Category Wakawaka Chronicles

Hawk Wakawaka Interviewed over at Grape Collective

Interview at Grape Collective

If you haven’t checked out Grape Collective yet, you should. It’s a new site that’s brought together a wealth of good wine writers to look into wine, regions, and people from all over the world.

Today, it happens they decided to interview me. Jameson Fink pushed me into talking about my background in academia as it relates to wine, what personal stories have to do with it, and what it’s like to draw a wine label.

Here’s a preview:

Wakawaka at Grape Collective

To read the interview (subscribe to their newsletter while you’re at it. It’s worth the read): https://grapecollective.com/articles/speakeasy-elaine-chukan-brown-hawk-wakawaka-wine-reviews

Cheers!

Hawk Wakawaka Reddit AMA (complete w Long-Dog-Gone Answers)

Ask Me Anything Posted at Reddit.com

Hi folks, as I announced last week, I was asked to do a Reddit.com AMA (Ask me Anything), and did so this recent Sunday. It was a lot of fun and there were some thoughtful (and some playful) questions offered.

If you’re dying to know things like how I fund my site, when I first fell in love with wine, or the importance of leather check it out. Here’s a preview, and then the link.

reddit ama

If you’re not familiar with Reddit.com, at this stage, don’t worry. Just click on the link. You can then read through questions and comments in a scrolling fashion.

Here’s the link: http://www.reddit.com/r/wine/comments/1w6uep/im_hawk_wakawaka_wine_writer_and_drawer_ask_me/

Thanks to Erin Socha!

Cheers!

***

I’ve spent the weekend sick in bed, unfortunately. I caught a cold my last day in Santa Barbara County after spending three hours doing barrel samples in a cold cellar. So, responding to the AMA was as much writing energy as I had in me. I’ll be getting back to more in-depth blog posts. Cheers!

Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Hawk Wakawaka Sunday Jan 26

Reddit AMAs

Over at the social media, internet-gathering website Reddit.com there is a tradition called AMA — that is, Ask Me Anything. Reddit.com curators invite leaders in a field to interact with Reddit.com users curious to see what insights can be gained.

Reddit.com hosts a wine forum and has asked me to be an AMA guest this coming Sunday, January 26. As a Reddit.com user you’re invited to post a question you’d like to see me answer. Registration there is easy. I’ll be checking in once an hour over the course of Sunday to answer questions as they appear.

Here’s the link to the Reddit.com wine community page: http://www.reddit.com/r/wine . My AMA will appear there first thing this Sunday morning.

If you’re interested in seeing an example of another Reddit.com Wine-related AMA check-out Tom Wark’s from this recent Sunday here: http://www.reddit.com/r/wine/comments/1vketa/im_tom_wark_wine_marketer_blogger_champion_of/

Here’s more info on the current round of AMAs in the wine community from one of the moderators: http://www.reddit.com/r/wine/comments/1uxsww/sunday_amas_are_coming_here_is_the_first_two_dates/

Cheers!

Hawk Wakawaka Interviewed at Le Metro

Interview at Le Metro – Wine. Underground.

Aaron Epstein, curator of the monthly Le Metro wine service, asked if he could interview me for the work I did in December developing food pairings for their bubbles collection. We end up getting into growing up on muktuk and seal oil, falling in love with French foods, and my being considered “the moose meat underground.”

Here’s a preview:

Le Metro Interview

Here’s the link: http://lemetrowine.com/food-pairing-profile-elaine-chukan-brown-volume-vii/

Cheers!

Hawk Wakawaka Interview at Imbibe Magazine On Tap Online

Interview at Imbibe Magazine

Imbibe Magazine selected me as one of their #Imbibe75 beverage people to watch in the upcoming year. They decided to include an additional online interview, with one of my favorite wine review comics as well.

The drawing originates from a special vertical tasting a few of us got to do with Cristian and Serena of Ronco del Gnemiz in Colli Orientali del Friuli. They’re best known for their white wines but also produce a small amount of beautiful Schioppettino and shared with us the first Schioppettino vertical they’d ever done. It’s one of the loveliest wine tastings I’ve ever shared.

Here’s a preview…

Imbibe Online Interview

And here’s the link

http://imbibemagazine.com/Interview-With-Elaine-Chukan-Brown

Cheers!

I hope you enjoy a wonderful New Year’s Celebration!

Imbibe Magazine Names Hawk Wakawaka an #Imbibe75 Person to Watch for 2014

I just got news from Imbibe Magazine, a national print publication focused on drinks culture around the world — coffee, infused beverages, cocktails, wine, beer, and all the people that make it happen.

Each January/February issue they select 75 people, places, and flavors to watch during the upcoming year. As they describe it, “Every year at this time, we survey the drinkscape, look ahead to what the coming year has in store and highlight the 75 people, places and flavors we’re looking forward to watching in the year ahead.”

It turns out for 2014 they picked me as one of their people to watch. The January/February issue has hit subscribers and will be arriving at newsstands soon. Later this month they’ll include an online feature for this issue with more on their #Imbibe75 (including an additional interview with me).

Thanks so much to Imbibe Magazine for thinking of me! They were kind enough too to offer a PDF of my inclusion to share.

Elaine Chukan Brown in Imbibe

Elaine Chukan Brown in Imbibe

Elaine Chukan Brown in Imbibe

click on any of the above three magazine images to enlarge

***

Thank you to Imbibe Magazine. Thank you to Miranda Rake.

Happy Holidays, Everyone! I hope you’re enjoying. Cheers!

Flowing in Gratitude for 2013: Time to take a break

Moments from 2013 in Photos

It’s overwhelming to look back through the mass of photos, and stack of wine interview/tasting notebooks I developed in the 2013 calendar year. I can’t say clearly enough how grateful I am.

I went through the photos I’ve taken, and picked a few images to highlight moments from the year. It reminded me how important it is to look back just for a sense of perspective. I didn’t realize how much I’d done until I took the time to consider it.

Here are a few photos. It was hard to choose.

Lagier Meredith

Visiting with Carole Meredith and Stephen Lagier of Lagier-Meredith, aka SCIENTIST LEGEND and SYRAH MASTER (I’m realizing I should send them capes)

Santa Barbara, Pence Ranch

Touring the Sta Rita Hills as part of two weeks devoted to Santa Barbara County wine, here one of the dogs of Pence Ranch.

The Southern Ocean, Australia

Standing in front of the Southern Ocean while traveling Victoria, Australia

Napa Valley Marathon

Watching my brother-in-law run the Napa Valley Marathon. So proud of him.

Old Vines with Morgan Twain Peterson and Carla Rzewszewski

Visiting the iconic, old vine, elevation Monte Rosso Vineyard with Morgan Twain-Peterson and Carla Rzeszewski

Smith-Madrone

the aftermath of an excellent afternoon with Smith-Madrone

7 Percent Tasting

Ryan Glaab, Hardy Wallace, and Pax Mahle before the 7 Percent Solution Tasting

Santa Cruz Mountains

Spending time in the Santa Cruz Mountains, here with the gang at Fogarty Vineyards

Wine Label for Between Five Bells

My label for the Australian wine, Between Five Bells H-Cote Blend, shown here as it wraps the bottle–It was even selected as “Beautiful Thing for the Week” by Australia’s Wine Business Magazine. Custom wall pieces of my drawings also went up in the new wine room of the Villandry Restaurant in London, and in multiple homes and tasting rooms in the United States, and I got to illustrate for a few different magazines and wine programs, including Serious Eats, and Le Metro.

Lodi w Tegan Passalacqua

Visiting Lodi over several trips in both Summer and Fall, here in the Peninsula of Mokelumne River AVA with Tegan Passalacqua

Ron Silva, Lodi

Spending time in people’s homes sharing wine, heritage, and interviews, here with Ron Silva as he prepares Portuguese food for dinner, Alta Mesa AVA

The Perlegos Brothers, Lodi

Exploring old vine vineyards with the Perlegos brothers, Clements Hills AVA

Hank Beckmeyer, Sierra Foothills

Meeting the goats at La Clarine Farm with Hank Beckmeyer

Chris Pittenger and Hardy Wallace, Sierra Foothills

Touring through various El Dorado Vineyards with Chris Pittenger and Hardy Wallace

Willamette Valley, Remy and Lisa

Visiting with dear friends in Willamette Valley, Oregon, here Remy Drabkin and Lisa Shara Hall

50th Wedding Anniversary

Celebrating my parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary

Evan Frazier

Tasting through the complete history of winemaking from newer labels of California, here Evan Frazier of Ferdinand

Matthew Rorick

Keeping up with ongoing stories in Napa wine, here Matthew Rorick harvesting his St Laurent from Carneros

Languedoc

Tasting and Touring the Languedoc, lunch floating the canal du Midi from Carcassonne

Valdobbiadene

Visiting Valdobbiadene, and the hills of the Prosecco DOCG, here with Silvia, Primo, and Annalisa Franco of Nino Franco

Venice

Traveling Northern Italy with friends, here with Jeremy Parzen in Venice

Chile

Tasting and Driving through Chilean wine from Santiago, the Holy Virgin at the top of San Cristobal Hill

Argentina

Studying and Touring Wines of Mendoza, Argentina along the foot of the Andes

***

I have so much to write still. My stack of notebooks from the last year is over 10 inches high. This month still I have a number of illustrations and wall pieces, plus a couple of labels to do, and freelance articles to write, along with tastings and interviews with winemakers. My plate is full. I am so grateful. I am also tired.

To celebrate I’ve decided to take the rest of the year off from posting on this blog. I’ll be catching up on tons of work off blog. Also, it’s time to rejuvenate through the dark month, and come back in the new year refreshed and excited again for work.

Looking forward to seeing you here just after the new year. In the meantime, feel free to email me, as always, or find me on Twitter or Facebook.

Enjoy a wonderful remainder of December, and the holidays. Thankful with all my heart.

Copyright 2013 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com

 

 

Generations of Gratefulness: Bringing my Family to South America

I was raised in a multi-generational family in which the strongest tradition is sharing what we appreciate, and what we have learned through stories about the history of our own and our family’s lives. In thanks for the people with whom I was able to travel Chile and Argentina, I share this story. Thank you.

***

Travel from Alaska to Argentina

I was six the first time my maternal Great Grandmother, Umma, left the state of Alaska. As a full Aleut, she’d lived her life on the Western coast in first one fishing village, and then another. The area is Russian Orthodox.

Orthodox priests were assigned regions to lead, rather than individual churches. Every few months the priest would arrive in a village, and the people would quickly get married, buried, and baptized. And confess.

Confessions occurred in the small church cabin painted with holy pictures, and maintained by my Great Grandfather. Inside, the village would gather, most standing except for seats for the elder women. My Umma would sit through the service, as I stood behind her, my hands crossed on her right shoulder.

Villagers would wait through incense and prayers, blessings till time for confession, then stand in a line to speak to the priest. But first the priest would cross to the front to give communion to Umma where she sat, then return to the back to receive all the others.

Confessions in Orthodox tradition occur in full view, rather than to the side in a small box of a room. After the people proceeded past the priest at the back of the church they would continue in a circle around the sides, kissing holy pictures, till they met Umma. Then the villagers would stand and wait to greet and kiss her too. Sometimes they would also bless me. She was an elder of the community. As her great grandchild, I received honor from her too. It was a blessing I carried with me by being her relation.

My mother was the oldest of her family. She was raised by her grandparents, while also close to her parents. It was partially tradition of staying close to her elders, partially particulars of their own family.

As the story was told, when still young enough to walk to the back of the church, Umma met with the priest. My mom was still little. He said to my Great Grandmother, “someday this one will take you much farther than you’ve ever expected.” Our trip out-of-state was the journey.

Our entire family traveled together landing in Seattle, then driving to Oregon to my Aunty for Easter. I sat in the back, on the edge of the seat between my great grandparents on one side, my middle sister on the other. In the front, my parents and oldest sister rode. On the drive we would come around corners and discover another tall building, or a greater expanse through the trees. Umma would grab my back, squeeze, and whisper, Aling-na! her surprise for everything new that greeted her. On our arrival in Oregon we shared a bedroom. She told me the story for the first time of how the priest had predicted our travel.

She told me too how after I was born she would look at me and smile, then say to my mom, I don’t know where that one came from. It was her way to say too she didn’t know how far I would go.

My parents were both raised in coastal villages. My father, Inupiat, originates further North. Their home regions were small enough both chose to board elsewhere in the state for high school. For university they studied in Fairbanks, where finally they met and decided to marry. Both remained close to their extended families but in having children they made a choice to raise their daughters outside their villages. We spent winters in Anchorage attending a mainstream school, summers on the Western coast commercial fishing with our Native family.

My parents’ wish for their children was for us to be clearly based in our Native heritage while capable of asking only what it was we wanted to do, without question of if we could do it. A life migrating between Anchorage for school in the winters, and the coast for work in the summers was part of that.

Reflecting on my recent trip to South America, I find myself overwhelmed by generations of gift. I am the only member of my family, besides my daughter, that no longer lives in Alaska. My sisters are both quite accomplished but have chosen to live their lives there in the state of our birth. In this way, I stand both as a fulfillment of my parents’ wish that we succeed in the broader world, and as the one who suffers an effect of that gift without family near by. Family for Native people is integral to who we are, and part of any accomplishment we keep. It is me that must do my work, but my family that has made that possible.

We departed Argentina recently on their mother’s day, a celebration in recognition of the generations of women that are family. Before leaving we shared lunch with Nicolas and Elena Catena. They are two people that, like Robert Mondavi for California wine, helped carry Argentine wine into the greater international presence it has today. Spending time with them was an honor.

We were asked, each of us, to speak to what we learned in tasting wine in Argentina. Alyssa Vitrano began by realizing the parallels of her Italian heritage with that of many of the people in wine of Argentina. Mary Orlin, Kelly Magyarics, and Mary Gorman-McAdams spoke eloquently about the quality of the wines we’d tasted, and the intricacies of vineyards with landscape. We all mentioned the warmth of people that received us. When it came my turn to speak I was flooded with the voice of my Great Grandmother — her story from the priest and my birth. Sitting with such accomplished, warm-hearted people there in Argentina, my family’s wishes for me had sent me farther than I ever expected.

***
Thank you most especially to Marilyn Krieger and David Greenberg.

Thank you to Alfredo Bartholomaus, Alyssa Vitrano, Kelly Magyarics, Mary Orlin, and Mary Gorman-McAdams.

Thank you to Nicolas and Elena Catena.

Copyright 2013 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com

Life with Food

Life with FoodMy first day of school

my first day of school with Jr., age 2

For over a year I barely ate. My daughter’s father and I split when she was a year and a half. It was a difficult departure that included leaving our belongings, and taking no financial support from him. When the divorce was finalized he quit his high paying job making the court imposed child support irrelevant. I lived with my parents for eighteen months, then left Alaska and returned to school. In three years my degree was complete–a double major of Philosophy and Literature, with an honors degree and thesis.

Jr was two when I started classes. Having managed to afford the move, to win funding for college, to start with my daughter beside me, I was happy. I couldn’t afford to study full time, raise my daughter and also work so I applied for scholarships and grants continuously. Both my college and her preschool, as a result, were funded. The income for everything else would ebb and flow depending on the time of year but she got two meals through her preschool. I ate on my own in the day, with her at nights and on weekends.

Towards the end of my second year my funding was cut thanks to a reduction in state spending. We were living in Arizona. I knew we’d leave for Alaska and commercial fishing at the end of May, but it was March. At the start of each semester I’d purchase food staples that could last just in case. We started eating them. I’d give Rachel the canned goods with grains or pasta, while I ate just the rice or noodles.

It was something I didn’t talk about but for those three years my toddler and I lived below the poverty line in a house with a breeze through the living room (there were gaps in the wall). Towards the end of that second month of rice and noodles my best friend who lived in Seattle somehow realized I had no money. That same week a letter arrived with a $50 gift card for the grocery store. The simplicity of the gift was overwhelming, and still today, more than ten years later, makes my hands shake to think about.

At four, Rachel had never complained about her food, even with a bowl of only black olives and spaghetti noodles in front of her. So I’d assumed she hadn’t noticed. When we went to the grocery store together with the gift card I realized she had. She spent the twenty minutes in the grocery cart as I pushed naming all the things we could buy. For her it was mostly the fruit.

***

The United States government has shut down. I am uninterested in the federal politics behind it.

Many Head Start programs are almost immediately losing funding. WIC pregnancy and nutrition support for mothers and children will not be processed. Veteran benefits will not be processed. In some states, state processes will be able to temporarily over-step the federal aspects of a short term shut down.

Please consider sending grocery store gift cards to any families you know that may be affected. Please consider giving cash scholarships to any school food programs in your area. Please consider increasing your food bank donations. Real people need your simple gift.

***

To read more on the shut down:

A list of what is affected: http://wtvr.com/2013/09/30/government-shutdown-whats-closed-whats-open/

BBC coverage of the government shut down: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-24343698

Coverage on how the shut down will affect everyday US Americans: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2437658/How-government-shutdown-affect-ordinary-Americans.html

***

To locate a food bank near you: http://feedingamerica.org/foodbank-results.aspx

To donate to a local school, call one near you, or the area school district, to ask how.

Copyright 2013 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com

The Glimmer of a Life: Briefly, why I write about wine

Winters ate more than half the year. In Spring, ice floats would form in the streets. I would play by making a leap in my silver moon boots from ice-island to ice-island the half mile walk from school to home. Across the street from the house there was a yard that grew pussy willows, a tree that bloomed fuzz blossoms with the first sun of spring. The rest of the world was wet from winter melt. Each day in March, I would stop the way home from school and pet the tiny bloom with my thumb, then return home.

Opening the front door, my mom would often be at the top of the stairs making food, the light still low that time of year. Sun would rush through the kitchen window and her silhouette would greet me, lit from behind with the light that would lift more for summer.

Growing up in Alaska offered a life of finding richness in deprivation. Produce in my childhood consisted only of dried up oranges, the firmest apples, and pears picked long before they were ripe. In summer, we lived on the western coast and survived mostly on canned mushrooms and frozen vegetables to accent fresh fish and wild meats. The salmon straight from water was so vibrant, its flavor made up for limp broccoli.

The ground of Alaska is barren. It offers open vistas of dramatic landscape, the tallest mountain in North America (Mt Denali) in the distance, but so far across the valley its size by contrast rests a comfortable peak, not so obviously the one that people fall from or freeze upon with regularity. The distances between such great objects make them smaller by perspective.

The earth there is made of tundra. Herbs, berry bushes, and tea grow in peat, bound together through miniaturized roots growing into miniaturized plants. In summer, walking across the tundra it is easy to overlook plantlife, leaving it unseen because of its tiny size until the leaves and bramble break beneath your feet and your world becomes awash in scents. Summers in Alaska for me were like the blind developing their other senses–walks across tundra are so rich in scent, so bare in visual appeal. It is this overwhelming flush of smells I now know drove me into wine. Leaving the Northern climes for anywhere else, I find myself in what might as well be (by comparison) city life. In such a life, there are no scents as rich as home except in a glass of wine.

The strongest lesson of growing up within Alaska, however, is the incredible mark one person makes. The land of Alaska, with all that tundra-peat, swallows history. What is built sinks into that moistened land. Untended, buildings disappear within a generation. My first trip to Boston, with all its Revolution era graveyards, and people buried four deep atop each other shook me to the core. Nothing stands so old in my frontier. That something could last so long, occur in layers and remain, moved me. In Alaska, a cut to the land shakes the landscape. Roadways appear as stark contrast to the raw earth surrounding. In a land that swallows buildings, your choices will be lost in a generation. But, because history does not own the landscape around you as it does in older cities, the choices of your generation echo much more strongly. One man’s choices change the world.

In Summer 2012, I came to Napa Valley only to meet a few men in wine. I had two days to give for a handful of meetings. In the midst of those meetings, however, I also connected unexpectedly with George Vare. He’s a man that now, in his final project — planting a small vineyard of Ribolla gialla in Napa Valley — has come to symbolize the pinnacle of wine geek accomplishment. After meeting a few Italian winemakers whose choices he believed in, he rescued cuttings of their vines in Italy and snuck them into the United States. From those he began what would be 2 1/2 acres in the town of Napa, leading now to plantings in Carneros, and the Russian River Valley. But he would also go on to impact a generation of winemakers younger than himself. How? to seek unusual varieties, to make wines under the influence of obscure talents from regions barely heard of, to experiment in wine making, measuring standards on a more global rather than simply market scale.

Interestingly, he planted his Ribolla vineyard at the same time he also dove deep into his practices of spiritual growth. The Ribolla was a commitment not of economic capital–he made no money from it–but of giving one self to a project bigger than yourself, to something you simply cannot predict and yet believe in.

Somehow in the midst of all of this, I was lucky enough to spend time with George Vare. He is only one man. He made simple, while brilliant choices. I write about wine because in the midst of all of this, if I pay enough attention, I am sometimes gifted with the glimmer of a life.

***

Inspired by Stevie Stacionis, Matthew Rorick, and Katherine Yelle; and as in all things, my mom.

Copyright 2013 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com