It’s the January 4th, time to find that old paleo cook book, dust off the running shoes, and remember the directions to the gym…. At least that is the case for me. After a month long eating and drinking celebration of the holidays, it is time to get my mind and body back on the right track.
I am sure that most of us are having the same conversations we have every year, how can I be better, what are my New Year resolutions? Coming up with the resolutions are the easy part, let’s talk about the hard part, how do we stay on the right track all year long.
Here are a few steps to keep you moving towards your New Year goals all year long.
Start small – I want to get back into better shape, my goal is to be at the gym 5 days a week, but for the first few weeks I am going to make sure I make it at least 3 and then 4 then eventually 5. But starting off with too high of goals can discourage you quickly and you will stop before you begin.
Change one behavior at a time – I would like to have a cleaner and more organized room, my small behavior change to start is to make sure that my bed is made before I leave for work. While I will not accomplish my overall goal with that small behavior, it is the practice that will lead to success of my bigger goal of being cleaner and more organized.
Ask for support – I wrote down my resolutions and told them to my cousin who I live with, I told him to keep me accountable and don’t be afraid to remind me of my goals. Everyone needs a helping hand, Steph Curry needed Steve Kerr, without him they would be a playoff team, now they are a championship team.
Drink wine – Specifically Baldacci wine, it’s good for you and a healthy habit that will keep you moving right along with all your other goals!
If you need any extra wine or need some support feel free to give me a call here at the winery, I am your guy! Good luck to all on your New Year’s resolutions, 2017 is going to be an exciting year for the whole team at Baldacci Family Vineyards.
Christmas Eve at my Grandparents is the tradition that I look forward to every year. Having my entire family under one roof during the Christmas season is a Christmas blessing that we do not take for granted. With 19 grandchildren, 12 aunt and uncles and my grandparents, it is tough to get everyone on the same schedule, but this one is a cannot miss.
When we were young it was a big toy party! Everyone received fun presents, changed into their Pajamas and trolled around the house looking for someone to show off their new Hot Wheels or Teddy Bear.
Now with most of the grandkids well over the toy phase, the tradition has turned into a great opportunity for everyone to be together.
As my good friend Ferris Buehler once told me… “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Christmas Eve at my Grandparents is an opportunity for all us be together, to take time out of our hectic lives, stop, pause, and be thankful for all of our blessings. There is truly not better tradition in my eyes then Family during the Holidays.
Napa is considered by many to be the mecca for foodies, and I would tend to agree with them. To live like a local though, you need to know which are which, and so I decided that with the start of the basketball season, I would give out some of my own awards to some of my favorite restaurants.
Rookie of the Year goes to a restaurant that is new on the block and has taken the town by storm. Located on the corner of first and Main street, Basalt has attracted many high regards for their wonderful food, fun cocktails and great atmosphere, after eating there a couple of times I think that it deserves all of that praise.
6th man of the Year goes to the restaurant Farmstead, like any good 6th man this restaurant does not get all of the big hype from the press, but works hard behind the scenes and is an integral part to the foodie scene in Napa with less fanfare then some of the main attractions. I have eaten everything off this menu and have always had a great meal! Chef Stephen Barber is a wizard with any sort of game or fish dish, with big hearty portions and tons of flavor in every single bite. Located in St. Helena, it is worth the drive even from Napa.
Comeback Player of the Year goes to Lucy’s, despite a change in ownership and chef they have not lost a step. Located in the Bardessono hotel this restaurant can fly under the radar but the fresh food and amazing ambiance makes this restaurant a homerun. Look out next year this restaurant is a potential to win the MVP award.
Defensive Player of the Year goes to Grace’s Table not on the main road and maybe not the first restaurant that comes to mind for most people, but it is a big part of what makes the Napa food scene so amazing. Michelin rated, this little restaurant on the corner brings down the house with amazing food at a great price with a warm and comfortable setting.
Coach of the Year is for Redd/ ReddWood, and really for chef Richard Reddington, who is the mastermind behind these two amazing restaurants, both located in the town of Yountville. Different styles and cuisine, but same great service, wonderful atmosphere, and food I promise you will always remember.
MVP- Ad Hoc. I think that there is a lot of great food throughout the valley, but dollar for dollar Ad Hoc is by far the best. I am not sure if it is the pre fixed menu, that everything is served family style, or because the portions never leave you hungry, either way, there are too many great things to choose from when it comes to why I think Ad Hoc is the real MVP of the food scene in Napa.
Local food awards from a local himself.
Garry the Grape is the tale of Garry, and his adventure through the 2016 growing season to fulfill his dream of becoming a Baldacci Family Vineyard wine, the best wine in ALL of the world.
Garry’s story begins in March. It was a cold night, the land was bleak, and the air was ripe with death. One cold spell or a lazy frost supervisor meant it was over before it began for our hero Garry.
“There were times when I thought I wasn’t going to make it. It got really cold out there, but I knew if I could stay above 32 degrees I would be a great candidate for BFV wine, and that is what kept me going.”
Winter was long, spring was longer and the potential of frost was ever present each passing day.
“My parents and grandparents never told me about a cold spring, all they could talk about were the heats in September and to conserve as much water as possible…”
Garry the grape made it through the Spring, and once again experienced a first.
“Rain? We had to go back to our great-great-great-great grandparents to figure out the translation, it was the drip from the sky… wow I like rain.”
Garry’s adventures through the spring into the summer were ALL focused on leaves and haircuts.
“I heard on the vine that two haircuts are another good sign that I had the potential to be a BFV wine. I worked hard to push as many leaves as possible and I tell you, it was worth it. That first haircut was amazing, tons of newfound energy, and after the second, I kicked it into another gear and started changing colors!”
Harvest was fast approaching, our Hero Garry had survived many trials and tribulations, but he was not safe yet.
“Some grapes get lazy at this time, they start to change color and they think that they are home free and destined for the picking bin. I knew better; ripen too fast and I would be a raisin, not up to BFV standards. Too slow and I would be cut on the ground before harvest began! I had worked all year, the 2016 growing season was awesome for me, I felt like I was in the perfect place to ripen, mentally and physically.”
The growing season was perfect in 2016, warm days in the beginning followed by a two-week spell of nice, mild temperatures. Garry timed his ripening perfectly, and harvest was only a matter of time.
“I saw my boys Michael, Ricardo and Rolando out there more and more and I had heard those were the guys that make the final call. They kept trying all the grapes around me and talking about ‘…sweetness, chalky tannins, berry development and brix…’ I really wasn’t too sure what they were talking about, all I know is the other day I was sleeping when I was awakened by big lights and someone tugging at me with scissors, and I thought, this is the day!”
Garry’s dream had become a reality. On the night of September 20, 2016 Baldacci Family Vineyards picked their first set of grapes, and our hero Garry made the cut. He had worked hard and the team at Baldacci appreciated his effort throughout the year.
“I knew I could do it the whole time! My parents and grandparents gave me some great advice before the season. I think that I stayed patient, didn’t get ahead of myself and just took it one growing degree a day at a time. Baldacci saw my hard work and brought me into the winery for some fermentation and extraction and I know they will not regret it.”
Stay tuned as our hero Garry travels from picking bin, through de-stemmer crusher and into the fermentation vat to make the full transition into wine!
I am not a car person.
I had my moment when I turned 16, I wanted the cool car to bring to school everyday...then I got my license. And from that point forward I did not care what car I would be driving, I just wanted to DRIVE.
I cannot get under the hood and tell you the difference of a gasket and a piston head, and up until last year I could not even change my own oil. But I will say that I have gotten great VALUE out of my car. As of this morning I had over 207,000 miles on my car. I received it with close to 80,000 but I still have put my miles on that beautiful car.
I was trying to think about a relation between vehicles and wine, and I came up with this one. Like cars, wine is made to be used, or rather wine is made to be enjoyed. In my mind there is little point to a car that sits and collects dust, just like wine. Traditionally wine is ‘made to be aged’, I would argue with current winemaking styles and techniques the wines are just as great if not better when they are enjoyed at time of release. With proper decanting young wines are fabulous and full of life, aging adds a variability that not even the winemaker can dictate.
So in reality, the winemaker’s true interpretation of the wine is when it is released, it is their seal on the wine that it is ready for consumption.
This is not to say that I do not have bottles in my cellar that I am laying down and am intrigued about how they will age, but for the most part, like a good car, the value is in using the product.
|My final words are this, there are wines that are fun to age, but NEVER be afraid to open a good bottle of wine… go to your cellar, find that bottle of wine you are ‘aging’ and open it up, I promise you will not regret it!|
Growing up I didn’t see anything wrong with my eating habits. Meat was a mainstay, plenty of garlic bread loaded with extra butter, and if I was feeling daring I qualified mashed potatoes as my veggie intake for the week. I was 13 and I found my love for simplicity to be normal, a burger had meat and cheese only, not to be watered down with any sort of lettuce or tomato, in my eyes that only took away from the greasy mess of a double double from In- N- Out burger. My dad jokingly said that we ate prison food… I didn’t find his jokes to be very funny.
As I prepared myself for my college days, my parents were certain that the pure humiliation of not eating salads, or any form of vegetables would get the best of me and I would have to convert in front of my peers. They were wrong. College brought on more of the same simple meals. I mastered the grilled cheese with a side of bacon, my taste buds were not shaping up the way my parents had hoped.
But finally, the day came! I am not sure if it was my taste buds that changed or just the willingness to try new things that changed, but finally I converted to the good side, the healthy side.
Living in the mecca of great food has been a catalyst to this sudden change of heart. I am fortunate enough to dine at some of the best restaurants in the world. The chefs are meticulous about the flavors that are going into each and every bite. A small turnip on top of your appetizer is not just for looks, but rather it is for a touch of bitterness to tone down the sweetness of a flavorful bite.
It has been an amazing transition for me, going from steak and potatoes every night to exploring menus across all foods and preparations. The flavors of the world truly intrigue me. As I mentioned, I am blessed to live in an area that allows such treats, but it has also transitioned over into the kitchen. My love for flavors has turned me into the best chef in the family. I love to explore different preparations and styles of food. I went from bread in every meal to a diet that tries to keep bread away as much as possible and make sure that there is at least one helping of veggies for every meal.
I have come along way, and at times I think my parents thought I was doomed for life, but at the age of 26 I can say that my dietary needs are no longer picky, and in fact they are quite the opposite. So to all the parents that are wondering if their 18-year-old son or daughter will ever shy away from mac and cheese and PB&J, the answer is no, but there is hope that there will be other parts of the food pyramid that are incorporated into the diet, as I am living proof.
This month Baldacci Family Vineyards celebrates Land Stewardship. How can we talk about land stewardship without speaking about John Muir, the original steward of the land. John Muir’s spirit lives through all of us in California, as he was a proponent for conserving California’s natural treasures, especially Yosemite.
Personally I have heard about John Muir my whole life, starting in 4th grade when we learned about California history, to when my grandparents took us to Yosemite. I have heard the name and understood what he stood for since I can remember… but I have to admit, I wasn’t fully aware of the impact he has had on ALL National Forests until more recently.
|Yosemite National Park||Yellowstone National Park||Muir Woods National Monument|
Have you ever laid eyes on the beautiful Yosemite Valley, Yellowstone, Muir Woods, or any National Forest or Park? If the answer is yes, which I hope it is, then you can thank John Muir’s tireless efforts to make this possible. His passion for the land and preserving the land lead him to start the Sierra Club, which is still active today. The club made efforts to switch the ownership from state held land to a federally run and organized group that was tasked with maintaining and growing the beauty of our National ‘Natural’ Monuments.
The United States is a beautiful piece of land with a lot to offer, from the amazing beaches stretching both coasts, to the mountain tops of the Sierra’s and a little place in the middle of California called Napa Valley. There is so much to be admired about this country. John Muir made great efforts and started something that had never been done in the world! He pushed for preservation of this land, and at the time it seemed far fetched that anyone would want to change the natural scape of our land, but as the country now continues to grow, we can thank John Muir and the Sierra Club for their efforts. Next time you are in a National Park, remember who started it, our good friend and Californian at heart…John Muir.
Art. What is it? Is it a beautiful picture painted by a wonderful artist? Or the more modern form which oddly enough involves chairs more often than not…
Art takes many forms, the one that I enjoy the most is music. I think that musicians and bands in particular are the ultimate artists. Creating sound and playing together involves not only the talent to perform, but timing and precision over and over and over again to keep the sound consistent.
Wine has brought many opportunities to my life most include traveling to places I had never seen before. But one of the coolest and most unique experiences I had through working in the wine industry, was seeing John Legend perform live. My brother and I attended Auction Napa Valley last year and while there were rumors, we did not want to get our hopes up. After a bit of Instagram stalking of his wife Chrissy Teigen, we were confident that John Legend was in the Napa area… As the auction rolled on, I was getting antsy, I almost got up and left but then the lights dimmed and the crowd hushed. Out of nowhere a piano came on stage and John Legend followed. The venue was tiny, less than 500 people, not a bad seat in the house. I could not believe it, we were going to see John Legend perform live, just him and the piano. His most famous song was “All of Me” and sure enough that was exactly what he played. Perfect tune of the piano paired beautifully with the pitch in his voice, no one could take their eyes off this amazingly unique experience. John Legend, a beautiful white piano and a room full of people awe struck at the talent on stage.
Performing live and opening a bottle of a wine you have worked on I think would bring similar emotions. Performing live you have the rush of the crowd, but also a bit of nerves, you have practiced over and over and now it is time for everyone else to be the judge of your song. When you open a bottle of wine that you have watched grow from grape to barrel aging now to bottle, it can give you an amazing rush, but also bring out some butterflies… I think the wine is great, I sure hope everyone else thinks the same way about it. I will never know the feeling of performing live, but I would like to think that performers and I have something in common.
Art takes on many forms, none better or more significant than the other. Art in the form of music is my personal favorite, and it NEVER hurts to have a good bottle of wine with you to maybe help you appreciate it even more.
Premiere Napa Valley is an annual auction put on by the Napa Valley Vintners to raise money for the association that helps to build and protect the Napa Valley. It is an auction that we look forward to participating in every year. The auction is only open to the trade; anyone with a license to re-sell our wines can purchase a ticket… no consumers allowed!!
It is a week full of activities and tastings, it’s a great way to see old friends in the industry as well as meet new ones. Cabernet is the focus of the week, most wineries show off new releases, or bring out older vintages to show how well the wines can age, but the common thread is Cabernet Sauvignon.
This year Baldacci Family Vineyards decided to be a little different. We wanted to grab the attention in another way, by pouring something typically not found at the auction, Gewurztraminer. A dry white wine to cut through the Cab that everyone has been drinking all week will definitely grab their attention and raise eyebrows… it worked! We have always known that our Gewurztraminer was a unique and well liked wine, but on such a small scale. A wine that was not well known, but after this weekend, this wine is known!
Premiere Week is always a blast, but this year we had a bit more fun with our lot than normal. Check out the video to see the Napa Valley’s best attempt at pronouncing Gewurztraminer… oh yeah and me in a magnificent pair of Lederhosen.
The great part about growing grapes, or any fruit for that matter, is that next year you have a clean slate. The grapes are picked, the vine goes dormant, and the vineyard team now strategizes on how to make improvements in the vineyard. What things went right? What things went wrong? What practices do we want to change next year? Sometimes the vineyard improvements come from tasting the wines, and making changes to things such as canopy management or timing of harvest. Other times it comes from our continued dedication to be stewards of the land, to give back what we take, and 2016 is one of those years.
We have made a commitment as a team that we are going to continue our sustainable practices, but also begin the process of becoming a Napa Green certified vineyard. It is a voluntary environmental certification program for Napa County vineyards and wineries tailored to the Napa River watershed, and to winery specific practices that when implemented will have a positive affect for the local environment and community. We are excited that a lot of the practices are already things that we do, but our certification will bring the NVV (Napa Valley Vintners) one winery closer to their 2020 Initiative of having all of their participating wineries and vineyards be Napa Green Certified.
Stay tuned for updates! Happy New Year!!
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