What do wine and planes have in common?

Yes, it is Crush 2016, yes, we have had fruit come in, no, it hasn’t been busy like the last few years.  I don’t recall a slower beginning to the prior harvests I have participated in.

Sauvignon Blanc, Sagemoor Vineyard, Pasco, WA:

Arrived/pressed 08/27/16, almost dry (1.5 Brix) 09/07/16, Lagana Cellars Glycol (temperature control) jacketed stainless tanks slow the fermentation down a bit.

Orange Muscat, Lonesome Springs Vineyard, Benton City, WA:

Arrived/pressed 08/29/16 and ever so close to dry for Locati Cellars.

Chardonnay, Cockburn Ranch Vineyard, Milton Freewater, OR:

Arrived/pressed 09/03/16 at Lagana Cellars, also in a glycol jacketed stainless tank, is fermenting gently, lowering the Brix daily.

Pinot Grigio, Reed Vineyard, Pasco, WA:

Arrived (finally)/pressed 09/06/16 at Locati Farm for Locati Cellars is in a chilled tank just getting the fermentation going.  Note the difference in the harvest bin photo as this is machine harvested fruit rather than the hand-picked we typically get.  Lots of free run juice in this batch.

Pinot Noir, Breezy Slope Vineyard, Milton Freewater, OR:

Arrived/crushed 09/09/16 for Lagana Cellars, about 1/3 of the fruit has been foot stomped on the stems, inoculation 09/10/16 – first red grapes are in the house!  This means punch downs three times a day begin now.

Riesling, Dionysus Vineyard, Pasco, WA:

Anticipated 09/10/16 for Lagana Cellars

We bottled reds for a few wineries where Lagana Cellars has the stainless steel tanks: Adamant Cellars, Enchanted Cellars, and G. Cuneo Cellars.  With the Riesling on its way in it will be nice to have more room in the cellar.  We are out in the vineyards sampling again to determine what will come in next week.  I think we are finally working Crush!

Meanwhile, having most of the Labor Day Weekend off was a treat we took full advantage of.  For the week I have had a flight lesson every few days.  Naturally, since I am focused and learning, I am not taking pictures.

First taste of flying a small plane
October 2015 we rented a plane for a family visit; returning I held the yoke while Hubby referenced a radio channel.

Last year, when we rented a plane to visit my family, Hubby was looking up a radio signal we needed and I held the yoke.  My daughter took a picture of this moment (actually several I discovered when I asked her for ‘the’ photo) and posted it to Facebook.  It took on a life of its own about me flying the plane.  I was only attempting to keep the plane from tilting as the map was large and pressure on the pilot’s yoke tipped the wings or dove the nose a bit making me edgy; I didn’t have my feet on the rudder pedals, Hubby did.  But the concept stuck and really learning to fly has been so very exciting.

Sunday we flew to Hood River, Oregon’s airport to have Hubby fly a sailplane and discuss a possible ship that was mentioned for sale there.  Once we were off the ground I took the controls for my third lesson, climbing to altitude, leveling, and flying (straight and level) to the ridge just before Hood River where Hubby landed us at the airport.  Alas, the wind was gusting to about 32 miles an hour and he chose not to ride.  But we did manage to have a conversation and learn what direction to take to determine if this was a good lead.  With any luck we will procure a glider, from somewhere, within the next few months.  Soaring in the Walla Walla Valley is our goal; one we hope to share with visitors and anyone interested in learning to fly a sailplane.  Watch for it!  Hubby flew us home as the winds picked up and carried us all the way to Walla Walla with a few bumps to keep things interesting.

Lewiston, ID motorcycle ride
Our ride to Lewiston, ID over Labor Day weekend was my first motorcycle ride this summer.

We have had the plane two months now and I haven’t been on the motorcycle all summer.  Monday we rode to Lewiston, Idaho and had lunch before returning home; it was excellent riding temperature.  Hoping it won’t be as long before the next opportunity to ride comes up.

The cooler weather we have experienced during Crush this year makes learning to fly wonderful.  Every chance we get my CFI Hubby and I squeeze in a flight with me in the left seat.  By day, he sells potato farming equipment and I make and sell wine.  And we call the friendly and beautiful Walla Walla Valley home; life truly is wonderful.

I have to ask, are there any pilots or flight students with any advise to offer as I learn to fly in our Cessna 182A? Not the best trainer, but what we have.  Any soaring folks?


Carlos' experimental light sport at Martin Field.
An experimental plane: this means not everything about it is approved by the FAA. You meet the neatest people at the airport…

Reaching new heights

Cessna 182 keys
The keys to our 1957 Cessna 182; a dream come true for my darling Hubby! It is super exciting for me too.

As excited as I get about all things wine, that is how my Hubby is about General Aviation; this encompasses civil flight operations in small planes, gliders, balloons, etc.  As much as we decided to put off a purchase of a plane until next year, Hubby has been comparison shopping since January.  We discussed the pros and cons of each ship he shared with me extensively (sometimes repeatedly as nothing new came up for sale).  In May he discovered a plane for sale that seemed to meet all of the wishes we had in our ‘desired’ column; the owners flew the Cessna 182A to Walla Walla for us to fly.  Last month Hubby went to Tillamook, where the plane was based, to complete the ‘Annual’, a regularly scheduled maintenance check-up.  He helped dismantle and reinstall almost everything on the plane while conversing with the owners and the mechanic.  I was still in Walla Walla working in the Locati Cellars tasting room, waiting, as if for news of an impending birth.  Prior to this inspection I was certain we would be making an offer for the plane; whether or not the owners accepted was the unknown.  Hubby was more pessimistic, but hopefully so; maybe guarded is a better term.

Our Fourth of July became a ‘vacation’ to Tillamook, Oregon to pick up the plane!  When in Tillamook, you join the hordes of visitors to the Tillamook Cheese Factory.  I enjoy reading the history and data shared on murals throughout the factory.  It was running at minimal capacity on the 4th, but there were crushing numbers of people queuing for ice cream upstairs and meandering through the gift shop and restaurant down stairs.  My daughter traveled with us to drive the car home while we flew; this was her first visit, our second.  Walking Rockaway Beach, a bit of wine tasting, and getting to bed early as we had been up with the sun to get on the road and fatigue had the three of us nodding in our chairs at dinner.

At 8:00 AM sharp we were all at the Tillamook Airport hanger (also the Tillamook Air Museum).  The clouds were cooperating with a similar forecast for the next several hours.  But the coast can change rapidly, so we were a bit apprehensive.  Completing the paperwork, walking around the plane again and again, determining what documents they had that should stay with the plane, fueling up, and waiting for the banks to complete the money wire.  Good company, the prior owners were gracious and fun to hang with so the time was well spent. After a salad and pizza for lunch the money had been transferred.  Although we sold our wonderful trailer and Toyota Tundra to fund this, it was still a reality check to see the dollars disappear so efficiently.

At 14:00 (2:00 PM), with cloud bottoms 2,700 feet above the ocean, we taxied north on the  runway and flew above Tillamook, west, toward the bay.  We flew along the Oregon Coast seeing landmarks we had visited in the past from a new point of view.  Yup, it was thrilling!  I took pictures as Hubby got to know this bird better.  Although competent to fly the plane, each has its own quirks and unique qualities that the pilot needs to become familiar with.

The air was bumpy, like the ocean waves below us, the air currents were strong enough to rock the plane as we flew.  Rich seafood for dinner on the 4th, minimal sleep the previous two nights, jet fuel smells while at the airport and the bumps caused me intense motion sickness.  I played with the air temperature inside the plane trying to adjust it to help minimize my nausea and I closed my eyes, that didn’t help much, but I made it home without being sick.  Phew, the only mar in the otherwise great experience of the first day owning a plane.


We were alone at Martin Field, a sleepy little airport west of Walla Walla, when we landed, so we tied her to the ground (to keep her from moving around or flipping over in a wind).  The afternoon of the 6th we had access to the hanger we are renting and we put her inside, just fitting the available space perfectly.  She is a 1957 four-seater plane and has been shown at Vintage shows and  fly ins because she is in such good condition.  There are big plans for this plane, but for the time being we will fly her and proceed to build upon those ideas.  I will share them as they happen.

Millet and beet salad
Our welcome home meal to celebrate the safe arrival of our new RV is a spin-off of a friend’s ‘Glory Bowl’.

Once home we needed a quick dinner that wouldn’t be too heavy in my stomach after two hours of motion sickness.  Working on the premise of the grain salad I cooked millet, added chopped beets, lots of herbs, onion and garlic, and grated gouda cheese with a lemon and olive oil dressing for a warm, colorful, and tasty salad.  Paired with Helix Stone Tree Vineyard SoRho, a Rhone style blend, it was a terrific finish to the day.  Two hours after we flew into Walla Walla my daughter drove in; she left mid-morning with plans to walk Cannon Beach on the way home.  There is something to be said for traveling by air.  Cheers!