows and reds. The Tetons were lightly dusted with snow at the very peak of the mountains. We soaked up the stunning views and moved on to Yellowstone with high hopes to see some animals. Another benefit to traveling to Yellowstone in the late fall is the far less traffic you have to deal with as compared to the summer. Less people. More animals. We drove the south loop of the park and enjoyed the scenery. Then headed to a Yellowstone must- Old Faithful. We waited about an hour for eruption. I got terrible video, but some great photos. It was definitely worth the wait. The rest of the afternoon was spent driving around checking out other geysers, including the Grand Prismatic Geyser, and I got my first glimpse of a bison herd. At one of the stops we encountered two people and their van with a gnome strapped on top. They were fellow bloggers tracking their travels: Late afternoon we got our tent set up and then headed back to the lodge for dinner. How appropriate that Bobby and I camped on our one year anniversary! Our first date was a camping trip in Oregon. On our way to dinner, we were held up in a bison traffic jam! A herd was crossing the road and held up quite a few cars. One buffalo came within a couple of feet from our car. Too bad our camera died and the iPhone photos didn't come out that great due to the low lighting. At night we were lulled to sleep by the sounds of elk calling to each other. What an amazing sound to hear in the wild.

Bobby watching Old Faithful erupt

Close up of a bison, he was mere feet away!

Grand Prismatic Geyser

The next morning was spent exploring the northern part of the park. We spotted several elk, more bison, and to our delight a black bear. We ended up getting within 150 yards of the bear while he ate and scratched his back on a tree. He did not seem to care one way or the other if we were there. Probably the closest I'll ever get to a bear- what an incredible experience! At the very northern part of Yellowstone, we spotted a few sheep on the rocks. Another animal off our checklist! The only animal we did not see was a moose. We took the North Entrance out of the park and headed into Montana, stopping in Bozeman for lunch. Bozeman has a fantastic little main street with lots of streetside cafes, shops, and galleries. We decided that Montana is
definitely on our list to return and explore more of. Over lunch we chose make the beeline home in one day. We were tired and it was now day five of being on the road. We only had one remaining stop to make- Big Sky Brewery in Missoula. Squeezing in just 30 minutes before they closed, we sampled four beers and bought yet another growler to add to our collection. This particular growler was filled with Moose Drool Brown. The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. We blew through the rest of Montana and into Idaho. We wound through mountain roads with switchbacks and s-turns, the kind of driving the Mini was built to do. We finally stopped in Cour d'Alene, Idaho for dinner and to watch the remaining few minutes of the Oregon Ducks game. It was back in to the car for another 7 hours after the Ducks' victory. At long last we arrived home in Albany at 430am. I don't even remember my head hitting the
pillow. Only to awake a mere three hours later by four dogs demanding our attention and space on the bed.

2, 478 miles traveled

It's good to be here.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Times Ten At Top Chef Challenge!

Fort Worth, TX Magazine put on their own version of Top Chef Challenge on Thursday. Times Ten was the exclusive wine provider for the event. So, Dustin and I attended the competition to answer any questions there may be regarding the wine, and more importantly, snag some good food! We had a blast watching the chefs create their masterpieces. The secret ingredient was a rack of lamb; the savory smells wafting throughout the showroom were quite inticing. And lucky us, not only did tons of guests drink our wine, but we spotted two of the chefs sipping our Cab throughout the competition. They just so happened to be the top two qualifying chefs- coincidence? I think not!

We are so excited to see Chef Blaine and Chef Donnatella can do in the final round!

Donnatella imbibes a glass of x10 Cab while hard at work

Winners' Circle...cheers!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fun WIth Bottling

After two exhausting days of bottling this week, our warehouse is filling up. We now have 8 pallets of 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and 5 pallets of 2007 Merlot. Our good friend Jimmy Jenkins at Fort Worth Screen Printing dropped by to check out the organized chaos. Using his handy dandy iPhone, he put together a great little video of the bottling process. You can also see Andrew's OSHA stretches on our Facebook page- always a good laugh. Oh! And we're always looking for volunteers for our next bottling!