A Wine Emergency

An hour before party guests were to arrive, the jeroboam of 2008 Melville Pinot Noir was finally being opened. Francesca expertly removed the heavy red wax covering the cork and then took a spiral corkscrew and went to work.

"Uh oh".  The cork was spongy and there was a neat hole in the middle where it had been pierced. Unfortunately, the cork was firmly in place and no standard corkscrew was ever going to get it out. "We need an ah-so". To need. That was us. We didn't have one.

Living rural, buying one from a store was out of the question. What to do? Ever thinking, Francesca recommended that we call "Rivers End", a local high-end restaurant with a nice bar. Perhaps we could borrow one. 

I was soon dialing their number and spoke to a cheerful hostess named Monica. I quickly went into 911 mode. "Hi my name is Lotus Fong, I live on xyz street and I have a wine emergency" I said emphatically. "I am in desperate need of an ah-so". After giggling a bit, she said they had one and I was welcomed to use it. Yay!

I bundled up the jeroboam in my arms and realized I had moved our cars far from our home that morning to make room for our guests. So, I went to my neighbors, knocked firmly at their door and explained the wine emergency. Neighbor Pamela did what all good thinking wine drinkers would do. She stopped what she was doing and drove me to the restaurant with haste. 

A few minutes later, with the proper tool in hand, the cork slid off and a delicious time capsule was finally opened. Success! Disaster averted! And yes, the wine was delicious and yes, we finished that bottle and several more. And yes, I've since purchased a two prong corkscrew.

Exploring the Flats

Yesterday afternoon, I gathered my new aluminum collapsible shovel, a bucket and some extra clothing and drove the short scenic drive to the Bodega Bay flats. With my new fishing license in hand, I put on my hot pink beach shoes and clambered down the rocks to the flats.  I was all ready to dig for clams.

Negative tide was still a couple of hours away but the flats were "dry". Walking on the sand several feet towards the bay, I sunk into the water-logged sand and my once dry feet were now squishy with ocean water. I loved it.

For company, there was a white egret and two chicks -a dinosaur family! A flock of godwits pecked at the water's edge looking for lunch and a few gulls patiently scanned the beach waiting for an opportunity.

Digging at the water's edge, I saw long, thin red worms, various dead crustaceans and once I found a rather odd looking worm with a dark jeweled stripe on its back. Whenever I dug a hole, it would fill with water almost immediately. A successful clamming day it was not. But what I did discover were orange tunicates, several jellies which had washed ashore and a rather large and beautiful red and black crab with arms raised and ready to fight. I found the pure joy of overturning rocks to peer into the world of small crabs. While I did find clams, I did find calm beauty and certainly, I will be visiting this world again soon. 

Remembering a Chardonnay

A month and now two has quickly come and gone since my last post. Vineyards, their fruit and most deliciously, their wine continues to absorb my attention. Feeling thirsty one afternoon, a neighbor kindly took me to the La Crema Estate at Saralee's Vineyard. From our coastal homes, we drove the scenic and windy River Road through little towns and great groves of trees that dot the riverside. Turning down one road and then another until we arrived at the winery with it's swooping vista of recently harvested vines. We entered the tasting room reserved for members with it's rich woods, old world feel, stunning views and pastoral art. But it was the tasting that was the fun. As always, we started with the light whites and then proceeded with the varying degrees of chardonnays and then to the pinots. I was undisciplined about the tasting. No notes but good conversation. And through the banter, the distractions, the pouring and the drinking, there was one wine that stood out - their Kelli Ann Chardonnay. Balanced with rich, baked fruit. It's a chardonnay with complexity and memory. That, I remembered.


Give Thanks By Helping Others

In the midst of non-stop fire chaos and increasing anxiety over what might be, my heart was torn ragged. The Sonoma fires started on a Sunday night. Six days later, it was still less than 50% contained. On Saturday, I left our home in Jenner at 7 am to volunteer at the Bodega Bay Grange where evacuees arrived through the day to gather supplies they would otherwise not have.

I thanked donors who traveled from near and far, hauled their donated goods, organized clothes and food, guided evacuees to food, clothes and blankets as well as help deliver food and medical supplies. Twelve hours later, we arrived at the safety of our home. Shoes off, feet up, I drank in a glass of alcoholic grape juice and reflected. Sure, I was really tired but most of all I was extremely thankful. Thankful to have a place called home, thankful to be able to make a difference, thankful for being part of an adopted tribe that was Sonoma Strong.

I was in humbled by the aching reminder that resilience and love is what moves us forward. Life is here today and gone tomorrow. So, what do we do with the moments we have?  To me this is not a rhetorical question. There is an answer. We give thanks by helping others. That's what we do with our moments. Or as my mother would say, remember those who have nothing.

A Time Of Great Sadness

The fires that have ravaged both Sonoma and Napa County is devastating. Many people have lost family, friends, pets, belongings, homes and businesses. On the Sonoma Coast we are caring for the evacuees who are coming here to escape the fires. Our local communities and charities have open their hearts and emergency shelter. Our local fire service, ambulances, sheriffs, CHP, and 1st responders have headed the call. We thank all of the people who have come to help from all over the state, country including our international communities Canada and Australia. If you would like to help our local Bodega Bay charity Waves of Compassion Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit. Any monetary contribution will go directly to help the fire victims.

A Night Time Harvest

After months of summer sun, the grassy Sonoma countryside is baked a golden brown. Between the rolling fields and small farms are green vineyards. Not so long ago, the vines were heavy with fruit but like the fading fall sun,  they are lighter now.

We are in harvest season. For many vineyards, the Pinot Noir harvest has come and gone already but there are other cultivars still waiting for that perfect sugar level. Last night we traveled the county roads and saw bright lights shining high in the vineyard block rows. Trucks lined the vineyard. It was time to pick through the night when it is cool. The harvest continues.

Photo Copyright Francesca Scalpi