Unfiltered

Going to the dogs, a symphony in Chardonnay, Sonoma's real cash crop and the secret to marital bliss
Aug 17, 2005

• We'd never say Sebastiani has gone to the dogs … unless of course it had. The Sonoma winery held its second annual Sebastiani Winery Canine Festival earlier this month. The weekend began with a vineyard dog walk, led by Rubee Sebastiani, Boston terrier and unofficial winery mascot. The dog-friendly events included adoption opportunities, dog crafts, a rescue demonstration, a fashion show and a dog "beach," where overheated pooches could cool down in old, water-filled wine barrels. Visitors could come for the wine, and stay to bob for hot dogs. Woof.

• Taking a page from PDQ Bach as well as Bacchus, Australian composer Tony King has put a new spin on harmonious wine. His new album, titled Wine Music, was created solely from sounds made by wine and its accessories. King spent two years popping corks, blowing air across the tops of wine bottles, drumming on oak barrels at Brookland Valley Winery and gently tapping the sides of Riedel glasses filled with wine. "The Champagne flutes made sounds like violins and organs, [and] the barrels sound like African drums," says King, who then wrote music he describes as something he would want to listen to while having a candlelit dinner. "It had to transport me or I threw it out." Just tuning the glass instruments probably transported King, as that required him to take sips of his favorite Chardonnays, Leeuwin Estate Art Series and Petaluma. We guess the idea of drinking on the job sure sounded good.

• Grapes aren't the only cash crop in Sonoma. Few visitors to wine country may realize it, but the same areas selected by winegrowers are also popular with pot growers. As part of a summer-long crackdown, Sonoma County Narcotics Task Force agents raided six sites in the Healdsburg area last week and turned up a total of 5,300 marijuana plants--with a street value of $15 million. While these plants were discovered in remote areas high in the hills, detectives will be flying reconnaissance over the county's vineyards, said Sheriff's Department Sergeant Chris Bertoli, because often marijuana is found planted near them. And it isn't just for the terroir. Bertoli said the pot growers often steal farming equipment from the vineyards and even tap into their irrigation. So if drinking a Sonoma wine makes you crave Pop-Tarts and pizza at midnight, maybe there was a mix-up at the crush pad.

Who needs New York or Napa if a wine from North Carolina can sell for $8,500?
• Richard Childress is pushing the accelerator yet again in the race to prove that wine is for everybody--even NASCAR fans. The team owner, who founded Childress Vineyards in North Carolina, donated a 9-liter bottle autographed by every current NASCAR driver to the Taste for the Race charity auction in New York's Finger Lakes region. The event, held last weekend at Fox Run Vineyards just before the annual NASCAR race at Watkins Glen, benefited Mercy Flight Central, an air ambulance service for the region. Though for the second year in a row Tony Stewart captured the checkered flag, Childress probably felt like the real winner--his red Meritage, which was bought by Rochester restaurant owner Tony Gullace, brought in $8,500--a large chunk of the auction's total of just more than $20,000. It was the highest price paid for any lot, meaning a North Carolina wine beat out everything on the block from New York, as well as a bottle of Franciscan and two from Quintessa.

• In an age when the divorce rate is around 50 percent, a ray of hope comes from France. Yes, the country that's long been on the receiving end of jokes about chain-smoking, insouciance, gluttony and infidelity has brought us retired teachers André Debray, 107, and his wife, Marguerite, 101, who celebrated their 81st wedding anniversary last week in their home village of Chateauroux. Their secret to long life and happiness? Drink a glass of wine with lunch every day. Well, that and the usual stuff, like avoiding arguments and eating well. "We never fought," Marguerite told Le Parisien newspaper. "We lived together so long that we have the same tastes." Those included just about everything, as Marguerite said she didn't believe in dieting. Essentially the Debrays have taken to heart the proverb "eat, drink and be merry." For reminding us of that, Unfiltered wishes the couple many more happy years.

Unfiltered Auto racing Cannabis Musicians / Singers Sonoma

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