Goat Song, a delightful memoir stirring my pastoral urges

66026854fad5011318f9646d5aa26366Goats are cute, add in a bit of attitude and that they are the source of chèvre, and they are wonderful. I had a milk goat once, my boys drank goats milk for a couple of years. Brad Kessler’s Goat Song: Seasonal Life, A Short History of Herding, and the Art of Cheese Making  triggered warm memories of morning and evening milking chores from all those years past.

Goats have assumed various roles throughout history, Kessler’s novelist writing skills makes these stories come alive. Goats have been connected with poverty, with Satan, and a myriad of other odd ideas. BUT goats have been the means of existence for many peoples in many lands, and like I said goats are cute.

Brad and Dona Kessler bought a run-down farm/orchard in Virginia. They wanted goats. Hannah the queen of the herd, and Lizzie were their first two goats. For them to have milk and cheese they first needed kids. His account of breeding and birth is poignant and sensitive, yet it will be foreign, even challenging, to those who have lived only an urban life.

Hannah and Lizzie provided them with their milk, goats milk is responsible for so much of the good cheese in the world. Kessler writes of the wonderful first batch of creamy cheese and the evening they spent eating it. TheWinsketcher could only think of which wines would have fit.

This is a good read, a pleasant diversion. Like a walk through pastoral fields in the midst of this crazy world. A reminder that food is not from a factory but from the earth and the herds, try as we might we are in the end connected to both.

Memorable Winery Visits of 2014

A warm summer evening, a serendipitous encounter, a surprise birthday party, a missed release event, and some much needed winding down, each produced one of five memorable winery visits in 2014. One was in Woodinville in early summer, three were in Eastern Washington in August, and the last was Oregon in December.

Torii Mor Winery, from the Dundee Hills of Oregon, opened a tasting room in Woodinville, Washington in 2014; one of  the first Oregon producers with a tasting room in Washington. They bring excellent offerings of the Pinot Noirs that have made the Yamhill wine area famous to Washington, a bold move for sure.

A few weeks after opening they held a party, Washington club members, of which there are many, brought friends, and other folks to whom Torii Mor was unknown joined them. It was a simple affair that showcased why I am enamored with wineries – great wine and interesting people. We met new friends, even discovered that some old acquaintances were Torii Mor fans. The party was a success, and the evening memorable.

Visiting wineries while on business trips is one of the advantages of being theWinesketcher. August 2014 took me to Toppenish, Washington to teach communication and time management, the schedule was such that I had two half-days to explore the Rattlesnake Hills Wine region east of Yakima. My objective this day was Dineen Wines, I had met one of the owners while sketching at Bonair the day before and she invited me to stop by the tasting room. When I got there it was closed, but being in the mood for a glass of wine and my paints I set off exploring.

2014-09-14 16.47.23A mile or so down the road I spotted an easel-sign pointing up a gravel road through an apple orchard, Reflection Vineyards, and the tasting room was open. I spent an hour or so sketching while sipping their Viognier. I wrote a blog, you can read it here. Reflection Vineyards is one of our favorites these days.

Just days later my wife and I were on a trip to the Prosser area for my birthday. We planned to stop at Kestrel’s Prosser Tasting room to pick up a club shipment, and to have a picnic on their patio. We were just settling in by the fountain when our simple picnic turned into a surprise birthday party with the arrival of Brian and Anita, they made a special trip just to join us, they are great friends.

imageWhile I was traveling that month, Tricia attended a release event at Bunnell in Woodinville. She was so impressed that she took me back the next Friday. We had what amounted to a private tasting, in part because they forgot to turn the sign from closed to open until we were about done. The wine was amazing, the cheese and olives fit, and the conversation entertaining. The best part, they decided to show some of my artwork.

By the time Christmas is over each year I am tired and ready for quiet, and intimacy. Catching up with family and friends is fun, but draining, always lots of energy and emotion. We drove to Canby, Oregon to see my granddaughter and her new husband, exchanged presents, and had a spirited Nerf gun battle. Then Tricia and I headed for Ponzi. We had a club shipment to pick up, which was actually just a good excuse to have some Chardonnay and cheese. Their new tasting room is comfortable, with an amazing view; it was just what theWinesketcher needed to close out the year.

I am sure I have quoted my uncle Farquhar before, and probably will again but it fits this year. His opinion on pie was that, “It’s all good, but some’s just better than others.” Well most wines and wineries are good, but some’s just better than others.” For me in 2014 these are a few that stood out.