Friday, February 26, 2010


26 FEB 2010
It is time to name the winery and here is your chance to vote for your favorite.  We have winnowed 30 names down to 6 and I have included an explanation with the why and wherefore behind the thinking of each one.  Don't pay any attention to the length of the explanation, some are easier to explain than others, and they are in alphabetical order so no bias will enter.   By the way, "E", all of the above doesn't count, but feel free to write in your own idea if none suit of ours suit you.  Send the vote viral to your facebook friends if you are so inclined and you can vote through my site on facebook or at my email: with the title "vote".
We should be digging inside 2 weeks (I hope i didn't write that 2 weeks ago), so vote as soon as you have thought about all our ideas, bounced them off your colleagues at the water cooler, your friends over coffee at Latte land, your imaginary friends in your dreams, etc.


 1. Bacco Estates--our B&B is Nascondiglio di Bacco or hideout of Bacco the god of wine, also, my dog is named Bacco and he is the mayor of our zone.

 2.  Eris--the greek name for the god of discord, meaningful because we have planted varieties which are not traditional for our area, planted the rows and the vines too close, too low to the ground etc. according to our contadino neighbors.  Also Eris is the largest of the dwarf planets, 3X farther from the sun than the most famous dwarf, Pluto (it got demoted, if you didn't hear) and since we want to be the "biggest, little winery...

 3.  Manus--in the piceno dialect this can signify made by hand or the sweat of your labors or also your ancestor who had passed on and was prayed to for protection for the house and livelihood in ancient times.  This was usually signified by a little terra cotta figure of some kind ( as seen in the film Gladiator)

 4.  Martius--for the god, Mars, who by legend was responsible for rescuing his people from invaders by leading them to the Ascoli Piceno region behind his earthly representative, a woodpecker.  He also had some lesser known attributes for the early Romans as the god of spring and fertility.

 5.  Palmensis--Pliny the Elder in ancient times called the grapes from the piceno area, palmensis

 6.  Post scriptum--Raffaele and I have both changed careers, lives and lifestyles to embark on this wine making folly, so this indicates "that which comes after" our previous vita.  Originally, the idea was to call the winery PS to signify the above and have a second significance as our names are Paolini and Stanford, but our winemaker thought it sounded too industrial, hence the change to Post Scriptum.

Vote as soon as you can and invite others.  We hope to decide in the near future.  Remember, the name should be easily remembered and invite an incredible marketing campaign (think t shirts, mugs, wine openers, magazine centerfolds etc)
Thanks to all for participating!  The pictures are of the B&B with Bacco the dog, the vineyard and to get you in the mood for all those ancient greek and roman names, I included a temple from Agrigento, Sicily.
PS,, since PS is the leading vote getter right now, you can add that to your choices. dds

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Vlurd of Offida, night time version

17 Feb, Ash Wed 2010
After dark, the real fun starts when over 300 people who are no longer legal to drive are allowed to light towering bundles of cane on fire and parade through the streets of Offida before arriving at the Piazza del Popolo to deposit what remains in a big bonfire.  The town fills with smoke and from a distance appears to be on fire itself.  The groups are running out of gas, so most of the music becomes the recorded type and finally the last of the embers burn out and everyone stumbles home.
The locals dress in a costume called a guazzero' which is white with various patterns, but always with some red to signify the blood from the bull, which was by tradition let loose in the streets by the rich so the poor could catch it and have a big festival of dining and drinking.  That is part of the Bove finto celebration the friday before fat tuesday.
Now it is Ash Wednesday and most of the participants are glad it is a day of abstinence.  This starts the lenten season which here is called the quaresimo.
Happy quaresimo to everyone!

Vlurd of Offida

17 Feb Ash Wednesday 2010
The Vlurd of Offida is the Fat Tuesday (Martedi Grasso) celebration in my little town.  The population swells three to fourfold with partiers from all over the world.  The day starts early in the bars and in the streets and the local "congrega" groups with names like serpent, mongoose, bear, owl, tyroleans, mexicans, jailbirds etc march through the streets of Offida with their instruments or boomboxes as they prefer.  The main plaza becomes a big dance hall and drinking establishment and as the day wears on those who are big imbibers become more sheets to the wind with each passing hour.
The pictures above are pretty self explanatory, but show at least 3 different organized groups with their marching bands.
The Vlurd, night time version is in a separate post.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

More vineyard photos, time to decide on a contractor

9 Feb. 2010
pic 1 from the winery site, 2 and 3 from east looking west
After a weekend full of Romans here at Nascondiglio di Bacco, we are all cleaned up and ready for Valentine's day and Carnevale at Offida and Ascoli Piceno.  We hosted friends of our friend Roberto, who was celebrating a birthday in his restructured wine cellar and were happy to help him drink his wonderful wine which he makes between Offida and Apignano, while enjoying his mother's great italian cooking with a middle eastern twist.  I called it a night after beating all comers save one at billiards at around midnight, but some of our hardier guests didn't turn in until 0500.  Breakfast was served a bit later than normal and just as our guests left, Raffaele's friends arrived for a 4 hour lunch for 15.
Today, we racked the wine from 2009 from the barrel to the stainless steel container, so we could clean out the precipitated gunk.  It is surely different this year with the blend of bordeaux varietals instead of the old montepulciano grapes!
It was too cold to work in the vineyard, so after the indoor duties, I walked around and took some photos which show the vineyard and the winery site.  We are probably going to decide on a contractor this week after receiving 4 bids and hopefully can dig inside a couple of weeks.  I just finished a book called Napa Stories written by the chef of Tre Vigne, Michael Chiarello.  It was a coffee table style book, full of great pix by Steven Rothfeld and tells the stories of many Napa vineyards and wine families.  One of the things which hit me was a quote by Justin Meyer of Silver Oak Wine Cellars "There's only one way to go into the wine business and that's broke.  Because then you've GOT to make it work."  After the winery is built, I will be able to relate 100%.
    The book reminded me of my partner Joe, who had a debilitating stroke and now is nursing home bound.  He gave me the book for christmas years ago and I just got around to reading it.  Ironically, there is an ER physician who quit medicine to make old vine zinfandel wines, Larry Turley.  His quote:   "My 1st week in the ER, I had a dentist and a chiropractor who had both just retired and had terrible strokes on the same night.  It was just heartbreaking to hear the wives say, "You know, he worked so hard and saved, and we were going to do all these things."     I never want to be in those shoes.  I kind of overdid it for awhile, but I never want to look back and say, 'I wish I had done that.'"

My thoughts exactly!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

529 Dead, Dumb almonds, tractor art

6 Feb 2010
After finishing the pruning, it was time to change all the bent metal tutors and count all the dead vines so we can order their replacements.  A new exercise in my "agri-fitness" program, walking up and down, up and down the steep vineyard, searching for the telltale signs of death.  Last year, thanks to a snafu by our agronomist, we were never told our replacement vines had arrived, so they sat in a refrigerated vault 2 miles away for almost 3 months before I finally asked him where they were.   Why, here all along, was the response by the local representative.  Unfortunately, it is dicey to plant in May, so we recounted and now will re-order the vines this year, losing a year of productivity in the process.  We have moved on to a new agronomist and now will order 529 new vines of montepulciano, cabs, merlot, pecorino and incrocio bruni 54.   I placed a red and white banner at each "grave" so the planters can find those to replace when they arrive.  Raffaele made new signs for each of the borders between clones, so as you can see in the photo, this is the boundary of 2 types of cab. sauvignon.
Our ignorant almond tree has again started flowering in February with the 1st flower opening on the 3rd.  With wind chills coming along in the 20's soon, I hope we will not have another season with 3 almonds from 2 trees.   The artichokes are coming along, but they are on schedule and the rest of the fruit trees are rightfully waiting for a more opportune time to blossom.
The next big job of tying the vines will commence with warm weather, hopefully in early March.
Finally, a pic of Bacco with one of his toys and my new art project called "How many shapes can I make with the tractor and it's lawnmower attachment with our metal tutors".  I am working on how to shorten the title.
Happy February and don't forget your sweetheart next weekend!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

15:50, 3 Feb, 2010, pruning finished!

3 Feb
Time for a festa!  We finished the last of the new  vineyard today meaning all 30000 vines are now pruned. 3 1/2 weeks of work with from 1-4 people.  On to the tying part in March, but tomorrow I will replace metal poles which train the vines and which I have been wont to bend with the tractor.  Hopefully there will be less than 100 bent or missing.  I will also count the vines which have died so we can replace them in the next month.
Here are some pix of the vineyard with its new haircut.
The first picture is taken from the merlot looking south, the 2nd looking west towards the site of the new winery (excuse the bad lighting), the 3rd comes as close as possible to showing the whole vineyard minus the very southeast corner and the final is from the northwest corner where the winery will be with the approximate view from the tasting area.  The winery will be among the weeds just ahead of the 2 olive trees and a bit left.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Red vines dutifully pruned

1 Feb. 2010
Today we finished pruning the red grapevines and started on the pecorino.  2 days and all will be trimmed and ready for tying.  We missed the forecasted snow, but got a bit of a cold front instead, so I suffered through the 1st hour of work today until the sun decided to do his job mo betta.
Thank goodness for the 2 workers we hired who have made this work much quicker and less intimidating. I worried about these 2 jobs for the last year, the pruning and tying during the 3rd year are the most difficult and important.
Here are some fotos from dawn yesterday, just after the "wolf moon" the brightest of the year and Bacco living the life of leisure to which he has become accustomed.  I doctored one of the dawn pix, as you can tell.. thanks to iphoto!