Friday, January 22, 2010

Event Postponed

FOW Folks Planning to Attend the January Event:
My apologies to all of you who were planning to attend the FOW event this Saturday. It is with much regret that I must cancel the event. Although our host's home is without power due to the on-going storms and the parking area is a virtual swamp (and therefore a sink hole for parked cars), an alternate site was arranged and we thought we could still make this happen - in spite of the wrath of Mother Nature.

However, our guest speaker informed me Wednesday night that his mother has just been hospitalized in serious condition, and the doctors say, "It is only a matter of time." Obviously she must be his first priority and he will be unable to be with us that evening. So, again with my apologies, I know you will all understand.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Joyce's Eggplant Recipe

Eggplant, Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese Terrine
2 eggplants about 21/2# cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices
1/3 cup olive oil
olive tapenade
3 red peppers roasted, skin removed
7 ounces soft goat cheese
Brush eggplant with oil and broil, 4-5 minutes/side and place on paper towel to drain.
Roast red peppers and take skins off.
Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap with overhang.
Arrange eggplant slices, olive tapenade, red peppers, goat cheese in several layers ending with eggplant.
Cover eggplant with plastic overhang.
Weight it down with canned goods.
Chill for 24 hours. Can be made 3 days ahead.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Board Meeting Update

FOW Members and Friends:

Friends of the Winemakers

Sips from the Board…

Here’s what was discussed at the board meeting held January 12, 2010.

  • Membership renewals were sent out in December. Members should send in their renewals as soon as possible.
  • Cheryl Markman, activities coordinator, is looking for volunteers to assist in the planning of events for 2010.
    If you have some fresh, new ideas for events or want to help with planning, call Cheryl.
  • The board plans to add a photo gallery to the FOW web site. Members with pictures of past events can contact Betty Skov or Joe Schaefers.
  • Anyone interested in helping develop a Facebook fan page for FOW can Contact Betty Skov.

Monday, January 11, 2010

January Event



Guest Speaker Reggie Narito, MS“Old World vs. New World Wines”

Reggie Narito is one of only 96 people in the United States and one of only three Filipino-Americans to hold the prestigious title of Master Sommelier. A native of Alameda, Reggie began his career in the restaurant business at the age of 17. He has worked for noted Bay Area restaurants such as Stars in San Francisco, Le Papillon in San Jose and the Plumed Horse in Saratoga. He has served as consultant on numerous wine programs throughout Northern California.

Reggie is currently employed with Southern Wine & Spirits of Northern California as the Director of Training & Prestige Account Specialist. We are very fortunate to have him as our guest speaker. He will discuss with us how two wines made from the same grape variety can be completely different depending on where in the world they originated. Reggie will also include a bit of food pairing to help us better understand the term “food wine”, which is how people in many old world countries view wine. It should be quite an interesting and illuminating evening.

What: A Comparison of Old World and New World Wines Pot Luck Hors d'oeuvres (preceding) and Pot Luck Dinner (following)

When: 4:30 – 8:30 PM, Saturday, January 23, 2010

Where: Home of Claire and Monty Boyer - Saratoga, CA

Cost: Members: $20.00 per person and a Pot Luck dish to share Non-members: $25.00 per person and a Pot Luck dish to share Please note – Seating is limited.

How: RSVP with check payable to FOW, to be received by Wednesday January 20, to:
Cheryl Markman

For payment information and directions please send email to :

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


The Mirassou story began when Louis Pellier came to California in 1849 and established a nursery in San Jose. He was joined two years later by his brother Pierre, who helped import a large amount of nursery stock from Europe, including many grape varieties. After a few years Pierre went to work for Clement Colombet on his winery in the east bay. Meanwhile Louis purchased over 300 acres in the foothills east of San Jose. Here he planted 150 acres of vineyards and built a winery.

Pierre took over management of the winery in 1861 and on the death of his brother in 1872, took outright ownership. With the untimely death of Pierre's son two years later succession fell to his daughter Henriette. She managed the winery until 1881, when she married Pierre Mirassou. Together they had three sons and two daughters - Peter, John and Herman, Denise and Theresa - before Pierre died in 1889. The following year Henriette married Thomas Casalegno.

At first the Mirassou boys helped Casalegno manage the Pellier Ranch. Then around 1910 Casalegno sold the ranch and moved to Oakdale. The brothers formed a partnership and together purchased around 100 acres on Aborn Road. This was planted with vineyards and a small winery was built to the northwest at Quimby and White (now a strip mall). The brothers also purchased land off Cypress Avenue which became an orchard and a ranch off McLoughlin Road. In 1918 the partnership was dissolved and the brothers split the holdings, with Peter taking the vineyards.

The family continued to grow grapes throughout Prohibition; these were shipped in refrigerated rail cars to home winemakers on the east coast or sold to other local wineries including Cribari. In the mid 1930s Peter Mirassou expressed a desire to retire and hand over to his sons, Edmund and Norbert. They decided to establish a bonded winery and, with their father's support, the winery opened in 1937.

The name changed several times, from Peter L Mirassou Winery to P.L. Mirassou & Sons before finally becoming Mirassou Vineyards. For the first 30 years the winery produced unblended, varietal wine in bulk. They specialised in white wines, growing Riesling, Sylvaner, Semillon, French Colombard and Pinot Blanc. Much of the production went to Paul Masson and Almaden and was made into sparkling wine. They also had some old Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Carignan and Mourvedre vines.

Towards the end of the 1950s the inevitability of development became apparent. The family looked around the state and eventually selected a 270 acre ranch in Salinas. At the same time Paul Masson purchased 800 acres nearby and the two companies worked together developing this new viticultural area. Together the brothers planted over 1,000 acres with ungrafted vines and installed a permanent sprinkler irrigation system, believed to be the first of its kind.

In 1966 Edmund's sons, Daniel, Jim, and Peter Mirassou, formed San Vincente Vineyards and Mirassou Sales. Together they began bottling the Mirassou Vineyard wines and selling them under the family brand. They eventually took over the winery in 1984.

In 2002 Gallo purchased the rights to the Mirassou brand name along with the current inventory, though not the property which remained in a family trust. David Mirassou still works for Gallo, the 6th generation of "America's oldest winemaking family". Brothers Daniel and Peter Mirassou launched a new label called La Rochelle in the old building, but in 2005 they sold the brand to their cousin Steven Kent Mirassou; he wanted to purchase the property too, but the asking price was too high. The La Rochelle wines continue to be made at his Steven Kent winery in Livermore.

The historic estate is now closed, awaiting redevelopment and economic recovery. A request for access was politely refused. The old winery building is visible from the road but all the equipment has been sold and the unoccupied property has apparently suffered from vandalism. The planned redevelopment includes provisions for the preservation of the main winery building as well as the Mirassou house, built in 1924.


History of Santa Clara County by Eugene T. Sawyers
Norbert C. and Edmund A. Mirassou, "The Evolution of a Santa Clara Valley Winery," an oral history conducted in 1985 by Ruth Teiser, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 1986.
Closure of the La Rochelle winery reported on
Obituary of Edmund Mirassou on