lummi island wine tasting oct 4 ’14


I have had my “new”camera for a year or two now, and have been very much enjoying it. It’s a Nikon Coolpix P7700, kind of a high-end “point and shoot.” It has a long list of features that I find quite incomprehensible. Some of you may remember some of the images I shot when the old camera was on its last legs.

When it comes to cameras I still have the mindset of the nine-year-old I was in the mid-fifties, taking pictures with my (I am not making this up) Hopalong Cassidy box camera. You held it in front of your belly button and looked down at a little prism at the tiny image of what was in front of you. I believe I also had a Hopalong Cassidy Lunchbox at some point, which included a little Thermos bottle, for which I have deeply conflicting memories!

For those of you who are too young to have any idea what this means, the original Thermos bottle was, like the simple cameras of the era, an ingenious invention. A disturbingly rubberized cap screwed onto a plain cylinder of unknown composition, which contained a mirror-bright coating of Some Magical Substance, vaguely Otherworldly. From time to time a Thermos would get dropped on a hard floor, and the shiny veneer inside would shatter into a bazillion pieces.

The unpleasant takeaway from this is that  the rubber cork always managed to have a disgusting and extremely unappetizing aroma, an oddly disconcerting combination of old galoshes and milk on the verge of spoiling. In point of fact, the old Thermos didn’t keep anything all that hot or all that cold for all that long. But  we all thought it was way better than, you know, waxed paper! 

The Incredible Disappearing photos!

dscn0912 (Modified) I am bringing this up because I absolutely have NO IDEA what just happened tonight while writing this little post…! Sometime this past Spring I took a day trip to Seattle to help out with bottling at Cloudlift Cellars in Seattle. The winemaker and his wife, Tom and Joannie Stangeland, visit the Island each summer for their anniversary, and we have written about Tom’s wines several times in the last couple of years. Bottling at an “artisan” operation like this (1000 cases or so per varietal) usually involves a group of friends and relatives who will volunteer several hours to help out. It’s definitely a lot of fun. Yes, it IS an assembly line, and, it’s  deeply dehumanizing, but of course without dehumanization, how would we know what being human even means….?!!

Bottling is an interesting process, so at some point I wanted to take some pictures. I had plugged the camera battery into a charger while we were bottling and after a while, though the battery was not fully charged, I supposed I could take at least a few shots and maybe even a couple of short video clips. Eezy peezy, huh…? Later, however,  when I tried to retrieve the photos from the camera for this blog entry tonight, they were nowhere to be found! Very baffling! So I figured, okay, the battery must have been just too low for taking pictures, so they never actually got taken! The important takeaway here is that I was pretty sure I had taken a bunch of photos and a couple of short video clips, which all seemed to record as usual. But when I looked for them..Poof!…Gone.! Kind of a head-scratcher. In circumstances like these, it is only Natural to wonder…“hmmm…Space Aliens…?”


Run that by me again….?

So Fast Forward to tonight. My camera has…er…had…about 80 photos in memory, most of which I have downloaded but not erased. My long-established protocol is to connect the camera to the computer (brief digression: this blog is written on an old Ubuntu (Linux) machine; my day to day PC activities are on a laptop with Windows 7, and of course we have an Ipad running Some Kind of Apple Thing). Standard Procedure is to connect the camera with the Ubuntu machine, which launches a freeware program called F-Spot, and which usually works out very well for uploading and editing images.

Except tonight! Tonight, just as I was downloading images, the camera fell on the floor (!), disengaging the USB cable. Somehow this minor incident seems to have caused the 80 or so photos in camera memory to disappear completely,  and in their place have reappeared the missing photos from Cloudlift. At this point I need to assure you that I am NOT making ANY of this up! No, I am just presenting the Facts, in a completely Unbiased way. What we have here is a Mystery. Photos that have been Gone for six months have suddenly reappeared, while all the photos taken during that same six-month period have Disappeared!

All I can say about this is that we will be happy to give a free (and Generous)  wine tasting to any of you Geeks out there who can make sense of this and explain it to us!


Happy Birthday, Gringo!

rock_1976In a way I don’t fully understand, when I moved from the Northeast to the PNW in 1975,  I went into a kind of exile. And I expect that back in 1975 anyone who  pulled up roots in one place and replanted them elsewhere can resonate with that feeling. Between “reinvention” and “exile” dwells  a maelstrom of subtle distinctions

One of my first first and best friends in the PNW is now my very old friend Rock, now living in Bend. I took the photo at left on a hike back in about 1976. Looks a lot like Mt. Shuksan behind him…? I can’t quite remember how the”gringo” thing got started, but nevertheless it endures.

Arrr, so today I ask all ye lads and lasses to hoist yer tankards to me old friend Rock on his birthday (10-4)….Arrrr!


This week’s tasting notes

Julia’s Dazzle Rose ’13 Washington $15
98% pinot gris, 2% sangiovese; bright, eye-catching orange-strawberry color, aromas of strawberry and orange peel, sweet fruit flavors, and clean, sharp acidity and a light and refreshing finish.

St. Innocent Pinot Blanc Freedom Hill ’12 Oregon $18
Bright, green-tinged yellow, with minerally scents of honey, tangerine, and herbs. Light and easygoing, with delicately earthy notes mixing with the pear and citrus flavors.

Harrington Pinot Noir Wild Horse Valley ’06 CA $10
Good deep red. Sweet aromas of dark raspberry, strawberry, smoke and flowers. Deep, round and sweet, with creamy red berry and smoke flavors, finishing with sweet, supple tannins.

For a Song “The Score” Merlot ’11    Washington  $11
Lush and concentrated, with big New World notes of dark plum, blackberry, and cherry, and earthy Old World notes of coffee, dark chocolate, and leather.

Savage Grace Cab Franc ’12 Washington $22
Old World (Loire) style. Supple, tangy and graceful, offering refreshing cherry, raspberry and spice flavors. Very gently extracted, lightly saline wine with lovely purity and floral lift. Soft tannins, very appealing style.


Wine Tasting

lummi island wine tasting Sept 27 ’14

Another Fall Equinox

dscn0984Here is Sunset from our place on the Autumnal Equinox. We have kept track of these things over the years, as you can see by searching our archives for terms like equinox, solstice, and any of the cross-quarter days (Halloween, Groundhog Day (aka Candlemas), May Day, and of course, “Lughnasadh,” and No One knows what That Means! Not so for the Equinox; we know it means that this is the point at which some place on the Equator can experience looking straight up at the Sun at Local Noon.

For those non-Navigators our there, “local noon” is the moment on any day when the Sun is directly South of you (in the Northern Hemisphere). The Very Cool thing about local noon is that if you are Lost, especially at sea, you can always tell exactly your Latitude by observing the declination of the Sun over a period near noon. You will observe that the elevation of the Sun increases, increases, increases, and then, OMD, decreases at some point. The maximum elevation occurs at local noon, or what navigators used to call LAN, i.e., “Local Apparent Noon,” the moment when the Sun reaches its maximum elevation for your point on the planet. Then, using some tables, you can compute your Latitude. That is how, by the way, Joshua Slocum (author of the Classic “Sailing Alone Around the World”) was able to navigate back in 1898 using a wind-up clock that had lost its minute hand…!


Fall Parade

dscn0971There are a lot of really nice perks to living on Lummi Island. Among them is the fact that because our population is so small (the sign at the ferry dock has said 861* for the last 25 years). (*I am making this up, I can’t remember the “real” number), there aren’t enough people to staff all the organizations that, you know, a full-sized (whatever that means) community might have. That means that everyone who is at all civic-minded– and that includes a LOT of Islanders– has to belong to LOTS of clubs, committees, advisory groups, and so on and on and on. So yes, you’re right, No One has any Leisure Time.

So of course it is a Dilemma each September, when the Fall Parade comes around, for people to decide which group they will walk/ride with. For example, last year we were still much involved with raising money for the Library, so we marched with FOIL (Friends of the Island Library). This year Pat was involved with preparing and serving a delicious lunch (pulled pork or grilled veggie sandwiches) at the Grange (really our only public meeting venue) after the parade. So it makes you wonder…if we had more people, could we be on fewer committees and in fewer clubs??? Hmmm…I wonder…!



The three or four of you who occasionally read this blog may have noted the post last week about the unidentified flag seen flying from the green ketch moored in Legoe Bay over the summer. We posted an offer for a Free Tasting to the first person who could identify the flag. As it turns out, we did sort it out on Saturday in a group discussion at the wine shop (special kudos to Steve W). Then a few days later I discovered an email at our “other email address” in which Nancy G correctly identified it as the flag of Cascadia…!

According to Wikipedia, Cascadia is the name of a bioregion and proposed country consisting of Washington, Oregon, portions of other U.S. states and British Columbia, possibly including coastal Southeast Alaska in the north, and Northern California in the south. Some versions even include inland parts of Idaho, Western Montana, Wyoming, and Yukon. At first glance I thought,  “Huh? Are you Serious?” Because, you know, the socioeconomic profiles and values of the wet (oops, I meant “west”) side and the east side of the PNW are pretty much what you would call Polar Opposites. Personally, I relate more to the 1970′s utopian vision of Ernest Callenbach in his little book Ecotopia.  Thirty-some years ago I  published a pretty interesting (imho!) paper called “The Economics of Ecotopia,” based on his novel. And now that I think about it, that vision is why I still have fantasies like someday having a carbon-free Ferry. But of course That is Another Story….!


This week’s tasting notes

Bargemone Provence Rose ’13 France $14
Bright, mineral-dusted aromas of pink grapefruit and dried red berries. Light and racy on the palate, with tangy citrus and redcurrant flavors. Finishes brisk and dry, with good lingering spiciness and length.

Cloudlift Chardonnay ’12   Washington    $18
Enticing aromas of Gala apple, white peach, and apple blossoms, with nicely balanced fruit compote flavors with minerally notes of peach stone and alluvial minerals.

Ciacci Piccolomini Ateo ’11 Italy $16
Juicy cab-merlot blend that shows excellent up-front intensity, with notes of freshly cut flowers and mint that give the dark berry fruit an attractive sense of lift.

Lacroix-Vanel Fine Amor ’12 France $18
Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvedre, and Carignan; generous dark cherry and black raspberry tinged with lavender, sassafras, brown spices and tobacco, with suggestions of iodine and crushed stone.

Le Goeuil Cairanne ’11 France $22
Light, medium-bodied wine with fantastic complexity, with plenty of ripe berry fruits, crushed flowers, lavender and spice-box; beautifully made, with a silky texture.

Wine Tasting

lummi island wine tasting sept 20 ’14

Faces of Sangiovese

Sangiovese is the red grape we most often associate with Tuscany and Central Italy. In particular, it is the dominant grape in the Chianti Classico region which stretches south from Firenze (Florence) toward Siena, while a variant of the grape, sangiovese grosso, is the dominant grape in the southern Tuscan wine region of Montalcino. The name itself is from Latin sanguis Jovis, “the blood of Jove.” Depending on where the grapes are grown, sangiovese can present a wide range of profiles from very earthy and rusticas is the case with many Chianti Classicos– to big, round and fruit-forward. Regardless of where it’s grown, it generally exhibits a tart strawberry edge around dark bing-cherry flavors, earthy tea leaf notes, and often a touch of brett.

This weekend we are pouring two sangioveses. One is from near the center of the more steeply hilly Chianti Classico region (above left), and the other is from further south, just past Montalcino (below left). We leave it to you to see if there’s a difference.











Pirate Jenny…?

dscn0891 (Modified)dscn0891 (Modified)



There’s the green ketch and there’s the old song that have somehow gotten hooked up in my fantasies. The green ketch may or may not be the same one that has moored at the Island for the last several summers. In previous years on any given day it would move as if with the tides from anchorage near the ferry dock on the east side to Legoe Bay on the west side. And back and forth and back and forth. Curious, make a fella scratch his whiskers and say, “hmm…” This year the green ketch looks more shipshape, more “reputable,” somehow, than the one we have seen the last several years, but she is certainly similar and looks like a comfortable sailor.

In any case, for a while she was flying this flag, which we could barely make out…looks like a tree shape in the center of blue-white-green stripes. Looked online, but was unable to identify it, so still curious. Therefore, we offer a free tasting this weekend to the first visitor who can enlighten us about the boat and the flag…!

As for “Pirate Jenny,” it is a song from Three Penny Opera, sung variously by Lotte Lenya, Nina Simone, and Judy Collins, among many others over the years. Arrrr, it’s a Dark ‘n’ compellin’ Tale (“…and the ship, the Black Freighter…turns around in the harbor,…shooting guns from her bow…) of fantasy and vengeance. So I be askin’ ye mates, is it Pirates we got off our shores? Is she flyin’ some kinda new Jolly Roger? Should we be checkin’ our powder?  Eh…?


Diesel-electric Hybrid Ferry!!

In a weak moment recently I allowed myself to to volunteer for the Long Range Planning Subcommittee of LIFAC. The key question being addressed is to make recommendations for what sort of ferry service should replace the aging Whatcom Chief. Last week sometime it occurred to me that , hey, OUR portion of ferry expense does not include capital costs, only operating and maintenance costs. Therefore, our aim should be to find a ferry that economizes on O&M. We shouldn’t really CARE about capital costs (except, you know, politically). It then occurred to me that, hey, a good way to save on operating and maintenance might be to have some kind of diesel-electric hybrid, sort of a sea-going Prius. If such a thing existed, it would likely have lower fuel costs, lower emissions, and lower maintenance costs– exactly what we should be looking for. Well, sure, nice fantasy, right?

Until yesterday, when I did a search for “diesel-electric hybrid ferry”…! It turns out a lot of people around the world have been thinking about this for some years now. Several have been built, from the passenger ferry that takes tourists to Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay, to the small seagoing vessel shown here in Scotland. Oh, man, I WANT one, don’t YOU??


This weekend’s tasting

Bargemon Provence Rosé ’13   France   $14
Pale pink. Bright, mineral-dusted aromas of pink grapefruit and dried red berries. Light and racy on the palate, offering tangy citrus and redcurrant flavors.

Dom. Tremblay Quincy ’11 Loire Valley  $18
Nose of yellow grapefruit, tangerine and sea air. Suave, fine-grained and concentrated, with zesty green apple & citrus flavors with a surprisingly creamy mouthfeel and finish.

Eguren Codice ’09 Spain 90pts $11
Aromas of cassis, cherry, licorice and mocha. Dense, alluringly sweet and juicy, with excellent concentration, silky fine-grained tannins and lingering spiciness.

Molino di Grace Chianti Classico ’08 Italy $13
Spicy redcurrant, strawberry and herbs on the nose, with tobacco and smoke nuances emerging with air. Pliant red berry and succulent herb flavors show an appealing sweetness buffered by fresh minerality.

Perazzeta Sara Rosso ’11     Italy   $11
90% Sangiovese, 10% Ciliegiolo from the Tuscan south; bright and full-bodied with cherry, crisp acidity, and tantalizing earth tones make this pretty wine a winner with savory dishes.

Wine Tasting

lummi island wine tasting sept 13 ’14


dscn0954Labor Day Studio Tour is usually our busiest weekend of the year. Beginning Friday night and then all day Saturday and Sunday, it’s almost like running a real business! OMD! This intensity is then immediately  followed by the Island-wide madness of getting ready for annual Drydock, with the locals running to town to get pantries stocked up and cars situated on the mainland (good luck finding a place to park!), and part-time residents escaping to Wherever till the ferry comes back. It makes for hours-long waits to get a car off the island. Crazy!

So it was a nourishing delight to take last weekend off from the wine shop and sail out to the islands for a few days. The weather was great, winds were light, and skies were clear. Very relaxing, very beautiful, very soothing. Ahhhh.



Photo puzzler

Took a few photos while walking on Sucia Island. Click on photos to enlarge, and see if you see what we saw…!

dscn0957 (Modified (2)) the Old King asleep on his throne, helmet cradled in left arm







dscn0941 Charlie Coyote thinly disguised as a stump







madrona_lumps Can you find the tiny frog trapped inside this beautiful Madrona?







Baer Truth

We were introduced to this startup Woodinville winery about ten years ago. A friend had invited us to their release party, in a big tent, on a somewhat snowy day in February. It was the second vintage of easygoing and talented young winemaker Lance Baer, and we definitely bought some for the shop. Tragically, Lance suffered liver failure only a few years later, leaving the winery to his sister Lisa. Read more about Lance

In recent years the winery has earned international recognition with stunning reviews from the global wine press. So it is our pleasure to offer the Baer 2010 Ursa in our tasting this weekend. I will confess that I opened a bottle a few days ago, you know, just to make sure it was okay, and all you need to know is that it is a lot better than “okay”…!

After all, it’s Drydock, it’s quiet on the Island, nothing much to do— a perfect time to drop by and savor some great wines and easy conversation…!


This weekend’s tasting

Borsao Rosado ’13             Spain           $9
Delicate strawberry and cranberry fruit, a touch of minerality, medium body and a fresh, dry style.

For a Song Chardonnay  ’12    Washington   $9
Six months on the lees yield lively floral, lemon, and pear aromas and flavors of fresh pears and tart apples.

Cepas de Zorro ’10    Spain   $10
100% Monastrell from chalk and clay soils; a powerfully authentic wine with aromas of plum preserves, Partagás cigar ash, soy, and sage blossom; a fantastic match for Manchego cheese, Marcona Almonds, and olives.

Vinosia Aglianico ’10       Italy        $12
Deep garnet-purple color. Raisin, blueberry and underbrush aromas. Some dried rose petals and spice. Crisp acidity and a medium+ body. Medium+ level of velvety tannins. Long finish.

Baer Ursa ’10    Washington      $38
(42% merlot, 41% cab franc, 10% malbec and 7% cab sauv):  Roasted raspberry, strawberry, truffle, and woodsmoke on the nose, accented by pepper and herbs; tactile and penetrating in the mouth, with good juicy clarity to the flavors of red berries, tobacco leaf and smoky roast coffee.

Wine Tasting