If Uzi had his way, he would check in on “our” vineyards at least once a week.  And, actually, as the harvest gets closer he would be there everyday. While he is not able to go that frequently, the 5 of us did pile in the car Father’s Day weekend and drive up for a visit.  I think he likes to see the 2 guys who own the vineyards almost as much as he likes to check on the grapes.  And after meeting them for the first time, I can see why.  Chris Ritcey (Corona Creek Vineyard, Sonoma Coast) and Steve Beresini (Beresini Vineyard, Carneros) are providing us with grapes this year.  Each took our family on a private tour of their vineyards and resident farm animals. Both of them are super nice and down to earth.  

First stop:  Corona Creek vineyard, Sonoma Coast.  Chris Ritcey first led our kids down to see his sheep and feed them. One sheep, endearingly named #5, took a liking to us and the bucket of feed Chris gave us.  Then he took us on a tour of the vineyard and gave us a short lesson on the ripening of the grapes.

kids and #5

kids and #5

Chris and Uzi

Uzi and Chris

Chris in Sonoma Coast vineyard


Next we headed east to Carneros.  After a quick stop for brunch at the Boon Fly Cafe at the Carneros Inn (yummy housemade doughnuts,) we crossed the street to Beresini vineyard.  Steve came out to greet us, led us into the vineyard and immediately starting clipping the small, unwanted suckers he came across.  As Uzi has written before, Steve is always making wine in the vineyard.

Steve Beresini making wine

Steve Beresini "making wine"

carneros Pinot grapes

Beresini pinot 6/09

The berries in Carneros were a little bigger than the Sonoma Coast berries.  That may be an indicator they will be ready for harvest earlier or it may just be the clone.  Either way, the countdown has begun.  90 days (+/-) to harvest and counting…

A month or so ago, I wrote about where and how we started making wine.  

little people at work

basement before

As you can see from the pictures in the Crawl Space post, full grown adults just could not stand up in there. Our hobby required the help of shorter members of our family.  After three years of this nonsense, Uzi hatched a plan. 

In a crafty way, Uzi suggested we remodel the bathroom–make wife happy–and while we’re at it, expand the basement for additional “storage”–make husband happy.  Before I had even said yes, he began drawing up plans for a full-blown wine making operation downstairs.  He studied optimal floor plans for wineries, he devised lists of winery requirements (such as a floor drain, stainless steel double sink for washing, hot and cold water hoses for barrel rinsing) and he reminded me of what a beautiful bathroom we would soon have.

Before we could stop ourselves, we had hired our tried and true design/build team, Levitch Associates.  

The plan to expand the basement/crawl space involved a major excavation dig below our house all by hand. The workers dug like gophers.  They filled up and hauled away dumpster after dumpster of dirt. 

men digging

men digging










dirt pile

dirt pile

Our house was shored up with a couple of 2x4s in the giant void of space above which we walked, we ate, we slept, we lived.  

excavation efforts

excavation efforts

I expressed my uncertainty of the strength and integrity of what looked like toothpicks holding up our house.  Just look at that photo, wouldn’t you?  But my husband convinced me they knew what they were doing.  If only someone had listened to me…

to be continued…