Tenacious Vines

There was so much about our trip to South Africa last year that was unexpected, and which I will explore a bit in upcoming posts. But one of the most unlikely encounters was with the grapevine in the central court of our hotel in Cape Town. We stayed at the stellar Cape Heritage Hotel, which…

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A Murder, A Charm, A Gulp

A Murder It must be confusing for wild animals when humans constantly grow so much tasty food, only to try and keep it all to themselves. I see it in my own garden when the various fruits become ripe. All the birds I’ve fed through the winter are suddenly competition for my harvest in summer…

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The Spoils of the Day

Sometimes the constant presence of natural beauty can lead to a certain forgetfulness of the visual bounty all around. We’ve lived near Lake Geneva for a long time, and while I revel in the views of mountain and lake, I don’t always appreciate just how lovely the area can be. Fortunately, friend, writer and local…

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Musical Refinement

Sometimes a tugged mental thread yields the most unexpected byways of learning. This particular journey began the other evening, when I was listening to a French radio station, Swing FM, while sipping a glass of champagne. The music playing was a heavy Hammond organ thing, the champagne didn’t taste quite right, and fortunately, some small…

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Sober Expectations

I saw recently that Napa Valley wineries had already started their grape harvesting season as of August 1 this year, almost two weeks earlier than the average, due to a short winter combined with a long and mild spring. So I wondered whether our long, wet, cold winter, combined with a long, wet, cold spring…

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Blossoms and Bubbles

I found this Wine Folly poster via Paul Dorset’s blog, so thanks Paul for the great pointer to a great wine blog. As it turns out, I’ve managed to try quite a few of these – and I think there are a few I’ve tried that aren’t listed. For Mother’s Day, I will be raising…

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Strong Whisky

Scotch whisky has been produced for something like 500 years, with the first historical reference of distilling in Scotland dated to 1494, a record of transfer for malt delivered to a ‘Friar John Cor’ to make acqua vitae. Given that this particular Friar John had enough malt delivered to produce over a thousand bottles of…

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The Bottle Around the Bubbly

A little small talk tidbit for all those soirées in this month of holiday parties: A bottle of champagne contains around 50 million bubbles, at three times the pressure of a car tire. As an interesting prerequisite to the ‘invention’ of champagne, it was necessary to invent a bottle that could contain the pressure generated…

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Of Blight, Wine, Grafting and a kind of Success

I found this poster hanging in a small local bistro just over the border in Switzerland, one of my favorite places to eat for lunch. It’s an advertising poster for a seed nursery located in the Salève, on the southern end of Geneva but on the French side of the border. At first glance, it…

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