Mumm Napa proves California excels at bubbly

Vineyards at Mumm Napa sparkle like the wine. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

All bubbles are not the same.

While I could not write the tasting notes for Mumm Napa (or any winery), I could tell the difference between the sparkling wines in front of me. I just didn’t taste strawberry jam or anything else that the glasses were said to possess.

As part of our annual tennis camp, we took time for a tasting in the Napa Valley thanks to Joyce’s membership.

Even the non-drinker in the group joined in the festivities. Apparently, Donna has good taste because her favorite was the most expensive bottle.

While Rosés are one of my least favorite wines, I have been liking them more and more as a sparkling wine. I left with a bottle of the brut reserve Rosé and the sparkling Pinot Meunier.

A variety of tastings are available at Mumm Napa. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Mumm Napa traces its heritage to France. The Champagne house of G.H. Mumm was established in 1827. Guy Devaux was tapped in the 1970s to find a location in the United States that would be ideal to grow grapes for sparkling wine.

Domaine Mumm, as the Rutherford winery was first known, released its inaugural vintage in 1983 using the French méthode traditionnelle.

The winery opened to the public in 1990 under the name Mumm Napa.

A view of the vineyards made for an incredibly relaxing atmosphere.

Our server was knowledgeable, fun, and unpretentious. While he shared what we would be tasting in each glass, he said ultimately what matters is what each person likes. That’s always a sure way to be inclusive.

It’s also my approach to wine because everyone’s palette is different. Mine is far from sophisticated. I just know what I like and what I don’t.

Unfortunately, the fine art gallery that opened in 1993 was closed the afternoon of our visit. The winery’s website says it features an Ansel Adams collection along with rotating exhibits. It is open to the public.

 

Winery gives half of its proceeds to dog-cat rescue groups

Donations like the cases of wine from Rescue Dog Wines help the Humane Society of Sonoma County care for dogs like Adela. (Image: Humane Society of Sonoma County)

Wine is allowing dogs and cats to live their best lives.

Most animal rescue organizations rely exclusively on donations from the average person and local businesses, grants, and money raised via fundraisers. Those fundraising events often involve wine; with bottles given to them for free.

“We would be in terrible shape without the relationships with the business community,” said Priscilla Locke, director of development and communications with Humane Society of Sonoma County.

Rescue Dog Wines, which is headquartered in St. Helena, created a custom label for HSCC with the face of Scamp the Champ. Scamp won the 2019 World’s Ugliest Dog Contest. Scamp was rescued from the streets of Compton, and lived out his last years in Santa Rosa with Yvonne Morones.

Humane Society of Sonoma County still has some of the 50 cases of the red blend that Rescue Dog Wines donated in 2021, which was the year Scamp died. Bottles are used in raffle baskets, as thank yous and in other ways to promote the organization to attract financial support.

While numerous wineries donate bottles or cases to various nonprofits to use in their fundraising endeavors, Rescue Dog Wines has made dogs an equal partner in their business.

This means half of the proceeds go to owners Blair and Laura Lott and the other half is distributed to various animal rescue organizations throughout the country.

In the North Bay six groups have benefited directly from Rescue Dog Wines. Last year the winery donated $36,900 in wine, capital, and services to more than 80 rescue organizations throughout the United States, with most being in California.

Since Rescue Dog Wines was founded in 2017 (first bottle was released in 2018) it has donated the equivalent of more than $55,000 through 2023.

Scamp the Champ is a limited edition red blend exclusively for the benefit of Humane Society of Sonoma County. Scamp in 2019 won the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest in Petaluma. (Image: Rescue Dog Wines)

Animals are the winners

It’s not just canines who benefit from Rescue Dog Wines. Most shelters also have cats. However, Cat Tales Rescue in Vacaville is strictly a feline entity.

The group runs on a shoestring of a budget. The annual fall fundraiser last year brought in $11,220, which was a record. Rescue Dog Wines donated two cases each of the last two years.

“We take in cats and kittens from shelters or from local people who have found them. We use that money to spay and neuter all of them, vaccinate them, make sure they are healthy, and provide foster homes until they are adopted,” explained volunteer Tina Atherton.

The group doesn’t have a physical site. All animals in its care are fostered. 2023 was a big year, with 679 cats coming through compared to 550 in 2022.

“I fostered 59 kittens last year. Kitten season is supposed run March to October, but it’s been running every month. It just doesn’t stop,” Atherton said.

Paula Thompson, who runs Cat Tales Rescue’s fundraiser, is worried the needs are going to keep increasing. Recently seven kittens needed to be bottle fed; mom had died. They were sent to a partner organization with more resources. In February five pregnant cats got spayed.

“They can get pregnant at 4 or 5 months, and when they are still nursing, or by siblings or the father of them. People don’t understand or realize that,” Thompson said.

That’s why education is also a component of what this organization and others do.

There is never a dearth of animals in need. Which means there is always a need for money and in-kind donations like wine.

This September will be Marin Humane’s 18th annual gala—which is all about raising funds to keep the shelter in Novato going. For the last two years Rescue Dog Wines have been part of the event with two of its sparkling wines available to guests. The hope is this will be the third year the winery contributes.

Molly Foley, special events coordinator, expressed how easy the winery is to deal with, highlighting how the wines were shipped directly to the group.

Waggin’ Trails Rescue Foundation was founded in Southern California in 2012, though recently relocated to Napa. It’s run by mother-daughter duo Gisela and Ingrid Campagne. Last year was the group’s first food and wine auction in Napa, with Rescue Dog Wines contributing to the cause.

“We got a call Feb. 15 from the Napa shelter about a hoarding situation in American Canyon. We are going to take 30 (of the 58) chihuahuas,” Gisela Campagne said. “This is why we do fund raising.”

Waggin’ Trails Rescue Foundation rescues animals from all over the state and transports them mostly to the northwest and parts of Canada.

“Those folks up there are able to adopt them quickly,” Campagne said. About 40 to 50 dogs a month find new homes this way through Waggin’ Trails.

Pets Lifeline in Sonoma has two major fundraisers a year, with smaller ones throughout the year.

“We are solely funded by donations and grants, and from in-kind goods,” Jody Purdom, development director for Pets Lifeline, explained.

Her introduction to Rescue Dog Wines came via Humboldt Distillery in Fortuna, which contributes to the group’s fundraisers. The director of sales there has connection with the winery.

“Our biggest goal is to keep pets at home,” Purdom said. “We have a pet food pantry to give food away to people who need it. Shelters are inundated with animals. A fair amount of owners surrender them because they can’t care for their pet for whatever reason.”

This is why in the world of animal welfare rescue groups are trying to keep pets in homes by providing animals with medical care and food so they stay out of shelters.

On the flip side, Humane Society of Sonoma County is trying to accommodate more animals so they are not euthanized at other facilities. The independent nonprofit has existed for 93 years; with its main office in Santa Rosa and a satellite one in Healdsburg.

“We keep trying to bring in more and more animals. One of our strategic objectives is to significantly increase capacity especially for small under resourced shelters that are overcrowded and desperate to find homes for animals. They are having to euthanize animals because of space,” Locke said.

Locke said rural parts of the state don’t have a lot of veterinary care and that it can be expensive. The folks at Cat Tales Rescue say that is definitely true of Solano County.          

Animal shelter facts and figures:

• In 2023, 3.3 million cats and 3.2 million dogs entered animal shelters and rescue organizations.

• 48% came in as strays, 25% were surrendered by their owners.

• 2024 is the fourth year of having too many animals and not enough adoptions—especially for dogs.

• 2023 is the first year since the creation of the national database in 2016 that the number of dogs euthanized surpassed the number of cats euthanized.

• In 2023, 359,000 dogs were euthanized—the highest number in the past five years, and 330,000 cats were euthanized.

• 2.6 million cats (65% of total intake) and 2.2 million dogs (56% of total intake) were adopted in 2023.

Source: Shelter Animals Count

How it all started

            The Lotts thought they were buying property in Acampo near Lodi with grapes they might sell, or maybe have a barrel to bottle for themselves. Rescuing dogs has always been part of their mantra. Soon the vision to have a winery and help dogs led to the founding of Rescue Dog Wines.

“The first wine we put on Facebook. It was like wildfire. I saw this had legs. That was a big inspiration for me,” Blair Lott said.

This year they expect to bottle 8,000 cases, with the first estate bottling taking place in the spring—a rosé of grenache. They have 20 acres, of which 17.5 are planted.

Will they grow? Maybe.

“If buying more vineyards would support the dogs or the business better, the answer would be yes,” Laura Lott said.

Appropriately, each label has a different dog (and the occasional cat) on it. Most have been created by artist Lawrence Peters of Modesto. The particular breed or mutt chosen to be featured is based on the personality of the wine.

“We riff on that. The cab is a fairly big and chewy red, and the bulldog makes sense for that,” explained Blair Lott. “Daisy who passed away was a big inspiration for our sparkling wine. She was a super bubbly boxer, so her on the sparkling makes sense.”

It was also important to make wine people want to drink. So while creative labels and charitable causes are integral to the mission, Laura Lott points out, “We decided the most important thing was to make the best tasting wine we could make, otherwise why bother?”

For those not at an animal event where Rescue Dog Wines are being poured or auctioned off, they are available in stores and online. The latter is where about 25% of sales come from, with the rest being sold mostly at Northern California retailers.

“Through the dog rescue events it’s like having a mobile tasting room. People see the mission and connect with the wine,” Blair Lott said while explaining why there are no plans for a traditional tasting room.

When it comes to deciding which organizations to help, the Lotts vet the groups, starting with ensuring it is a 501(c)3. Most organizations reach out to the Lotts instead of the other way around. There is never a lack of need, as evidenced by the testimonials above and at least one group reaching out to them each week.

“It is really about highlighting the value of animals that frequently end up discarded,” Laura Lott said in who becomes part of the Rescue Dog Wines family.

Note: A version of this story first appeared in the North Bay Business Journal.

Composting–a healthy, easy solution with big rewards

Butte Environmental Council provides a 5-gallon bucket for home composting. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

I love reusing food. I’m not talking about eating leftovers, though, I do love that, too.

Composting. It’s something we should all be doing. It’s all about turning waste into something good.

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, “U.S. food waste is estimated to be 30 to 40 percent of the food supply, and Californians throw away approximately 6 million tons of food waste annually.”

We have the power to keep that waste from reaching a landfill.

While California has mandated garbage companies institute composting programs for customers, that reality has not come to Chico or many other places. At the end of February mom and I began participating in Butte Environment Council’s composting program.

Food scraps from one household to be used as compost in Chico. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

It is amazing how light our garbage is now in terms of quantity and weight. No longer are all of our veggie and fruits scraps going in the garbage.

An item I didn’t realize is compostable is dryer lint. Tea bags are also accepted. So are grains. I’ve never composted any of those before.

BEC’s website said the program diverts more than 500 pounds of food waste each month. The compostable material is distributed to three composting sites for community gardens: Oak Way (Butte Environmental Council), Vecino (Butte County Local Food Network) and St. Timothy’s Community Garden.

They ask for a $5 donation each week, which is fine by me. Saves me the time of having to deliver the waste to the collection site. After all, BEC is a nonprofit operated mostly by volunteers.

Eons ago when I lived in Sonoma County I composted at my house. Loved, loved, loved it. I had a huge garden which is where the rich humus got integrated with the soil.

When I did a story for Lake Tahoe News in 2010 about Full Circle Compost in Minden, Nev., I could have talked to the owner for days. What he was doing was fascinating. Craig Witt is still with company, but no longer owns it.

When I was in Palm Springs last year my friends had a small bucket of sorts on the counter with a compostable bag in it. Those bags work. The process was starting before I emptied it into the big bin in the complex. Oops. I quickly learned I need to empty it before it’s full.

They aren’t my only friends who compost. When in Todos Santos at other friends’ I follow their lead when it comes to putting produce items into a 5-gallon bucket that will eventually become a soil amendment in their garden.

Composting is such an easy way to do something healthy for the environment. I actually get excited seeing the 5-gallon composting bucket filling up and the garbage bin not getting much use.

Mexico an important reason berries are available year-round

Agave grows near the shore of Lake Chapala in Mexico. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Mexico is one of the main reasons people have the opportunity to eat fresh strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries year-round.

From one side of Lake Chapala it looks like there are patches of snow on the other. The reality is those are large tunnel hoop houses for berry growing.

The Guadalajara Reporter quotes the North American Raspberry & Blackberry Association as saying, “More than 75 percent of fresh blackberries consumed in the United States are grown in Mexico.”

Driscoll, a familiar name to many, is one of the big companies in the area.

The company’s website says, “There are a lot of people that must work together to put berries on your table. That’s why our business is run differently from others. We don’t grow our own berries. Our joy makers develop proprietary varieties and our nurseries cultivate the plants. We then hand those off to 700 independent farmers that range in size to do what they do best. Once sold, about 85 percent of the revenue goes back to the farmers. This is a business run on mutual dependence and shared success which leads to an understanding–that we are all better together.”

Berry-growing on mainland Mexico provides fruit year-round for consumers. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Without speaking to anyone, it’s hard to know what the workers really think or if the company’s philosophy is shared by everyone.

Still, it was fascinating to see all of the farms along the road as one drives around Lake Chapala, which is about 30 miles southeast of Guadalajara at an elevation of 5,000 feet.

The U.S.-based Wilson Center says, “Both blackberries and raspberries are typically grown under plastic tunnels; metal hoops are erected to support the plastic that covers rows of berries, with air entering at both ends and between the plastic and the ground. The canes could produce berries for a decade or more, but most growers replant after three to four harvests.

“Berries are labor intensive because the same plant must be repicked multiple times, including raspberries every day or every second day and blueberries twice a week, so that a field may be repicked 40 to 100 times during a season.”

Berries grow in hoop houses in the Lake Chapala area of Mexico. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

The Wilson Center, according to its website, was chartered by the U.S. Congress to provide “nonpartisan counsel and insights on global affairs to policymakers through deep research, impartial analysis, and independent scholarship.”

Driving north on the east side of the lake the ag land changes to row crops, with corn being the only obvious one. Then the hillsides transition to agave. Some were distinctly blue. It’s blue agave that is used for tequila. Mezcal can be created from other varietals.

With there being a shortage of agave in Mexico, it’s no wonder it’s being planted so many places.

Popularity of mezcal creating a shortage of agave plants

While some might say there is no such thing as too much mezcal, the reality is the popularity of this alcoholic beverage is creating a problem of a different kind. The plants used to make this mainstay of Mexico are being threatened.

Tequila and mezcal come from the same plant—sort of. Both are products of agave, though tequila can only be made with the Blue Weber Agave.

Agave plants growing in the Tequila area of Mexico. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

So, that would make one believe there is no shortage of future bottles of mezcal because there are more sources. That assumption would be wrong.

“The populations (of plants) are disappearing little by little since they cannot regenerate adequately,” Daniel Quezada Daniel, executive director of Mexico’s National Commission for Biodiversity, told the Washington Post. “Their scarcity leads to increased prices, and perversely leads to even further exploitation.”

Autonomous University of Mexico in December 2022 released a paper stating there has been a reduction in eight wild agave plant varietals used for mezcal.

The problem is once the heart of the plant, or piña, is harvested, the plant dies.

“To make mezcal you need ripe agaves just before flowering. This implies the cancellation of the main form of reproduction: seeds. A single agave can produce hundreds of thousands of seeds, which are lost when harvested,” the paper states. “Not having a management plan that integrates reproduction in this way through germination in the nursery to promote reforestation that gives greater stability to wild populations, can have very serious implications for the maguey in the mountains.”

Agave is a slow grower—taking an average seven to 14 years for the piña to ripen. Some, though, can take as long as 40 years.           

While there are more than 200 types of agave, mezcal can be made from about 30 of them. Within the liquor producing varietals, some are better than others.

It’s similar to wine grapes. Not all are created equally.

According to Rosaluna, a producer of mezcal, “Of the agaves that are eligible for mezcal, there are really only five you need to know: espadín, tobalá, tepeztate, tobaziche, and arroqueño.”

Note: A version of this story first appeared in the Gringo Gazette.

Dry January stirs a more permanent desire for NA beer

No alcohol for an entire month.

I realize this isn’t my greatest accomplishment, but it is what I achieved in January.

I participated in Dry January, a concept that has been around since 2012. I survived all 31 days plus the first of February without alcohol. I celebrated by opening a nice bottle of wine on Feb. 2.

Deschutes Black Butte is one of the few non-alcoholic dark beers. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Wine. It’s what I missed last month.

I know there are non-alcoholic wines on the market, but they are not readily available in the stores I was shopping.

I did find a slew of non-alcoholic beers. I was trying them whenever I went out, which was more than usual last month because of my working vacation week in Tahoe. What surprised me the most is the greatest selection of NA—that’s how non-alcoholic drinks are referred to—beers was at the restaurant Barney’s in Paradise. The burger joint had five to choose from. I opted for the Lagunitas IPNA—even though it was February.

My favorite, though, was Deschutes Black Butte NA. I’m sure this has to do with my preference being dark beers. My friend, Darla, brought me a six to Tahoe for me. One day I hope to find a dark NA beer in Chico.

I chose to participate in Dry January for a variety of reasons. My friend, Joyce, had done so a year ago, which got me to seriously think about it. While I don’t drink a ton, I seem to drink every weekend. Could I even go 31 days? Then I wrote about all the options non-drinkers have for a story for the North Bay Business Journal which solidified my desire.

A variety of NA beer choices at Raley’s in Chico. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

I feel lighter. Not like I weigh less, because I didn’t lose weight through this journey. More like I’m not being weighed down. I feel a bit healthier. I admit this alcohol-free month also coincided with a few healthier eating choices.

I was a pretty healthy eater prior to January, so nothing drastic changed. For those who know me, yes, I’m still eating French fries.

Chico’s Sierra Nevada brewery in December released its first NA beer. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

What I might do going forward is add NA beer into my regular repertoire. I don’t drink a ton of beer. Mostly it’s in the summer, on a warm day or with certain foods. They gave me the flavor of beer—which is what I wanted. They are still empty calories, but fewer of them. I could also find them at breweries, so I felt like I as participating in the fun.

Wine, well, I need to try some NA ones to see if they could be added to my regular beverage selection. I’m also interested in trying the NA liquors I wrote about in that NBBJ story.

I don’t know if I will do Dry January again. Maybe. Seems like a good way to start the year. Then there’s always Sober October.

Mendocino Brewery a leader in environmental stewardship

Anderson Valley Brewing Company in Mendocino County was the first brewery in the world to use solar. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

It’s not just what’s in the can that matters. For Anderson Valley Brewing Company it’s about being good stewards of the land.

The Mendocino County brewery could have stopped years ago when in 2005 it became the first brewery in the world to install solar. Instead, the craft brewery continues to be on the leading edge of sustainability.

Most recently the current operators changed the packaging to eliminate plastic.

“We moved all packaging to the most sustainable packaging we could. All beer is in cans now with cardboard exterior wraps that allowed us to eliminate plastic,” Kevin McGee, CEO and president of the company, said. “We had to develop the packaging because it didn’t exist. We had to invest in a new packaging equipment to get the cans into the boxes.”

While he knows there is a cost savings to get rid of bottles and plastic, McGee hasn’t crunched the numbers to know that dollar figure.

“It was something we did because we knew sustainability-wise it was smart to do,” McGee said.

The switch to cans from bottles means the number of trucks needed to ship product has been reduced by 60%, McGee said. Weight is the big difference.

In keeping with the company’s quest to have as little waste as possible end up in a landfill, the bottling line was upcycled by being sold to a local winery.

Plastic is no longer part of Anderson Valley’s packaging. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Industry insights

Beer making isn’t necessarily an environmentally friendly business. It takes a ton of energy and water.

The Brewers Association’s “Energy Usage, GHG Reduction, Efficiency and Land Management Manual” says, “Refrigeration generally creates the largest electrical load, while brewing consumes the largest amount of natural gas.”

The Brewers Association represents more than 5,400 craft brewers.

“Energy used in a brewery breaks down into two primary units. Thermal energy in the form of natural gas is used to generate hot water and steam, which is then used in brewing, packaging and general building heating. Electrical energy is used to power all equipment, with the largest user being refrigeration,” the report says. “Thermal sources average 70% of the energy consumed in the brewery; however, it usually only accounts for 30% of the actual energy cost. Based on this, efforts to reduce electrical energy should be given top priority when considering energy reduction opportunities, as they account for the largest opportunity.”

The trade group launched its sustainability subcommittee in 2013. One outcome was a guide focusing on energy, water, wastewater, carbon dioxide and solid waste.

The group in 2014 wanted to prove to craft breweries that change could affect their bottom line. In a pilot program that year “savings ranged from $35,000 to $235,000 annually for small to larger craft breweries.”

A couple enjoys a beer in the large garden at AVBC. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

AVBC keeps evolving

 Anderson Valley Brewing Company (AVBC) knows it is leaving money on the table by continuing to operate a solar system that is nearly 20 years old.

That is why a $2 million project is on the drawing board. Exactly when the greenlight will be given to start construction remains a moving target. Plans were finalized in summer 2020, but then the world was shut down—including the Boonville brewery, and sales plummeted. It is still in a bit of a recovery mode.

When the new panels get installed, the solar production will go from powering 50% of the operations today to producing 110% of what the brewery needs, McGee said. He anticipates the excess will be sold to Sonoma Clean Power in Santa Rosa.

The arrays cover the brewhouse and a carport. Now the output is less than 400,000 kilowatt hours annually, with future panels forecast to deliver 861,000 kilowatt hours a year.

The plan calls for all of the more than 700 panels to be replaced, with an expansion to a neighboring building and elsewhere on the 30-acre parcel.

Once started, construction should take about three months. This includes building an on-site battery storage system.

“It will reduce our ongoing costs immediately,” McGee said. “It would pay for itself between eight and 10 years.”

Partnering with like-minded organizations is also a top priority. Coastal Ale, which was released this year, has 5% of its gross profits from packaged ales going to the Surfrider Foundation.

On its website the nonprofit says it is “dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches, for all people, through a powerful activist network.”

Anderson Valley is looking for other organizations to do the same thing.

A little history

McGee created a nanobrewery in his Healdsburg garage in 2007. Now his Healdsburg Beer Company is considered a sister brewery to Anderson Valley Brewing Company, which is owned by his father.

Michael McGee Sr. bought AVBC in 2019 from HMB Holdings. That group had purchased it from Ken Allen who founded Anderson Valley in 1987.

McGee, the CEO of Anderson, was employed by Santa Rosa’s Jackson Family Wines for six years where he was a  business strategist and personal legal counsel to Jess Jackson. After Jackson’s death in 2011, McGee started a consulting firm that focused on fixing problems for businesses.

The goal with Anderson Valley Brewing is for it to be in the McGee family for multiple generations. For now it’s dad as owner, McGee as CEO, and his wife, Katee, as creative director.

Three ponds filter the wastewater at Anderson Valley Brewing Co. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Proven practices

The University of Vermont published a report a few years ago saying for every barrel of beer produced it took three to seven barrels of water to make it.

Anderson Valley draws its water from the 10 wells on its land. All of the gray wastewater is released back on the property to recharge the aquifer.

This is done by an on-site wastewater treatment plant that has three ponds behind the main buildings that are in different stages of purification.

“We have a fully outfitted lab that we use for quality control and operations for the brewery and use that to monitor the state of the ponds,” McGee said. “We have reporting requirements.”

Allen, the original owner and founder of AVBC, was ahead of his time with the solar and ponds.

In 2020, a nitrogen generator was installed to take nitrogen from the ambient air that is then used instead of carbon dioxide. While McGee didn’t say how much it cost, he said it paid for itself in eight months.

He said a good deal of CO2 used at the brewery had nothing to do with carbonization, but instead was used to move liquid through the pipes. That’s now done with nitrogen.

All of the brewing waste like spent grains and yeast go to a local farmer for livestock feed.

“We are trying to be as self-sustaining as we can,” McGee said in reference to all of the brewery’s environmental initiatives.

Note: A version of this story first appeared in the North Bay Business Journal.

California consumers saddled with another questionable fee

I’m a huge proponent of recycling. But the bottle redemption gig California has going on? Not so sure it makes sense.

California starting this year is charging a 5 or 10 cent fee on every glass wine and spirits bottle, as well as on large fruit and vegetable juice containers. For consumers to get their “deposit” back they have to take those containers to a designated recycling center.

Mine already go in my blue bin for the garbage company to pick up each week. This means I’m out the money even though I’m recycling. For years I’ve been out the deposit on aluminum cans, beer bottles and the like.

I realize it’s my choice how I choose to recycle. I’m going with convenience. I don’t want to keep a separate container for redeemable goods that I would have to haul somewhere to get a couple bucks back.

According to CalRecycle, the nearest place for me to take my recyclables is in another town 15 miles away. Clearly, not convenient.

In fact, I’d likely spend more money in gas than I would get back in cash.

I feel like I’m being punished. I’m paying a fee that the state is going to get to keep.

I don’t know how I lose each year by not redeeming the depois. I don’t actually care. It’s the principle of the whole thing. It’s government overreach.

It’s hard for me to believe this added fee will get more goods recycled. This is one of those cases where I’d like to be proven wrong. I’d like to think the powers that be who continue to make California a bigger nanny state every year know what they are doing. I hope this change will be better for the greater good, but I don’t have much faith in government these days at any level.

Pioneering company in stainless steel water bottles still based in Chico

It’s hard to find someone these days without an insulated water bottle—at least in California.

A company that has been making these products for 20 years is based in Chico—Klean Kanteen. (Unfortunately, they don’t offer tours of the facility.)

Klean Kanteen’s special bottle after the 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

While these types bottles seem ubiquitous today, it wasn’t always the case.

“Back in 2002, there were no stainless steel water bottles for personal hydration, and the health and environmental issues linked to plastic use were not widely known. Seeing the issues early and clearly, Robert Seals, the inventor and founder of Klean Kanteen, began cobbling together the first prototype with things he bought at the local hardware store in Chico,” the company’s website says.

Klean Kanteen works with organizations to create environmentally friendly swag. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Klean Kanteen’s first BPA-free stainless steel bottles came to the market in 2004.

Siblings Jeff Cresswell and Michelle Michelle Kalberer bought the company a year later. Now it is an international success story.

It’s not just traditional water bottles, though, that the company makes. Cups for various uses, in various sizes—even baby bottles are available. They come with a variety of tops. Reusable straws are also for sale. Even food storage containers are available.

A few of their products are in our house. What I use the most is the stainless steel pint cup I got when I did the Wildflower Century bike ride a couple years ago. Pour a cold beer in it and the suds stays cold until the last drop. It’s perfect for taking into the hot tub because I don’t have to worry about it breaking.

Pre-flight ritual involves a stop at airport bar

When I hear “bloody Mary” I think travel, breakfast or a morning hot tub on a non-work day if someone else is making it.

(I don’t like making them; something about not measuring and therefore not tasting good.)

Kae, Cleo and Pam with a bloody Mary before a flight earlier this year. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

It’s interesting how certain drinks are associated with certain times of the day or activities.

The travel part started eons ago when my sister, Pam, and I missed a flight. We went to the airport bar and ordered a bloody Mary, or two. We had to do something to pass the time.

From then on we would have one before nearly every flight. We introduced it to people we traveled with. Some took to it, others thought drinking alcohol at 6am was a bit much, and others just don’t like tomato juice and vodka. And some have it sans vodka.

To me, it’s a festive way to start a trip.

The Reno airport makes a good spicy bloody Mary—or at least last time I was there it did. I was so enjoying one that I nearly missed my flight. How could I tell people on the other end that the reason I was delayed was because I was drinking? Not good. Luckily, I didn’t have to have that conversation.

This month I had my first BM at the Palm Springs airport. While I look forward to a return trip to the desert, I am definitely going to pass on this drinking ritual. It had to be the worst bloody Mary I’ve ever had. I couldn’t even finish it. I should have known it was going to be bad when the garnish was a single olive.

I don’t seem to have that many rituals or traditions, but this is one of them. I doesn’t matter if I’m flying alone, I still stop at the airport bar on most flights.

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