Insane falls, gnarly faceplants and epically torn ankle ligaments were stunts Unfiltered could pull off as a kid even without attempting to balance on a small, fast-moving, possibly flimsy wheeled conveyance—so we reluctantly gave up our pro skateboarding dreams. But now, skaters are now crossing over to the wine world. First, bubbly brand Luc Belaire teamed up with skate team Plan B on a wine-themed skateboard. This week finds the Setting winemaker Jesse Katz doing Cabernet kickflips with Tony Hawk: The California vintner is releasing special-edition bottles of wine with labels bearing an embossed outline Hawk, airborne, as well as the half-pipe legend's signature. Proceeds will support the Tony Hawk Foundation, which raises money to build skate parks for kids in impoverished areas.
"My passion growing up was skateboarding and snowboarding, and Tony was a lot of my inspiration," wrote Katz in a Facebook post he shared with Unfiltered. "Traveling the world with my family, I brought my skateboard everywhere, from the cobblestone streets of France to the dirt streets of India. Many of these places I was not able to skateboard. Now, thanks to the Tony Hawk Foundation, you find skate parks on the boardwalk of Bordeaux to small towns [around] the U.S." According to Katz, the wine is a Cabernet blend sourced from a hillside vineyard in Sonoma's Alexander Valley.
If the Setting sounds familiar, it has appeared in the space before: NFL linebacker Von Miller sent bottles as a stocking stuffer to every player in the AFC West division last year, and a custom label for Hollywood manager and producer Shep Gordon broke records at the Emeril Lagasse Foundation's charity auction last month.
Pomace, wine's pulpy remnants of grape skins, stems and seeds left over in the vat after the juice is sloughed off, turns out to be a pretty useful form of trash: It's been creatively recycled into muffins, skin cream, vegan leather, liquor, the works. The grain equivalent of pomace in the production of beer and some liquors is called stillage, and one brewery/winery/distillery in upstate New York has found yet another way to repurpose such waste products. Five & 20 Spirits and Brewing is using stillage, wastewater and other booze refuse to feed fish.
Five & 20, in partnership with TimberFish Technologies, "opened" the fish farm in September and hope to have their first fish “harvest” early spring or summer of 2018. The liquor leftovers feed microbes and invertebrates, which are in turn eaten by three species of fish: large-mouth bass, yellow perch and channel catfish. Once the fish are fattened up, they'll be served at Five & 20's restaurant, perhaps to be paired with a beverage born of the same grain they lived on.
Five & 20 projects it could produce 2 to 3 million pounds of seafood a year, and eventually, the waste produced by the fish could then be used to fertilize crops that make the drinks that feed the fish that fertilize the crops and on and on, bringing the circle of life to completion.
In 2009, Ron Rubin was training for a marathon when he had a life-threatening scare: ventricular tachycardia, a heart rhythm disorder caused by abnormal electrical signals. After he was rushed to the hospital, a defibrillator saved him. Now, Rubin is kicking off the "Trained for Saving Lives" program to equip Sonoma County wineries with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) unit and provide CPR/AED/First Aid training courses for winery staff.
In partnership with the American Red Cross and ZOLL Medical Corporation, Rubin is covering the cost of the machine for any Sonoma winery that wants one, and has already had 33 takers since starting the project in late November. "There are 450 wineries in Sonoma County, so that's our goal," Rubin told Unfiltered. "Owning a winery in Sonoma County, we spend a lot of time on our sustainability certification, and of course, Sonoma County has this goal of getting all the wineries certified. Part of sustainability is making sure that your staff are trained and safe."
Rubin's no newbie when it comes to helping out the wine community. Earlier this year, he established the Ron Rubin/Maynard Amerine Wine Label and Menu Collection Fund, which helps make the wine labels and restaurant menus collected by the late Maynard Amerine available for public access and study. In 2015, he made a sizeable pledge to the Wine Spectator Learning Center at Sonoma State University.
"I've been blessed and fortunate that we're in a position to do that," he said. "I just want to help others." Sonoma County vintners interested in joining the program can contact Rubin directly.