Tess on the Town: Longtime vintner profile


WHAT: Mesa County Fair.

WHEN: Tuesday through Sunday, July 17–21.

WHERE: Mesa County Fairgrounds, 2785 U.S. Highway 50.

INFORMATION: http://www.mesacountyfair.com.

Carl Hochmuth has been bringing home award-winning ribbons — red, white and blue — on and off for 30 years.

Last year, the amateur winemaker brought home two blue ribbons from the Mesa County Fair. His 2009 port won best of show and his 2008 merlot won judge’s choice.

Carl, who is retired, splits his time between a number of creative diversions. “I can go fishing anytime I want, I can play golf anytime I want, and I garden and make wine.”

It helps that he’s also a Master Gardener. He grows just four vines of Riesling and cabernet sauvignon grapes in his backyard. He has a small yard, and four vines are sufficient for his needs.

Each vine can produce three to five gallons of wine, he said.

Although he makes most of his wine from the grapes he grows or procures from friends, he’s not averse to the kit wines. They are, however, expensive compared to growing, buying or scrounging local grapes.

He’s had some good batches from kit wines he bought at Lil’ Ole’ Winemaker in downtown Grand Junction. It’s also where he buys his equipment.

Carl doesn’t confine himself to the haute varieties of wine. “The best wine I ever made was crab apple. It shimmered like pearl,” he said. And his plum wine won a best of show in an amateur competition in 2004.

The homegrown vintner recommends that anyone interested in winemaking “read all you can and talk to the folks at local wine supply stores.”

Carl hasn’t yet decided if he’ll enter his wine in this year’s fair. He still has a few days to decide.

Next week’s Mesa County Fair begins Tuesday, July 17, and concludes Saturday, July 21. And for any hops-heads out there, the fair also has a category for homemade beer.

NANNY STATE: At a July 9 protest rally dubbed The Million Big Gulp March, New Yorkers demanded their right to buy and consume huge quantities of sugary soda.

The revolt follows Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal that the Big Apple ban the sale of sodas larger than 16 ounces. The mayor has previously targeted restrictions of cigarettes and junk food, citing public health concerns.

Opponents of the ban said the proposal is stepping on their personal freedoms. “Hands off my bladder,” read a sign hoisted by one protester.

City Councilmember Dan Halloran, a Republican from Queens who is running for Congress, said Bloomberg’s stance on soda size challenged “the principles on which our country was founded.”

For those of you counting political party labels, Bloomberg was a Democrat, then a Republican and he’s now an Independent.

What I thought was funny were the reactions of foreigners to the proposed ban, as reported by The Associated Press. While generally in favor of freedom of choice, they were aghast that anybody would want that much pop.

From Brazil: “It’s so weird for us, the idea that a person would drink more than a liter of soda — that’s huge. Americans are such exaggerated consumers.”

From Great Britain: The idea of drinking that much soda, or liquid of any kind, is “excessive,” even during a three-hour movie. “I would probably have to go to the bathroom and end up missing half the movie.”

SO LONG: Grand Junction lost two dining options this month.

Pat and Marilyn Olson, owners of Papa Kelsey’s Pizza and Subs are retiring and will close up shop at the end of this month.

And Hyeongie Korean Restaurant, due in part to its tucked-away location, couldn’t make it work and closed.

QUOTE: “You haven’t drunk too much wine if you can still lie on the floor without holding on.” — Dean Martin

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