Petaluma’s Wine Instituto Goes To A Party!


Labor Day Weekend was also Sonoma Wine Country Weekend. Many events were scheduled, including several “winemaker” lunches and dinners at various wineries as well as a charity wine auction. The wine auction is an important fundraiser for many local charities–the Redwood Empire Food Bank, Vineyard Worker Services, Hanna Boys Center, Community Health Center, and others.

For some unexplained reason–certainly a clerical error–the Internationale Instituo De Vino Wino (Petaluma’s famous but fictional wine institute) was invited to send two representatives to the winemaker dinner St. Francis Vineyard and Winery:

An evening spent at St. Francis Vineyard and Winery not only allows you a chance to mingle with our 2010 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Honorary Chairs, but also promises an unforgettable experience in the very heart of Sonoma Wine Country. Join Winemaker, Tom Mackey and President, Christopher Silva at “People’s Park,” a lovely location on the winery grounds with breathtaking views of the vineyard, for a luau-style feast prepared by Piper Johnson and paired with artisan series, small production and handcrafted wines.”

Needless to say, the invitation caused quite a stir at the Intituto! As the invitation was for only two people, there was quite a fight (fictional people are just as difficult to manage as real people) as to who would be allowed to attend. In addition, approval had to be obtained from the parole officers for those selected.

This is their story…

After considerable fuss, Food Director, Sushi Tira-Misu and Senior Citizen Wine Consultant, Jerry Attrick were chosen to attend as representatives of the Instituto.  To be perfectly candid, the primary reason for selecting these two was that they were deemed to be the most presentable.

Sushi and Jerry showed up on time (a rare achievement for them) armed with the tickets and e-mail from Chris Silva of St. Francis Vineyard & Winery:

“Welcome to Sonoma County, this unique place of farmers who make wine…We are honored to be selected as Honorary Chair for 2010.  Our dinner…will be our first official celebration as Chair. We’ll enjoy an imaginative menu paired with our favorite Artisan wines, all from 100% hand-picked, Sonoma County grapes, plus a guest list of friends both old and new—as well as a special guest or two to add to the many stories.  We will also offer several small, informal tours of our cellar and barrel room while you are here. “

Sushi & Jerry were extremely impressed with the beautiful setting… 

They also took note of the fact that St. Francis provided additional security given the presence of two fictional representatives of the Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino…

Security notwithstanding, the Instituto representatives fully enjoyed themselves…conversed with their fellow attendees… sampled the wine…and the food…Oh, the food…

For the record, the Instituto recruited Al Fresco, the Instituto’s Restaurant Manager to serve as the designated driver. Al had to stay with the car the entire evening comforted only with a thermos of coffee and a week old newspaper.

Jerry Attrick was particularly impressed with the St. Francis winery tour and noted that the operation was considerably larger than the Solo Vine facility at the Instituto…

After seeing this facility, Jerry is going to recommend that the Instituto plant a second vine!

Thanksgiving Harvest…Petaluma’s Vino Instituto

It has been a busy harvest time at Petaluma’s Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino!

Instituto Thanksgiving

The staff and officers worked around the clock to harvest the grapes from the solo vine. Afterwards, they had a little celebration–which, unfortunately, is still going on as this article is being written.

Celebration highlights…

  • Many of the celebrants (including their parole officers) joined in singing several choruses of the Instituto’s official vino song: We drink to make other people interesting.
  • Restaurant Manager, Al Fresco and Food Director, Sushi Tira-Misu engaged in a serious debate (fueled by some of the Instituto’s product) about the need to create an organic and exhaustive vision of the complexity of reality, born of philosophical and scientific studies, and translated into a narrative structure…with footnotes.
  • A strenuous argument erupted when Treasurer, Minnie Da Moocher and Sumo Cum Laude “Big Fish” Sashimi (our bouncer) got into a heated discussion over…

…Se non e‘ vero e‘ ben trovato…


…Se non è puoi vero è essenzialmente vero…

  • Meanwhile, in the wine cellar, a Claret Kitty and friends had a party of their own…Apr08#01a                                             

                                                                                          (Graphic By Barbara Simpson)

  • Jerry Attrick (Senior Citizen Wine Consultant) took a swing at Frank, the Chief Wino & Solo Vine Manager (not to mention, author of this blog) who was talking about Old Vines with Enchy Latta, Director of Catering. Jerry apparently thought Frank was talking about his legs.
  • Frank left the party early, muttering something about the need to drink a real Petaluma wine instead of the fictional vino being consumed by the fictional wackos at the Instituto. He was observed carrying a bottle of Que Syra, a Petaluma Gap Artisan Syrah from the Rivetti Family Estate Vineyard…Que Syra                                                              (Graphic courtesy of Frances Rivetti)

Upon advice of counsel, the rest of the event is better left unreported. I am authorized, however, to pass on the following…

Happy Thanksgiving from the officers & staff of the Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino–La Centre de l’Experience du Vin de Petaluma!

And, in case we don’t recover in time… 

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 

Chief Wino &  Solo Vine Manager (We have only one vine)–Frank
First Secretary-Vinnie Parducci
Second Secretary- Guido Marcucci
Third Secretary-Gustav Von Da Vee
Treasurer-Minnie Da Moocher
Counsel–Horace Rumpole of Chateau Fleet Street Claret
Vat & Barrel Manager-Jay Gaulo
Restaurant Manager-Al Fresco
Food Director–Sushi Tira-Misu
Director, Financial Planning-Two Fingers (as in “a-one-a,” “a-two-a”) Sabastiani
Director of Protocol & Arbiter of Taste–Marthe Stuarda
Tour Director-Expresso Camino Freeway
Movie & Video Critic-Francois Fjord
Bouncer–Sumo Cum Laude “Big Fish” Sashimi
Chats du Vin Extraordinaire—Hannah Sue & Gracie Mae (The Claret Kitties)
Tristan E. Isolde-Director of Cheap & Trashy Personal Counseling
Enchy Latta—Director of Catering
Jerry Attrick–Senior Citizen Wine Consultant

“God in his greatness sent the grape to cheer both great and small. Little fools will drink too much and big fools none at all.” 


Petaluma Wine Institute vs.The Petaluma Gap


The officers & staff of The Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino (La Centre de l’Experience du Vin de Petaluma) have been in an absolute tizzy about all the talk about The Petaluma Gap Winegrower’s Alliance. Recently, they held  an emergency meeting at the Instituto to discuss the Petaluma Gap.

Just to assure the public, their parole officers were keeping close watch on them.

What follows is a partial transcript of the meeting…


Jerry Attrick–Senior Citizen Wine Consultant:  Hey, did you guys see the latest blog from Frances Rivetti? (Click Here)

Enchy Latta—Director of Catering: No, what’s she talking about now?

Jerry Attrick: The Petaluma Gap Winegrower’s Alliance.

Enchy Latta: So what’s so special ’bout them? They’re no competition for the Instituto!

Frank–Chief Wino &  Solo Vine Manager (We have only one vine root): Wake up, Enchy! They’re for real.  You–and everyone in this room–are fictional characters. They make real wine. You only make and drink fictional wine. If I decide to quit drinking, you’ll all cease to exist!

Jerry Attrick: Quick, get Frank another glass of wine!!

Al Fresco–Restaurant Manager: Well, we may be fictional but business is down and we need to do something to compete with Rivetti and her Petaluma Gap conspirators!!!

Marthe Stuarda–Director of Protocol & Arbiter of Taste: You’re right Al. We need to close the Gap!! We need a Gap of our own!!

Sumo Cum Laude “Big Fish” Sashimi–Insituto Bouncer: How about the Petaluma Street Gap?…

Pet Pothole

Frank: Don’t be ridiculous! I just checked on our solo vine root and found the appellation solution!

It’s obvious!

The Instituto’s new appellation will be…CRACKED ADOBE GAP!!Petaluma Gap 002Petaluma Gap 004

Sushi Tira-Misu–Food Director:  Super name! I’ll start work on the new menus!!

Instituto Vino Advice…Part II

The staff of Petaluma’s Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino has been working deligently to complete a comprehensive response to the request for assistance from Vino Blues in New York City.

Tristan E. Isolde (Director of Cheap & Trashy Personal Counseling) has been heading up this effort. Vino Blues was seeking guidance on how to deal with friends who were, for lack of a better phrase, decidedly cheap. To view a copy of the letter and the initital response of the Instituto, (Click Here) 


Dear Vino Blues:

We are writing in follow-up to our initial response of  July 18, 2009. We will now address your questions in detail.


1.  My husband is pissed off and insulted,…Are these people insane?

First, this is grounds for a duel. Your husband gets his choice of corkscrews; they do not.  We are not sure that they are insane but they are certainly living in a world of their own–must be very lonely. Minnie Da Moocher is sending a card suitable for the event.

2.  Does it get any lower than$4 sparking wine?

The only legitimate use for this product is to christen garbage barges.

3.  Can these people be extraterrestrials?

You do an injustice to extraterrestrials!


How can they be stopped?  Who should they be reported to?  What retaliation does the Instituto suggest?

Now these are serious questions.  Before deciding on a course of action, one must first determine, as best as one can, their motives:

1.  Is it because they can’t afford anything else ?

We believe, based on the information provided, that the answer is “No.”

2. Is it because they genuinely like what others call “cheap” wine?

If the answer is “Yes,” THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO.

If the answer is “No,”  please proceed to Item 3.

3.  Is it because they don’t know any better? Have you, or others, “exposed” them to quality vin ordinaire? If they were exposed to a moderately priced wine (the vin ordinaires exclusively favored by the Instituto) would they detect the difference?  If so, would they admit it?

If the answer is “No,” THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO.

If the answer is that they should know better or have been exposed to the “good stuff” then we’re facing a major problem–They are cheap as opposed to thrifty; they are fixated on price without ANY regard for quality. They would not understand Oscar Wilde when he said: “He knew the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

It is even more serious if they are guzzling Rothschild in private and passing out sparkling wine to their “friends.”


The obvious conclusion is that these are diehard tightwads beyond redemption.  As to whether they are as cheap with themselves as they are in public requires further investigation. We suggest hiring a private detective with 400mm telephoto and night optics to check out their drinking habits.

If, on the other hand, they are capable of some degree of redemption, the Instituto suggests the following tactics:

  • To give them a picture of the dark side of cheap wine, consider a copy of Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury.
  • Drop quotes from Homer: “Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, answered him: ‘Hold me now no longer, that am eager for the way. But whatsoever gift thine heart shall bid thee give me, when I am on my way back let it be mine to carry home: bear from thy stores a gift right goodly, and it shall bring thee the worth thereof in return.’ And whatsoever gift thou wouldest give me, let it be a thing to treasure.  Therefore I will make exchange of the presents, as I may. Of the gifts, such as are treasures stored in my house, I will give thee the goodliest and greatest of price.”

If none of the above works….remember that physical assault is still a felony.  Horace, our counsel, will agree to defend you but please remember that he is very fond of Chateau Fleet Street.


Tristan E. Isolde

Director of Cheap & Trashy Personal Counseling

Petaluma Instituto Wins Vino Award!!

The staff at the Instituto are pleased to announce that we are the recipient of an award for ground breaking vino research.

The anonymous award and equally anonymous prize came in this morning’s mail.

Vino Award

To the Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino for its  ground breaking research on how light-sensitive packaging (a.k.a., “special” bags)  improves the bouquet and legginess of  $2 muscatel – an insouciant little wine with a small, but discriminating following in Flushing, NY.  This research also contributed to the refinement of the unified field theory and cold fusion research in nuclear physics.

Insituto Researcher hard at work on the the next vino project…developing instant wine powder.  Just add water to the little crystals…Publication1

Se son e‘ vero e‘ ben trovato… “If it’’s not true,  it’s essentially true”

Copywrong 2009 by the Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino

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