Meet the Correspondent: Marina Grechanik > Tel-Aviv, Israel$show=/search/label/Marina%20Grechanik


"Sketching is one of my passions. I don't feel comfortable when I leave home without a sketchbook and some pens in my bag. I think that my way to put things in my memory is to draw them. And taking pictures isn't the same thing.

I live in a very dynamic surrounding — Israel is a warm country with warm weather and warm people. Of course, we have seashores, which calm us a little bit. I love to sit in a corner of some Tel-Aviv coffee shop and explore relationships: between people, their environment, between myself. All this unique local mix of cultures, languages and styles is always a great source for inspiration. You need to be fast, because, as I said, everything is very dynamic. But that's why I love it so much.

Sometimes, I look around, and I find some usual items like sugar bags or napkins. I use them in my drawings to show the atmosphere. Sometimes I draw directly on placemats."

• Marina's art on Flickr.
• Marina's website.

Meet the Correspondent: Tina Koyama > Seattle$show=/search/label/tina%20koyama

"The dictionary says that a hobby is “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation.” Although urban sketching certainly provides both pleasure and relaxation, I don’t think of it as my hobby. I think of it more as a way of life – something that has become such a normal part of my everydayness that it shapes how I view the world.

For most of my life I had both the fear of drawing as well as the desire to draw. In 2011, inspired by Gabi Campanario’s Seattle Sketcher column, I finally decided to overcome the fear. His drawings of Seattle – my birthplace and lifelong home – were of sights that I had seen many times, yet had never truly seen. I wanted to learn to see, and therefore experience, those locations (and any new ones that I travel to) more completely. Part 8 of the Urban Sketchers Manifesto, to “show the world, one drawing at a time,” has a flip side: Sketching enables me to see my own world, one drawing at a time.

In the last four years, it is not an exaggeration to say that Urban Sketchers has changed my life. I have met and sketched with many wonderful people around the globe, either at symposiums or during other travel, because the USk network brought us together. I sketch almost weekly with my local group, sharing sketches, art supplies and friendship. Even when I stay home and enjoy sketches online, I am still a part of that rich network, learning with every sketch about other people’s lives.

In May, my husband Greg and I went to France for the first time, and I sketched the Eiffel Tower. Sketching one of the world’s most famous icons felt like a dream come true – the ultimate in urban sketching. But although I can’t resist sketching world-famous icons whenever I’m fortunate enough to see them, for me, urban sketching is much more than that.

Urban sketching is a tree with its middle chopped away to accommodate Seattle’s ubiquitous power lines. It’s about a couple of women chatting over coffee, or about workers roofing the house next door. It’s about an excavator filling a hole where a cherry tree once stood. Or the Tibetan monastery I drive by frequently that I couldn’t resist because it’s bright orange. Urban sketching is a string band performing at a local farmers’ market – or perhaps in Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Celebrating the mundane as well as the famous is what urban sketching is all about. My sketches are not necessarily about “special” moments; they are moments made special because I sketched them."

Tina has been editor of Drawing Attention since 2013 and now serves on the Urban Sketchers editorial board. See more of her sketches on her blog, on Flickr and on Instagram.

Meet the Correspondent: Pete Scully > Davis, Calif.$show=/search/label/Pete%20Scully



"I am from urban north London, but now live in urbane Davis California. I sketch, I write, sometimes do things and go places and my name is Pete.

When not Davis, I sketch Sacramento, San Francisco, London, or anywhere else I happen to be. I tend to erase people and cars from my cities, but I'm starting to get over this.

Davis: calm, old-fashioned, progressive, quirky, very very hot in the summer. I use micron and copic pens, with watercolour."

• Pete's blog.
• Pete's art on Flickr.

Meet the Correspondent: Suhita Shirodkar > San Jose, Calif.$show=/search/label/Suhita%20Shirodkar

"I was born in Mumbai (Bombay) and lived in different parts of India until I moved to San Jose, California, where I now live.

Travel inspires my art, but, traveling or not, I try to view the world around me as a traveller would; so whether I’m capturing a moment of calm on the banks of the Ganges in India, or sketching over coffee at my local coffee shop, I aim to look deeply, and with wonder, at both the everyday and the exotic, the old and the new.

I love color. My sketch kit consists of Extra Fine Sharpies (the fact that they bleed into the paper as soon as they touch it works really well for me—it forces me to work super-quick), a small set of Prismacolor pencils and a little watercolor travel set".
Blog
Flickr

Meet the Correspondent: Omar Jaramillo > Berlin$show=/search/label/Omar%20Jaramillo

"I was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where I studied architecture. I moved to Kassel (Germany) in 1999 to accomplish a master degree. Although I have always drawn and paint, it was not until I started studying in the Uni-Kassel, that I started keeping a travel sketchbook. I had a teacher there who used to do a lot of sketches when he travelled on university excursions. When he retired, I helped to organize an exhibition of his sketches. He brought a huge box full of sketchbooks he had filled since he was an architecture student. I spent a whole day selecting the most interesting drawings. It was a wonderful experience that opened my eyes to a new world. In the last 10 years I have the feeling of being in a long journey. I like to discover the cities where I live, to understand why a place is the way it is and what makes it different and unique from others. Drawing is for me a way to learn to love a place, to become part of it. I like to draw architecture but I am more attracted to urban scenery, portraying how people live in the city. Since I’m a foreigner, everything that locals find normal and taken-for-granted, for me is exotic. I always carry a small watercolor travel set from Windsor and Newton and my sketchbook in my bag. I always thought that drawing was a solitary experience until I found Urban Sketchers. It was amazing to find so many people doing the same thing. It is a great place to share!" • Omar's blog. • Omar's art on flickr. • Omar's website.

Meet the Correspondent: Luis Ruiz > Malaga, Spain$show=/search/label/Luis%20Ruiz

Napa Valley Grape Crush

[By Richard Sheppard in Calistoga, California]  I live just over an hour’s drive north of the Golden Gate Bridge, in the Sonoma County wine country. At this time of year, golden leafed vineyards blanket the rolling hillsides and you can smell the aroma of fermenting grape juice for miles.
With all the grapes picked and hauled off to wineries, the time consuming process of turning grapes into wine begins. (You can read my post on the grape harvest here: Spirits of the Vine) My long time winemaker friend, Vince Tofanelli allowed me to watch him in action.


Waaaah, waaaah, waaaah! The pump complains as grapes head past us, and up the conveyor. Sticky Zinfandel juice and its skins coat our hands as we sort out raisins, leaves, and the occasional black rot. I concentrate on the sweet, floral smell to distract myself from the de-stemmer’s pulsating wail, like a low-pitched foghorn.
Vince leans over to talk above the noise, “Once the grapes are crushed, I’ll do a cold soak. Then I’ll add a touch of sulfite to accentuate and preserve taste and aromas, and a cultured yeast to consume sugar. The sugar converts to alcohol and the CO2 escapes into the atmosphere. Most of wine’s flavor, tannins, and virtually all of its color comes from contact with the skins during fermentation.”
Once the grapes have been passed through the de-stemer, they are conveyed to a large stainless steel tank to ferment. Stepping away from the sorting table, I notice a sweet, effervescent aroma flowing out of the cellar: fermentation. The scent reminds me of doing pump-overs so long ago when I worked a fall harvest at Mondavi Winery.
Once the grapes are in the tank, the juice seeps out, leaving the skins to float up and form a cap. For uniform fermentation, the skins must be mixed back into the juice by using either the pump-over or punch-down method.


Vince uses an electric pump that sucks juice through a hose from the bottom of the tank and up to a sprinkler device just above it. As the juice is repeatedly sprinkled over the skin-cap, contact with the skins ensures maximum flavor and color extraction. Cellar workers repeat the process two or three times a day for about a week until fermentation is complete.
The alternative, and more old world method, is the punch-down. In this case, a long pole with a flat metal attachment at the end is used to manually push the skins into the fermenting juice. This method requires a heavy amount of labor and can be done only in small tanks and tubs. I used both methods while working at Robert Mondavi, with punchdowns reserved for Robert’s prized Reserve Pinot.


I’ll never forget the voice of the foreman who trained me. “Whatever you do don’t fall in. If no one’s around to pull you out, you’re as good as dead.” The escaping carbon dioxide leaves no room for oxygen in the tank. As careful as I was while doing punchdowns, I did slip once, heart beating faster than a racehorse at the finish line.
With all Vince’s grapes now in the tank fermenting, our job is done. Let the pump-overs begin!


Pressing Time (one week later)

When I arrive at Envy Winery, Vince is in full action mode, issuing instructions as cellar workers scramble, preparing to press his wine. Today’s activities are to drain the fermented Zin juice from one tank to another, leaving behind only the grape solids, then shovel this remaining pomace onto a conveyor that lifts it into a basket press, where an expandable bladder presses out the remaining juice.
Vince says, “Once pressing is complete, I’ll add a malolactic bacteria culture to start secondary fermentation.”
An alarm sounds, the tank rotates, then fills up with air. When the right pressure is reached, wine juice seeps from the holes in the steel barrel and runs into a holding tray below. From there the wine is pumped into the new tank. The machine hisses, rotates, and then re-inflates. The flow of wine picks up, pouring out through the drum holes of the press and into the tray. We put our glass in the flow to catch some wine, then taste.
The wine is cloudy and bright pink, and tastes of fresh picked raspberries. The alcohol is noticeable and little sweetness remains.
Vince says, “There’s still a little residual sugar left in the wine. That’ll cause the wine to spontaneously ferment in the barrel. Primary fermentation converts the sugars to alcohol. During secondary fermentation, malolactic bacteria feeds on the acidity in the wine, rather than the sugar, and converts the acid into lactic acid or lactose. That’s what gives some wines an apple aroma. Cold storage stops secondary fermentation, or it can be encouraged by warming the wine a bit. I also add sulfites during fermentation to help stabilize the wine.”
Vince dumps his wine on the ground, shaking out the glass, and encourages me to do the same.
The press deflates, rotates, flops around like an unbalanced washing machine, then re-inflates. The second pressing begins, and we hold up our glasses to catch another taste.
“Nice aromatics. Wild cherry cough drops.” Vince says. “Maybe even black plum. Which usually shows through in the finished wine.”
Where earlier I detected fresh raspberries, now I’m tasting cherries and cranberries. The wine also appears less cloudy.
“Lees are what’s clouding the wine at this point.” Vince says anticipating my question as I hold the glass up to the light.
Leaving the wine on dead yeast cells and other silt doesn’t sound appetizing, but the process adds body, complexity, and character. Vince will age the wine sur lee for four or five months to add this mouthfeel. The process requires finesse to avoid off-flavors like rubber, or sometimes even a band-aid smell.
At the third pressing, we refill our glasses. Greater clarity, cherry aromas, stronger tannins, and a tangy finish. The tannins remind me of chewing a grape beyond its sweetness to discover the tannins contained in the skins and seeds.
“We’ll stop here,” Vince tells me. “That’s about as much good juice as we can squeeze out of the skins. Tomorrow we’ll rack the wine into barrels.”


Racking into Barrels
The following day I return to Envy winery just in time to see Vince with his nose in a barrel hole.
Vince calls to me, “Come on over and smell the barrel.” Other than the obvious smells of wine and oak, my nose picks up maple and brown sugar characteristics. These are some of the complexities the oak will add to the wine. “We’re looking for any bad odors in the barrel, like a swampy or vinegar smell.” Once Vince gives the okay, the workers fill the barrel with the fresh new vintage of Zinfandel. This process of racking the wine from tank to barrel leaves the lees behind in the tank, and at the same time clarifies the wine, softening the tannins, and enhancing its aromatics.
Vince pulls a plug, called a bung, from a barrel. “Put your ear up to the hole and listen.” When I do, he tells me, “That fizzy sound is telling us that primary fermentation is still going on. When secondary fermentation is happening, it’ll be more of a snap, crackle, and pop.”
It’s at this time, I realize one reason Vince’s wine is so good. He not only grows excellent fruit, but has complete control from vineyard to glass. He understands the special needs of the wine through each stage of its process. From here Vince tells me the wine will age up to two years before being blended, then bottled.

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