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Minutes: Wine Storytime with Joe Weiland (9/2/2015)

September 2, 2015

Visiting Rotarians: Kathy Scroggs
Guests: Cody Makela, Lisa Osborn, Sonja Smith


  • Tonight we’re having a sundowner wine tasting at the Elings Park picnic area from 5 PM to sunset. Bring a wine from Santa Barbara County and an appetizer. Bring a friend.
  • On behalf of the club’s foundation, Luz Maria Ortiz Smith said the grant seminars are coming up on Saturday Oct 24 at the Goleta Community Center from 9-1. If you are interested in participating, contact Luz Maria.
  • Bill Boyd shared an update about the international project in Nicaragua. We’ve received a grant for the water filters. On Sept. 14, we have some guests attending from Nicaragua. Chris Baxter and Karen Kawaguchi will also host a reception for the guests.
  • Susan Klein-Rothschild purchased two reservations for the polo event, so if you are interested and not signed up yet, please let her know.
  • The Community Service committee will meet on Sept 10 at 7 PM. The location is TBD, but it may be at Lucille Ramirez’s house. If you are interested in being on the committee, even if you cannot attend that meeting, please contact Lucille.
    Start inviting family, friends, and trained animals to the club BBQ on October 10 at Goleta Beach.
  • Board members and holiday party committee members, please stay after the meeting to make a decision about the location.
  • Diana Washburn is taking piano lessons, and she’s looking to purchase a piano.
  • The Rotaract Club wants volunteers on the morning of Sept. 18 for its miniature golf tournament. You can also golf on the 19th.
  • Pay and Tell with Sgt at Arms Tom Heath.

Program: Bob McPhillips introduced Joe Weiland for “The Art of Making Wine.”

  • Joe came to California from Wisconsin at age 23. At the time, he wasn’t interested in wine, but he would sometimes drink chardonnay because, hey, the color was like beer.
  • One night at Elsie’s bar he drank a Zaca Mesa syrah, and it was so good it caught his attention. That made him realize there might be something to this wine thing.
  • In California, it seems you need some sense of wine to get by in social circles. You need to have an opinion. The opinion they formed was to drink syrahs from Santa Barbara County.
  • Joe explained his wine buying strategy and the math of the wine price:quality ratio. In short, find the wines you like best at your price point.
  • Back in 2009, Joe’s friend Sven invited Joe to make wine with him at a custom crush facility. You show up with grapes. You later leave with wine. They get grapes from LaFond Vineyards. Their wine is Cowboy Syrah, Cowboy PInot, Cowgirl Chardonnay, and Cowgirl Sauvignon Blanc.
  • They started with a half ton of grapes — one of those white bins. That makes one barrel of wine, which is 300 bottles of wine, which is almost enough for a bottle a day for a year.
  • Joe said making wine is easier than baking chocolate chip cookies. He described the process.
  • Michael Benedict (yes of Sanford and Benedict) said Joe’s wine is good!
  • He now also makes an Arlington Syrah, Chardonnay, and Whitehawk for clients.
  • This year he’s having trouble getting grapes. The harvest is low throughout our region.
  • Their 2011 Cowboy Syrah won Best of Class from the San Francisco Chronicle. They’ve won some additional awards in other years.
  • Pro tip: If you see a bottle of 2011 syrah from LaFond Vineyards, get it. That vineyard and that year won best in class multiple years.
  • Financial advice: If you’re not contributing to your retirement plan, but you are drinking good wine, you should probably be drinking less expensive wine.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Bruce Belfiore permalink
    September 7, 2015 2:24 PM

    A French client who owned a vineyard in central France once said to me: “Bruce, do you know how to make a small fortune making wine?” “How?” I replied. “Start with a large fortune!” was his retort.

    • September 9, 2015 4:10 PM

      That was one of the first things I heard as a wine journalist. I was told it this way: “To make $1 million in the wine business, start with $5 million.”

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