A global cocoa shortage threatens to put a damper on the good tidings and cheer, as worldwide demand for chocolate outstrips the waning production in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, which produce more than 70 percent of the world’s mass-market cocoa.
Last year we highlighted Sacramento’s newest design superstars, just in time for the holidays (“Fresh Perspective,” by Kibkabe Araya, December 2013). Here’s a look at what they’ve been up to over the past year.
Several records broken, many legs shaken and few bodies unbruised by the end of this year’s California International Marathon. About 15,000 participants ran a grueling 26.2 miles in the Sacramento Running Association’s CIM. Over 50,000 spectators cheered runners on along the downhill course last Sunday.
You might say the old grapevines look otherworldly. With their contorted limbs and thick trunks, these Zinfandel vines look more like squat alien-trees, twisting up out of a sandy 3-acre spit of land in southwest Lodi. “Look how this vine is growing here,” says Stuart Spencer, owner of St. Amant Winery. He’s standing in the dirt at nearby Marian’s Vineyard, pointing to a vine with a hole as big as a fist. “The vine just splits over time.”
Zinfandel from Lodi’s Mokelumne River American Viticultural Area comes in two main styles: west side and east side. West-side vineyards, with their shallower soil, have lusher growth and tend to be earthier or loamier, sometimes pungently compost-like. East-side vineyards have a lower water table, producing smaller clusters and smaller fruit, which generally have more color, tannin and acidity.
The wine tasting room at Harmony Wynelands in Lodi was built with a far different purpose. Bob Hartzell, an aficionado of old-fashioned theater pipe organs and former president of the California Winegrape Growers Association, built the hall to house his pride and joy – a 1921 organ that was once installed in the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. The room’s acoustics are specially designed to show off the organ’s commanding sound.
In a makeshift distillery tucked into a Rancho Cordova business park, Greg Baughman mashes and ferments batches of his Wheel House American Dry Gin using a still he designed and built himself, a gleaming vision of stainless steel and copper. But actually sell you a bottle? For that he needs to hire a middleman due to regulatory hurdles dating back to Prohibition.
Bartenders around the region have provided us with their best bets for holiday cocktails featuring gin, rye and bourbon — spirits that are now being produced locally by craft distillers.
At the crush pad of a custom-built winery, the 6-foot-4 winemaker in tie-dye socks shuts off the forklift, realizing he missed a call.
“I didn’t hear my phone ring,” says Layne Montgomery, 55, general manager and founding partner of m2 Vintners Inc. in Acampo.
“It’s harvest,” jests one of his volunteers. “Who has time for a phone?”
Sacramento is America’s Farm-to Fork capital for many reasons: fresh, seasonal food available year-round, almost 8,000 acres of boutique farms, and the largest Certified Farmers’ Market in California. Last month, Slow Food Sacramento recognized seven local businesses for their commitment to providing products and services that use regionally grown seasonal produce, honoring them with the Snail of Approval award and decal.