Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pigs and Pinot

Pork goes well with Pinot Noir, there is no arguing that fact. We have learned a lot about Pinot the past few years during our adventures. But what about pork? I figured why not find out more about our wine's favorite companion. I took a 1-day pig slaughter and butchery class from the folks at TLC Ranch in Aromas.

my new friend

I have to admit I was a bit nervous about this class. Guts are not my thing and there was a serious barf/passout fear factor. Luckily I knew 2 of my classmates and we psyched each other up on our Saturday morning trip to Monterey County.

how could i not do this?

The ranch owner, Jim, was extremely cool, personable and knowledgeable. He explained to the 10 of us how he operates his farm, the types of pigs he raises, how they are treated and how their lives end. Our project pig was small and cute. His death, a single .22 shot to head and then a slit throat, was quick and not very gruesome. He was submerged in warm water for a few minutes to loosen his hair, and then the scrapping began. We all took turns removing every last bit of hair from the pig and it was at that point the class felt a sense of camaraderie. To keep this post on the non-graphic side, let's just say we made a few more cuts and guts were spilled.

big ones!

After the pig was hanging to dry, Jim took us on a tour of his farm. We spent time with a group of very pregnant sows and gilts, they are like giant dogs. We then ate a great pork based lunch and proceeded to learn to how to butcher a whole pig.

I learned a lot about the cuts on a pig and am good at carving out the ribs (babybacks and spareribs). I walked out of there with a lot of knowledge, appreciation for farmers and 20 pounds of prime pork. I can't wait to drink our 08 Pinot with that 3-pound roast wrapped in the skin from the leg. mmmmmm.

piles of pork!

Friday, January 15, 2010


I think somewhere we wrote that punks and wines both age gracefully. I think Aaron wrote it. I am not sure I would use the word “graceful” to describe him (or myself); maybe semi-gauche or brambly are better wine words for him. The following are some random things you should know about him.

Aaron wants to be a comedian. He sees humor in just about everything and can always make a crowd laugh. He is still working on his set for open mic night at Farley’s. Can’t wait for that!

Aaron isn’t dogmatic about the wines he makes or buys or drinks from my cellar. He’s got a pride for Washington wine that is authentic. He’s no zealot, but don’t trash talk the SayWA! state wines in his presence. In 2007 he said f-it and went full bore to make a barrel of Wahluke Syrah from the Doc Stewart vineyard at this family home in Olympia. Using borrowed and homemade equipment along with family labor he turned out a great wine that is just now coming of age. Sure he f-ed up along the way but he also learned A LOT. The 2008 and 2009 barrels are tasting first-rate thanks to lessons learned in 2007.

Aaron bleeds punkness and has paid his dues to the punk rock toll takers. He spent time helping DC bands sound good at the Black Cat, helped get the Oly scene going, experiencing the heyday of SF music (not the Summer of Love), took on Seattle, LA and rolled back to SF. His drums may be getting dusty in his office but they are ready at a moments notice. Maybe he’ll start a new band with wife Jenne. Those long (12+ hour) drives to vineyards are always filled with great mixes of new and old music that keep our eyes open.

Besides punk rock and wine, baseball is a third of our conversations. I try to overlook the fact that Aaron has a dark dark history as a Dodgers fan and always associate him with the Mariners. His favorite player of all time is Edgar Martinez and he’s about a fond of the Yankees as I am. His Bringers of Doom had a great rookie season in our fantasy baseball league and Aaron learned way too much about useless baseball stats.

Every time I feel a bit nervous about our venture into the wine business Aaron talks me deeper into the merde. There is a crazy synergy between us. Neither of us would have gone this far without the other. I have no idea where Deux Punx is headed but I am sure it will be a fun ride.


Today Aaron Olson is 40 (XL). Happy Birthday Punk!