Napa/Sonoma Earthquake Update

It’s been a crazy weekend here in Wine Country. After the whole being terrified thing, my main sensation has been awe: awe at a God who makes the earth quake and awe at the amazing community we live in, as well-wishes and inquiries on our status have flooded in during the last two days. This post on the Ram’s Gate blog received a record number of views, so I wanted to share it here as well. Thank you all for your prayers and concern. We had another aftershock this morning but it was way more chill, more like getting rocked to sleep while a semi truck drove next to our house in the middle of a super windy thunderstorm.

Ram's Gate Winery Ramblings

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Yesterday morning, a 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck in Wine Country, its epicenter just south of Napa. The quake occurred on the West Napa fault and produced the largest Bay Area earthquake since 1989. Needless to say, we are still in shock. As the news has poured in over the last 24 hours, we grow increasingly grateful that our team made it through safely. Sadly, many homes and possessions sustained significant damage, and it will require some time and effort to restore all things to normalcy.

We are incredible grateful to say that Ram’s Gate Winery suffered very little destruction. We all felt desperate relief walking through the winery on Sunday morning and seeing that the hundreds of glass bottles and pyramids of barrels remained in place. Our hearts are with the Sonoma and Napa wineries for whom this was not the case.

On behalf of the entire Ram’s Gate Winery team, we’d like to extend our…

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Summer of Sonoma

Sometimes, living amidst all the wineries and vineyards gets me a little spoiled. The beauty right now is incredible as the grapes are almost ready to get harvested and become wine. The thing is, since I spend all day at an unbelievably gorgeous winery and drive past awe-inspiring vineyards every day, I typically don’t get around much to see what else is out there. Thankfully, doing that kind of thing IS teeeechnically part of my job, so the week before last I took an outreach day and visit a couple wineries that partner with Ram’s Gate in something called the Sonoma IntertWINEd Alliance.

To cap things off on Saturday, Kin and I stopped into Petroni Vineyards, where our friends and Cody’s future harvest intern worked for the summer. 

Flanagan Wines
http://www.flanaganwines.com/
90-minute tour and tasting by appointment; $40 per person

I had no clue Flanagan existed until work led me across its path — and I think that’s how they want it. The estate, found 1200 feet above Bennett Valley, has only a dozen or so acres planted. Cody and I had inadvertently driven past the turnoff several times, since it’s right on our route to get to church every week. But the road up the mountain is a crazy one, indeed, and I had to maneuver around a couple of trucks coming straight at me. Yikes! But the view at the top was definitely worth it.

My Flanagan tour was actually a few weeks ago, but since it’s a part of the IntertWINEd Alliance, I wanted to include it in this post. I had accompanied my colleague on a site visit to check out their private event spaces, and was definitely blown away. The lovely Angie gave us a tour and tasted us through a wine flight. The Syrah was my favorite.

Flanagan Basket Press

Look at this adorable basket press.

Oak Casks at Flanagan

My Chardonnay and I enjoying the French oak casks – similar to the ones we have at Ram’s Gate.

The Donum Estate
http://www.thedonumestate.com/
90-minute tour and tasting by appointment only; $50 per person

Just down the road from Ram’s Gate (and past the amazing Fremont Diner, I might add) is The Donum Estate. Hospitality Director and friend Shannon walked me around and shared with me the story of Donum, which is latin for “gift” (in direct object form, if you are into declension and all that). The president and super cool winegrower Anna farms three different properties: one in Carneros, one in the Russian River Valley and one in Anderson Valley. It was a blast to taste those three Pinot Noirs side by side and compare the different tastes of place.
The Donum Estate Carneros Bonus points: The Donum Carneros Estate was once a dairy farm. We strolled across the pasture before wandering into the vineyard. Thankfully, I strategized my outfit that morning and was rocking a vineyard boots + sundress look.

IMG_5116 Donum Estate Carneros Vineyard

Horizontal Flight at the Donum Estate

The tasting took place in a lovely cottage overlooking the vines. All in all, it was a wonderful experience that I would highly recommend. 

Stone Edge Farm
http://stoneedgefarm.com/

My next stop was Stone Edge Farm, which was shockingly close to where Cody and I used to live in the western part of Sonoma. My experience isn’t really indicative of what they are now offering, since they now have tastings by appointment just off the plaza and tastings at the Silver Cloud Estate up Cavedale Road, actually pretty close to where we live now. This time, I was able to tour the farm itself and see lots of growing things, including grapevines, before tasting the current release Sauvignon Blanc along with two Cabernet-based blends.

Tasting at Stone Edge Farm

Repris
https://www.repriswines.com/
90 minute cave tour and tasting by appointment only; $40 per person

I finished my day at Repris, which I discovered is up Moon Mountain Road a stone’s throw away from Monte Rosso Vineyard, from which Bedrock gets fruit. What I wasn’t prepared for was just how incredibly red the soils are — the photos almost don’t do it justice.

Red Soils up Moon Mountain

My tour guide was Brittainy, and we hit it off right away as she toured me through the barrel caves.

Repris Wine Caves

We then hopped into the land rover thing-bobber and took a somewhat precarious journey up into the mountain vineyards. I didn’t realize that Repris, which means “rebirth,” is the old Moon Mountain Vineyard property, the original Carmenet Vineyard.

Selfie at Repris

The view was nutso, so naturally, I took an over-the-vineyard selfie. 

Repris Vineyard

Amazing views of Sonoma Valley. 

Petroni Vineyards
http://www.petronivineyards.com/
Mountain estate tastings by appointment

Donum, Stone Edge and Repris were all the same day as part of my Sonoma IntertWINEd outreach, but following suit with our week of wine tasting, and in lieu of Cody’s first busy Saturday, Kinley and I went down the mountain, a couple miles down Highway 12, and right back up the mountain on Cavedale Road to a final winery of the week: Petroni Vineyards. Cody’s future intern Tom worked there as well as his girlfriend Jess, and the two showed us around and tasted us through a couple wines. More amazing mountain views; more delightful company and a beautiful way to kick off the weekend.

We tasted in the Petroni Olive Grove

We tasted in the Petroni Olive Grove

My little wine dog

Kins the winery dog hates his Gentle Leader so much.

Petroni wine, plus some corn to make us feel at home.

Petroni Rossi di Sonoma, plus some corn to make us feel at home.

In conclusion, it was a week of many mountain vineyards and breathtaking Sonoma beauty. 

And then it was February

So much for my New Year’s resolution to blog more! But, this morning I’m heading into work late so I have time to catch up on things over my cafe au lait. Plus, Cody is out pruning today, which is a happy reminder of how I want to document such things on this blog. (Side note: I haven’t written a blog post about pruning yet for the Ram’s Gate blog, but I mentioned it in a post about dormant vines here). 

Lately, we’ve been busy with work and more wonderful company here in our woodland estate. I’m working on a couple different mini-writing projects right now (most excitingly, our Sister Toast for Rach & Graham’s wedding), plus scurrying around with work. Tonight I’m headed to San Francisco for a Nerding Out seminar about Facebook Marketing. So far, my 2014 has been very Marketing Education-y, with a Digital Marketing last month and now this, plus my resolution to read a marketing book each month. So far:

January: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (LOVED IT – I HIGHLY recommend for everyone to read)
February: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (good, but a little dated – I definitely need to catch up on his more recent publications)
February #2: Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organization by Clay Shirky (same as Tipping Point – it’s really interesting to read books about Social Media and digital marketing from the early 2000’s – many MySpace mentions and references to Blogs as “weblogs.” Hehe.) 

March: A bunch of books by Seth Godin. 

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Other than work and lots of reading time, we’ve had a very Golden Retriever weekend.Image

On Thursday night, Cody’s brother Jacob flew in, and they drove to Ben Lomond to pick up Kinley’s baby cousin, Denali, who then flew with Jacob to Iowa on Monday to be Angela and Lee’s new puppy! 

Denali is an Antares Golden just like Kinster, and the two have the same grandpa. We saw tons of similarities as they played over the weekend, and it was super cool to see Denali learn so quickly, seeing Kin do things first. Examples include going up and down stairs (which took Kinner at least a few weeks to learn) and … digging in the dirt outside (we tried to discourage that one as much as possible). 

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So much wonderful puppy love. I definitely went into puppy-separation depression yesterday, but Kinner was there to get me through it. 

In other news, we FINALLY got some rain this weekend – praise God. It is still very droughty around here, but I believe a couple storms are in the forecast for February. Also, THREE MONTHS from today is Rach & Graham’s wedding, AKA the social event of our year. I am incredibly excited.

 

Ummmm Catchup, and Words

Oh boy, I have not blogged in quiiiite some time. I would say that there just wasn’t much to talk about, but really I just wasn’t a talker. I noticed this a couple days ago, popping open my Macbook and realizing that pages were still pulled up that I had looked at four days ago – wow. I am actually going DAYS between computer time. Now, that said, I am on my phone constantly (with the semi-lame excuse that it is my job to be on my phone), but still, I consider that quite the accomplishment, considering my affinity for the internet – almost as much of an accomplishment as how many commas are in this sentence.

What has been going on in the Rasmussen Household? Tons of wonderful things: lots of company and memorable moments with family, friends, and friends who are family, a fabulous holiday season with a baby tree I was immensely proud of, ringing in Christmas and the New Year with whole days of relaxing with Cody and the pup in front of our fireplace in our fairy tale forested home.

My New Year’s resolutions? Reading lots of books about marketing (1 per month, to be precise)…maybe blogging about them? Getting better at photography and photoshop, and HTML, too. Improving my writing skills, improving my wine writing skills. Becoming official members at our awesome church and attending every Sunday (*asterisk: when harvest come, we’ll have to reassess our progress and be a titch more flexible). Doing the same ol’ saving money thing – Cody’s totally on that. Continuing to semi-document our lives on this blog. Shedding off the last few pounds before Rach & Graham’s wedding in May. Learning stuff along the way.

I am so happy to greet 2014 with a firm business woman-y handshake. This year, to our knowledge, doesn’t have the wild ride of travel that New Zealand provided almost exactly one year ago – ditto with big job changes and moves. We get to be stable, if stability is really a thing, and just dwell. As I am currently dwelling with a glass of Cody’s latest favorite Bedrock wine, cuddled in my blanket with Kinster on his Birthday Present Bed behind me,

Kinley The Golden - Happy New Year

that sounds like a pretty good plan to me.

Wedding Bells in Iowa :)

Oh my, we had SUCH an amazing time in Iowa last weekend. One of the fun things about living in California is that I appreciate the beauty of the Great Plains a lot more. Every time we visit, it seems like we do during a season I haven’t seen in a long time. This time, it was an Iowa September. Beauty!

IMG_2813 The scenery was definitely secondary to the sheer awesomeness of getting to reunite with friends and family. We took at 5:45am flight on Saturday, got in to Omaha at noon, then drove to Des Moines with just enough time to get settled in before the rehearsal dinner.

There, we got to meet BABY RIVER and see Dave and Ashley, who we hadn’t seen since our wedding. They are one of the wisest and most Godly couples I know, so it was wonderful to spend some time with them.

{Dave, Groom Henry, Cody}

{Dave, Groom Henry, and Cody at the rehearsal}

Then, we got to see Cody’s amazing momma AND go out for drinks with our best couple friends, Drew and Karina and Noah and Britt, before resting up for the perfect fun-filled wedding day on Sunday. Then, Monday before we flew out, we met my parents for some shopping and a lot of eating (and conversation around the table). I’ve just plain realized that I will always be blinking tears when I see my mom. But that’s what happens with kindred spirits. Especially super-emotional ones, right Mom? 😉

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Oh my, the weekend was so perfect I don’t even want to describe it because I won’t do it justice, and pictures are more fun anyway. Henry and Karissa are an amazing couple and we were all SO excited to be there to welcome Karissa into our friend-family and witness their union. If you ever see them, just make sure to mention that they should move to San Francisco. Or better yet, Sonoma.

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IMG_2759 IMG_2776 friendsiesIMG_2794

Back to the Sorting Table

One of the inevitable effects of harvest is that in order to hang out with my husband, I need to (ahem, GET to) hang out at the winery. Some days, that occurs in the form of stopping by after work for a cup of coffee and a quick spin on the forklift:

IMG_2648And other times, it’s like today, when I bring my computer, journal, and a couple books to occupy me while the guys get some Sunday work done. Today we also brought Kinner, who is training up to become a fully-licensed Winery Dog. We’re working on it; he hasn’t fully kicked the habit of chewing on expensive equipment and trying to eat all the grapes.

IMG_2889[still does ANYTHING for treats, though].

Meanwhile, down in Carneros, I got to wear my Sorting Table hat on Wednesday and help the cellar crew sort 10 tons of Pinot Noir.

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It’s always funny to come down from my blissfully ignorant, perfectly temperature-controlled office – where all day long I romanticize winemaking for a living – down to the crush pad. My main takeaway is that no matter how beautiful and artful and theological and symbolic and dazzling harvest is, its main descriptor is just plain sticky. Standard operating procedure is to be covered in grape juice after a day on the crush pad, especially with the Carneros winds that I so glorify in marketing copy blowing juice onto everything. The bottom line: making wine is hard work, but the sticky parts (both metaphorical and literal) only contribute to its awesomeness.

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Sorting is an important part of fruit processing because it’s one of many levels of quality control. We only want nice, ripe, clean, pretty grapes to get destemmed and pumped into their fermenting location (whether barrel or tank). This week, we had three or four people standing next to the moving belt, looking for under-ripe grapes, any mold or mildew hiding inside clusters (especially Pinot Noir, which is known for tight clusters that carry the risk of unwanted growth like mold), and MOG, which is a great Wine Word of the Day that stands for “Material Other than Grapes.”

(Original, right? It mostly refers to leaves, but the generic term can signify anything you could ever imagine, including birds, bugs, spiders, plastic, sticks, small children, etc.)

It was a busy week at work for me, but whenever I say that, I kind of laugh because “busy” for me means maybe having to do an hour of catch-up work at night or work a half hour of overtime… meanwhile, Cody is working 16-18-hour harvest days. Perspective. 🙂

That said, I’m going to keep hanging out watching TV shows on my computer while Cody and Luke do actual work and Kinley runs around looking for things to eat.

Until next time!

Emily

Lots of Links

My brain is in a million different places, but I wanted to pop in for a quick Harvest update. It is so fun, by the way, that Facebook has incorporated hashtags – I have been checking in on the #harvest2013 tag and it’s a blast to see the action at wineries all around the world.

I am also LOVING that I get to take pictures for work.

Here are a couple snapshots:

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Pinot Noir grapes ready to be sorted and destemmed.

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A fun Cabernet picture with the beautiful Wine Guide Kate as my model.

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And me rocking my Canon at a pick a couple Saturdays ago.

…okay one (or four) more: picking Estate Chardonnay.

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My obsession with grapes is as strong as ever, though I like to eat them less after gorging on Gris in New Zealand.

Cody’s harvest is no less romantic than mine, though he is probably burning WAY more calories, up and at ’em from about 7am to 11pm this week. He is of course doing an amazing job as Assistant Winemaker, and I’m SO in awe of his work ethic and all-around awesomeness.

Meanwhile back at the house, Kinley and I are getting into our evening routine when Cody’s not home. Dinner is typically of the sprouts-and-ice-cream mold; last night I made some roasted chickpeas and had a taco with them and black beans and salsa. Today, it almost feels like fall even though it’s supposed to be like 80 degrees later, so I think I’m going to make this Turkey Chili I found on a blog last night.

It’s Tuesday, but I worked yesterday instead of today, so it’s my day off and I’m going to get a haircut, give Kinley a bath, catch up on my online class (which I don’t think I’ve talked about yet. It deserves its own post though), and do a little last-minute shopping for our Iowa trip THIS WEEKEND! We may or may not have procrastinated making sure Cody has his necessary groomsman duds, so I’ll be stopping by the mall today to dabble in the terrifying art of clothes shopping.

I am pumped to talk more about our dear friends Henry and Karissa – but I will take pictures this weekend and THEN post them to have visual aids. Short story: Cody’s BEST friend from childhood and his amazing bride. Can’t. Wait.

We also get to see tons of family and friends this weekend, which will be wonderful, though packed into a short amount of time.  I have the problem of having ridiculously unrealistic expectations for Iowa visits, but it’s so enjoyable to delight in the anticipation that I just go ahead and do it anyway.

More later!

Emily

Operation Bridesmaid Dress

Left: September 2012 | Right: August 2013

Left: September 2012 | Right: August 2013

Hello, world. I’m having an awesome morning; basically, Saturday-Tuesday are my FAVORITE days. Saturday it’s the weekend, even though I have to go to work, and the winery is all abuzz with people excited to taste wines in a beautiful place. Sundays, I go to work later cuz of church. And Mondays and Tuesdays are my weekend. Hence, the feel of four-day weekends always.

That said, I had a bit of extra time this morning because I woke up NATURALLY at 7 (whaaat), got a quick run/walk in with Kinley, and was all dressed and ready to go hours before I had to get out of the house.

I also weighed myself this morning and decided that gosh darn it, I’m finally going to talk about this because why not be real? Exactly. So now that we’re agreed, let’s talk about a little project I have fondly named Operation Bridesmaid Dress.

While we were in New Zealand, I had a lot of time on my hands and was going on super long walks every day. I decided hey, this would be an awesome time to refocus myself. There’s something about being on the other side of the world that makes it easy for me to think deep philosophical thoughts. At the same time, I had a hunch that I could be rocking a bridesmaid dress in the next year. I had heard of Weight Watchers before and had been watching a dear friend of mine get smaller and smaller since January. Meanwhile, my parents had done Weight Watchers before as kind of a real-life experiment  since my dad has spoke with patients about the program in the past (and recommends it with flying colors). So I knew that they had this open account I could log into to look up recipes and how many WW Points things have, and I decided to give the tracking thing a try for a while.

That was around April 17. I started tracking my food and exercise and such, basically switched a majority of my snacking to fruits and veggies (which are 0 Points on Weight Watchers), and set a goal for myself. Amidst travels all around New Zealand and eating out in restaurants basically every night, then spending 10 days in Fiji, I LOST weight. What. I was shocked, but there you have it.

I’ve never considered myself overweight or obese, but between wine tastings and newlywed life/Cody’s amazing cooking/lots of stress and adjusting to new things, I had let things get a bit out of hand and want to trim things down before Rachel and Graham’s wedding. Incidentally, I am LOVING the Weight Watchers program, especially their Mobile App. I’ve never been a controlling person, but I love love the feeling of knowing that I can eat/exercise a certain way in a given week and come out lighter.

Soooo that said, this morning I hit my halfway point! I’ve lost 15 pounds since April and would like to lose 15 more before the wedding. I’m not sure how much WW-related stuff I’ll post on here, but I’m really happy with how it’s going and highly recommend it to everyone wanting to get into a healthy, long-term routine.

Thanks for reading!

Until next time,

Emily

This Counts As Late Night for Me

…as I was typing this at 10:39pm the other night. Wow.

I was in Computer Mode tonight finishing some freelance work and felt Bloggy, in a good way, so I finished my Fig post and made a pot of tea in Ollie the Elephant. We’ve had kind of a crazy couple of weeks, so it feels amazing to sit in semi-darkness, sip my tea, and type words onto the computer. #introvertproblems.

Actually, before I start totally speaking in hashtag, let’s talk about the whole introvert/extrovert thing. When I took my Meyers-Briggs test for Northwestern Campus Ministry, I’m pretty sure I scored a 30/30 on Extrovert. I was like the definition of extrovert. I’m not sure what has changed, but I feel a heck of a lot more introverted in my post-college, post-marriage life. Oftentimes Cody and I feel the closest when we’re sitting together on our porch reading in silence. For real. I still get a total buzz serving wine to people in the tasting room… but once a week is more than enough for me. It comes in a concentrated spurt, and then I’m ready for the rest of the week of quiet desk writing time and meetings with no more than four people. One of my favorite times of day is my half-hour car ride home, radio blaring embarrassing Top 40 music. Not to mention awesome alone time with my boys.

I think one of the reasons I’m loving these moments is because my quiet time has been lacking this week. I’m reaching the end of a “workweek” (which, for me, ends on Sunday), and I know for a fact that I’d feel more rejuvenated and energized if I stepped up my Bible reading and journaling time in the mornings. Definitely a good goal for the week, I think – and even though we’re up soooo late tonight, I think I’ll try to kick off the day tomorrow with some early-morning quiet time.

‘Til next time!
Emily

Figs

This week I ate a fig for the first time.

I mean, I’d had figs before like in Fig Newtons or on a salad at The Girl + The Fig in Sonoma… but I had no idea you could just grab one and eat it, skin and all.

I know I sound kind of like I’m on drugs (to be fair, I did have a cold this week), but seriously, these things are AWESOME.

Then, I was reading Isaiah this morning and found one of many fig references:

“That fading flower, his glorious beauty, set on the head of a fertile valley, will be like a fig ripe before harvest– as soon as someone sees it and takes it in his hand, he swallows it.” -Isaiah 28:4

I was like “heck yes, he did, because figs are COOL.” It’s basically fruit that is already in a super-sugared, jammy state in its totally raw form. Creation is cool. And also, I love when eating food makes me feel closer to Jesus. That is all.

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Photo totally from Google. Thanks, Google!