Instituto Vino Festival 2009

Dear Instituto Members:

The entire staff of the Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino (and their parole officers) once again attended the First Annual Instituto Wine Festival on your behalf.  The weather was exceptionally friendly and the ranch was never in better form.  Music was the usual combination of Western Swing, Swamp Rock and Mariachi–NO RAP.

This year we added an equestrian event.  Now none of us understands horses but they were exceptional (not to mention the million dollars worth of silver and gold on the saddles). One of the rides can only be described as an “Only in California” happening; the riders charged around the ring at full gallop carrying glasses of champagne (Piper Sonoma of course).  The object, we surmise, was to demonstrate a stride or gait that did not spill the champagne.  It worked.  Not a drop touched the ground.  We thought it a bit unkind, however, that they did not let the horses taste the champagne.

All of this horse stuff is well and good but we at the Instituto prefer drinking our champagne at a table–or standing up.

After a time we must sit……

In any event, we can report that we endured (on your behalf) apple fritters, apple pies, chicken pesto, Willie Bird turkey sandwiches, garlic chips and assorted artery clogging foodstuffs (burp!) all in the pursuit of GREAT VINO–which, as you know, unclogs the arteries. Perhaps that explains why Sumo Cum Laude “Big Fish” Sashimi (our bouncer) spent so much time by the wine table.


Your Friends At The Instituto


Petaluma Photos–PIXS From Our Town

Over the last few years of blogging I have taken a number of photos to support the articles published on Petaluma 360 and elsewhere.

The photo inventory has built up to a level requiring me to organize it–reorganize it?– once again.

I have selected some of the photos for an album page.  To view, simply click on Petaluma Photos (Pixels of Petaluma) at the top of the page.

Biblical Vino

The Scholars in the Scholarly Department of Petaluma’s Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino recently published a paper detailing the history of wine as recorded in the Bible. This article summarizes their research.


Wine was not looked upon favorably. There are several admonitions—“Do not drink wine nor strong drink”— throughout the Old Testament. We are repeatedly warned against the bad effects of wine:

  1. Binding his foal unto the vine and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine, he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes.  His eyes shall be red with wine and his teeth white with milk. (Hangover?)
  2.  He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. (Well, OK. But don’t drink the water either!)
  3. Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles. For I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me. (Perhaps a little Alka Seltzer would have helped?)
  4. Thou hast shewed thy people hard things: thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment. (The Instituto Scholars are engaged in further investigation as to what kind of grape produced such wine.)
  5.  He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich. (The Instituto Scholars now understand why they are poor.)


When it comes to what you are to do with the wine that you should not drink—YOU GIVE IT TO THE LORD!

  • And to bring the first fruits of our ground, and the first fruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, unto the house of the LORD.
  • And that we should bring the first fruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God.


(The Winemaker’s “Bible”)

  • So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine.
  • And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish.  But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.
  • Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.

En Vino Veritas…

Petaluma Is A House Divided…4-3

The recent “restructuring” of the planning function by the City Council is an extremely significant, if not controversial, action. Corey Young’s report in the Argus Courier provides the details for those who may have missed this event. 

Strong passions were exhibited on both sides during the “debate” preceding the 4 to 3 Council vote to eliminate the current Planning Commission as well as the Site Plan and Architectural Review Committee (SPARC).

As a consequence,  a new Planning Commission will be appointed to review development applications. The City Clerk is currently taking applications for seats on this new commission.  The deadline is June 29, 2009. Thereafter, the City Council will select the members of the new commission from the applicant pool

Given the intensity of the debate, it is clear there is a rigid 4 to 3 split over the appropriateness of this action. At one level, it is a continuation of the so-called pro development and anti development debate.  At another level I detect strong odors of the old West Side versus East Side perceptions in the wind.

I accept the proposition that the decision to restructure the planning function was motivated by a genuine desire to streamline the process. It is silly to debate whether or not it should have been done… 

It’s done!

Now what?

Appointing a new Planning Commission is not going to be a simple matter. 

  • Will the Council attempt to preserve the institutional memory as well as the work on applications in process by appointing those who served on the now abolished committees?
  • Will they instead appoint new people to these positions?
  • Will they merely appoint a mix that reflects the 4 to 3 Council split?

The new commission must have credibility if it is to have a chance to succeed.

Given the genuine passions on both sides, I see no reason not to expect the 4 to 3 divide to continue to manifest itself when it comes to selecting the members of the new commission.  The result will be a single entity with no more “credibility” than before. It will be seen as “fair and honest” by the 4 (and their supporters) and an anti development power grab by the 3 (and their supporters). 

In short, no matter how well intended, I fear that the public perceptions generated by the process will outweigh and overcome the motives and objectives of those seeking the change. 

This should give serious pause to those public-spirited applicants for the new commission.

I understand and respect the passions and views of both sides.  However it is just another game of winners and losers. Given the nature of  our political processes, this is to be expected.

The only chance to avoid this result is if both sides holster their rhetorical guns and try to find a way to create a new commission that will not be perceived as being loaded one way or the other.

Otherwise, it will be … Business as usual…Some will win.  Some will lose. The rest of us will keep score.   

Murphy & Max–Petaluma’s Bagel Dogs

Noah’s Bagels on Petaluma’s East Side has had a regular K-9 visitor in recent years–Murphy…at least since 2006.

Murphy is such a regular that there is a framed picture inside Noah’s and people routinely stop by to visit with Murphy.  

Murphy’s habit is to sit patiently in the bed of the truck while the owner is inside Noah’s… 

Murphy & Friend May 31 2009 009

A few years ago, I noticed that Murphy had a little friend…

Time passed and a week ago I saw the truck parked in front of Noah’s and decided to visit.  Murphy was in the truck with the not so little friend…

Murphy & Friend May 31 2009 010

His name is Max. 

Together they form the team of Murphy & Max in a vigil waiting for someone to bring them a crumb or two.  They will also bestow sloppy wet kisses on any who linger…

Murphy & Friend May 31 2009 003Murphy & Friend May 31 2009 006Murphy & Friend May 31 2009 008Murphy & Friend May 31 2009 016

Wine Reviews

The staff at Petaluma’s Internationale Instituto de Vino Wino has developed a report critical of wine critics.  They dare to take them on!

Quite simply, the Instituto claims that wine critics are merely former music or art critics.  Well, the prose style suggests that there’s some truth in this observation.— you only need to change a few words of a Metropolitan Opera Orchestra review to create a wine review.


Music—Compared with the lush, full-throttle sound the orchestra produced at the climactic moments of “Das Lied von der Erde,” the Mozart had an almost Baroque trimness.

Wine—Compared with the lush, full-throttle nose the wine produced at the climactic moments, the Barfman Zinfandel 1999 had an almost Baroque trimness. (Hmmm! Almost sounds like a line from an Erica Jong novel. Fear of Flying Cabernet?)

Music—Ms. von Otter sang ravishingly and with the sensitivity and flexibility necessary to touch the heart of this work’s nostalgic, fatalistic texts

Wine—Barfman Cabernet sang ravishingly and with the sensitivity and flexibility necessary to touch the heart of this wine’s nostalgic, fatalistic flavors.  (The perfect wine for Socrates?)

Music—and the beauty the musicians coaxed from this had as much power, though differently focused, as the fortissimo passages

Wine—and the beauty the vintner coaxed from this had as much power, though differently focused, as the Barfman Chardonnay

Finally there is wine as a health food—“But Dr. Broustet… advocated a regimen of a daily consumption of a half bottle of red wine with food.”

Robert Mondavi claimed to drink two liters a day and another liter mixed with water when he was in the field.  He lived to a ripe old age of 94.

En vino veritas!