Celebrating our abundance

December 2, 2013

 

PHOTO COURTESY BLAKE ALLEY My son Blake Alley (third from left) celebrates with the rest of the Information Systems Tech for Submarines A-School graduates.

PHOTO COURTESY BLAKE ALLEY
My son Blake Alley (third from left) celebrates with the rest of the Information Systems Tech
for Submarines A-School graduates.

This Thanksgiving we were headed for Groton, Conn. to visit my son Blake, who is stationed at the Navy base. Blake couldn’t come to us, so … off we go to the wind, snow and turkey!

That’s right, weather permitting, we should have arrived at about 12:10 a.m. Thanksgiving eve, just in time to cook Thanksgiving dinner for a few of the submariners and spend some much needed time with Blake. I’m so proud of his service to our country and he certainly feels the same way. Go Blake!

As we speed through December, I’m always so thankful for the many blessings we’ve enjoyed during the year. We are certainly surrounded by abundance in the Central Valley. Living in the middle of a vineyard has really increased my respect for Mother Nature.

The Valley’s local grape harvest, yet again, is headed for record yields, especially the “old vine zin” variety. The weather was perfect for the grapes: high quality, high yield! You can read more about the harvest on page 8.

According to Blue Diamond Growers, the 2013 almond harvest is targeted for a third year of increases. Last year a whopping $828 million was paid to growers, making this the single largest yield ever paid to growers. Geez, we are blessed to live in the middle of such great ag land!

Talk about blessings! The Jackson Rancheria Band of Miwuk Indians has voted to raise the minimum wage for its employees to $10.60. This was without the Jerry Brown mandated increase. They saw the need of their employees and could afford it, so … Bingo! The raises starting Jan.1 will cost Jackson Rancheria as much as $1 million annually.

Way to reward your employees. Sounds like business is good at the Ranch! Another hot spot getting a makeover is Sierra-at-Tahoe. If you’re looking for a place to snow ski that’s close to home, I suggest taking a look at Sierra. The folks there invested $5 million in enhancements over the summer. It’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser, see you on the slopes!

One of my favorite holidays is Christmas. The spirit of giving is in the air and the many needed donations to favorite charities should be on all of our lists. If you need help deciding where your gifts would be most needed, give United Way of San Joaquin CEO Andy Prokop or United Way of Stanislaus CEO Francine DiCiano a shout. Their organizations umbrella many charities in need.

While out shopping this Christmas, I suggest you visit Berghold Winery in Lodi. If it’s Santa you’re looking for, look no further. Kay Berghold is the architect behind the Santa scene. Kay handcrafts several, life size Santas throughout the year and displays them during the holidays for guests to enjoy.
If you simply fall in love with one of the jolly fellows, well, do what I was so inclined to do: wrap him up and escort him home. No need to wait for a chimney visit, and it’s much less mess!

Sebastian, the first addition to our family, stands firmly next to the fireplace, welcoming visitors to our home each year. Take the entire family on a “Santa outing.” Kids big and small will thank you. (Of course, wine tasting for mom and dad is permitted!) Words cannot describe the detail, effort and beauty of Kay’s Santa creations, they are “the real deal.” We no longer cut down a tree, we adorn the bottom of his robe with gifts. Truly spectacular! The gift that keeps on giving!

As you shop this holiday season, remember: shop local and support your favorite merchants!

Merry Christmas and God bless America

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