There’s Nothing Pedestrian About A Leisurely Hike

The word “pedestrian” describes a person walking, but it also means “prosaic, plain, commonplace or uninspired,” and for centuries that has cast a negative light on walkers everywhere. From the Latin pedester (on foot), the word once caused much derision (a foot soldier paled in comparison to a cavalry man, for example), meaning not to be on a horse or mobile in any way other than by foot, was to be utterly unremarkable.

The idea of walking through the countryside for pleasure developed in the 18th-century, and arose because of changing attitudes to the landscape and nature, associated with the Romantic Era. Before this time period, walking generally indicated poverty or vagrancy — and was, well, pedestrian. The Romantic Era launched an appreciation of the outdoors, and a slow, leisurely, up-close method of viewing it.

We called this pastime hiking, which in North America is the preferred term for a long, vigorous walk in the countryside. The word hiking is also sometimes used in the United Kingdom, along with rambling, hillwalking, and fell walking. In New Zealand a long, vigorous walk or hike is called tramping, while Australians often call it bushwhacking.

fell walking

Whatever the term, mass mechanized transportation began to erode what the Romantic Era spawned, and greatly curtailed the love of walking and hiking, especially in the United States — which is a shame because the U.S. has more state and national parks (and open space in general), than any other country.

Statistics show that these days Americans prefer not to walk much. Experts recommend that a healthy human take around 10,000 steps per day (that’s the equivalent of about 5 miles). The average American takes about 5,100 steps a day, an embarrassing total when compared to Australians (9,695), Swiss (9,650) and Japanese (7,200). A rural South African woman takes an average of 10,594 steps a day (many while carrying a load), and an Amish man takes about 18,425 steps, making everyone else on the planet look downright sedentary.

There are still plenty of folks who love to hike. For them, there’s a simplicity in walking into the woods to commune with your surroundings. With no distractions or modern conveniences, you can learn a lot about yourself on a hike.

The Central Coast of California is a hiker’s dreamland. From the gorgeous coastline along Highway 1 to Big Sur, to the protected lands of Point Lobos, inland to Carmel Valley’s Garland Ranch Regional Park, hikers can find a range of views, topographies and wildlife.

After the sheer beauty, what makes hiking in these parts so appealing is the weather; dry summers, sunny and warm fall harvest months, a fresh, mild spring that produces verdant hills replete with wildflowers, and temperate, green winters. It creates a long season for those who want to explore.

With 400 acres, Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley specializes in multi-day retreats and single-day off-site events that feature unique event spaces and amazing activities, including hiking on property, where you’ll encounter vineyards, agriculture, mountains, olive groves, horses, flora, fauna, and so much more.

Nothing pedestrian about that.

Dancing Can Lead To Romance — And Wedding Bells

Going on a first date can often feel a lot like a job interview. You sit down to dinner, ask and answer awkward questions, squirm in your seat and try not to look nervous.

Instead you could be dancing.

Alex and Alyssa Pagonis know the power of dance. The two met on a mission trip to Figi and “it was love at first sight on the dance floor of the resort we were staying at,” said Alyssa.
Their first date upon returning home? Dinner and dancing (of course) in San Francisco.

After many dates and many dances, Alex proposed while the two sat overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. “I was living in San Francisco while we were dating, and we grew to love the city together,” she said.


Alex and Alyssa married on Aug. 4 of 2014 at Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley. They chose Holman Ranch for its beautiful grounds, friendly staff and the couple’s ability to customize the wedding with vendors of their choice.

Of course, they had DJ and plenty of dancing.

“During the dancing, we played a couple of Greek songs,” said Alyssa, a decision to honor her husband’s heritage. Alex’s mom and his theias (Greek for aunts) baked some delicious Greek cookies for the dessert bar, too.

For Alex and Alyssa, it all started on the dance floor. So why waste another evening at a restaurant or in the movie theater when you and your date could be grooving to some music? Dancing is a great way to discover any potential chemistry between you and your date. You become one another’s partner, instead of just two people on a date. And participating in something active like dancing releases endorphins that elevate mood and generate positive feelings. Combine that with some fun music and you’ve got an experience that will curb any first date jitters while allowing people to be themselves.

Other reasons why dancing is a good idea for a date:
• Dance is the universal icebreaker. No talking is required because the music fills the airspace between you. All you need to do is smile and be natural, not trying to do too much — especially if it’s beyond your skill level.
• It can ignite passion. Dance is an exciting way to get to know each other. It fosters respect for both partners and forces you to let your guard down by just having fun. Being in close proximity to your date, making eye contact, and learning the way each other’s bodies move can be very alluring.
• It’s easy. People of all ages, sizes and experience levels can dance. Dance studios host private and group lessons for every level of expertise from beginner to expert.

Couple: Alex and Alyssa Pagonis
Wedding Date: Aug. 3, 2014
Guest Count: 182
Other Vendors
Wedding Planner: Dreams on a Dime, Jessica Goldblatt
Caterer: Paradise Catering
Photographer: Dave Medal Photography
Videographer: Ellay Films
DJ/Band/Musicians: Sound in Motion
Bakery: Gizdich Ranch Pies
Hair and Makeup: M.U.A.H. Makeup and Hair
Florist: Loop Flowers and Event Arts

A Qualified Farrier A Necessity For All Horse Owners

“No hoof, no horse” isn’t just an old proverb. Equine experts estimate that 70 percent of all lameness experienced by horses is caused by hoof-related problems. Neglecting proper horse hoof care can allow problems such as thrush, canker, abscesses, cracks and laminitis to develop and worsen.

That’s where farriers become an important member of a horse-care team.

A farrier is a specialist in equine hoof care, including the trimming and balancing of horses’ hooves and the placing of shoes on their hooves, if necessary. A farrier combines some blacksmith’s skills (fabricating, adapting, and adjusting metal shoes) with some veterinarian’s skills (knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the lower limb) to care for horses’ feet.


Farrier comes from “ferrarius,” a Latin word meaning “of iron” or “blacksmith,” which explains why farriers are so often confused for being blacksmiths.

Historically, the jobs of farrier and blacksmith were practically synonymous. A farrier’s work in Colonial America or pre-Industrial Revolution Europe would have included shoeing horses, as well as the fabrication and repair of tools, the forging of architectural pieces, and so on.

There’s a lot involved in the work of a modern farrier, including knowledge of biomechanics, sculpting, locomotion, anatomy and, of course, blacksmithing. A farrier has to be able read how a horse moves, how it gaits, read wear patterns on hooves and how it all relates to the limbs.

Additional tasks for the farrier include dealing with injured or diseased hooves and application of special shoes for racing, training or cosmetic purposes. Horses with certain diseases or injuries may need remedial procedures for their hooves, or need special shoes.

Acting as veterinarians, farriers care for hooves by watching for signs of disease or other ill-health. They also perform the following tasks:

Farriers maintain hooves by keeping them trimmed. A young horse should get its first hoof trim at three months of age, before the cartilage has set, to prevent problems such as pigeon-toeing. Using tools such as rasps and nippers, farriers cut away the hoof material. This allows the horse to maintain foot balance by keeping the feet at the proper shape and length.

Hygiene is important, especially for animals confined and allowed to continually walk over the same ground where they urinate and defecate. This underlines the importance of farriers cleaning the feet and cutting out excess hoof walls.

Most domesticated horses need horseshoes because their hooves harden less than in the wild, they’re not walking on hard surfaces as often and their hooves don’t naturally wear themselves down as much.

Farriers also apply horseshoes as a corrective measure to improve a horse’s gait and to help an animal gain traction when walking in slippery conditions such as ice. Not all horses need shoes. It all depends on how often the person rides the animal and what type of environment they live in. If you ride a horse less than three times week, you can probably get without shoes. Racehorses and performance horses obviously need shoes.

The farrier trade has been passed down from the days of Romans. In the second millennium, Asians were putting leather sandals on their horses.

For more information on farriers, or to find one in your area, visit For a great local place to board your horse please see

The Best Wine Pairing For Turkey Day? Pinot Noir

Nearly 90 percent of all Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving, translating to 46 million birds roasted and dressed and put on our tables each year.

Historians believe the turkey to be an odd choice as our centerpiece, given that turkey was not part of the first Thanksgiving meal in 1621 at Plymouth Rock. The stately bird gained traction as the Thanksgiving meal of choice for Americans not long after President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863.

It made sense. The turkey is big enough to feed a large family. Unlike chickens or cows, they didn’t serve much utilitarian purpose such as laying eggs or producing milk. And unlike pork, turkey wasn’t so common that it didn’t seem like a suitable choice for a special occasion.

So turkey became an autumn staple. The question for Americans then became: What is the best wine to pair with this bird?

According to noted wine blogger Steve Stacionis, and a majority of other wine experts, pinot noir fits the bill perfectly on Turkey Day.

holman ranch pinot noir

“If it’s a red you’re after, I’d bet most heavily on a Pinot Noir. Lighter in body and softer on the palate than something like a Cabernet or a Merlot, California Pinot Noir’s plush, easy berry fruit is just the right match for poultry and all your T-Day fixings,” he writes.

Pinot Noir is one of the most versatile, food-friendly red wines because it contains soft tannins and a fresh burst of tart acidity. Pinot also has herbal notes that complement all the sage, thyme, and fennel in a Thanksgiving feast, and an earthiness that brings out the best in gravies and stuffing.

Pinot remains such a favorite at the Thanksgiving table due to a number of other factors:
• It is generally light to medium bodied, the opposite of full-bodied wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, which can easily overpower a turkey-based meal. And because a traditional Thanksgiving meal usually lasts 2-3 hours, you want to avoid the heavier wines that can make guests tired and sleepy (most people blame the turkey for this).
• It is characterized by its vibrant, juicy red and black cherry characteristics, which can really enhance the succulence of the turkey, stuffing, gravy and all the accoutrements.
• It has bright acidity and gentle tannins. The high acid of the wine helps bring out the juiciness in the turkey, and will cut through the heaviness of the gravy, and it will also cozy up to that American tradition of green bean casserole. The low tannic nature of this varietal helps it pair well with green veggies such as Brussels sprouts.

Growing pinot noir grapes is not easy, but Monterey County does it as well or better than any other region in the world. The warmth of the inland valleys coupled with the cooling marine layer from the coast creates ideal conditions.

At Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley, their Burgundy clones have thrived from the perfect blend of ideal climate, southern exposure and thin rocky soils, and they produce six different pinot noirs.

Now pinot lovers everywhere have the opportunity to put their taste buds to the test and enjoy these six amazing wines side by side. Pick one, or all six, to enjoy at your Thanksgiving table. The Holman Ranch Pinot Noir Tasting Experience is available in store or online, for a total cost of $180.

Find out more at

Proposing At A Restaurant?

Popping the question while dining at a restaurant has become tradition among grooms-to-be. According to The, nearly 60 percent of women said they would want to be asked at the site of their first date, while 31 percent said they’d want to say yes at their favorite restaurant, or one they’ve always wanted to try.

Naoki Nakata decided to propose to his beloved Roxanna Veloso on Valentine’s Day at an Asian fusion restaurant in Burlingame, Calif., called Archipelago.

“We always talked about trying the restaurant one day so I decided to take her there and surprise her by proposing at the same time,” he said.

She said yes (of course) and the two eventually married in April of 2014 as 120 guests witnessed the ceremony at Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley.


They chose Holman Ranch for “the warm, cozy feeling from the venue, its aesthetic and style, and the breathtaking scenery above the vineyard where we had our photo-shoot mid-wedding event.”

And it all started in a restaurant, where a nervous Naoki asked the most important question of his life. A restaurant offers the groom (or bride) a calming influence, and he or she can lean of the staff for help.

So whether you’re thinking of asking for someone’s hand at a corner taqueria over a burrito, or heading to the big city for a one-night, no-expense-spared surprise meal, here are some tips.

1. If You’re Going to Do It Over Dinner, Do It Out
Proposing is stressful enough. If you do it in a restaurant, asking aside, there is nothing the proposer has to worry about, according to Megan Vaughan, service director at Eleven Madison Park (below, left). “Unlike at home, you don’t have to cook, there is no wine pairing to fret over, and you’ll be doted on to ensure the evening is something you both will never forget.” Louis Risoli, a 30-year veteran of L’Espalier in Boston’s Back Bay, thinks it’s also fun for the couple. “Why not combine this special event with a special place, doing something you both enjoy greatly?”

Even though you’ll have the restaurant team on your side, don’t forget to add your own signature touch, advises Chad Bertelsman, senior dining room manager at Chicago’s Spiaggia. “Proposing in a restaurant has become part of our culture,” says Bertelsman. “The best proposals include something that is special to the couple from their time together — a photograph of a trip taken together, a special poem, a favorite flower.” Just as if you were proposing somewhere else, it’s these little details that matter most if you want to make the moment truly unique.

2. Get the Restaurant to Work With You
The first thing to do is get the restaurant on your side. Contact them and explain what you’re envisioning. “Ask them if there is special seating they would recommend, perhaps something a bit secluded,” says Risoli. If unfamiliar with the restaurant, Bertelsman suggests asking them what table they’d recommend. “Most of us have handled thousands of proposals and can help advise and inspire you.” Once the management knows, they will often work with you to make special requests — like pouring Champagne right after s/he (hopefully!) accepts — happen. Others will also do something special just for the occasion adds Vaughan, like giving the couple an exclusive tour of the kitchen or preparing a special course, or series of courses, that isn’t on the menu.

3. When to Propose
It’s common for the question to be popped over dessert, while others just want to get it over with and share the meal with their betrothed in the know. Risoli agrees. “The proposer is bound to be very nervous beforehand, and is unlikely to enjoy anything until the ring is on the finger! I always recommend doing it earlier in the meal, perhaps after ordering, but before the food arrives.”

Bertelsman recalls one man who planned to propose over dessert who was so nervous, he was drinking Scotch to manage the stress. “His girlfriend noticed he was drinking more than usual and began to question him. He of course got defensive, she got mad and left — all the while the ring was still in the restaurant’s safe.”

Remember, the restaurant is on your side here, so let them know your plan. They’ll be on the lookout, delaying the meal, popping open a bottle of Champagne, whatever you want and need to make the event as memorable and personal as you wish. Too nervous about figuring out when the “right” time will be? Let them take it off your hands completely. “Many proposers will give the ring to the restaurant manager in advance and it brought to the table at a specified time, perhaps on a small domed tray, with a beautiful flower or two,” adds Risoli.

4. Ways to Make it Memorable
When proposing, how it’s done and the small details are what make for lasting memories. Vaughan recalls one more unconventional proposal where the man wanted to pop the question dressed in a full server uniform. He had asked his girlfriend’s boss to take her to lunch. Once seated, he approached the table with a tray of hors d’oeuvres — and the ring. She was so immersed in conversation she didn’t even realize it was him until he started talking — and got down on one knee. (And yes, the boss left the two of them to have lunch together.)

Bertelsman remembers one particularly lavish proposal with a carefully selected eight-course tasting menu. The ring — along with a great bottle of Champagne and a dozen roses — was served first, but with each subsequent course, a dozen more roses were presented. While there was room for the 90 roses at the end of the meal, when they left to get in the horse-drawn carriage, she only took one stem.

5. Important Advice to Heed
Aside from making sure your loved one will say yes (which is somewhat out of your control), call the restaurant the day before and re-confirm any plans. Checking, and triple checking, that everything will go as planned will let you rest just a bit easier. Bertelsman and Risoli agree that keeping the moment private, just between the two of you, is best. Bertelsman adds, “don’t bring your mom, your best friend, or your attorney. I’ve seen all three.”

The Dos And Don’ts Of Planning Off-Site Corporate Events

Off-site meetings can be a great way for companies to brainstorm ideas, strengthen professional relationships, resolve communication issues, gain a renewed commitment to company goals and get everyone’s creative juices flowing again.

In a recent national survey of more than 600 business professionals, 63 percent say meetings outside of the office are more productive, and 67 percent say they would book meetings outside of their normal workspace to enhance their company’s image.


However, an off-site meeting that is not well-planned can be a disaster. All it takes is one botched trust-building exercise, a lineup of truly horrid banquet food or a venue that is too noisy or distracting to erode all the good feelings about getting away and getting down to work.

Here are some helpful tips for planning a successful off-site meeting:
• Anchor the meeting with goals that actually mean something to the business. Be sure to think about the off-site strategically, making it more than just an employee bonding exercise. With planning it can became an opportunity to generate new ideas and help employees grow in accordance with company guidelines.
• The physical surroundings of your off-site meeting can make an enormous difference. Hotels and conference centers are great locations, but they’re not the only options — and can create distractions. Look for comfort, convenience, peacefulness and efficiency. Don’t assume a “creative” location will automatically inspire your team to greater creativity. In short, pick a venue that allows your employees to focus on the meeting.
• When selecting your meeting site, be sure to take a tour of the facility beforehand, including the “back of the house.” Check for ample storage space for supplies, secure areas for employees to put their belongings and a sufficient number of clean restrooms. Of course, the venue must also provide ample meeting spaces and a place to gather for meals.
• Don’t forget the fun. Just because this is a business meeting, don’t neglect the recreational opportunities. Build time into the day’s schedule to allow employees to take advantage of these extras.
• Be sure to determine your budget ahead of time. Expenses to consider: transportation, facility rental, equipment rental, accommodations, catering, and possibly the cost of hiring a guest speaker or entertainer.
• Create a detailed schedule and determine the event needs beforehand. Be conscious of production needs, food orders, printing, and anything else that needs to be thought out before the meeting day.
• Build in travel time to and from the site, and set an agenda with that in mind. Also ensure that everyone has appropriate transportation to get to the meeting on time. Decide up front whether you want the day to be a high-intensity, nose-to-the-grindstone event, a laid-back and relaxing retreat, or a balanced program combining a bit of each.
• Circulate a pre-retreat agenda that lets employees know the objectives for the off-site meeting. This will provide everyone with an opportunity to prepare and ensure full and constructive participation. Consider giving pre-meeting homework that employees need to bring to the meeting.

With 400 acres, including a working vineyard, olive grove and oak-studded hills, Holman Ranch in sunny, tranquil Carmel Valley specializes in multi-day retreats and single-day off-site events that feature unique event spaces, engaging activities and more. This unique property offers an idyllic environment, elegant style, executive services and contemporary technologies to make any corporate retreat memorable.

Team-building possibilities include skeet shooting, roping, scavenger hunts and poker nights. Holman Ranch offers a fully appointed executive boardroom, wi-fi access, audio-visual equipment and many other amenities.

Find out more at .

Equine Massage Therapy Greatly Enhances Overall Health Of Horses

Full-body massage therapy treatment for a horse may sound unessential and perhaps a bit excessive, but research has shown it can greatly aid the muscular and physiologic systems.

Hands-on therapies, including massage, acupressure and joint mobilization, are one of the fastest growing equine therapy categories. Many schools offer certification programs in the areas of animal and companion massage, and many are approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (be sure to ask for credentials before hiring a massage therapist for your horse).

Equine massage uses the hands, fingers and elbows of the therapist, as well as other tools, including tennis balls. During the massage, the soft tissue is manipulated with the goal of loosening tight muscles, joints, tendons, scar tissue and edema; increasing blood flow and lymphatic activity; and reducing stress. Equine massage is used in exercise warm-up and post-injury or surgery rehabilitation, and will give a skilled therapist great insight into the state of muscular problem areas.

It is always advisable to have a veterinary consultation regarding any injury, however it is not feasible for your vet to spend an hour or more massaging your horse. A skilled and certified Equine Massage Therapist can help determine the root cause of muscular problems and offer valuable information to your vet or other equine care providers.

horse massage

Here are a few of the benefits of equine massage therapy:
• Relieves tension and muscles spasms.
• Dilates blood vessels and improves circulation, which promotes more rapid healing of injuries.
• Enhances muscle tone and range of motion, and stretches connective tissue
• Increases potential performance and endurance.
• Reduces inflammation and swelling in the joints.
• Increases the production of synovial fluid in the joints.
• Lengthens connective tissue and breaks down/prevents the formation of adhesions.
• Helps extend the good health and lifespan of a horse.
• Helps drain sluggish lymph material.
• Lessens stiffness and swelling.
• Has a stimulating or sedative effect on nervous system.
• Brings awareness to the area being massaged.

Although massage can greatly benefit the lives and health of all horses, it’s especially needed in horses that exhibit the following symptoms or behaviors:
• Head tossing
• Refusal to pick-up correct lead
• Unexplained lameness
• Difficulty with lateral movements
• Girthing or “cold back” problems
• Lack of forward impulsion

Aside from its physical benefits, massage speaks to the nervous system in such a way that a horse will experience a significant state of relaxation and mental clarity as well. Any horse in a constant state of mental stress will never perform to its full potential.
Annual massages do not address underlying issues, and the horse never reaps the benefits. Regular massages not only benefit the horse, they benefit the horse owner in these ways:
• A decrease in vet visits, saving you time and money, and increasing time in the saddle.
• A competitive horse that moves more efficiently, with less pain, can achieve more on the track or in the arena.
• A horse that recovers more quickly from workouts provides you with a willing horse to ride.
• You may have a much happier horse with a better work attitude, making your daily ride a pleasure rather than a fight.

Whether you ride for pleasure or performance, equine massage is a simple addition to your horse’s health care program. It may seem luxurious and expensive (a 90-minute massage averages about $150, depending on the provider), but science has shown that horses respond well to initial treatment, while consistent massage builds positive effects over the long, happy life of your horse.

Japanese And Jewish Cultures Come Together In Beautiful, Poignant Ceremony

carl and felice 2

In America, interracial couplings are no longer a mere curiosity. In fact, the 2010 Census revealed that 1 in 10 married couples are now mixed race, the highest level in our history.

Love is indeed blind, and people are merging race, culture and religion to create a fusion of something different and new. While many Americans ease into these relationships without concern, the marriage (starting with the wedding ceremony) can cause a culture clash as parents and family members lobby for their own traditions and cultural mandates.

carl and felice 3

To pull it off, it requires patience and consideration — and knowledge and understanding of each family’s desires. If done appropriately, the ceremony can be quite moving and enlightening.

Carl Gebhardt and Felice Barash found the process easy and inspirational as each family came together to help blend the cultures seamlessly as an outdoor ceremony in June of 2014 at Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley. Carl’s heritage is Japanese and Felice is Jewish, two disparate cultures to be sure.

“We had a lot of culture in our wedding!” said Felice. “We incorporated both Jewish and Japanese traditions into our day.”

Carl’s sister Amy made the couple a beautiful piece of art out of 1,001 paper cranes. In Japanese culture, the crane is a symbol of longevity and prosperity, and so 1,001 gold origami cranes are folded to bring luck, good fortune, longevity, fidelity, and peace to the marriage.

carl and felice 1

His family also constructed the couple a chuppah, a traditional Jewish canopy.

“We were under the stunning chuppah that Carl’s family made for us, sharing our personal vows and there was so much emotion and love,” Felice said. “We had an unplugged ceremony, we asked that all guests kindly put away their cameras and cell phones and be fully present and in the moment with us. It was perfect. We will never forget the ceremony, the gorgeous view from the ceremony is as beautiful as it gets.”

The couple also took time to thank their parents by giving them flowers, which is an old Japanese tradition. And instead of champagne they toasted with sake during a ritual called san-san-kudo. It is performed by the bride and groom along with both sets of parents. Each person takes three sips of sake from each of three cups. The first three represent three couples, the bride and groom, and their parents. The second three represent three human flaws: hatred, passion, and ignorance. “Ku,” or 9 ,is a lucky number in Japanese culture. And “do” means deliverance from the three flaws.

“We were married under a chuppah and had Jewish traditions guiding the ceremony with circling, blessings over wine, and breaking the glass,” she said. “Of course we danced the horah (a circle dance traditionally performed at Jewish weddings and other joyous occasions).”

Carl and Felice met and became friends while attending Mission San Jose High School in Fremont before graduating in 2002.

“We started dating a few years later in 2005 when I was home for summer break from college, and the rest is history!” she said.

Their first date was at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse.

“I joined him for a friend’s birthday party and we shared a pizookie,” she said. “We went on four dates that week and couldn’t get enough of each other.”

A pizookie is a hybrid term for pizza-cookie — the perfect metaphor for a perfectly suitable couple.

Other Wedding Vendors:
Wedding Planner: Allison Silber of Engaged and Inspired
Caterer: Paradise Catering
Photographer: Jasmine Lee Photography
Videographer: Our friends who brought their Go Pros!
DJ/Band/Musicians: Jon Belmont of Belmont Entertainment
Bakery: Our friends and family provided home baked goods for our
dessert bar
Hair and Makeup: Gina Fernandez of Skin by Gina
Transportation: Main Event

The Anything But Chardonnay Revolt Changed The Wine World

The Chardonnay grape produces a juice that, when fermented, yields wine notes of crisp, tart (some say sour) green apple and tropical notes such as pineapple.

A secondary fermentation can transform those tart malic acid notes into lactic acid notes of butter and cream. Holding the wine in oak barrels can impart additional flavors of oak, toast, clove, caramel, butterscotch and vanilla. And if the juice is allowed to ferment AND age in oak barrels, a more intense oak flavor becomes prominent.

In the 1980s, when large California winemakers such as Kendall-Jackson began making bold, buttery Chardonnay, others followed suit, and consumers came to expect all Chardonnays to taste creamy and oaky. Soon, other wineries were hiding the varietal character of Chardonnay, the unique fruit notes, by increasing their use of malolactic fermentation and oak aging.

The country was awash in rivers of Chardonnay, and the masses demanded it in amazing volumes.

But then, around the start of the new millennium, savvy wine drinkers staged a revolt, calling themselves ABC drinkers, with ABC standing for Anything But Chardonnay. They discovered other varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chenin Blanc, Marsanne, Riesling, Gewurtztraminer, Viognier, Pinot Gris — anything with fruit notes and some acidity.

Over the course of the last five years, however, wineries have decided that malolactic fermentation and oak aging do not have to be employed with every Chardonnay.

Suddenly, the once homogeneous Chardonnay had many different styles and personalities, with some wineries foregoing malolactic fermentation or putting only a portion of their Chardonnay juice through malolactic while blending it with single-fermentation juice. Others now hold their fruit in stainless steel tanks instead of oak barrels to allow the fruit to shine, or hold some of their juice in stainless and some in oak to blend the juices.

Happily, winemakers are now using these tools in varying ways to create wines that are unique and appealing.

For example, Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley makes a rich yet crisp Chardonnay with all of the elements of Old World styling. A bright finish with notes of toasted nuts and warm brioche follow hints of brown grass and cinnamon on the nose. Completely balanced and medium bodied, the Holman Ranch Chardonnay pairs well with food.

To take it even further, Holman makes what it calls a Virgin Chardonnay. This unoaked wine is cold-fermented in stainless steel tanks and unveils light aromas of minerals and fresh summer flowers on the nose. The clean, crisp finish offers a refreshing wine, full of citrus that’s perfect for a warm day.

Chardonnay, once boring and predictable, is now full of character and nuance — and fun to taste! And the guerrilla ABC movement has all but disappeared.

‘Chance Encounters’ Lead To Love And Marriage

Our thanks to One Love Photography for their stunning photographs…

one love photography 6

How does a man show interest in a woman without crossing the line into stalker territory? For Michael O’Brien, he took the direct approach when it came to meeting his beautiful neighbor living in a lower duplex unit in Newport Beach.

“I was eating dinner on the patio with my roommates and Michael introduced himself,” said Kris Rusert. “They recalled the situation as he ‘bee-lined’ for me, and they made jokes about how it would be mentioned at our future wedding.”

Kris wasn’t thinking wedding right then, but wondered how she kept running into her new neighbor through “chance” encounters at the beach.

one love photography 5

“He’d do random drop-byes, until we finally made official plans to hang out,” she said.

Michael avoided stalker territory, but he underwent an aggressive pursuit of the woman of his dreams — a woman he would later marry in March of 2014 at Holman Ranch.
And, yes, the story of Michael’s “bee-line” toward Kris was repeated several times that day.

For their first official date, the couple actually stayed in and made dinner, “which is essentially exactly how we are as a couple now,” Kris said. “It was around Michael’s birthday and we whipped up quite a little feast in celebration. It was fun to cook together and really get to talking about our lives and families.”

one love photography 4

Later the couple moved from Newport Beach to Northern California for Michael’s job and the two loved to spend time in local parks.

“Cuesta Park in Mountain View was such a fun location to picnic, jog and walk the dog,” Kris said. “We would go there almost every weekend. In September right before moving into San Francisco, Michael suggested doing a picnic there. I didn’t think much of it since it was such a part of our life. Well, that night started like a normal evening and ended with him asking me to marry him. It’s a day and a place we will never forget.

The couple knew Holman Ranch was the perfect wedding venue for them from the moment they stepped foot onto the grounds.

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“Holman Ranch takes your breath away,” Kris said. “I wanted a location that required little design and it did exactly that. It’s magical.”

The couple loved how they could transition throughout the property for the event. “Every part of the property unfolds a new perspective,” Kris said. “The town (Carmel Valley) is very charming and was a great destination for our guests.”

Because their family and friends are so important in their lives, Michael and Kris felt overwhelmed emotionally. “Seeing everyone you love from different parts of life come together in one space is truly hard to explain,” Kris said.

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To honor their family and their traditions, Michael and Kris included a few blessings — one during the ceremony and one before dinner. Their pastor gave a traditional Irish blessing during the ceremony to honor the O’Brien family’s Irish heritage. Then Kris’ father Mike blessed the dinner with a prayer both the bride and groom had recited with each of their families growing up.

“Our families had a slightly different version, but it was really neat to hear a moment when both families said a familiar prayer in unison,” Kris said. “That day we really saw the unity and love amongst our families.”

The one wedding memory that stands out for the new Mr. and Mrs. O’Brien is being announced as husband and wife.

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“That is literally the happiest moment of your life,” Kris said. “We felt such ease walking back down the aisle and we had never been happier. The rest of the night you just float, at the best party you’ve ever been to, with everyone you love.”

Other wedding vendors:
Caterer: Paradise Catering
Photographer: One Love Photography
DJ/Band/Musicians: DNA Entertainment, DJ Darion
Bakery: Patisserie Bechler
Hair: Brooke Burdett
Makeup: Janelle Walker
Flowers: Whitney Rose Events


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