Trek, eat , and enjoy

Chudi Planea, author of the Irietreks blog, shares a post titled “Trek, eat, and enjoy.” No matter where we come from, it’s no trick to understand the reasons why we travel, aspire to achieve, and content ourselves with our discoveries…that is, until we discover that next peak waiting to be summited.

Says Chudi, “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”

Kalaag nimo!

After the climb that we had in Mt Sembrano last February, I kept on thinking of which Mountains to climb next here in Philippines.

Mt Sembrano

So i came up with 2 mountains which is i’m pretty sure that it’s not gonna be an easy one.

First one is Mt Banahaw which is 7,119 ft above sea level located in Region 4a which is CALABARZON.


Second is Mt. Pulag where you’ll witness sea of clouds.  It is the third highest Mountain here in our country. It is about 2,922 meters above sea level.


But before i trek those two mountains, let me climb this one first.=)

This saturday March 9 2013 , our group will explore Mt Pico Deloro located in Ternate Cavite.  This will be an exciting one for sure, coz we will climb that same peek on the picture and hope for the best that no one falls. hahaha

I’ll keep you posted guys…

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Perambulating the Perfect Perimeter

One of the big reasons that the San Francisco Peninsula and the East Bay Hills are such fine destinations for hiking is due to the efforts of the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council. Since 1989, their volunteer efforts have fueled grant programs to spur the development of much of the planned 300-mile trail system that is someday destined to circumnavigate the San Francisco Bay and connect all counties that are contiguous to it. These grant programs are intended to encourage government agencies and qualifying nonprofit organizations to plan, acquire, and construct new segments of the Bay Area Ridge Trail (BART).

It’s nice to know that their good work is continuing. The Council, in coordination with the Coastal Conservancy’s San Francisco Bay Area Program, has just this week announced the availability of up to $450,000 in funds that will accelerate the development of The Trail. The funding will come from Proposition 40, which is the California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act of 2002. It appears that in 2007, the BART Council will be developing trail systems in the counties of Marin, Sonoma, Napa, and Solano – areas that this winehiker feels desperately have needed additional trails, if only to respond to the demands of local Nature lovers (like me) if not to also complement the recreational activities of the wine-touring public.

In fact, a future Ridge Trail corridor is expected to be built from the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District-owned Jacobs Ranch on the northern flank of Sonoma Mountain (located close by to many Sonoma Valley and Bennett Valley wineries) to the top of the former Skiles Ranch property (now part of Annadel State Park); one proposed trail in that new network will offer 6 miles of moderate to steep hiking and, if I’m correct, connect to Jack London State Historic Park.

Now if only they’ll connect all the wineries along the ridges! Why, this winehiker would be a happy man. Heck, I’d even be willing to gather some talent, grab a shovel, and help to build THOSE trails.


Why I hike, too

Tom Mangan, in his blog Two-Heel Drive, this week posted some eloquent reasoning behind why he got started hiking. They’re good reasons, and they match my own. Often there are people who make an impression upon us, giving us just enough cause to make the leap, buy the gear, and get out there to where Nature waits. The following is from my “feedback” response to Tom’s post.

There are moments out there – real, honest, emotion-inducing moments wherein the eyes well up, the spine tingles, and the captured memory – of such a single astounding yet fleeting blip in your Life – finds itself inescapably resonating with you long after you’ve left the trail. Be it a tree growing out of a rock and thriving, or two rattlesnakes mating, or a night filled with horizon-to-horizon meteors, or directly making eye contact with a bobcat, there is nothing like hiking in Nature to bring balance and absolute harmony to one’s Life – not to mention endorphins and the smell of a forest.

We need to be thankful that we have such bounty around us that we can escape into when the feeling calls. I, for one, cannot fathom what it would be like for me to forsake regular visits to the wilderness – even when it’s just the local paved bike path along the creek at lunchtime.

Come to think of it: there was an extraordinary man in my early life who shaped much of the person I am today, and his name was Don Carre; he was my music teacher in high school, but also (lucky for me) an avid backpacker who advised our student’s backpacking club. I learned so much from Don about organizing trips, menu planning, wilderness ethics – even how to tie climbing knots. I remember less about playing the tympani for him than I do the fundamental grounding – and desire to be out there – that he left with me.

If you and your wife Carol are still out there tramping trail, Don, I sure hope to walk with you again.


Blind Wine Tasting Notes: Sangiovese

Our monthly group got together one recent Friday night to taste six Sangiovese wines. Finding a bottle of Sangiovese was relatively easy to find at the area’s many wine merchants, unlike the shopping tribulations we experienced last month trying to find a good Barbera. Of our six wines, 3 were from California, and 3 were from Italy. The group agreed that though Sangiovese makes for a good red table wine, especially with food, the finish is short-lived.

I’m fairly certain that most of us in the group favor bolder, long-finish wines. But of course one of the reasons we taste together is to develop our knowledge of those wines we would not ordinarily choose to drink.

Each of the wines listed below are ranked top-down, most favorite to least favorite; each is followed by the wine’s heat (alcohol content). If no link exists for a particular label, that label is most likely no longer available.

I’ve added a new figure in the left column: the actual group score for each wine using the Wine Scoring Sheet our group developed. You can see that there was one clear favorite: the 2002 Altamura from Napa Valley.

My purchase was the 2001 Picchetti Sangiovese, an old wine as Sangioveses go; there were two ’01s in our tasting. Despite its “age” and mild finish, the Picchetti scored well in this tasting, ranking second with the group and also my second favorite. Unfortunately, this wine appears to be no longer available in the usual online outlets. However, this tasting affirmed the appeal that Picchetti wines have for me in general; I should disclose that I’m a member of their wine club.

Group Ranking
+4: ‘02 Altamura
, Napa Valley 14.2
+1: ‘01 Picchetti, Central Coast 14.8
0: ‘03
La Fortuna, Rosso di Montalcino 13.5
-1: ‘02
Conti Contini, Toscana 13.5
-2: ‘03 Seghesio, Alexander Valley 14.8
-2: ‘01
Terrabianca “Campaccio”, Toscana 13.0

Winehiker’s Ranking
‘02 Conti Contini, Toscana 13.5
‘01 Picchetti, Central Coast 14.8
‘03 Seghesio, Alexander Valley 14.8
‘02 Altamura, Napa Valley 14.2
‘01 Terrabianca “Campaccio”, Toscana 13.0
‘03 La Fortuna, di Montalcino 13.5


Visiting A Winery – 5 Ways to Avoid Learning Anything

Next time you visit the wine country, hire yourself a big limousine and follow these simple guidelines:

1. Plan your day around visiting as many wineries as possible.

2. Go to the same wineries everybody else does. After all, those are the popular wineries to go to, and they’re more than ready to put a wine glass in your hand.

3. Don’t listen to the tasting room staff, and be especially sure not to ask them too many questions. They’re not paid enough to be knowledgeable professionals.

4. Have a strong desire to self-medicate. Start your wine tasting early in the day, and get sideways by noon.

5. Get your exercise! Walk back and forth from the limo to the tasting room, and repeat often.

Now THAT’S your kind of wine country vacation, right? Many others just like you think so, too. Aren’t you glad you’re not alone? Be sure to keep the above guidelines handy, and refer to them often.

A Word to the Wise

Dear reader, as you may have guessed, the 5 guidelines above only apply to April Fools. For the rest of us who might consider ourselves to belong to the greater majority of responsible wine-loving adults, tasting wine is an experience to be savored and discussed, appreciated and remembered.

To tour a series of wineries to get a buzz is not what the wine-tasting experience is all about. Wine is food! And like the pleasure that comes from eating your favorite cuisine, wine can provide a similar allure. Food and wine, as many know, complement each other well. As with food, if you choose to taste wine, do it because you truly enjoy tasting it. But unlike food, don’t go to a tasting room because you’d rather be drinking a lot of wine. Instead, stay home! But be responsible there, too.

If you would maximize your visit to the wine country, let us then provide contrast to the above guidelines and consider what will allow your wine country vacation to be a memorable experience – not just a sideways tour.

5 Ways to Maximize Your Wine-Country Experience

Call it wine country appreciation. Or, call it self-appreciation. In either case, if you would choose to truly benefit from a trip to the wine country, here now are five responsible guidelines signified by letters, instead of numbers, to differentiate from the list above.

A. Plan your day around visiting the wine country, not just its wineries.

There are a whole host of wonderful opportunities to be found in the wine regions of the world, whether you’re touring the famed Bordeaux region, Oregon’s Willamette Valley, or the up-and-coming Calaveras County area west of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. A visit to these wine regions can include a number of historical, cultural, educational, heritage, and active outdoor pursuits. Quite often, having a local guide can dramatically enhance the personal growth aspects of vacationers.

Gaining appeal with today’s travelers are tours ranging from culinary education classes that take place in spectacular settings to wellness retreats that offer exercise and nutrition counseling as well as superb pampering. Or, if you desire to be more active, you can find tours that offer a few days of exploring the flora, fauna, and scenic vistas of local open spaces, then a superb meal with wine tasting. Travelers are increasingly booking such tours, and they are trending heavily toward booking them online on a myriad of tour and travel websites.

B. To properly enjoy your wine-touring experience, choose your winery destination carefully. Visitors are often drawn to the popular wineries that are located alongside the wine country’s main arterial routes; for instance, Highway 29 in the Napa Valley. And yet those are the areas in which you’ll find the greater share of vehicle traffic, especially during the summer tourist season. Of course, the traffic isn’t just cars, limousines, and tour buses. After you get off the bus or out of your car and into the winery, you’ll often wait in long lines of human traffic just to taste a wine or two. Ironically, this can defeat the purpose of Guideline A.

Many wineries and lodging operations offer better service and better vacation deals for your dollar during off-peak seasons. As a result, you’ll find that you get to linger longer at a restaurant or have a conversation with a winemaker that goes beyond the merely casual. Having the time to relax and not compete with other tourists on your vacation can dramatically augment not only your sense of well-being, but also your wine knowledge and your social network.

In addition, there are many family-owned wineries that are real treasures. It’s easy to overlook them, but once you make the effort to seek them out, you’ll often be rewarded with an experience that will have you telling your friends about them. You may even find the winegrower getting off his tractor to take you for an impromptu tour of his vineyard or winery operation. Of course, he might have you consider purchasing a case of his wines for his trouble. But then, you may also find that you’re not paying nearly the premium that you’ll pay at the more popular wineries along the main wine roads.

C. The tasting room staff earn their pay, and they do it out of passion. Let them guide you.

The wineries aren’t in business to attract more tourists. They’re in business because they have a clear understanding of the needs of their customers. If you’re not the world’s greatest wine expert, don’t worry! You’re among friends. Learning is why you traveled to the wine country in the first place, and winemakers and their staff love to talk about what they do. Listen, and ask questions. If you should visit more than one winery, ask the same questions.

You’ll enhance your understanding by the answers you’ll hear, and what’s more, you’ll be delighted that you asked.

D. Be fully aware of your experience. Participate in it, and find yourself enchanted by it. Don’t desensitize yourself to the magic of the wine country.

“The advantages of wine touring are beautiful scenery and a new learning experience. The disadvantages are that there’s not enough wine.”

This author has actually read the above statement in a review by a supposedly-serious wine expert. I’ve heard similar quips from the lips of the not-so-pleasantly plowed. While I might agree with the “advantage” half of that statement, the desired outcome of your wine tour should be a quality experience, not a quantity experience. Wine touring is not meant to be a dormitory-style competition.

Therefore, pace yourself. Pour the wine you no longer want into the proper receptacle, usually a spit bucket. Spit the wine into the bucket if necessary – it’s perfectly acceptable within the context of tasting wine. But nobody likes a drunken tourist – not the winery staff, not the patrons, and especially not the wine country police.

E. To properly enjoy the wine country, get out of the land yacht and explore your surroundings.

Bring your hiking shoes with you, and find a local trail. Or, if you prefer to connect to your new surroundings on a deeper level, hire a guide. The reasons that grapes do so well in the wine country are often the same reasons why most areas surrounding the wine regions of the world offer a number of marvelous outdoor experiences. You’ll find that a walk in the redwoods, an expansive mountaintop view, a remote meadow full of wildflowers, or a glimpse of a bobcat on the trail can heighten your wine country experience in sensational ways.

Plus, the exercise and the fresh air you’ll get from your outdoor excursion will build your anticipation of those fine meals and exquisite wines that you came to the wine country for. They are the reward for your physical efforts, they balance your intrinsic desire for deeper understanding, and they make your vacation complete.

Russ Beebe is an experienced wine taster and hiking guide who leads naturalist tours in the California wine country. Discover how you can enjoy the quintessential California experience at

Tainted Love

If you’re a consumer of wine like I am, perhaps you have wrestled over the issue of synthetic corks vs. tree-bark corks vs. screwcaps. Which embodies the highest Zen? Well, I don’t always think of myself as a retrogrouch, but until recently, I found myself disdaining the very thought of buying a wine sealed with anything other than corks made of tree bark. Or, grudgingly, those colorful but difficult synthetic corks. But screwcaps? How mortifyingly repugnant!

Yet, despite my slightly antediluvian tendencies, I consider myself reasonably Earth-aware. I’ve since learned that tree-bark production requires many noxious chemicals and lots of production time – to grow the trees, harvest their bark, and produce the cork – only to have a propensity to leak, disintegrate, and therefore oxygenate a wine within the bottle.

I decided that I should question my traditionalist values – at least where wine corks are concerned! So, in advance of a pilgrimage tomorrow to Bonny Doon Vineyards, where they produce wines capped exclusively with screwcaps, I’ve been doing some reading.

It seems that screwcaps are the wave of the future.

In fact, 85% of wines produced in New Zealand are capped with screwcaps, and Australia bottlers are not far behind at 50%. Apparently there is a loss of between 3 to 5% of wine that is sealed in a bottle with a cork. Some say 1 in every 9 bottles corked with bark have a “taint.” I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I don’t wish to lose that much vino precioso.

As for synthetic corks, I knew that they could leak, but I had also suspected that they don’t biodegrade – apparently that hunch is true. I also haven’t liked them for purely functional reasons — those suckers simply refuse to come out of the bottle without me also biting my tongue and cussing. And that’s not good form when the objective is to delight in a good wine. Geez, how many worms must I break on my screwpull? What — use cork pullers to remove synthetic corks? Ha! You’ll needlessly disgrace yourself in front of your friends.

As to screwcaps: if they don’t harm the wine – and the evidence so far seems to bear that out – I’ll consider myself informed and look a little more favorably upon them. At least I won’t have to buy replacement worms.

Randall Grahm, celebrated founder/winemaker at Bonny Doon, is a screwcap evangelist. No doubt he has held many a side-by-side comparison tasting of wines from both cork-sealed and screwcapped bottles. We can probably assume that he and his staff have tasted the exact same wine from the exact same vintage in the exact same glassware, with the only difference being that of the two wines, one was sealed with tree bark and the other wasn’t.

(By the way, if you haven’t visited the Bonny Doon website, it is remarkably inventive and engaging, with plenty of wit and passion behind it. Not your typical winery website! While you’re at it, be sure to watch their “Doontoon” titled “Vive Le Screwcap!”)

From what I have gleaned from my reading, screwcap-sealed wine is typically fresh, crisp, fully flavored, and has a great mouthfeel and a lovely finish, whereas the same cork-sealed wine is typically much more lackluster. This appears to be the evidence with a number of different wine pairings, with and without food. The basic conclusion is that the screwcap versions are fresh and complex, just the way the winemaker intended them to be. The cork versions had been altered by cork contact and extra air exchange – causing the wines to be “corked,” or tainted by mold.

Regardless of the empirical data, you don’t want to keep a library of wines only to find that ten or twenty years down the road, your favorite Petite Sirah tastes moldy. Nevertheless, the wine industry is fast adopting the notion that with the screwcap closure, you are guaranteed that the wine you taste when you open your bottle will be as close as possible to the original wine. You won’t have mold taint, nor will you have issues with crumbled corks.

As someone who has scruples about screwpulls, I hope to find tomorrow that it’s worth giving up the pomp and ritual of pulling a cork out of a bottle to enjoy the best wine possible.

Now if screwcaps could just deliver my favorite all-time best sound in the world. I think that’s what I’ll miss most. But I will look to the future, if it means embracing stored wines that are just as good as the day we first tasted them.

Someday in the not-too-far-off future, when the mass demand and supply of wines — both large-operation and boutique — reach critical mass, we retrogrouches are going to puzzle our children when we ask “What is the sound of one cork popping?”