Sunday, February 22, 2009

Getting Ready for the First Truck

I fly back to Oakland and head straight to my two storage spaces in Cloverdale (up in Sonoma county) to begin prepping all items slated to be on the first shipment to Texas. There was a lot of work to be done...but primarily it was wrapping barrels and vines in plastic stretch wrap. Sounds relatively easy... but I can tell you that it took hours to complete. As the day turns into night I'm still wrapping and stacking barrels, grapevines and 100+ year old basket press parts.

Tomorrow the 18-wheeler is scheduled to arrive first at Monticello winery in Napa to load a circa 1980 'valley bin' used to haul grapes to the crush pad. After the stop in Napa the truck heads to Cloverdale to load all the remaining exhibit items going on the first load.

Shown in the photos you can see a few of the wrapped vines, barrels and broken down barrel staves (that will be used to build the exhibit reader rails) Twenty-four hours later these items were headed to Texas.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Recreating Jefferson's Famous Fireplace

Few aspects involved in creating this wine exhibit have impacted me more than the research devoted to Thomas Jefferson and his appreciation of wine. In October of 2008 when visiting Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia I learned (and saw firsthand) more about Jefferson in two days than all the book research that I had done for months prior. The curators at Monticello were a wealth of information. In addition to touring throughout the various rooms of Monticello, I was taken into the wine cellar. This was very special to me, to actually be walking in Thomas Jefferson's cellar, standing exactly where slaves stood as they placed selected wine bottles in the carriage boxes of his famous fireplace wine dumbwaiter to be sent upstairs to a waiting Jefferson and his dinner guests. The cellar was located directly below the dining room. The dumbwaiter system that Jefferson devised allowed for wines to be served without the intrusion of waitstaff.

For 'The Culture of Wine' exhibit we are recreating a portion of Jefferson's dining room and wine cellar areas. The focal point of the dining room will be a recreation of his fireplace showing the ingenious dumbwaiters hidden in the sides of the mantle. Shown in the photo above is George Bush Presidential Library 'Exhibit Specialist' Jason Hancock and 'Museum Tech' Debbie Page, both worked on building the replica. As shown here the fireplace is about 80% finished. Still to be added are the Wedgewood Jasperware plaques, the marble trim and finishing moulding. The photo below shows a detail of the hidden dumbwaiters located in each side.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Vineyards are Yellow

Every year from late January through March the vineyard landscapes of Northern California are blanketed in the yellow glow of 'Wild Mustard'. This is one of the most beautiful times of the year to be in wine country. The wild mustard, 'brassica kaber' also provides many beneficial actions in the vineyard. For the organic vintner, it acts as a superb cover crop for the good insects that eat the bad insects. It's root system also helps to open up the soil. The wild mustard plants seed in the winter when the vines are dormant. The plants can grow between 1 and 3 feet tall. Technically they are listed by the state of California as a 'noxious weed'...but don't tell that to the wild mustard for in Napa the plants have garnered nearly celebrity status... just check out the Napa Valley Mustard Festival website.