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  Our last meeting was held at the home of Jim and Bette Felton in the hills of Danville.  Bette prepped and Jim served and the layout of hors d’oeuvres was wonderful.  As per usual at the Felton home, this meeting was an indoor/outdoor affair.  There were right around 35 people in attendance at this meeting.  We were treated to a fireworks display from San Ramon Valley High School’s football win that evening.  We’d like to thank the Feltons for hosting a great meeting.

     The meeting was a first for the CCWG.  Never before was a meeting exclusively about the art of growing grapes.  (There was one earlier where former member Susan Captain regaled on us the merits of Lamorinda for both grape growing and winemaking.)  Jim Felton served as the Host for the meeting, laying out what the evening’s presentation was going to be about.  He then introduced Mr. Jose Santana (Telephone 925-339-9479) who cares for the Felton grapevines as well as many other families in the Tri-Valley region.  Jose is extremely knowledgeable on how to grow wine grapes and answered all of the questions directed to him.  He gave us answers on pruning, trellising, spraying, fertilizing and such during his presentation.  If anyone is in need of a vineyard management company for their vines, Jose would be a great choice.  

      David Hicks provided me with some information on a labeling company in Florida.  Their specialty seems to be custom labels, of course, but David showed me how easily the labels peeled off of his bottle.  The material that was used is sort of “elastic” and was really quite impressive.  If you’re interested, their website is: www.noontimelabels.com   You can also email them at customerservice@noontimelabels.com Their telephone is (561) 699-0413.  I know nothing about their pricing structure.

     At the next meeting, I will pass around the “2015 Host Families” sign-up sheet.  We need “Large Homes” for February 27th and December 4th 2015.  We still need homes for “Regular” meetings on May 29th and July 31st.  I will also have the Saturday, January 24, 2015 sign-up sheet for our 37th Annual Contra Costa Wine Group Professional Wine Judging and Potluck Dinner.  We need lots of volunteer help to be able to pull off a successful day.  Please come to the meeting and be sure to sign up for at least a few hours of your time on that day.  Your club needs you!  You may also call me at any time if you’d like to lock in something specific.

     Your officers for 2015 were “voted upon” and Bonneau Dickson was railroaded into serving as our “Wine Czar.”  (That’s what you get for missing a meeting Bonneau!)  Lee Wines has again agreed to serve as our Treasurer and I’ll once again serve as your club Secretary.  No “pain” whatsoever.  John Walkinshaw has again agreed to serve on our Program Committee, but not as its head.  We need 3 more volunteers to serve on that committee.  There are only 6 meetings a year that need the efforts of the Program Committee to plan and come up with a speaker for us.  There is also $75.00 twice, for wine and appetizers at the two committee get togethers, usually at a restaurant.   Please be prepared to step up and get on that committee.

     Another opportunity to donate some of your wine to the Contra Costa Interfaith Housing charity will be at the next meeting.  There will be marked boxes for your donations near the name tags when you arrive at the meeting.  Their annual fund raising dinner “Red Slippers-There’s No Place Like Home” dinner will be held on Saturday, January 31, 2015, a week after our professional judging.  Please be generous.

     Our next meeting is one of the “biggies.”  It’s Nouveau Night!!!  This is the night of “purple tongues!”  It’s when the membership are invited to bring a single bottle of their most recent vintage to the meeting for evaluation by those in attendance.  It’s great fun.  There are only two categories for this evening, that is, Red Wines and White Wines.  You will get to taste as many as you can and then vote upon your favorites.  Spit buckets will be available.  The First, Second and Third Place winners in each category will be awarded a beautiful certificate (suitable for framing) at the Potluck Dinner to be held on Saturday night, January 24, 2015.  Please make a real effort to arrive between 7:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. so that we can get the wines bagged in a timely manner.  Your wines only need two things on them.  One is your name and the other is the varietal (or blend components).  Masking tape works well for that purpose.

     The meeting will be held at the home of a fairly new member, Michelle Beason in Walnut Creek.  The meeting will start with hors d’oeuvres at around 7:00 p.m. on Friday night, December 5th.  I’ll have the numbered and lettered paper bags, masking tape, Rabbit wine opener, note taking sheets, ballots, pencils and spit buckets with me.  I’ll also have numbered paper bags, Sharpie pens, masking tape and entry sheets for Bonneau Dickson (West) and Dan Boykin (North) for wines to be dropped off in the future for entry into our professional judging to be held on Saturday, January 24, 2015.  Much more information about that will be in the next newsletter.

DIRECTIONS:  From the North: On Highway 680 in Walnut Creek going South, take the North Main St. exit (Exit #47).  Keep left to take the San Luis Rd. ramp toward North Main St. northbound.  Turn left onto San Luis Rd.  After about ½ of a mile, turn left on Sky Rd.  Michelle’s home will be on your right at 2459 Sky Rd., Walnut Creek.  Should you get lost her telephone is (925) 262-4739.

From the South:  On Highway 680 in Walnut Creek going North, take Exit 47 toward North Main St.  Merge onto Penniman Way (automatic?) and then take the first right onto North Main St.  Take the first left onto San Luis Rd.  After about ½ of a mile, turn left onto Sky Rd.   Michelle’s home will be on your right at 2459 Sky Rd., Walnut Creek.  Should you get lost her telephone is (925) 262-4739.

Things to bring:  1) A folding chair; 2) a bottle of your best for the hors d’oeuvres table; 3) a wine glass; 4) your wine for the CCIH Red Slippers Dinner donation.

     I hope to see lots of you at Nouveau Night.  Michelle assures me that she’s got lots of room so guests are encouraged.  See you there for a really fun CCWG event!  My bottle is all ready to be tasted.  Is yours?

Respectively submitted,

Al Turner, Secretary, Contra Costa Wine Group