My father, Frank Tortorello, who started his apprenticeship in the cellar at age 7, describes the drink as peasant wine. “You wouldn’t talk about it revealing a hint of chocolate,” he said. “This stuff didn’t sneak up on you. It hit you straight between the eyes.”
A splash of cream soda seemed to bring out the best in the wine, my father said.
The winemaking procedure was as predictable as Sunday Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, though with more ritual and less prayer. My grandfather, a grocery clerk, had inherited the equipment and the recipe from his father, who ran a saloon in the Belmont neighborhood during Prohibition. There was the scrubbing of the old whiskey barrels, the crushing of the grapes, the pressing of the skins. And then the wait.
The result would be two barrels of wine, each 46 gallons. My grandfather gave about a half-barrel to his mother, who lived on the bottom floor of the family row house on Crotona Avenue. That left another 60 to 65 gallons to share with friends, which my grandfather seldom did.
“He drank most of it,” my father said. “I’m sure he went through a gallon every week,” close to a bottle a day.
That particular family legacy doesn’t inspire a lot of nostalgia. So when I talked to my father a few weeks ago about reviving the Tortorello wine label, I proposed a new direction: growing our own grapes.
My dad agreed to provide the space for our vineyard, the sloping yard behind his 1840s-era home in Mount Kisco, N.Y. I would need to supply not just the grapevines but the enthusiasm. The dirt, my father said, is a heavy clay. And two towering hemlock trees cast the land into darkness in the afternoon. For a grapevine, which likes well-drained soil and 160 days of sunbathing, this isn’t terroir but torture.
“I’m not overly optimistic about the likelihood of success,” my father said.
I sought encouragement from Peter Hemstad, 51, a research viticulturist at the University of Minnesota. “It only takes about a half-dozen vines to make a five-gallon carboy of wine each year,” he said. That’s around two cases, or “enough to spread the joy around.” An extra vine or two would provide a margin of error.
Even a landless city gardener could have some luck sinking a cold-weather vine into a container like an EarthBox. An astounding grape plant in Santa Barbara County, Calif., Mr. Hemstad told me, once covered 12,000 square feet and threw off 10,000 pounds of fruit at harvest time. In other words, “over time, one vine will easily cover a deck,” he said.
At this scale, a table grape would be ideal. Mr. Hemstad likes Steuben, a seeded 1947 Cornell variety, for its easy nature and spicy flavor. “It makes the best juice or jelly in town,” he said. (The grape can even sneak a cameo in dessert wines.)
Of course, dessert grapes wouldn’t suit the stately grounds of the Tortorello Estate. The. We try to provide the wealthiest range of newspaper stuff in this field, both past and current, ready now for all sorts of readers.
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More posts on comparable matters on:plan here was to plant the dormant vines six to eight feet apart, leaving another eight feet between rows. (April or May is the best time in New York; fall would also work.)
But scrub trees and a briar patch were squatting in our vineyard. Even after we had evicted them with a chainsaw (an essential part of any father-son field day), there wasn’t enough room to avoid crowding the vines.
My dad, who owns a small construction company, would be in charge of the posts and wires for the trellis. The alternative was that I could be in charge and my father would tell me all the things I was doing wrong. This option might have worked better after a few glasses of wine.
Trellising systems have names that sound like 19th-century con games: there’s the Geneva Double Curtain, the Hudson River Umbrella and the Four-Arm Kniffen. The basic concept behind all this pruning and binding is to swindle the vine into producing 5 to 15 pounds of well-sugared fruit.
by Michael White
Avon Books (paper), $14
Review by L.D. Meagher
October 7, 1999
Web posted at: 4:20 p.m. EST (2020 GMT)
(CNN) - When confronted with tales of UFO encounters, apparitions in the night, feats of psychic power and voodoo magic, science writer Michael White has some simple but valuable advice. “It is important we all keep open minds,” he urges, “but also fully functioning ones.”
In “Weird Science: An Expert Explains Ghosts, Voodoo, the UFO Conspiracy, and Other Paranormal Phenomena,” White examines the realm of the paranormal with the eye of a scientist. He concludes that some phenomena that appear to be supernatural in origin have more mundane explanations. He also concludes that science hasn’t found an explanation for everything.
White covers the waterfront of the outré. He addresses reports of alien abductions; the spoon bending of purported psychics; ghosts; astrology; “miracle. See article news that are related in order to this one.cures” and faith healing; telepathy and clairvoyance; ancient “standing stones”; and crop circles.
In each case, he explores what’s offered as evidence for supernatural forces at work. In most instances, he finds such evidence wanting and offers alternate explanations based on scientific discoveries. Diagnosing Dracula
Take, for example, vampires. While a kind of faux vampirism is fashionable these days in some circles that favor “gothic chic,” White suggests the vampire legend may have grown from a genetic defect that afflicted isolated communities in central Europe centuries ago. Identified in 1985, the disorder known as porphyria blocks production of a protein that binds iron in the blood to a chemical known as a “porphyrin ring.” The result is a set of physical characteristics familiar to Bela Lugosi fans.
"First," White writes, "those suffering from porphyria look severely anemic because their hemoglobin is not being utilized efficiently and their blood is not as oxygenated as it should be. Second, the porphyrin rings that cannot do their job are deposited in the subcutaneous fat beneath the skin. The chemical is photosensitive, and in sunlight it can release electrons that damage the skin and may cause severe blistering - hence the vampire’s fear of sunlight."
White asserts that advances in the understanding of the human body and its biochemical processes can account for a wide range of phenomena - from faith healing to the tunnel of light often said to accompany near-death experiences.
But other phenomena aren’t so easily dismissed. He notes that crop circles - a media sensation in England for several years - cannot all be explained as hoaxes. But White says the rationale for the few that remain is most likely found in meteorology, not UFOs. Beyond swamp gas
"Weird Science" does more than debunk superstition and the supernatural. It also provides a sort of survey course on the state of some of the modern sciences, including astronomy and quantum physics.
Here, though, White tends to be less successful. He’s a former science editor for the British “Gentleman’s Quarterly,” but some of his explanations can be tedious and repetitive. Two chapters - on genetics and exobiology - seem to belong in another book. Neither addresses so-called paranormal phenomena.
On the whole, “Weird Science” does a credible job of laying bare the fallacies of those who claim supernatural forces are at work in our world. White capably demonstrates that there’s little need to seek answers for strange occurrences outside the realm of Nature. Nature, he concludes, is strange enough.
Advertisers Pay For Personal Facebook Information News.com.au
Advertisers spend up on Facebook
Match products to status updates
For some, it’s greed; for some it’s good
FACEBOOK users beware: advertisers are watching your page and they know what you need.
Relationship status single? Dating agency ads pop up on your Facebook page.
Update your status to engaged and the spruiking is suddenly about wedding gowns, weight loss and planning hens’ nights.
Married? Then you must be thinking about babies, credit cards and mortgages.
Australia’s six million Facebook users are being targeted by businesses, which pay tens of thousands of dollars a month for access to personal information.
The advertising strategies are so refined businesses can target their products according to sex, age, location, relationship status, job title, workplace or university.
Even subjects such as favourite music or pastimes can be drilled into for the purposes of marketing.
Advertisers respond to a Facebook page update in the blink of an eye.
The Sunday Telegraph witnessed one user change their status from single to engaged last week.
Within half an hour, an ad for a dating agency was replaced by one for a building inspection company that asked: “Buying a property?”.
Shannan Human, 30, of Dee Why, said ads on her profile page changed drastically when she changed such identifying details as her relationship status.
"Since I’ve changed my status to married I keep getting all this baby stuff, and I don’t want to have a baby," she said.
"And when I changed to engaged I used to get stacks of wedding gown ads and weight-loss ads.
"I find it a bit of a pest, to be honest. I use Facebook primarily as a social networking site to keep in touch with my friends and family.
"I feel like it’s an invasion of my privacy if I don’t want my stuff sold to a third party - I’m there to socialise with friends, not to make money for other people."
Ben Bevins, 30, became engaged to his fiance Lauren in December and noticed the ads for wedding suits and rings straightaway.
"It was actually a good break from all the muscle-building ads and ‘single women in your area’ ads," he said, laughing.
Facebook regional vice-president Paul Borrud defended the advertising policy.
He said an engaged woman receiving ads for wedding shoes was better than her being bombarded by ads for singles nights.
"The internet has moved from anonymity to authenticity," Mr Borrud said. "It is about real people; the advertising is going to a real person, and what you were into 10 years ago - movies, music, books - has changed.
"So it gives the advertiser the chance to engage with a community based on what they are today."
He refused to say how many complaints Facebook received about advertising, saying users were more likely to find the ads useful if they applied to them specifically.
He said online-ad spending had increased by 18.5 per cent in the past year and in Australia was worth $1.8 billion.
Australian companies that recently embarked on big Facebook campaigns include Coca-Cola, KFC and Cricket Australia.
CA’s official fan page, which is part of its marketing strategy, has 26,467 “fans”, who are given information about ticketing, events and special offers.
KFC Australia has 86,084 fans and Coca-Cola enticed people to join their page by offering free surf lessons in conjunction with local surf schools.
Mr Borrud refused to reveal how much campaigns were worth, or how many local companies every one of them is an ad man’s dream advertised on the site, but admitted the growth had been “exciting”.
Information on the site says campaigns can cost anywhere from $200 to more than $100,000, and can be paid per click or per impression.
But Facebook groups have begun protesting against the ads, with incensed users labelling it a “violation”. The group People Against Intrusive Advertising on Facebook states: “Facebook is getting greedy at our expense”.
The petition for no advertising on Facebook says the site is for networking, not marketing.
Facebook tells users in its conditions that it supplies information in their profiles to third parties.
"You can know more about the world around you and, where there are advertisements, they’re more likely to be interesting to you.
"For example, if you put a favorite movie in your profile, we might serve you an advertisement highlighting a screening of a similar one in your town."