Wine Talk

Snooth User: Richard Foxall

Finally able to exhale (Some Days Are Diamonds)

Posted by Richard Foxall, Feb 14, 2015.

We finally got the news that we are approved for our planning permit.  Now comes the really trying part:  building permits, contractors' estimates, dislocation, refinancing, and dealing with the neighbor who tried to stop the project and who will harass the contractor.  But it's official:  I get a basement with room for a real cellar with temperature control, a new master suite, a family room, and an expanded dining room for Snooth offlines.  (There will be a guest room, but just one, so DV and GregT will still have to bunk together.)

The news came while I was traipsing through Sonoma Valley and DCV, asking OT for directions and driving times on the legs of the journey new to me.  (Sample conversation:  Me: "I was hoping for a little local intelligence."  OT: "Sorry, you called the wrong guy."  Me: "Well, you are local.  I figured I could be half right.")

The trip was interrupted by my burglar alarm going off.  Right, it's housecleaning day.  Almost on the bridge to Marin,  I turned around--I'd feel like hell if it turned out the cleaners got arrested on my account.  Shockingly, the Oakland cops got there before I did.  We smoothed it over and I was back on the road and probably didn't lose too much time because the authorities cleared a couple accidents off 101 N/bound during the delay.  Got to E. 8th Street in Sonoma before the official opening time of Patz and Hall, so I called the Rare Wine Co. across the street.  They were able to pull six bottles of Fichet Bourgogne Vielles Vignes, supposedly a vineyard right next to Montrachet or something, while I sat in the office. Great customer service--these guys always get it right.

Then on to Patz and Hall.  Sampled some of the Chardonnay and bought a Hyde Vineyard (Wente clone) that had superb acids and the malo my wife likes with no apparent oak (neutralized by the acids) to detract.  The tasting guys are total wine geeks and were very smooth about my name-dropping the winemaker's visit with the Snooth crew back when.  The Sonoma House is starting to feel very homey to me--interrupted the tasting to take a call from the wife, who is in NYC attending to a sick relative.  Talked to Will Bucklin of Old Hill Ranch and decided that today was not the day for a visit.  Drove through Bennett Valley, past Jemrose's vineyards and Matanzas Creek (underappreciated maker of, among other things, a really good Sauv Blanc), and headed up to Healdsburg. 

At Holdredge, picked up three bottles I had ordered, but I think I got the wrong bottles, so I'll wind up with these and three more and, honestly, I won't be sorry for the mistake, even if my wallet suffers.  Then a lunch at Dry Creek General Store, and on to Talty.  The place was like a shrine to Zin and GdP--huge posters of the Winery of the Year article.  Mike Talty did me two huge favors:  He dug out two bottles of the superlative 2010 Estate Zin (he lost over 60% of the crop to heat spikes) and he gave me a 10% discount on all the wine I bought.  My admiration of his wine is no secret, and his generosity is unequaled.

Last stop was Mauritson, which needs no introduction.  Clay and his assistant winemaker Emma were pouring today because they had to be there for the bottling anyway, so they were pouring.  This years's (2013) Sauv Blanc is very NZ-ish, not my thing at all, but Emma and I had a nice talk about her impending trip to Italy.  (Folks, if you weren't already jealous of people in the business, wait till you hear about the travel perks--distributors set up tastings, accommodations, and so on, but only if you make them money, I'd guess.  Airfare is on you in any case.)  I packed up my Rockpile Zin, Syrah, and Cabernet and hit the road.

And when I got home, I learned I have the permit at last and can start planning the cellar, small workshop, and expanded dining area.  If I keep my eyes on that vision, the moving, dust, expense and all the rest will be worth it.

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Replies

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 14, 2015.

I left out the other perks of the addition:  We're going to be adding huge solar capacity on the new roof, new insulation and energy efficiency features.  Watch this space!

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Reply by GregT, Feb 14, 2015.

The solar capacity is very nice. Hook your wine cellar into it so that at least if the power goes out, you'll protect your wine! Good luck with the construction project. I do everything myself so I don't have to deal with that, but the coordination is a bitch! Stay on top of things and look at the work before they cover it up.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 14, 2015.

The scope of the project and the difficulty of the neighbor means I will not apply for a owner-contractor exemption, but will hire someone to run interference.  That said, I have done structural, electrical, rough and finish carpentry for a number of my projects and would not dream of letting them seal anything up before I pass judgement on it.  Was just finishing up a small project in my kids' bathroom and shaking my head at the lack of attention to detail the workmen showed on a previous project, when I didn't have time and energy to look over their shoulders.  Rest assured, we won't use that contractor again.

If you build a new south facing roof, it's insane not to look at BIPV (built in photovoltaics) from the outset, since the added construction cost is smaller on a new roof and there are additional offsets in insulation, durability, and so on.  We will have a large south facing slab of roof, so it's ideal.  The cellar will be underground on the north side and very well insulated.  I think once we achieve proper temperature, fluctuation will be negligible. 

We also plan to put a really cool (sorry for the pun) Euro style air conditioner over the bedroom door--we fell in love with these in the Netherlands and Rome a few years back.

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Reply by outthere, Feb 14, 2015.

Very cool (pun intended). Keep us abreast on the project.Wish I could have joined you yesterday, damn customers.;)

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Reply by dvogler, Feb 14, 2015.

Fox, I had to go make something to eat at the halfway point of your saga. :)

Since your contractor will be taking out the building permits, there will be city inspectors coming to pass all phases.  You can just keep touring for wine!  Do everyone a favour though and make your plans and stick to them.  Changes will cost you.  Try to pick out things like cabinets (vanities) now because it will dictate how the plumbing will be roughed-in (eg: will they be modern floating cabinets with no doors?  Or standard box cabinets sitting on the floor?  Wall mounted faucet?  Special shower features?).  Nail down all these details and it will save headaches later.  Do you have natural gas?  Consider a built in fireplace for winter, a gas dryer and range and definitely an on-demand water heater.  Solar is a nice concept, but it will take years to recoup the outlay.  Insulate your cellar well and it won't be an issue during temporary power loss.

When Greg and I come, we can remove the old asbestos insulation from the attic for you.

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Reply by EMark, Feb 14, 2015.

Well, I gues it's about time that we live vicarriously through another Snoothers home improvement project. As if a project like this has enough aggravation, having to cope with a disagreeable neighbor would probably push me over the top.

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Reply by GregT, Feb 14, 2015.

Me too. I was blessed by having some of the finest neighbors in the entire world. I know I must have put them through hell. Guy across the street wasn't so lucky though, and his neighbor ended up calling the Bldgs Dpt and other agencies repeatedly. Since the jerk had 2 little kids, I told my friend to put vile sayings and porn on the side of his deck facing his neighbor, so that only the neighbor would be able to see it. He was a little classier than I am so he didn't do it but it would have been kind of funny anyway.

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Reply by JonDerry, Feb 14, 2015.

Congrats on moving forward Fox, I was wondering why you seemed to be off the boards for a few. 

Anyway, all sounds good from the cellar expansion, to the house, and the increase in wine inventory from the travels. Mine seems to be holding steady in the mid 500's

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 15, 2015.

Thanks, one and all.  Other reasons for being off the boards, too, and I hardly expect things to be less hectic over the next few months.

DV, the insulation was dealt with years ago.  A little transite pipe is the only problem left.  Should be a cinch.  We do know the vagaries of plan changes, and we have always been careful to choose wisely at the beginning.  We won't build a fireplace of any sort, already have gas dryer and stove, and won't be moving any of that.  We will probably switch to an on-demand water heater, although the current one if fairly new.  We are really excited to get a new furnace, since that is overdue, and we will completely revamp for multiple heating zones. 

OT, no customers = no money = no wine.  And that would be tragic.  Missing a lunch with me?  Not so tragic.

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Reply by dvogler, Feb 15, 2015.

Fox,

Your electric tank may not be very old, but it's not worth much.  Think of the electric bill reduction!  If you do keep it, at least get the plumbers to have a spot ready for an on-demand (appropriate spot for venting, gas roughed-in, drain nearby (for condensate).  Plan ahead.  They can put a BBQ box on the deck too (you just need a NG bbq).  An efficient furnace is great.  We put in American Standard units, but you mentioned a split system (the head over the bedroom door).  If you have a heat pump, you don't need a furnace.  That would mean no ducts either.  During rough-in, the plumbers (or hvac guys) would run line-sets from the heat pump location to each head, generally through the attic.  These are two small, insulated copper lines.  For your location, this would be ideal.  I've installed some of these, but in Victoria we've not really required air-conditioning in summer.  It's nice to have though.  Is your neighbour truly a d-bag?  Could you give a peace offering now and try to mitigate future tension? 

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Reply by outthere, Feb 15, 2015.

Believe me,Oakland needs A/C about 2 days a year.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 15, 2015.

We won't need AC in any room but the master bedroom, so we're doing one of these cool Euro units as soon as I can figure out where I saw them.  I wanted a tankless when we got our current hot water unit about ten years ago, but not very many plumbers were up to speed.  Given that we are starting from scratch on heating, water, etc., or practically so, and considering the progress they have made in tankless, I'm pretty sure that's where we will go. 

On the heating side, a heat pump is impractical according to our architect, but we'll put in a system that allows for separate thermostats in the upstairs sleeping area, upstairs living area, which will face north, downstairs living area, and the two downstairs bedrooms, as much as that is possible. 

DV, I could have piped for a gas grill years ago when I did the kitchen, but perhaps you should search the threads:  I am going completely the other direction, going backwards from briquets, to lump charcoal, to now using wood and even making charcoal by incomplete combustion of the wood.  Best thing of all:  If it's smoky, it goes into the loser neighbor's yard in huge billows.

Yes, it's too late for a peace offering.  This clown cost me $5600 during another project by making a late complaint about my builder's drawings through totally inappropriate channels (he screwed that person, too, after she did him the "favor" of putting a stop on our permit after another planner had granted it) and cost me a month on this project by making a comment after the public comment period was over.  He can't afford to appeal our variance, I suspect, but he knew he could cause problems by waiting till the last possible moment. 

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Reply by dvogler, Feb 16, 2015.

Are you talking "De Evolution"?  Sounds like you guys are trying to get back to basics.  Will you be pulling your women by the hair into your caves?  Law?  What?  Me hunter/gatherer!  I get meat, cook on wood fire!

 

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Reply by dmcker, Feb 16, 2015.

How many bottles between how many people tonight, DV? Comments get plenty entertaining, though, so I'm not complaining. Just observing...  ;-)

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Reply by dvogler, Feb 16, 2015.

sorry ...I'm not feeling so hot this morning.

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Reply by outthere, Feb 16, 2015.

Maybe you should go back to eating fake carrots?

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Reply by dmcker, Feb 16, 2015.

Juice them and maybe they'll carry their weight. Hydrating on supermarket pre-peeled 'baby' carrot juice! Sounds appetizing, doesn't it DV?

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Reply by JonDerry, Feb 16, 2015.

So what's for breakfast?

Got a chicken wing and coffee, will have to do this time.

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Reply by dvogler, Feb 16, 2015.

I couldn't keep down mini-wheats...had to go to work anyway.  Stopped and got an egg mcmuffin and it was like a miracle cure!

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 17, 2015.

It's my OP and I approve this thread drift.

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