Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Half Moon Bay

After a late night last Friday seeing Ghostland Observatory at San Francisco's Warfield (pretty awesome show, thanks Hayes!), I managed to drag myself out of bed in the morning and make the half hour drive south to Half Moon Bay. After making my way down the coast, I arrive at my friend Mike's house around 11 AM. Despite appearing rather small and quaint, I found out Half Moon Bay is home to over 100,00 residents. We did a quick surf check before arriving at a small beach dotted with a handful of surfers. The waves broke rather close to shore and though they weren't amazing, there were a few chest high sets rolling through. We excitedly suited up and surfed into the early afternoon before grabbing some lunch. This break definitely has potential (somewhat reminiscent of Playa Hermosa), so I'm hoping to be re-visiting it shortly.
After a short tour around the area, Mike and I headed out to Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve for a little wilderness adventure. Walking through the towering redwoods was breathtaking and serene, particularly after leaving the hustle of San Francisco behind that morning. Needless to say, we didn't venture too far as it was starting to get late. Instead, we headed back to the waterfront for a couple beers at the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company while enjoying the sunset. Nice little Saturday.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Nearly a Month in Norcal

Well, I finally have moved out of my tent and into a house after three weeks in Napa (well, weekdays in Napa and weekends in San Francisco). I was beginning to get used to my daily routine living at the campsite. I awoke around 6, packed up my things, dumped out my mini-grill, and broke down my tent before heading off to the winery. I arrived early in order to transfer the contents of my small cooler into the refrigerator and eat some breakfast. When I got off work at 4:30, I tried to take advantage of the remaining sunlight by either mountain biking, running, or doing some yoga. The grocery store was the next stop, usually on my bike, to pick up some fixings for dinner before heading back to the campground around 8 so that I could setup my tent and start up the grill before the sunset.
Though I was enjoying camping, it's pretty nice having a house to live in. Despite its lack of furniture, my new place is awesome; it's a two bedroom, two bathroom home that shares over 20 acres with two other houses. The other bedroom is occupied by Andrew, an intern at the same winery I am employed by. While we both have furnished our bedrooms, the remainder of the house remains rather vacant but will hopefully be filled in sooner than later. On the same note, I'm hopeful that we'll have internet hooked up rather quickly as well, particularly since I am forced to find free Wifi spots (this was posted from the St Helena Libary). Still, I'm just enjoying life and taking it one day at a time.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Crazy

As I drove up Interstate 80 on my way to Napa, traffic began to slow from 70 to 40 mph. The reason? This car was aflame on the shoulder. Oddly enough, there were no firemen or emergency personnel at the scene and no one seemed to think it was strange as they continued on in their cars, quickly picking up speed once passed the spectacle. I guess that's life.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Roughin It

I guess roughing it would be a bit of an overstatement. Nonetheless, living in a tent hasn't provided time for posting here. I have done some exploring around the area; Napa is a gorgeous place. My first week at my new job was rather regular: basic training and harvest preparation. Despite some negatives, I've been rather enjoying camping at night; Napa Valley's atypically mild this season keeps night temperatures above 55 degrees Fahrenheit and days usually maxing out in the low-80's. The weather has greatly affected the growing season; wine grape harvest has been pushed back several weeks (some sparkling wine producers would already be harvesting by now).
 
After working all week, I headed down to San Francisco for another weekend with Hayes and the Barret twins (I stopped through on the way up from San Diego last weekend, too).  I had a quick surf in small onshore conditions at Ocean Beach on Saturday; while it was far from a great session, it was nice just to get wet. Life of an inlander has been hard to accept.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Wine Region - Napa Valley

Appellation - Napa Valley
Sub-appellation(s) - Atlas Peak, Calistoga, Chiles Valley, Diamond Mountain District, Howell Mountain, Los Carneros, Mt. Veeder, Oak Knoll District, Oakville, Rutherford, Spring Mountain District, St. Helena, Stags Leap District, Wild Horse Valley, Yountville.
Location
- United States (Napa County, California); 38th parallel.
Size -  485,102 acre (45,275 acres planted to vineyards)
Rainfall - 23.7 in/yr (600 mm/yr)
Growing Degree Days - 2300-3300° F  (depending on specific area)
Varietals- Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Dolcetto, Malbec, Marsanne, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Petit Sirah, Petit Verdot, Rousanne, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Tempranillo, Viognier, Zinfandel.
Claim to Fame - Most renowned New World wine region, classic Cabernet Sauvignon & Chardonnay, Paris Wine Tasting of 1976.

Napa Valley has long been considered one of the world's finest wine growing regions; the first wine grapes were planted in in 1938 by missionary George C. Yount and commercial winemaking began just twenty years later (of course, this region is far younger than places like France and Italy). As the region's acclaim grew, the industry flourished. By the end of the 19th century, there were already 140 facilities producing wine commercially, including Charles Krug, Chateau, Montelena, Inglenook, Schramsberg, Beringer, and Beaulieu. Phylloxera (the root loose that decimated over two-thirds of European vineyards in the 19th century) ripped through Napa in the early 1900's, destroying nearly 80% of its vineyards planted.
The biggest hit to the area's wine industry was Prohibition, which effectively shut down wine production for fourteen years. Once Prohibition was repealed, production quickly met and exceeded previous volumes. This era also saw the introduction of modern winemaking practices by Russian immigrant Andre Tchelistceff, largely credited with making California's wine industry what it is today. Napa's defining moment on the international stage came in the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, when Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay bested many of France's most revered labels. As the years have passed, Napa has continued to show itself as one of the elite regions to grow these two varietals, while constantly experimenting with new grapes. Today, Napa Valley is home to over 450 wineries and 45,000 acres of vineyards, yet still only accounts for 4% of California's total wine volume. Driving through the valley on Highway 29, one quickly sees how much time and effort (and money) has been invested in the breathtaking estates flanking the streets.
Napa Valley snakes thirty miles northwest from the San Pablo Basin, bounded by the Mayacamas Mountain Range on the west and the Vaca Mountains on the east. Following the Napa River north, the valley tapers from about five miles in width at its base to just one mile at the top. The diversity of topography, soils, and climatic conditions have led to the valley's segregation into fifteen sub-regions (Los Carneros is included in this count, though it is partially in Sonoma).