The Flywheel

Program for OCTOBER 20th

State of the Schools

West Contra Costa County School District Superintendent (and new Richmond Rotary member!) Dr. Bruce Harter will present a report on our public school system, and what steps he has taken to improve the District since becoming superintendent a few short months ago.

Meeting of October 12th, 2006

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

Prez in waiting Pam Jones called the meeting to order, along with her Soroptomist counterpart.  There was a good turnout for this somewhat unusual meeting – it was a Thursday, we were at the Rockerfeller Lodge, and joint meetings with the Richmond Soroptimists tend to be delightfully social.  Members of both clubs were asked to introduce themselves with name, rank and serial number. 

Most notably Bill Wabeh asked the important question: are men allowed to join the Soroptimists, given that Rotary enrolls both women and men.  The answer is yes, men can join Soroptomists; however, it seems the pinnacle of a man actually joining the club is a peak that is yet to be climbed.

Who Am I?


Barbara M. presented her autobiographical brief enroute a blue badge.  Barbara’s family is from the Oakland area, her father arriving from Italy and her mother’s family from Newfoundland.  Barbara attended Fremont High School, Berkeley (you know, the one on the West Coast) where she earned a degree in child development.  She found herself back in school a few years later earning a Masters Degree in Nutrition, followed by a third degree at CAL, this time an MBA. 

Barbara met her husband Gary at their 30th high school reunion, and they were married in 1992.  They have 3.1 dogs, are both sailors out of the Richmond Yacht Club, and Barbara is a golfer.  Barbara currently owns a wine business in Point Richmond, and the Draper & Esquine label.  They buy wine in bulk, blend wines, and sell directly to restaurants, yacht clubs and individuals. 

Thank you Barbara for a great Who Am I?, and bringing with you Gary Willet, who presented an informative and tasty program, summarized below.

Happy and Sad Dollars

Sometime during the wine tasting, an informal Happy and Sad Dollars transpired.  Ren Partridge had  $5 just to be at a meeting with the Soroptimists.  Margaret Morkowski found some green to highlight the Chamber of Commerce golf tournament on the 16th.  Herb Cole tossed in some dollars in recognition of his son’s safe return from the battlefield, this time from Afghanistan.  Your scribe was tasting wine and may have missed a few others. 

Well you know Ralph Hill– one glass of wine and he opens like a history book.  The subject was Mendocino, and it turns out Ralph was conceived in the Union Lumber Company guest house in Fort Bragg in 1922, at 4 AM.  How’s that for knowing your family facts.  Ralph’s Dad was of course a lumberman and was holding business meetings with Union Lumber (whose offices in Fort Bragg still exist as a commercial center) and was offered use of the guest house.  Apparently the 4 AM lumber train awoke  Dad, and well, you know…   Thanks for the story Ralph. 

Raffle Results

There was no raffle that your scribe remembers.

The Program

Despite the rowdiness of our otherwise sedate group (see above), guest winemaker Gary Willet followed Barbara’s Who Am I? presentation with expert observations about the wine blending business. Pam was especially moved by their insight.

Gary has been in the industry for 42 years, and graduated from Fremont High the same year as Barbara and her husband Gary G.  Gary discussed the current overproduction in the wine market, blending techniques and their marketing strategies. And then the tasting began. The merlot was dusty with a smooth finish. And the pinot definitely had the scent of roses...

(At this point the Scribe's notes became increasingly incomprehensible, then abruptly ended. What to make of that? -Ed.)  


Your faithful scribe, Rich Brandes