The Flywheel

Next Meeting: Friday, May 13th

Enriching the lives of Richmond Youth

Family at YES camp

Eric Aaholm, the director of Youth Enrichment Services, YES, returns to Rotary to tell us about the agency's Summer Camp, Camp-to-Community and PeaceTalk programs.

Last year the Richmond Rotary donated funds to YES, so this is a good opportunity to appreciate how your money is used to benefit the Richmond community.

Meeting of Friday, May 6th

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

President Alan Baer welcomed the members and their guests. Monique le Conge led us in the pledge. Stoney led us in a silent prayer for freedom, peace and justice on earth. As Henry Kelman was absent, there was no thought for the day. Everyone was confident that Henry would have a thought for us, next week, about this week’s events.

Visiting Rotarians

  • Pat Todhunter from El Cerrito club, accompanied by her husband, Davis, an ex-Rotarian from Oakland club # 3.
  • Doug Miller, president of San Pablo club.

Rotarians with Guests

Edgar Deleon introduced his guests:

  • Jim Hammack, co-founder and CEO of Nerd Crossing, a technology services company
  • Tracy Oliva, owner of a Jackson Hewitt franchise, a tax service company
  • Mary Stainbrook, a Mary Kay consultant

Dan Sanders introduced Doris Mitchell, an attorney from Oakland.


  • Doug Miller of San Pablo club announced a tequila-tasting event at Estrada Restaurant on Thursday, May 12th, at 6 p.m. Doug had two remaining tickets, each $100. Unfortunately, there were no takers.
  • Jan Brown announced the 46th Annual WCCUSD Student Art Awards, a 46-year collaboration between West Contra Costa Unified School District and Richmond Art Center. There will be a reception for the artists on May 13th between 5 and 8 p.m. Jan encouraged the members to contribute to the Art Center. It is a worthy cause.
  • Rafael Madrigal announced the success of the Cinco De Mayo Festival. One hundred thousand people showed up—the best attendance in Richmond’s history.
  • Alan announced Poker Night at his house on Friday, May 13, at 6 p.m. The proceeds will go to Werner’s Fund. Come, enjoy the ribs and play.


Jim Beaver recognized Michael Gill for his 50th birthday this Sunday. He started partying last week and got a senior’s cane for his birthday. Michael gave a check to the Foundation.

Happy and Sad Dollars

Leslie Levy was happy about the smooth move of her office. She was happy to see the real Jim Young in his bankster attire.

David Brown was happy that his office remodeling went in an orderly fashion. He was thankful to Pam Jones for re-organizing the office space.

Edgar Deleon was happy that Rafael Madrigal did a good job in accommodating the army representatives. Edgar insisted on reading a long letter that he received from Saint Mary’s College High School recognizing his son Jon’s commitment and dedication to the school community.

Monique le Conge was happy after coming back from her honeymoon. She had a good time in Savannah, Georgia, and in South Carolina. Monique was also happy about her new job as library director with the City of Palo Alto.

Jim Young was happy that his son, the attorney, got a better job. Jim read in SFgate that California was a bigger financial risk than Greece.

Jim Beaver wished that Henry Kelman were in the meeting to comment on the events of this week.

Norm's Nonsense

A physics professor, who was also a golfer, was asked to describe the game of golf to his class. The professor explained: "Simply put, the game of golf is nothing more than an attempt to remove a small sphere from a large sphere. The small sphere is the golf ball and the large sphere is the planet earth."


Wine-making at the personal scale

Home winemaking set-up

Michael Gill introduced our speaker for the day, Kurt Vorheis. Michael met Kurt at Chiron almost 16 ye-ars ago. Kurt is an expert in the biotechnology industry and manages his own consulting firm.

Kurt started out making beer and then switched to making wine. He wanted to provide wine for his daughter’s wedding; another goal was to make a $30 bottle of Chardonnay for $5.

Kurt started by renting equipment and purchasing supplies from companies such as Beer, Beer and More Beer and Oak Barrel, both Bay Area companies. Kurt brought samples of his wine for us to taste. Kurt has won several medals in county fairs. The wine is bottled under the label Naked Vine Cellar. It is “naked” because Kurt’s company does not own vineyards; it buys grapes from different sources. Three to four months before the season, Kurt goes on a wine-tasting campaign to choose his grapes source. He believes that good grapes produce good wine.

Kurt started his wine-making company in 2000. The company has four partners (actually four couples). Federal law permits each family to produce 200 gallons of wine annually. One ton of grapes produces 120 gallons of juice (600 bottles). Kurt makes the wine in his two-story house, where he has barrel and bottle rooms.

In Kurt’s opinion it is easy to make wine: pay attention, understand cooking, and follow the recipe.

The process starts with crushing the grapes, removing the seeds and skin, and killing the natural bacteria for it gives unpredictable fermentation results. Yeast is added as a primary fermentor, and the temperature is controlled from 7 to 14 days. The mixture then is pressed, the juice extracted and the solids disposed of. The juice is siphoned into stainless steel containers and then stored in wooden barrels from 6 to 18 months. The wooden barrels are made in Hungary, and the barrelheads are made in the USA. If you are interested in wine-making, call Kurt and he will be happy to help you.

- Your Scribe, Nabil Wahbeh