Category Archives: General Digression

Pregnancy in the Time of Coronavirus

If, at Christmastime, you had asked me what my third trimester would be like, I guarantee guessing that I would be sheltering at home with a global pandemic raging outside would have not even made the list of my top 100 projections.  However, here we are.  California was the first state to issue a stay at home order and between that and the schools closing we have hunkered down to weather the storm.  I’m six weeks from my due date and wondering what the world will look like when my baby boy is born.

I know, for many, these times are difficult and trying.  There is a perceived loss of freedom.  The fearfulness of the disease itself.  The financial worries of the economy.  While I do share many of these concerns, I’ve chosen to focus on the positive aspects of our new normal which, for me, frankly outweigh the negatives of these unusual circumstances.

Spending more time with my family

I feel so blessed during this time of transition from a three-person family to a four person family that I’m able to spend the last few weeks with all three of us together.  The transition to working and schooling from home was not as challenging as I’m sure many are because we run our own business from home.  We immediately set up a “homeschooling” schedule for my oldest son by repurposing the whiteboard that we bought to manage tasks for Trestle Thirty One.  Now it has a tiny American flag taped to the side and sports today’s date, what yesterday was, what tomorrow will be, and the weather today along with the schedule, spelling words, and chores for the day.  The wine business has been relegated to a tiny marked off corner of the board; a small sign of the reprioritization in our lives.

I see so many people commenting on seeing their spouse in “work mode” for the first time.  Brian and I met at work almost 20 years ago.  In fact, our boss at the time, seeing how well we worked together started putting us together on organizing the warehouse and unloading boxes together which eventually led to us dating.  We have very similar working methods although we are totally different in work style. If you follow the DiSC method, I’m an Si and Brian is a CD so together we cover almost the entire range of thought processes.  We have both been working in the wine industry for many years, on occasion at the same companies. We have also been running Trestle Thirty One together for 5 years now so we are pros at working together and in the same spaces.  I really enjoy working next to him now because of the little moments now that I’m pregnant.  His smiles of support while I waddle across the house and quick shoulder rubs after a conference call.  He’s also been incredible as we tag team the “homeschool” work together.  We compare schedules in the morning to make sure we don’t overlap and then trade off on the schedule as the day goes by.  At 5pm the work/school day ends for all of us and we are able to play cards, boardgames, or a rigged up ring toss in the back yard.  These moments of family time are the best!

Work Flexibility

Even though I’m super uncomfortable physically now, I’m able to adjust how and where I’m working in the house to accommodate my needs in a way which would be impossible in my office at work.  I rotate between my balance ball and a dining room chair most of the day but if I need to put my feet up I move to the couch with my lap top.  In the afternoon, I have the option of moving outside to our backyard (luckily the wifi works out there too!) to get some sun and fresh air. Most of my maternity clothes don’t fit at this point and it’s too late in the pregnancy to buy more so working from home gives me the relaxed options in my wardrobe that most late third trimester women only dream about having.

Calendar Shed

Thirdly, the number of cancellations in meetings, events, and general busyness has been such a relief.  Before the stay at home order, I kept waiting each week for the slow down in life which naturally happens when one starts to say “no” to all extracurricular activities and many work ones in the months before the baby comes.  It just never seemed to manifest.  It appeared that I was going to run full steam into the brick wall of labor without having any time to mentally or physically prepare for it.  This made for a very quick pregnancy in hindsight with the weeks rolling on top of each other.  However, my normal pace of life was starting to be exhausting as the time progressed into my third trimester.  I wasn’t sleeping well, only 2-3 hours at any given time. I found myself wandering the house at 2am trying to go back to sleep. For this reason, I find this time to be an absolute blessing.  Things that really needed to get done are getting done and many things that were not as urgent when looked at in the face of the pandemic have been postponed or canceled.  It allowed me to exhale in a way that I haven’t for a long time.  Brian asked me just yesterday if I wanted to get out of the house and go for a drive.  I’ve got to say that urge has never once crossed my mind during this time at home.  Maybe “nesting” in my case is really just that, staying in the nest.

Looking ahead

There are so many unknowns at this point which will unfold over the next 6 weeks.  Will I be able to go to the hospital to give birth or will the risk be too great to both the baby and me? Will we run out of milk? Current limitations on what you can buy at the store are not really conducive to not going to the store frequently and between my son and I, we are drinking a lot of milk. To mask or not to mask? Luckily, we have masks from the fire preparedness kit that I put together after last year’s wildfires, but should we be using them? I’m leaning toward yes at this point.

Finally, what is my line up of wines that I’ll be enjoying post-baby birth? We have a lovely Domaine Carneros Rose that Brian picked up and at least two other bottles of Champagne that were gifts over the past 8 months that have been calling my name.  There will be Pinot Noir of course, and lots of FLX Riesling.  Probably a few Gin based summer cocktails thrown in  (all worked in responsibly around feedings of course).

There is lots to look forward to for all of us.  In the meantime, enjoy the moment with our families, and look for the silver linings whenever possible.

How to Open a Sparkling Wine Bottle with a Broken Cork

This has been an interesting week.  I found myself with a serious problem.  I had chilled a bottle of sparkling wine to have handy if we found ourselves in need of some bubbles.  We normally have at least one in the fridge at all times.  Having just finished our chilled split of Ruffino Prosecco the night before, we didn’t currently have anything open.  My mother in law is in town and she likes to occasionally have a glass of wine with dinner, so I decided to open the next bottle of sparkling wine, a CA sparkling which shall remain nameless due to the issues it caused.

It started like any other sparkling wine opening.  Peel the foil, un-hook the cage, cautiously reposition bottle so one hand is on the top and the other is able to twist the bottom of the bottle.  Normally what happens at this point with a properly chilled bottle of bubbles is that the cork gently pushes out with a quiet “pssssst” and we go on our merry way.  This time the cork didn’t budge.  It didn’t even move a bit!  I gently twisted, then twisted a bit more and out came the cork but no hiss.  Suddenly I realized that only the top part of the cork had twisted off, leaving the small compressed bit inside the bottle of wine.  Several scenarios went through my head, none of them are advisable under normal circumstances and all come with a level of danger that I would not recommend to any person.  Remember, sparkling wine bottles are a grenade in glass and I had just pulled the pin.  I quickly took the bottle outside in our back yard to prevent unnecessary damage to our home and then set about working on getting the bottle open.

  1. Pull the cork out with a corkscrew?

No! This puts your hands and face directly in the path of the pressure coming from the bottle and is extremely dangerous.  Not even I was that crazy!

2.  Try to dislodge the cork by shaking the bottle.

In theory, this should have worked.  I pointed the bottle away from anything and anyone which could have been injured and shook vigorously.  However, I was unsuccessful.

3. Bang the base of the bottle on something hard to dislodge the cork.

I’ve seen this work for still wines so why shouldn’t it work for sparkling.  I fully expected the cork remnant to come flying out.  This was not the case and after denting our stairs, much to my husband’s chagrin since he just built them, I decided to reconsider.

At last I was left with no other option.  I could only saber the bottle open.  There was only one problem.  I had never had the guts to saber one open before.  Of course, like any good wine professional, I knew the theory behind how to make it work but had never actually done it.  I stocked up on safety gear such as safety glasses, an oven mitt, and my apron to protect from flying shards (or at least that’s what I told myself).  I found our large chopping knife and then the seam on the bottle. I turned around to see my mother in law, son, and husband filming me.  Fabulous! If I’m going to die, I might as well get it on video.  I turned my eyes back to the bottle, placed the knife, and prayed.  As I sliced up the neck, along the seam created by the mould, and hit the finish of the bottle.  Off it popped and flew across the lawn. I had successfully solved the problem and my mother in law had her bubbles for the evening!  However DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!!!

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What Do You Do with Leftover Wine?

This is a subject very near and dear to my heart.  Even though I make my living making wine and being surrounded by the alcohol industry, I am not a particularly frequent drinker.  I’ll have 2-3 glasses per week with only one of those typically being on a week night.  Most people are surprised by this.  However, this usually means that I have partial bottles that are open when my husband and I get the urge to open something. Then we are torn as to what to do with the leftover wine.  Inevitably whenever someone brings this question up the industry jokes follow.

“What’s leftover wine?”
“We don’t have that problem in MY house!”

Let’s face it. From a health perspective, unless we have 3-4 people with whom we are sharing the wine a typical bottle should last more than one day.  This is something that is an issue for our industry but so often it gets swept under the rug and having “leftover wine” is something that is ridiculed and laughed at.  So here we go.  Here are two options for wine lovers who want to open those special bottles but don’t want to worry about finishing it before the inevitable exposure to oxygen starts to degrade the wine.

 

The first is called Private Preserve (Buy it here on Amazon.com).  This is one I’ve used for years and is a mix of CO2, Nitrogen, and Argon, three gasses which are very common in wineries.  It is a must have for making white wines at home in carboys and really works well for keeping wines that have been opened from going bad.  I purchased the bottle in this photo two years ago.

“We are starting this journey by reducing the $1.27B of wine that is poured down the drain at home, plus the additional 18-24M bottles dumped at restaurants.” – Ryan Federickson, General manager of ArT-18

The second is called ArT18 Wine Preservation System (Buy it here from the company’s website).  This one is pure Argon and does go farther than the average bottle of Private Preserve because of that.  This one is new to me and was sent to me as a sample to test. Ryan Frederickson, General manager of ArT-18 Wine says “The company I founded has a mission to decrease waste using sustainable technology.  We intend to take this technology to food preservation. We launched ArT Wine Preservation this past December with an engineering background in the argon industry.”

To tested both head to head I had the perfect opportunity when I hosted several fellow MW students who wanted to work on their Practical Exam skills.  I put 3 full mock exams together (36 wines total) ranging from $6.00 per bottle to close to $200.00.  We gassed each of the wines after the exams with one of the two products.  The mock exam weekend was about a month ago and I have been slowly opening the bottles to try them over the past month.

Long story short, both work really well.  Even this evening, after a month a half full bottle of 2010 Haut Medoc  was fresh and very drinkable.  The one wine that did not do well under the preserving gas was a 2003 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru.  Admittedly this one tasted a bit over the hill when it was just opened but after two days under the gas it had started growing a film yeast like coating and going very south flavor wise.  Even the floral white wines which stayed under gas and open in our fridge for 2 weeks were still fresh and drinkable.  The reds we left on our counter with the corks stuck in the bottles and continued to sample them and then re-gas over the past month.

“Even the floral white wines which stayed under gas and open in our fridge for 2 weeks were still fresh and drinkable.”

In conclusion, we should never feel like we need to finish a bottle of wine in one sitting just so it doesn’t go to waste.  With these two home gassing methods, wines can stay fresh for a long period of time and you never have to worry about opening too many bottles to try.