Moraga Winery - local and good! WVRC on November 2nd
SANDY SANDERSON started us off by leading the Pledge. PP JIM DOWNIE and LENNY FRIEDMAN enjoyed a rollicking Home On The Range which was preceded by some really fun music from JIM’S keyboard. ART HENRY gave the Invocation, which came from Dick Keagy of the Beverly Hills Club. We thank you for the blessings which come from free choice providing the need to know right from wrong. For the blessings of our curiosity for knowledge, which provides the insatiable need for education, leading to wisdom. And last, the blessings of success, from which comes the our motivation to do our work in Rotary A good choice, ART thank you.
I should report here, in my insatiable (love that word!) for ‘all the facts’, that we were chaired today by SEAN McMILLAN, who promised to tell us where the hell MIKE went, but then didn’t follow through with the information, alas. He introduced the Head Table, adding that those present showed what a Rotary President SHOULD look like!
Stand-In SEAN next more or less introduced a couple of Visiting Rotarians Eric Hatfield, from Century City he is in Insurance. Also with us was Joe Mulryan, from LA 5 Joe is related to LENORE, but she skipped to Arizona, so he was representing her.
All this led to the perceived need for a Joke. Seems there were two men walking down the street, a Republican and a Democrat. They encountered a homeless person, and the Republican immediately gave the man his business card plus twenty dollars to help him along. The next time they met a homeless person, the Democrat, who had been impressed by his companion’s actions earlier, decided it was his turn to help. He walked over, gave him directions to the Welfare Office, reached into the Republicans pocket and gave the homeless person fifty dollars! And of course this tale was immediately followed by PP ERIC warning that this story would not get good press in the Windmill…
Without further editorial comment, I now presume to provide last week’s story, which had to be omitted due to technical transmission difficulties. If you remember, this concerned a father who loved his little boy very much, and upon returning home from work, he and his son played together to their mutual enjoyment. However, this particular night the man recognized that he had a lot of work to do, and would have to finish it at home. Since this would cut into their playtime together, the man noticed a map of the world in a magazine. He carefully cut it into many pieces, to create a puzzle. Showing this to his son, he figured that would keep him busy and allow the father to finish his work. But a few minutes later, the son appeared with the map entirely recreated. When asked how he had done this so quickly, the boy replied, “It was simple. On the back of the page was a picture of a man. When I put the man together the whole world fell into place.” Thank you, Prexy MIKE, in absentia.
After a conversation break, PP HOMER NEWMAN cam forward with an explanation of our system for awarding Paul Harris Fellows to present members. As you know, a gift, at one time, or over a period of time, of $1,000 allows you to join this important category of Rotary membership. However, with the major generosity of our Angel, VIRGINIA GANDY, providing several hundred thousand dollars to our local Westwood Village Foundation, WVRC can now share the cost of completing your membership fee. This can occur at any point in your voyage, with our Foundation paying half of your balance whenever you wish to step forward with the rest. PP HOMER handles this fund, and would welcome your questions it’s an opportunity worth discussing, certainly. And on the subject of endowments, we have another matching fund, also provided by VIRGINIA, which will share gifts in your name to our Rotary International Foundation.
You should keep this in mind as Christmas approaches we all know the great good the RI Foundation provides and you can add to their resources by this sharing arrangement. Again, PP HOMER is the person to talk to.
I rose to make two serious announcements. As you may know, Dan Price was hit on his left knee by a car almost a week ago He is in a walking cast, and has just had an MRI, which will determine if he will need surgery. You can reach him at (310) 456-8184, and he would appreciate phone calls, of course. This is a fairly serious injury nothing broken, but destabilizing, anyway, so do give him a ring, please.
I then explained the form letters which had been placed on the tables. They are directed to James Nicholson, head of the VA in Washington D.C., expressing our support for the completion of the Veterans Park which is now in building progress. I picked up 17 signed letters, and will bring more next week to be left on the tables. Those of you who took them home should return them, signed, to me, please. I will deliver them to the Veterans Park Conservancy. This is an important community concern, and we should step up in support if questions, please call me right away, since our window of time to express ourselves to Washington is closing within the next two weeks.
MIKE YOUSEM came forward to remind us about the Christmas Shopping Spree, set for Thursday evening, December 7th. He has chaired this event for TWENTY-TWO years, and it benefits about 30 kids from the Salvation Army Transitional Housing facility on Sepulveda just south of Wilshire Blvd. They are taken to dinner at Islands, then to Big Lots with $35.00 supplied by WVRC, and they buy presents for their families. He wanted to recognize two Angels FLOYD DEWHIRST, who rents the bus we use, and PP JOHN SINGLETON, who provides gifts for the kids after they buy for others. FLOYD and JOHN were warmly applauded, and I rose to note that MIKE has always picked up the dinner tab for all the kids. It’s a nice program, and a lovely lead-in to the arrival of the Christmas Spirit we can all use that kind of help.
Final announcement Spouses Day will be November 30th, when the Speaker will be Tom Hudnut, of Harvard/Westlake School As an added attraction, the Manager of the now six-month reopened Westwood Farmers Market will also present a short program. Please save the date, and bring your spouse!
PP STEVE SCHERER introduced our Speaker, Scott Rich. Scott graduated from the University of California at Davis in 1980, and soon thereafter began a series of steps in his development as a winemaker. During this early period, he graduated with a Masters in Enology from Davis. Starting as the research enologist for The R.H. Edwards Vineyards, he also worked at Robert Mondavi’s Woodbridge, Talisman Cellars, Corpora Vineyards in Chile, Carneros Creek, Mont St. John and Etude. During his tenure at Etude, Robert Parker, The Wine Spectator and Seven Tanzer rated several of his Pinot noirs from 87-93, and 6 cabernets from 90 to 98. He joined Moraga in 1996 as their winemaker, continuing with Etude until 2001.
Scott began his presentation with some history on Moraga Vineyards. Going back a long time, Moraga was the name of the Spanish General who first entered California, and his troops stayed near the present vineyard property on their trek up the coast. Skipping all the way to 1937, the property was owned by Victor Fleming, the Director and Producer of Gone With The Wind. It was his retreat, with horseback riding and ‘country living’ as features. He sold it in 1959 to Tom Jones, the CEO and President of Northrup Aviation. They wanted Moraga for the same reason to provide a ‘country’ feeling, and so they wouldn’t have to maintain a second, getaway home, elsewhere. He was able to expand the property somewhat due to rain damage above on Linda Flora.
During his tenure at Northrup, Tom traveled often between France and LA. As he began his interest in wine, he would purchase a barrel of French wine, bring it back and bottle it in LA He also noticed the similarities in climate and soil between their wine regions and his property. At the low point in his property, there is a 20-foot layer of gravel, with three feet of topsoil usually good for white wine cultivation. So in 1975, he planted several varieties of grapes, to see which ones would prosper. He ended up choosing merlot and cabernet sauvignon for reds, and sauvignon blanc for white. His first commercial planting was in 1985, mostly merlot, with sauvignon Blanc in the flatter area.
Some wine people questioned whether it was too hot to grow grapes in Southern California, where a few times each year it goes above 90 degrees. However, in the Napa Valley, it often gets that hot, and up north near Calistoga, sometimes as hot as 105 degrees or more. Besides, due to the nearby Pacific Ocean, the heat usually dissipates in the early afternoon, at least on the Moraga property. At Moraga, they begin their picking in early September, and intend to finish all their vines by Halloween one reason for this spread-out time is that they have seven full time, permanent employees, and thus can control harvesting at any time of their choice.
Their first vintage appeared in 1989, from their planting in 1985. At this point, they shipped their grapes to Santa Barbara, where they were processed. In 1992 they shifted to Tony Soter, in the Napa Valley, and they now process their own grapes. To solve a problem with a tenacious insect, they began most of the processing here, then shipped it to be bottled up north, after the press was separated from the leaves, etc.
Their intent was to eventually become an Estate producer, meaning the grapes would never leave the property. This was new to Los Angeles, and the panning Department of the City, for instance, wasn’t at all sure how to attempt to ‘regulate’ Moraga Vineyards.
One of the projects required was to construct a large wine cave again, the local authorities had never had such a request before. This is a major piece of work, with cement walls from eleven inches up to two feet thick it is so secure that Scott claims that is where he will go if we ever have an atomic attack! Their winery was completed just in time for their harvest last year. Their total acreage is 16, of which nine acres is planted to grapes, mostly red. Some of their vines are picked three separate times, as they mature.
Q&A TONY MARRONE, In the WSJ this morning there was an article about red wine, which mentioned resveratrol, an ingredient which is most beneficial. About 15 to 18 years ago, 60 Minutes did an article on the French Paradox, the question being with all the fatty and rich foods the French consume, why don’t they have more health problems than they do. Resveratrol is the answer, apparently. It is a most effective anti-oxident.
MARK BLOCK, How do you buy Moraga Wine? Give me your card, and I’ll have someone in marketing be in touch I’m not sure what our supply situation right now is. Their only two retail outlets are Wallys, on Westwood Blvd, and The Cheese Store in Beverly Hills. MARK ROGO, What is your annual case volume? White volume varies between 250 and 600 cases, and red is similar.
Final Comment, which I was told must be printed
If you can’t trust the water, drink wine!