Friday, October 29, 2010

LA Adventures

After living in California most of my life, it's amazing there is so much more to see. The Los Angeles area has rarely been a destination for me; I usually just drive straight through to avoid the hustle of the sprawling metropolitan area (Los Angeles County is home to nearly ten million residents). So when my friend Erin invited me to stop and visit her in Marina del Rey on my way north, I jumped at the chance. I left early Thursday and drove further north to Malibu, where I had a fun surf on my single-fin; it was only waist-chest high but conditions were perfect. I headed back south to meet Erin once she got off work; as it was Thursday, she said we had to go to the biggest event in the area. I'm not sure if I can do justice to the weekly Turtle Racing at Brennan's Pub, I think it's one of those things a person needs to experience.
I awoke early Friday and began my journey north along the Pacific Coast Highway. The swell had dropped overnight and left little surf to entice me into the water. Nonetheless, perfectly blue skies and light traffic made me a leisurely drive as I enjoyed the scenic views. This famous stretch of highway hugs the coast as it makes its way from Santa Monica through Pacific Palisades and Malibu before passing Point Mugu and rejoining Highway 101 in Oxnard. Despite several great wave setups, I wouldn't classify this stretch of coast as extremely consistent since the area is largely sheltered from the prevailing northerly swell direction. Summertime south swells make the area's residents happy, but often result in overcrowded lineups. I continued north onto the 101 through Ventura and Santa Barbara.
I finally found what I was looking for: uncrowded, overhead waves. I didn't realize that my good fortunate came at the expense of another's until a fellow surfer mentioned the terrible event that occurred that morning just a few miles away at Surf Beach, where a Great White Shark attack took the life of young Lucas Ransom (read the whole story here).  Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cal Poly Wine - Homecoming Events

I've been on the road for the past week visiting friends and doing some exploring. Now I'm looking forward to a fun weekend here in San Luis Obispo as Cal Poly celebrates the football team's homecoming against St. Francis. While the festivities will culminate with the game on Saturday evening, there are plenty of other events happening on and near campus. This includes two different Cal Poly wine events.
 Friday night, Cal Poly wine will host a tasting at Central Coast Wines located downtown at 712 Higuera St. I'll be helping pour several offerings from the 2007 and 2008 vintages from 6-9 PM. This will be the first public pouring for the 2008 vintage (2008 production notes). Wines from both vintages have received several awards in competitions throughout California. Despite having yet to be released, the six wines from the 2008 vintage have received 22 awards in 5 competitions.

Beginning at 2:30 PM Saturday, Cal Poly's annual pre-game BBQ tailgate and Wine Tasting is a great way to get ready for the big game at 6 PM. I will again be pouring Cal Poly wines, along side several other wineries from throughout the county (check out the vendors list and get tickets here). Hopefully, I'll see you all there!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

San Francisco Bay

Since moving to northern California, I've come to realize how large the San Francisco Bay complex truly is. The bay complex lies in the gap between the San Andreas Fault on the west and the Hayward Fault on the east, and is usually defined as the San Francisco Bay, San Pablo Bay, and Suisun Bay. Nearly half of California's water reaches the Pacific Ocean via the San Francisco Bay, which is fed from the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers.
The bay is often considered one of California's most important ecological sites, acting as the major nursery for most of California's fisheries and is home to numerous endangered species. There are four large islands located within the San Francisco Bay: Alcatraz, Angel Island, Yerba Buena Island, and Treasure Island. Five bridges allow vehicle traffic to traverse the bay, though several ferries and the Transbay Tube (an underwater train passageway) provide passenger transportation.
I've taken a couple ferry rides across the San Francisco Bay over the past several weeks. I took these three photographs during a ride from San Francisco to Larkspur, a small city just south of San Rafael. I don't think the conditions could have been better: clear, sunny skies with no wind and 75 degrees. (Pictures: 1. San Francisco Ferry Building, 2. Alcatraz, 3. Golden Gate Bridge).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Old Session

California had a rather dismal summer surf season, but it seems like you can always find some fun waves somewhere. I spent most of July in San Diego; while I spent more days longboarding at Tourmaline, I had several fun days at this La Jolla reef. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Harvest Update - Trickling In

The sparkling wines have now all been racked off gross lees and packed away, just in time for the still wines to begin trickling in. Thursday saw approximately 3,000 gallons (11,350 liters) of Chardonnay juice arrive via tanker from two of our vineyards in Carneros. These lots have been inoculated and put to barrel for fermentation. Thursday also saw a client's four tons of Pinot Noir arrive from the Anderson Valley in Mendocino, who brought in a few more tons on Friday and Saturday as well. Another client delivered the first half of 10,000 gallons of Sauvignon Blanc on Friday which was kept well cooled over the weekend for inoculation yesterday once the remaining portion had arrived. Warm weather all last week has helped push ripening along, and we're expecting to see lots of grapes over the next couple weeks.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Two Forts

At the turn of the 19th century, the United States constructed two forts on the Marin Headlands, just north of San Francisco Bay. There purpose was simple: to guard the city and bay from enemy attacks. Though not active military bases today, Fort Barry and Fort Cronkhite now serve as National Park Service facilities (Fort Barry is shown below on the hillside). 
Since moving to Napa Valley for vintage in August, I have had limited opportunities to surf. This means planning my trips to the coastline becomes a bit more crucial. Having heard of Rodeo Beach from a friend just a week before, it happened that a good south swell lined up. I figured that an adventure was in order, so I loaded up and and left St. Helena early Saturday morning. I dropped into the valley from my hilltop home, descending through the fog. Nearly an hour later, after traversing Napa and Sonoma, I found myself enveloped in fog once again as I exited Sausalito (below) and dropped into the Gerbode Valley. 
As I circled the Rodeo Lagoon, I could hear waves crashing just over the sand dunes. The fog was so thick it felt like rain, but all I saw was a scarcely populated beach lined with several peaks providing shoulder to head high waves. While not perfect, the waves were quite powerful and broke rather close to shore. I quickly suited up and surfed for nearly two hours before my friend Jay joined me in the lineup. After another hour or so, we headed in to warm up before realizing it was already 2 PM.