“I quit working in 1996,” says master winemaker David “Merf” Merfeld ’13. That was the year he got a job at Bert Grant’s Brewery in Yakima—one of the early craft breweries in the region.
Merf’s passion for fermentation started in his kitchen a few years earlier. He’d driven west to Seattle from the family farm in Iowa. “Thirty, thirty-one hours straight through,” he says, with maybe an “hour stop for a rain storm in South Dakota.” He was in the ’79 Park Avenue his dad gave him: “a great ride, and everything I owned fit in that car.” The first thing he and the buddy … » More …
Smoke truly gets under the skin of wine grapes.
As microscopic particles and liquid droplets ooze and eddy through the vineyard, grapes are coated with toxic chemicals. Worse, smoke from forest and range fires manages to get into the plant itself, wreaking havoc with the plant’s internal chemistry.
In self-defense, grape vines attempt to sequester toxic smoke particles that infiltrate berries and leaves by binding sugar molecules to the offending invaders. The plant can then metabolically shuffle the sugar-trapped particles into places where the smoke won’t be as harmful to the vines’ mission: produce grapes and reproduce.
Humans interfere with the vines’ mission when we … » More …
In the embers of an ancient winter day, a Swedish scout scrambles up the hill of snow-covered boulders, hurrying over the slippery ground between them along a narrow path. His panting breath trails after him until he stumbles through the castle gate gasping, “Vandals on the riverbank! Bandits to the east!”
The heavy palisade slams shut behind him as men rush to position along a glinting rock wall. From 150 feet above the valley floor, they watch as silhouettes begin scaling the boulders below. With a signal, arrows and stones rain down upon them, yet the marauders advance, dragging their weapons or clenching them in … » More …
Growing up in Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa, Yonas Demissie never suffered from lack of access to clean water, but he knew from a young age that it was a serious problem in most parts of his home country.
He remembers reading news and watching documentaries about the droughts and related famine that still impact Ethiopia.
“Why can’t a three-year-old eat his breakfast?” the young Demissie would ask his parents and teachers. “A society should not have an excuse for a child to go hungry.”