Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Direct From Hadsten House In Solvang, CA: Day Seven: October 11th: Pig Heaven, Rancho De La Florecita, Ostrich Land, Los Olivos Cafe

"Adventures In Wine Country" with C0-Hosts Chuck Byers and Greg Rist is a new series airing in April 2010 on CHEX Television Channel 12 Durham and in the Greater Toronto Area.

Mission Santa Innez
The day started well with me going to Mass at Mission Santa Innez. Founded in 1804 and named for Saint Agnes by Father Estaven Tapis, a Franciscan missionary, it is the oldest functioning church in North America. The missions were founded by Father Junifero Serra in 1769. Father Serra was a kind of enigma since he forsook all earthly pleasures---even wine---and in some cases seriously hurt himself through self inflicting abyses. In spite of this, he did introduce viticulture to Santa Ynez by bringing grape vine cuttings from Mexico and planting them in the area. This in effect, started the seeds for the wine industry that exists now although the vines were originally intended for religious purposes. Some wineries such as the Ancient Peaks Winery in Sana Margarita (where the shell of a mission known as "Assistencia" still exists) have planted the historic "Mission Grapes" in honour of these pioneering missionaries. For interests sake, Father Junipero Serra also founded a mission in this area in 1772.
I enjoy going to Mass at Mission Santa Innez since it keeps me in touch with my spritual and viticultural sides all at once.
Pig Heaven:: Lil' Orphan Hammies
Potbellied Pigs were once the rage and many still use them as a pet. However, the problem is that small cute pigs like any other animal with the exception of the common Guppy (a small tropical fish) grow to be much larger---some weighing a couple of hundred pounds or more! These are certainly not any where near the average household pet.
What happens to these intelligent and basically loving creatures is that people find out the real truth and get rid of them---some dying horrible and nasty deaths.
Enter Sue Parkinson, cute, tough, smart, dedicated and rescuer/defender of Pot Bellied Pigs everywhere.
Sue started out as most did with a Potbellied pig as a pet. She quickly realized two things a) she liked them and b) they didn't remain 30 pounds for ever. She also found out that many so called pet lovers were either abusing them or abandoning them. Sue started accepting pigs at her farm which quickly became a sanctuary.
News articles on newspapers and television publicized the sanctuary and Lil' Orphan Hammies was founded as a sanctuary for homeless and abused pigs.
That was in 1990's. When we visited there were now over 100 pigs of all ages in the sanctuary. The cute little pig village had houses for the pigs as well as a communal feed and special areas for pigs who ate slower either due to old age or infirmity. The pigs, all of which were not for sale, lived out their lives in relative ease and contentment.
They received all the care, medical and lodging, that they required plus one more thing----each one was loved.
The pigs also displayed talents. The artist in the group was Duke, the guitar playing pig (he really did). Duke also plays the xylophone. As a matter of fact, Duke was approached by Jay Leno regarding an appearance on the "Tonight" show. Duke turned him down 'cause he wanted more feed per trick and Leno could only give so much!!!
Sue's sanctuary has proved to be a salvation for these creatures and donations can be made via her at Sue Parkinson, c/o Box 924, Solvang, CA, 93464. The total amount will go toward helping a Lil' Orphan Hammie!!
Rancho De La Florecita
Back in the days of the Conquistadors, when Pizarro was busy exterminating the Incas in Peru, a group of horses emerged that were strong, sturdy, full of endurance and sure footed with a nice gait and temperament. What these horses gave up in speed and agility was made up in their ability be easy to ride and work in all types of terrain and climates.
Today, these horses are still known for the same talents as they had in the past. Now they are used in many countries as great riding horses and for competitions.
Brian and Terry Jarchow started riding these horses back in 1981 when Terry learned that in spite of her bad back (surgery), she could ride a Peruvian Paso without discomfort or damage to her back. The love affair began then and resulted in a breeding program that resulted in many national champions and a whole career/business and passion.
From the first time that I had spoken to Terry and subsequently brought my family to visit the farm, I knew that I would do something about this fascinating breed and of course on Brian and Terry themselves.
Greg and I came over to film and were not disappointed. Terry pulled out all the stops (as she usually does) and introduced us to her champions. Riders Enrique Subauste, Vincente Analdon, Tessa Brown and Helen Brown performed some precision riding techniques for us and were dressed in full traditional outfits.This was most impressive to all of us watching. Greg decided that he wanted a try and was escorted onto one of the horses and given a ride around the riding area. Greg, filmed as he rode.
The horses were magnificent and I was so very impressed with the grace and beauty of these horses who were ridden so well by trainers Enrique and Vincente as well as National Riding Champs Helen and Tessa.
Unfortunately, due to unexpected problems we could not go to our main destination of Tawley Vineyards in Arroyo Grande but there will always be a next time.
We did however manage to get to Ostrich Land later on that day. As part of the movie "Sideways" Ostrich Land played a small part where one of the characters mentions being chased by a group of Ostriches through a field. He was lucky to have had only that happen to him since these birds can get to be nine feet tall and weigh some 250 to 300 pounds. Their kick could easily break the jaw of a lion so imagine a human fooling around with one of them. No chance! By the way, they also can run 45 miles per hour.
Both Greg and I found the birds quite amusing. They were quite safe to be around and were quite interested in his shirt and buttons. Me, they liked to peck at my hands and fingers. They were really not a problem when they pecked either. Just curious.
We then went over to the Los Olivos Cafe for some shooting and a great meal as usual. The meal was a Paella that had rice and sea food. It was delicious! Of course the accompaniment was a Bernat Syrah, one of my all time favourite wines. The food and wine went lovely and after an interview with Sam Marmorstein, the cafe's owner, it was to go and veg at our Hadsten Refuge.
End Of Day Seven