Author Archives: denise

Weather, Degree Days & the Quality of Wine

People have been asking me how this year’s wet weather will affect the quality of the 2017 vintage wine. We must have had at least 70 in. of rain, more than double the average yearly rainfall.  The rains kept coming down all the way into the month of June.  While at times, some parts of the vineyards were flooded, I do not see that this will have a lasting effect on the quality of the wine this year.  Erosion has been minimal even on some of the steeper slopes mainly because of the well-maintained cover crop.  Bottom line, the excessive rains had no significant effect on the quality of the crop, so far.  Nevertheless, it is not time to rejoice. We must keep in mind that this is only the beginning of the growing season and a lot can happen between now and harvest time.

In the following paragraphs I will try to give you an insight how the weather, during the growing season, may affect the quality of the wine.  A.J. Winkler, a professor at Davis determined empirically that it takes so many degree-days during the growing season to get the grapes of a specific variety to an adequate level of ripeness to make good quality wine. This is called Growing Degree Days (GDD).  He assumed that the grapes would not ripen at a temperature below 50 degrees.  Therefore, he calculated the GDD by subtracting 50 from the average temperature for the day.  The average temperature for the day is the highest temperature plus the lowest temperature divided by 2.  Thus, the GDD for the day that has a high of 95 degrees and a low of 60 degrees (typical weather in the Sierra Foothills in August)  will be (95+60)/2 – 50 = 37.5. If this weather persisted for 31 days during the month of August, the cumulative GDD for August would be 1,162.5.  Winkler determined the “growing season” to be between April 1 to September 30.  He developed the Winkler Index, which is based on the Growing Degree Days summed up over the “growing season” in different regions.  Based on the average GDD he classified five different growing regions and identified different grape varieties that can be fit to each of these regions. I will only show the data for three of these regions since they are the ones that would apply to the regions in California and the varieties that we grow.

  • Region I: Below 2,500 degree days;

Varietals:  Chardonnay, Pinot Noir; Region: Burgundy

  • Region II: 2,500-3,000 degree days;

Varietals:  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc; Regions: Bordeaux, Napa

  • Region III: 3,000-3,500 degree days;

Varietals:  Zinfandel, Barbera, Tempranillo, Grenache, Syrah; Regions:  Sierra Foothills,    Piedmonte, Barossa Valley

Unfortunately, the Winkler Index is not very accurate or reliable since it does not bring into consideration all the weather factors that play a role in the ripening of grapes.  It does not take into account the effect of the temperature variations between day and night on the ripening.   Hypothetically, a region that would have an identical day and night temperature, say of 77.5 degrees would have the same GDD as one that has a day maximum of 95 and a night minimum of 60 or one that would have a day temperature of 85 and a night of 70. All three would have the same Index and would be classified as the same region. In reality, they would be worlds apart in the way grapes would grow and ripen.

Conclusion – Take it from me!  Don’t use GDD’s for decision-making!  Use them for information only!

Cheers!

Chaim

July 2017

 

“Savoir Vivre” and the French Culture of Wine

In 1998, before Elisheva and I even dreamt about having a winery, we sold our flavor company that we founded 20 years before to a French company from the South of France.  After the acquisition I continued working for them for an additional three years.  While Elisheva and I had travelled extensively in France, it was only after I sold my company that I learned more in depth about the French way of life.  Having negotiated with the French for over a year and then working for them for an additional three years got me embedded in their culture.

There is an expression in French that I learned from my new friends and that will stay with me for the rest of my life. “Savoir Vivre,” which literally means “knowing how to live.”  In practice it is used to mean “ability to live elegantly” or even “the quality of being at ease in life.”

Wine has always been an important part of a Frenchman’s “savoir vivre” culture which is associated with a long list of important aspects of life, such as gastronomy, friendship, tradition, history, geography and the list goes on forever.   For a Frenchman, tasting wine can be a ritual or an art which is taught from generation to generation.  To many, drinking wine gives them a source of pride and a sense of identity which is an essential part of what it means to be French.

In addition to those listed above, there are other benefits of drinking wine. Undoubtedly, you have heard about the French Paradox: while the French consume high fat foods, they have a 50% lower incident of heart disease and a remarkably lower rate of obesity than their counterparts in the US.   While this is attributed to their high rate of wine consumption with their meals there are also lifestyle factors that contribute to this phenomenon.

First of all, the French are never in a hurry during their meals which for the most part are shared with their families and friends becoming a time for socialization.  While the French diet is rich in butter, cream, cheeses and pastries, the slow eating decreases the food consumption.  This coupled with relatively smaller portions of food served during the meal significantly decreases their caloric intake.  Other factors are, the levels of fruit and vegetables in their diet, lower consumption of processed and fast foods and most importantly their attitude of “savoir vivre” which is intrinsically connected with the culture and life philosophy of the French people.

Did I sound like a Francophile?  I am!!  Am I immigrating now to France?  Not a chance.  Instead, I am adapting the “savoir vivre” into my daily life.

Cheers!

Chaim

The Myths, Misconceptions & Fake News…About Wine

If you read wine magazines, wine columns in your daily paper or visit wine blogs, does it ever happen that you come across a statement that does not sound quite right to you.  It happens to me all the time.  I find some of these statements to be “myths”, “misconceptions” or plainly “fake news.”

As it applies to wine, a “myth” is a widely held but false belief.  A “misconception” is a view or opinion that is incorrect because it is based on faulty thinking or understanding.  And… “Fake News” is false information published under the guise of being authentic.   Let’s see how these will play in some popular statements that we read in the wine literature:

Red wines with meat, white wines with fish – Myth

These old guidelines for pairing don’t apply.  It is an old myth that only complimentary pairing of the wine and the food works.  Contrasting intensities between the wine and the food may work as well as long as both the wine and the food are in good balance and can maintain their identities without overwhelming each other.

Legs are evidence of high quality wine – Myth

Legs are streaks that run down the glass when you swirl the wine.  It has nothing to do with the quality of the wine, only a result of the surface tension that the wine exerts on the glass and created by the wine components, the major one being the alcohol.

A heavy bottle means a wine should be good – Myth

A heavy glass bottle indicates that it cost good money to acquire but has no bearing on the quality of the wine.

Desserts should be paired only with dessert wines – Myth

Sometimes a sweet dessert is better off being paired with a big red wine rather than a sweet wine.  Never shun away from pairing a dessert with a dry wine.

Screw cap is a sign of low quality wine – Misconception 

Actually, the screw cap enhances the quality of the wine since it does not have the problems associated with cork taint that results from a chemical compound (TCA) transferred from the cork.

Red wine should be served at room temperature – Misconception

Red wine is best served at around 60 degrees.  As the serving temperature increases so is the vapor pressure of the alcohol, which makes the wine, feel more alcoholic and less aromatic.

Napa is the only game in town – Misconception

A wine has a sense of place.  It acquires the identity of where the grapes grow, which depends on the weather and soil conditions.  While a wine made from grapes that grow in the Sierra Foothills may be different from a Napa wine, it need not be inferior.

Wine critics know which wine is best for you – Misconception

Critics’ scores are not the gospel.  At best, they represent their personal opinion in an area that is very subjective.  The 100-point scoring system makes the evaluation incredibly opinionated and not trustworthy.

Organic wines, and wines made with organic grapes have more antioxidants – Fake News

This kind of statement is probably made to advance the interests of organic wine producers without objective, scientific evidence.

I could probably find one hundred more of these “myths” and “misconceptions.”  But I won’t.  Have a great day and enjoy a glass of good wine – Di Arie wine!!!!

Cheers!

Chaim

Questions People Ask Me…

I have been compiling a list of questions that people ask me about wine in general and my farming and winemaking techniques and philosophies.  In this winemaker’s corner I will discuss a few of the topics that interest many of our customers.

To water or not to water, that’s the question?

Recently I came across an article written in the New York Times of February 26, 1887 entitled “The Wines of California – Among the Vineyards of the Foothill District”.  In this article there is a paragraph that deals with irrigation that I would like to quote since the subject is still relevant in our times.  “Artificial irrigation is not practiced in these vineyards, which accounts to the dryness and exquisite aroma of some of the foothill wines.  It is a beautiful site to see these vineyards perched up on a mountain side several thousand feet above the level of the Sacramento Valley, and which are never watered except from the windows of heaven………”

The same argument still exists 128 years later.  In the Modern Farmer of December 21, 2015 Hanna Wallace wrote about dry-farming in Oregon in order to “create more complex and tasty wines that reflect the soil that they come from.”   In old world wine regions such as France, Italy and Spain, dry farming has been the norm and irrigation is frowned upon while in some regions the practice is entirely forbidden.

While I was very familiar with this argument, in 2000 when I was planning the development of my vineyards, I decided to opt for irrigation.  The factors that influenced my decision were:  Limited rainfall in our region and frequent drought conditions. The availability of technology to determine the quantity and distribution of water needed for irrigation to prevent over-watering that effects the quality of the wine.  The access on our land to well water that comes 600 feet deep down in the ground and not significantly affected by drought conditions.   It seems like we made the right decision based on the many consecutive years of drought condition and the success that we have had in consistently producing high quality wines from our vineyards.

What is this ugly looking sediment at the bottom of the glass?

I would not have a sleepless night thinking about the sediment that I noticed last night in the bottle of a 20-year-old Cabernet that I opened.  This sediment was not there when I bottled the wine. It was created during the bottle aging by a chemical reaction between the potassium and tartaric acid, both abundantly present in wine and resulting in potassium bi-tartrate, which precipitates out.

What should I do with the leftover wine if I don’t drink the entire bottle after opening?

The best advice I can give you is to place the cork back on and put the bottle in the frig.  If it’s a youngish wine, 5 years or less I could keep it in the frig for 1 – 3 days.  If it’s oldish, 10 years or more, don’t leave it in the frig for more than one day.  If you can remember taking it out of the frig an hour or so before dinner, fine.  Otherwise, microwave about 5 oz of wine in a glass for 10 seconds.

 Cheers and more to come,

Chaim

 

Are the Millennials Taking Over the Wine Market?

Our original customer base which consisted of predominantly baby-boomers and Gen-X is aging and getting replaced by younger consumers.  In order for us to continue our presence in the wine market it behooves us to understand the character, habits and life style of the new generation known as the millennials.   Recent statistics show that the millennials last year drank 42% of all wine consumed in the US, more than Gen-X and the baby boomers.  They account for 79 million Americans ages 21 to 38.  In 2015 they drank a total 160 million cases – an average of 2 cases per person per year.  These are very impressive numbers to say the least.  Other data obtained on their drinking habits looks as mind blowing.  30% of the millennials are frequent imbibers who drink wine at least 3 times per week with an average of 3 glasses per sitting.  What is even more striking is that two thirds of these millennials are women under 30.

I always believed that drinking wine is a cultural and a gastronomic experience.  Some people think that it is more prestigious than drinking any other alcoholic beverage.  While wine drinkers for the most part are better educated, some believe that being a wine lover makes them more sophisticated and intellectual.  But above all I am convinced that people drink wine because it gives them pleasure.

I believe that the millennials are not very different.  They bring all these factors into consideration when they think about purchasing or drinking wine even though they may be less complicated and more transparent.  Personally, I always make a point to spend time with my younger customers during Tasting with Winemaker events to understand their wine drinking habits and at the same time try to give them some wine education.  I always feel that they are thirsty for knowledge and very interested in the narratives behind the wines as much as the wines themselves.  I was very surprised recently to find out that the consumption of beer by millennials has declined from 70% a few years ago to 40% in 2015 replacing the beer with wine and cocktails.  In my opinion this is happening because beer has more functionality and wine is more emotionally fulfilling, a factor that the millenials are able to discern in shifting their preference.

The millennials are very experimental and adventurous.  This makes them less loyal to varietals, wine growing regions or brands of wines.  They mistrust the 100 point rating system for wines.  They regard it as a fabrication of their older wine drinking peers.  On the other hand, wine is a popular subject discussed extensively in the social media.  The exchange of information becomes the basis for their decision to purchase the wines they have never tried before.

Looking at my crystal ball, I predict great things will happen to the wine industry in the near future as the millennials start dominating the market.   Small wineries that make quality wines will be sought after replacing over-priced brands that are promoted by self-proclaimed olfactory prodigies that pretend to be neutral judges of wine.  Reasonably priced creative blends that fulfill the adventurous spirit of the millennials will take the center stage.

A toast to the millennials!

Cheers!

Chaim

Aging of Wine 101

Whenever I release a new wine I am often asked to predict its age-worthiness.   If a wine is “age-worthy” it implies that it will improve with aging.   While it is undeniable that wines change with aging, it is questionable whether these changes are always positive.   During aging chemical reactions take place that alter the flavor and mouthfeel of the wine.  As a result, some compounds are depleted, some are created and others are modified.  In general the fruity flavors are depleted, the tannins soften and the wine may acquire more depth.  If the wine is well extracted and it has more layers of flavors than just fruit, it has a better potential of improving with aging.

 

A few of the factors that affect the age-worthiness of the wine are:

 

  • Variety – some grape varieties are rich in fruity flavors while others have flavors that can be described as earthy, spicy and savory. Some other varieties may have both categories of flavors at varying levels.  Wines that have high levels of fruity flavors are generally more limited in their age-worthiness.
  • Viticulture – practices that promote uniform ripening of the fruit on the vine will make wines with the potential of higher age-worthiness.
  • Winemaking – a style that promotes better extraction with properly ripened fruit will enhance the chances of longer aging.

 

Thus, even if a wine is inherently fruity, but it was grown in a vineyard that enables uniform ripening, it was harvested at its optimum ripeness and thoroughly extracted during vinification, it will have a better chance of aging well.

 

A wine’s quality changes like a bell shaped curve.   During the first few years of aging its quality will usually improve, then it will level off and stays flat for a few additional years and finally it will start declining.  While I have not seen any scientific proof to that effect, some “experts” in the field claim that a wine will remain in its high level of quality after it peaks, for as many years that it took for the wine to reach the peak.

 

I must confess that I am a passionate collector and a hoarder; I have wines in my cellar from the early 80’s.  Sometimes it is very exciting to open a bottle from the distant past and enjoy its unusual qualities that you would never get in a young wine no matter how well it was made.  But for every bottle that turns up like this, I get at least 5 that are very disappointing with some that are so bad that could be undrinkable.

 

Statistically, 90% of the wines produced in the world are consumed within one year from bottling, 99% are used within 5 years and only 1% of the wines sold are aged.  If you decide that aging is your thing, I would recommend putting aside at least 6 bottles of the same wine, preferably 12, in a place that you can control the temperature, ideally at 58 degrees.  Don’t wait for 10 years or longer to find out how well your wine is aging.  Open your first bottle after 2 years and continue opening a bottle every two years.  Maintain good records and when you feel that the quality leveled off, drink the remaining of the wine within the next year.  Don’t take any chances unless you want to use the wine as soy sauce with your Chinese food.

 

Cheers!

My Satirical Wine Related New Year’s Resolution

While winemaking has been my lifelong dream it hadn’t materialized until 2001.  Without any doubt the transition into winemaking was one of the most exciting periods of my life.  As this year is drawing to an end and I am starting the 15th year of my winemaking career, I have been doing some soul searching thinking about issues that are important to me.    While these are not front line issues, they are related to my wine making philosophy and values.  I have decided to present them in a satirical way while intending to expose the truth.   I am hoping that this will make some sense to you.

I will be more tolerant of pretentious wine snobs that try to make wine mystical and intellectually intimidating.  I will explain that wines should be introduced with transparency and authenticity and judged by each individual using his own subjective olfactory senses.

I will not complain about the politically powerful Wine and Spirits Wholesale Association that creates a monopoly in the sales of wine in many states favoring large producers and discriminating against the small ones.  This organization acquires its political power through lobbying and contributing millions during elections to individual politicians on both sides of the alley which guarantees legislation favorable to their cause.

I will stop bitching about the 100 point rating system even though I find it flawed, deceiving and misrepresenting.  This system creates the illusion that this number was scientifically measured and is absolute, while in reality these ratings are totally arbitrary and subjective.  A wine judged by one wine critic at 95 points may be judged 88 by another, making a world of difference on the sales of the wine.

I will be more patient with people that don’t recognize the Sierra Foothills as an important wine growing region.  I will explain to them that the Sierra Foothills is in the pantheon of California viticulture history and its unique climate, soil and topography offers one the ideal opportunity to cultivate a diverse number of grape varietals and produce premium quality wines.

I will stop ridiculing people that worship wines from one region while snubbing ones from other regions.  I will continue to advocate that wine has a sense of place and acquires the specific attributes characteristic of the region that it represents.  I will suggest to them to have an open mind that might give them the opportunity to discover some exciting wines that will enhance their drinking pleasure.

In the least confrontational way, I will remind those wine mavens that think that Napa is the only game in town that they should not forget that what brought Napa into the limelight was the “Judgment of Paris,” a wine competition conducted in Paris on May 24, 1976 where 9 French judges, all wine aficionados with credentials representing la crème de la crème of the French oenology community, graded incognito Napa Cabernets with Bordeaux’s.  The results were astounding.  The Napa Cabernets were preferred by the majority of judges.   How is it that 9 French wine aficionados could not tell the difference between Napa Cabernets and Bordeaux’s?  How could have they missed the regional identity of Bordeaux’s?   If they knew which wines were Bordeaux and which were from Napa, wouldn’t have they picked the Bordeaux’s to be the winners?   “The Judgment of Paris” will always remain a mystery.  Could it have been for real?

Happy New Year from Chaim

A Time for Reflection-Our Beliefs, Convictions & Core Values

This is Elisheva, Chaim’s wife, partner of 44 years and co-owner of C.G. Di Arie.  Chaim asked me to author the “Winemaker’s Corner” this month.  It’s been 15 years since we first landed in the Sierra Foothills.  During this time our lives changed dramatically.  From being city dwellers we became farmers and in a way we re-invented ourselves to the point that sometimes it seems like we never had a different life before coming here.

Our experiences as winemakers formed the foundation to the principles that we cultivated for this endeavor.  Chaim and I set down several evenings and we came up with the following that we would like to share with you.

To us winemaking has become an integral part of our lives.  As we became deeply rooted in it, it replaced to a great extent our cultural and our social lives.  If you look into the history of winemaking you will realize that winemaking encompasses many disciplines including geography, geology, topography, climate, soil, language, customs, symbolic & life cycle rituals and of course – food.

In the following paragraphs I have listed some of our thoughts, convictions and core values about wine.

We believe that wine should possess regional and varietal identities. We view the Amador and El Dorado Regions and the greater Sierra Foothills to be in the pantheon of California viticulture history.  Its unique climate, soil and topography offers us the ideal opportunity to cultivate a diverse number of grape varietals and to produce special quality wines.

We believe that the sense of taste is unique and subjective and we are suspicious of self-proclaimed olfactory prodigies.  While we think that wine educators and critiques play an important role in our enjoyment and understanding of wine, we are opposed to a rating system that appears to be absolute giving an undeserving edge to a few wines while making other equally well made wines seem inferior.

We believe that wine should be freed from pretentiousness and should be introduced with transparency and authenticity.  We drink wine for no other reason but because it gives us pleasure.  We don’t believe that wine by itself should be described as sophisticated or intellectually gratifying.

Our Core Values: 

INTEGRITY –   At C. G. Di Arie we are the caretakers of the land. We are committed to caring for our vineyards in applying sustainable viticulture practices.

COMMITMENT & QUALITY – As growers and winemakers we grow our grapes to achieve maximum character that will define our region, our vineyards and each specific variety that we cultivate.  From the field to the bottle, our winemaking process is designed to maximize the potential that the grapes possess.

SERVICE & EDUCATION – We believe in a partnership with our customers and strive to have them share our passion, our endeavor and enterprise.

PASSION –    Finally, we believe that it is our mission to engage, educate and transform our customers to become a part of the “Culture of Wine.”

OUR HOPE – is that we will succeed in this endeavor and create a brand recognition beyond our region in the rest of the United States and the world.

Cheers!

Winespeak – Revisited

Winespeak, the language created by wine lovers to describe their wine drinking experience, has no grammar nor rules or boundaries.  For the most part it uses metaphors.  While making and drinking wine goes back to biblical times, winespeak is a language that was created just recently by the baby boomer generation in the post 60’s when drinking wine started becoming a part of our culture.

In the Winespeak language “bright” means acidic, which for the most part it is meant to be positive, while flabby,” lacks acidity, which is negative.  A “fatty” wine is concentrated, a “fleshy” wine is full bodied and a wine with a “grip” is tannic.  An “angular” wine hits you in your mouth in specific places with high impact while being void in other places.  An “austere” wine has very little to offer while an “opulent” wine is rich, bold, smooth and satisfying.  Some wine critics use “earthy” to describe an awkward green unpleasant finish.  I use “earthy” as a positive attribute signifying that the wine has aromas similar to a forest after a rain with a savory, mushroomy and dry finish.

Winespeak makes wine drinking a sensual experience.    Words such as decadent, lush and fleshy are often used as descriptors.  Can you imagine drinking a voluptuous or a flamboyant wine?  But come to think of it, why do we drink wine if not for pleasure.    Instead of the 100 point scale system that is commonly used for rating wines, wouldn’t it make more sense to rate a wine by its “pleasure index” from one to ten, where a score of ten would be “ecstasy” and a zero would denote “excruciating pain?”

It follows that drinking wine should be a hedonistic experience.  But when some critics describe a wine as “sophisticated” or “intellectually appealing”, they leave you feeling that there is much more to the wine than you are able to perceive; not just smells of fruit, spice, herbs, minerals, cocoa and the like.  Robert Parker says that “if you are not satisfied by a wine on a hedonistic or intellectual level, you should not drink it.”  I can understand the first part but the second part fails me.  To me our olfactory senses, as subjective as they may be, are real.  But giving a wine an intellectual description can be no more than an exciting mental exercise

The influence of some critics on popularizing styles of wine should not be underestimated.  Robert Parker with his introduction of the 100 point rating system in and his assigning high scores to wines that were higher in alcohol, jammy with higher fruity extract, stronger oak influence and a sweeter finish influenced the industry to adopt his Parkerized wine style.   That’s how the term “Parkerization” entered into the language of Winespeak.

In conclusion, I would like to suggest that Winespeak  be used to enlighten, not indoctrinate or obstruct the uncovering of your own taste.  As Socrates once said, “The expression of taste is an expression of freedom; the moment you abdicate responsibility for your taste, you voluntarily abdicate your freedom.”

Cheers,

Chaim

Bootleggers & Baptists – The Politics of Wine

Recently I came across a book by the name of “Bootleggers and Baptists” that attracted my attention in its unusual title and controversial subject matter.  This catchy phrase was created by Bruce Yandle, an academician and a regulatory economist about 30 years ago.   In a simplified way this theory holds that in order for a regulation to emerge and endure it has to be supported by the “Baptists” who seek to serve the “public interest” and the “Bootleggers” who derive economic benefit out of the regulation.  A book by that name and authored by Adam Smith and Bruce Yandle was published in 2014.

You may ask, what does “Bootleggers and Baptists” have to do with wine?  Plenty!  Just listen:

With the exception of a couple of states, most states of the union regulate the sales of wine.  These regulations have been supported by the “Baptists,” some for their moral or religious convictions while for others it may strictly be for greed.   “Bootleggers,” on the other hand do it just to create a commercial monopoly and thus eliminate competition.

This practice works in different ways in different states.   Most of the states have a three tier rule, which means that the winery cannot sell directly to retailers but must first sell their wines to a distributor who in turn sells it to the retailer.    This additional tier, among other things, has a significant impact on small wineries who find it very difficult to engage the services of a distributor thus becoming excluded from interstate commerce.

Several other states have franchise laws under which they grant exclusive licenses to distributors.  Georgia is such a typical franchise state in which a winery cannot terminate their relationship with a distributor regardless of performance.  Several years ago we had a distributor in Georgia that was not paying us our bills.  It took us a whole year of legal maneuvering before we got them to agree to release us from the “franchise.”

No less than 18 states have a Liquor Control Board that retains control of the distribution and sales of wine through state owned liquor stores.  Two of these states are Pennsylvania and Utah.   These states purchase the wines directly from the wineries.

The Supreme Court decisions proclaiming unconstitutional the restrictions imposed by states on shipment of wine “direct to the consumer” has opened the door to wineries, even small ones, to sell their wines to consumers all over the country.  Indiana is somewhat of an exception.  A winery can only ship wine to an individual in Indiana if there was a personal visit to the winery.  The justification is that “this would prevent sales of wine to minors.”

You would expect to have this kind of practices in countries like China or Russia, not in the United States that espouse free market principals.  The Wine and Spirits Wholesale Association which is politically a very powerful association flexes their muscles through their lobbying and contributing millions during elections to individual politicians on both sides of the alley.

In conclusion, I must say that this month’s Winemaker’s Corner has not been the most positive one that I have written.  To counter my negative feelings, this afternoon I will be taking home a bottle of Sivan.  Sivan is my daughter and also the name of a wine that I created that is being released to the club this month.  I will have this wine with Elisheva, my wife, who will do the cooking like she does every night.  We have a postnuptial agreement: I don’t meddle in her cooking and she doesn’t in my winemaking.            Cheers!