Sorry I haven't been very active here lately, but I'm currently working on some new content and updating my site. Forgive me for any pages that aren't functioning properly.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bingin Surf by ESP - Dede Suryana

Dede Suryana is one of Indonesia's top surfers. Besides being a mentor to younger surfers and an advocate for environmental cleanup throughout the country, he was the first Indonesian to compete full-time on the ASP World Qualifying Series. This year, he has decided to stay closer to home and focus more on free-surfing and the Asian Surfing Championship (ASC)tour.

I first met Dede several years ago on a surf trip to Cimaja, the small town where he grew up. He paddled out on a chest high day and threw 3 perfect air reverses in a row on his first wave! But anyone who says he's a small wave surfer is dreaming; this guy charges the big stuff regularly too.

He seems to have a knack for always being in the right place at the right time, so it's no wonder he showed up here just on the right tide when Bali received it's first swell of the dry season in early May.

Photos provided by ESP. If you're down in the Bingin or Impossibles area, make sure to pop in and say hi to Mul! He's there shooting pretty much everyday, and you're bound to end up with some great shots if your in the lineup. Conact him via e-mailfacebook, or call him at either +6281916727595 or +6285738677532.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Wine Presses

Extracting juice from grapes is obviously a very essential part of winemaking. This usually involves a variety of equipment, the most important being the wine press. These machines are purpose-built and programmed to provide specific levels of pressure to extract juice as desired by winemakers. There are several options available for winemakers in today's market, and selecting the right press (or presses) depends on factors including the size of operations, wine type/style, and budget. Here's some basics of popular options:

Basket Press - These traditional presses have been used for centuries but are less prevalent in the modern industry as new alternatives have emerged. Basket presses consist of a vertical 'basket' or cylindrical cage and a press plate. The press plate is lowered and pressed down into the cage against the grapes/must, forcing juice/wine out of the perforations in the cage. Basket presses are usually considered gentler than other press types and provide press wine with lower levels of suspended solids and less extraction of harsher phenolic compounds. These do allow some oxidation of juice/wine, so basket presses are more often used for red varietals. Their size also makes it far easier to keep small batches of fruit separate throughout their life for better blending options. On the downside, these presses are relatively expensive to purchase, require more time per cycle (due to setup and cleanup), and yield lower volume per ton than other presses.

Tank Press (Bladder/Membrane) - Tank presses are the most commonly used presses by commercial wineries because of their versatility and ease of automation, meaning they are rather cost effective. While small-volume tank presses are available in today's market, most are significantly higher capacity than basket presses. Most tank presses consist of a horizontal cylindrical tank mounted onto a frame that allows it to spin in between cycles. Inside the tank, a bladder or membrane expands to press the grapes against the tank walls and extract juice. Bladders are axially mounted (length-wise in tank) and cover approximately half of the inside area. They are most commonly inflated using compressed air (water is used by some wineries, though this presents several problems).
These presses can be either 'open' or 'closed', providing more or less oxidation potential, respectively. Juice drains from 'Open' tank presses through slits in the tank itself, requiring a very large, shallow press pan (high surface area open to air). 'Closed' tank presses have slit-lined channels placed inside the tank that run to openings at one end, draining into a smaller, deep press pan (low surface area open to air). Photos (L-R): 3-ton open tank press draining into juice pan on the left, 12-ton closed tank presses on the right. Both located at Niven Family Wine Estates.

Continuous Screw Press -  Instead of processing individual batches like the basket and tank press, these presses are designed to operate continually. Grapes are fed into this press and travel through an Archimedes screw, which presses the grapes against the walls inside and extract juice. Pomace  is dropped out the other end. I have no personal experience with these types of presses; their use is reserved to very high-tonnage production  (usually low price-point).

I will discuss press program differences(basket vs. tank press, white vs. red varietals, etc.) and pressing additives in a follow-up post, so check back soon!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Semi-Secret Surf in Java - Part II

Continued from Part I.

Exhausted after our first day, a few bintangs and an early night was welcomed. The little village was silent by 8 PM, a stark contrast to the bustling nightlife of Kuta or even my quiet existence on Bali's Bukit Peninsula. This didn't bother us at all, we were there surf. (Me, photo by Hiroshi Fukuzawa).
The sound of motorbikes buzzing down the street pulled me from my sleep abruptly. It was 2 AM and the quiet fishing village had come to life. I walked outside to see what was going on. Down at the harbor, fisherman were loading up their boats and heading out to sea. This little village turned out to be quite wealthy compared to surrounding areas, thriving on exporting lobster (one reason they probably aren't terribly interested in becoming a tourist destination like other places in Indonesia). Besides lobster, the ocean here is teeming with sea life and great fishing opportunities(the man below walked out the reef at low tide and pulled this octopus out of its hole).

When I stumbled out of bed a few hours later, Clint was waxing his board, still half asleep. It was still dark out but we wanted to maximize our water time before the tide dropped out midday. 
This became our routine for the week: bedtime at 9 PM, rude awakening at 2 AM, restless sleep until 5 AM, surfing until the tide was too low, lunch, surfing until dark. 7-8 hours a day in the water, overhead waves pretty much all week, light crowds. Most days, we were too busy surfing to get any photographs; Clint was the only surfer in the water on this smaller morning while I snuck off to take the photograph below.

Plenty of surfers have visited this spot. Coverage of Indonesian and traveling professional surfers here have graced the pages of surf magazines and lit up videos. Like every new wave discovery, those in the know try to keep it off the radar. Don't tell anyone where it is, how to get there, how good it is. Nevertheless, news spreads fast and this spot is quickly earning its place on the map. I don't think it will every get too crowded here because the nature of the waves will quickly deter many surfers.
Everyone thinks Indonesia is full of dream waves. It is, but this isn't really one of them. Plenty of closeouts and imperfect waves roll through here between freight-training barrels. The waves come from deep water outside the bay and suck off the reef, heaving thick lips and sectioning off quickly. The beautifully colorful coral bottom is also horrifyingly sharp and shallow. Tidal fluctuation is also a significant concern here; the left and right off the bay's headlands each require different tides, and are dramatically effected by the water movement in the bay.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Semi-Secret Surf in Java - Part I

As the launching pad for surf exploration throughout Indonesia, Bali is buzzing with rumors and stories of where to go. Everyone just got back from 'the most epic surf break' they have ever visited and somewhere that was 'pumping the whole time' they were there. After spending a fair amount of time traveling this country over the years, I've learned to take such stories with a grain of salt; too many surfers are unreliable sources of information, particularly when a few beers are involved. My Friend Clint is not one of those storytellers, so I was immediately interested when he described his trip to this spot in Java last June (Photo above taken of me by Hiroshi Fukuzawa).
Clint had just returned to Bali. He and some of New Zealand's best surfers had scored at this spot they dubbed the 'Coast of Faces' (you can read about their trip in NZ Surf Magazine). I had been tracking a swell for a week and talking to Clint about taking a trip to Nusa Tenggara  As we followed the charts, it looked like strong winds coming off Australia would push the swell westward. He thought conditions looked for this spot so we cancelled our plans, purchased plane tickets that afternoon, and flew out early the following morning.
Java is the most populated island on the planet, home to over 60% of Indonesia's 240 million residents. It is the most important island culturally (the amazing ruins of Borobudur and Prahmbanan, pictured above left), politically (the massive capital city of Jakarta), and agriculturally (a myriad of crops are grown here, including peanuts pictured above right). Once you get outside the major cities, the population density is surprisingly low. Travel in the Javanese countryside is not easy and even short trips take hours due to small, poorly maintained roads carved through thick forests and rolling fields that infrequently pass through clusters of small homes. This is one of the many reasons Java's coastline has remained relatively unexplored.
Clint and I arrived at our destination in the late afternoon. I was immediately impressed with the setup when we walked through the small kampung (village) down to the beach. Massive rocks formed a small crescent bay where waves peaked and crashed off both headlands. Beautifully clear water washed over colorful coral reef as a few surfers lazed underneath a cluster of palm trees eating nasi goreng (fried rice) and watching empty waves roll through.
We had just enough time to squeeze in an evening surf. We pulled out our boards gingerly walked across the razor-sharp coral reef, and made our way to the lineup through the channel. Clint put has previous experience here to work and paddled straight into a bomb; it sucked off the reef and spit him out into the channel 100 meters away. I knew then it was going to be a good week.

Continue to read Part II.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bingin Surf by ESP

My friends at Ego Surf Photography (ESP) take great photographs of Bingin and Impossibles. They're on the beach shooting the action whenever there are waves. With some of the best surf in Bali, it's no wonder that all the locals here rip!

If you surf down in this area, make sure to contact Mul at ESP if you're interested in getting some photographs: e-mail, facebook, or call him at either +6281916727595 or +6285738677532.

Here are a few highlights from the past week (click to enlarge), but make sure to check back as I'll be sharing more throughout Bali's Dry Season including features on some of the best locals.

Photos (from L-R, top-bottom); Mega Semadhi, Agus Dag Sumertayasa, Made Swastiska, Agus Fletch Julyantara, Made Krim, Tomy, Mike Horton (me), Mul Sinoge (photographer).

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Playing with Plastic Bags

Most places in the world, this sort of activity is frowned upon. I know growing up in California, plastic bags were considered pretty much the most dangerous thing you could let a kid play with. Maybe even more dangerous than knives and guns. Well, now I know what I was missing; look how much fun these Balinese children are having with these things!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse & Water Wheel

The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse stands at the Southwest tip of Australia near the small town of Augusta. Just a short drive south from Margaret River township, a visit here is a great way to spend the day. The lighthouse stands at the meeting point of the Great Southern Ocean and the Indian Ocean, producing dangerous sailing conditions along this rugged coastline.
When it was constructed in the late 19th century, the lighthouse was the tallest in Australia (today it is the second tallest) and had the largest kerosene wick lamp in the world. Builders had to excavate nearly 7 meters deep to reach bedrock and lay the foundation for this 40-meter tower, which was constructed by master stonemasons from local limestone. This extremely isolated sentinel was operated manually until 1982 when the pendulum-operated kerosene burner was replaced with an electrically-powered halogen lamp. Along with providing a much-needed beacon for vessels passing around the cape, the site's weather station has recorded invaluable climatic data over the years.
I visited the lighthouse grounds as part of my pre-vintage caving adventures. My cave tour fees also covered the tour here, and I definitely recommend making your way down here if you're in the area. Climbing the 186 steps to the top gives a panoramic view of the surrounding coastline, not to mention a nice little workout (particularly for the tour guide, who ascends and descends them a dozen times a day!).
The immediate area has plenty to offer. Besides the quaint town of August, there are some great hiking trails, good fishing spots, and the famous Cape Leeuwin Waterwheel. Built just up the coast from the lighthouse, the waterwheel was constructed to deliver fresh spring water to the lighthouse builders and keepers. Over the years, the wooden structure has been encased in limestone, forever preserving this historical landmark (pictured in middle above).

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Appearing on All About Wine Online Radio

Thanks to Ron Hunt and Mike Becker for having me on their BlogTalk Radio show, 'All About Wine', yesterday. The show airs every Thursday night at 7 PM (EST) out of Florida (which was 7 AM for me here in Bali!); the hosts cover various wine-related topics and welcome guests to join in the discussion.

Their previous shows are kept on demand on their website, so click this link to listen to my appearance. We had a bit of a connectivity problem at the beginning, but it was smooth sailing afterwards. Thanks again and hopefully I can join you again sometime!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Time for Some Traveling

I've had a good week relaxing since vintage ended. Now my time here in Margaret River is coming to an end. I just need to get my things packed and find my way to Perth so I can catch my flight out to Bali. Can't wait to get back over there, see Kristin and all my friends.

Oh, I can't wait for some more of this either!! Photos courtesy of ESP, thanks Mul! Last season Bali on my 6'9'' Alexander Surfboards single fin.