may vw

					                 V A L L E Y WI L D S
May, 2008                     4444 East Avenue, Livermore, CA 94550-5053 (925)960-2400                  Vol. XIX, No. V
     Interpretive programs at Sycamore Grove Park, Veterans Park, Ravenswood Historic Site and Brushy Peak Regional Preserve


Buckley Would Now A Farmer Be!
The Ravenswood Winery                                              year the winery was expanded doubling its capacity to
                                                                   150,000 gallons and adding a distillery to produce
by Ranger Darren Segur
                                                                   distilled spirits such as sherry and whiskey in a
     As you drive south on Arroyo Road you will
                                                                   separate building. As 1897 came to an end, the newly
probably notice an impressive Victorian mansion
                                                                   enlarged winery had produced 120,000 gallons of fine
surrounded by vineyards and gardens. The estate is
                                                                   wine, employed 14 men and processed the grapes of 8
called Ravenswood and was the summer home of
                                                                   other vintners. A man was†“on the premises at all
Christopher Augustine Buckley the political “Boss” of
                                                                   times” to oversee production.
San Francisco who controlled state politics for most
                                                                            Chris Buckley, despite being blind, took an
of the 1880’s.
                                                                   active role in the daily business of the winery and was
     The Buckley family would come to Livermore to
                                                                   also active in organizing the local vintners into the
escape the inclement weather and fast pace of the city
                                                                   Livermore Valley Viticulturalists and joining the
and, after Christopher was forced out of politics in the
                                                                   California Winemakers Corporation.
early 1890’s, moved here more permanently
                                                                        In 1903 the winery was leased to the Wetmore-
becoming prominent members of the community. The
                                                                   Bowen Corporation which turned the distillery into a
buildings and the grounds of the estate are well cared
                                                                   bottling plant for both still and sparkling wines
for and preserve a unique window to the past with one
                                                                   (Buckley had shipped his wine in barrels). Wetmore-
exception. Just south of the estate’s manicured
                                                                   Bowen also installed electric lights at the winery but
grounds, tucked in the back of the vineyards, lie the
                                                                   sold its grapes to the Raboli winery. By 1917, aside
ruins of the Ravenswood Winery.
                                                                   from the Concannon winery storing sacramental wines
     In the later 1800’s it was popular for San
                                                                   there, the winery was abandoned and stayed that way
Francisco gentlemen who had made their fortunes to
                                                                   throughout the 1920s and prohibition.
maintain summer estates, occasionally even with
                                                                        In 1922 Christopher
working farms or wineries. The title of this article
                                                                   Buckley Sr. died in San
refers to a newspaper account of Chris’s “retirement”
                                                                   Francisco. In 1931
from politics. When Buckley decided to become a
                                                                   Christopher Buckley Jr.
valley vintner, some reporters mocked his ability to
                                                                   sold the Ravenswood estate
succeed and his choice to try to make money from the
                                                                   to the Redemptorist Fathers
land of his country retreat. Chris, however, saw the
                                                                   a German catholic religious
opportunities that the Livermore Valley offered, and
                                                                   order that renamed the
in 1890, with the help and encouragement of other
                                                                   estate Villa San Clemente
valley vintners like the Concannons and the Rabolis,
                                                                   and attempted to start a
he planted grapes and built the Ravenswood Winery.
                                                                   college. After taking
     By 1897 the estate boasted about one hundred
                                                                   possession of the estate the
acres of premium vineyards, and the winery had a
yearly production capacity of 75,000 gallons. That                 Please see “Winery,” page 4
                                        May Programs
Mother Nature’s                                                Hoot Hoot!
Mother’s Day Cards                                             Saturday, May 17                         7:30 p.m.
                                                               Come learn about owls and join
Sunday, May 4                          10:00 a.m.              us for a beautiful evening
If you are having trouble finding just the right card to       walk as we look and listen
celebrate Mother’s Day, here’s your chance to let              for these hooters. This is a
Mother Nature help. We will take a short walk to               great time of year for owl
gather materials. Then, using our imaginations and             watching - the babies should
some glue we will create our own special holiday               be beginning to fledge and
cards. All ages are welcome.                                   the adults will likely be
Ranger Dawn Soles                        Veterans Park         flying back and forth as they
                                    Group Picnic Area          feed and encourage their
                                                               babies to fly. Advance
Calling all Wildflower Fans!                                   registration is not required, but
                                                               please note that this program is limited to individuals,
Saturday, May 10                       10:00 a.m.
                                                               couples and families. We cannot accommodate scout
Let’s get out there before the last of these spring gems
                                                               groups etc. on this hike. Organized groups are
fade away! Join us for a five-mile hike
                                                               encouraged to call for information about scheduling a
into the hills of Sycamore
                                                               “Hoot Owl” hike for their group.
Grove Park. Hopefully we
                                                               Ranger Amy Wolitzer               Sycamore Grove Park
will find late bloomers
                                                               Ranger Aide Eric Whiteside Wetmore Road Entrance
like wallybaskets, clarkia,
soaproot and mules ears
still going strong. Maybe                                      North Livermore Birds
even the elusive Mariposa                                      Sunday, May 18                           8:00 a.m.
Lily! If the timing’s right we                                 It’s time again for our spring pilgrimage to the north
may gather some mature                                         side of town. We’ll be looking for birds in breeding
seeds from the earlier flowers                                 plumage, breeding activity, and any signs of nests or
for planting in the park next                                  young. This is an easy walk, appropriate for all ages
year. This hike will last about two hours so bring             and levels of birding experience. We will travel along
water, and don’t forget the sunscreen!                         a wheelchair accessible paved path. Bring binoculars,
Ranger Amy Wolitzerand           Sycamore Grove Park           field guides (there will be some to lend), and drinking
Ranger Aide Eric Whiteside Wetmore Road Entrance               water. Program will last about 2 hours. For more
                                                               information or directions please call (925) 960-2400.
                                                               Ranger Patti Cole                   Marlin Pound Park
                                                                                                  2010 Bluebell Drive
         About the programs...                                                                 (across from Buckskin)

      Unless otherwise noted, weekend programs                           Contact Information
               are 1-11/2 hours in length.                           For more information on the parks, ranger-led
                                                                 programs or other LARPD programs or facilities check
             A donation of $2 is requested.                          our website or call one of the numbers below.
    A $3 parking fee is charged at Sycamore Grove                           www.larpd.dst.ca.us
      and Veterans Park. Annual passes are also
    available and provide a substantial savings for                             Telephone numbers
                 repeat park visitors.                                 Ranger Office              960-2400
                                                                       LARPD Office                373-5700
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More May Programs
Spring Compass Course                                           The Story of Olivina
Saturday, May 24th                       2:00 p.m.              Saturday, May 31                          2:00 p.m.
Spring is coming to an end, and summer is fast                  What is that old ruined building in the middle of
approaching. Come out to the park for a navigation              Sycamore Grove Park and how did it get there? Well,
challenge! We will be setting off across the unmarked           it is what’s left of the old Olivina winery, and it has an
areas of the park in pursuit of cones using compass             interesting story that is relevant to the history of the
bearings as our guide. If you can make it all the way           Valley. Join us as we take a short (about 1 mile) hike
to the end without getting lost, there will be a tasty          and explore what remains of this once prominent
treat for you. As we will be off trail, bring good hiking       landmark. Bring good shoes, water and your camera.
shoes and a water bottle. If you have a compass please          Please call (925) 960-2400 to reserve your space in
bring it, otherwise a compass will be provided.                 the van.
Ranger Glen Florey               Sycamore Grove Park            Ranger Darren Segur               Sycamore Grove Park
                              Wetmore Road Entrance                                             Wetmore Road Entrance


Mosquito Musings                                                     Now that she’s had a good meal, Mama Mosquito
                                                                will find a nice pond (or puddle or bird bath) and lay a
by Ranger Amy Wolitzer
                                                                few hundred eggs. Like a caterpillar maturing into a
     Ah, it’s another beautiful evening in Sycamore
                                                                butterfly, mosquitoes go through a complete
Grove Park. You’re sitting by the creek with your
                                                                metamorphosis. The larvae that come out of the eggs
sweetie enjoying the cool air after the heat of the
                                                                are not flying creatures but little wiggling wormy
summer day. You listen to the birds and oh – the
                                                                things that swim in the water. They
crickets are starting to chirp! Nothing could ruin this
                                                                are thinner than a millimeter, and
perfect moment. And then it strikes.
                                                                less than a centimeter long. These
     You have a sudden intense itchy feeling on your
                                                                tiny creatures don’t have gills but
arm. There is the telltale swelling bump - a mosquito
                                                                instead use a siphon on their tail like a
has bitten you. In the next few minutes, more and
                                                                snorkel, coming up to the surface and
more itchy bumps arise. Where there is water, where
                                                                sticking it above the water to breathe.
there is warmth, where there are pleasant evenings,
                                                                Most mosquito larvae filter feed
the mosquito will strike.
                                                                gaining nutrition from various
     The mosquito’s sole aim in life is not to make you
                                                                microorganisms they collect as the
suffer but as with all creatures, to reproduce. Blood
                                                                water passes by. However, some
isn’t even their primary food. Most of the time,
                                                                species eat the larvae of other
mosquitoes are peaceful nectar eaters, sipping from
                                                                mosquitoes. Soon the larvae
flowers and not your veins. Males are exclusively
                                                                become pupae. During this stage they do not eat.
nectar eating and will never bother you for blood.
                                                                     The amount of time a mosquito spends in the
However, when it’s time for Mama Mosquito to lay
                                                                larval and pupal stage varies by species and other
eggs, she’s had enough of the sweet stuff and is
                                                                factors including temperature. Often it is only a matter
looking for something with a little more protein.
                                                                of days before the young mosquitoes come to the
     When she’s on the hunt, Ms. Mosquito can fly for
                                                                surface, split their skin and fly off as adults, on to
as long as five minutes before landing. When she
                                                                mate, eat, drink blood and begin the cycle again.
finds an appetizing target – a wide range of
                                                                     And how do those lovely ladies find us to sup
vertebrates - she’ll usually rest a moment before
                                                                upon? Well, every time you breathe, you give them a
lubricating her mouthparts with saliva and stealthily
                                                                clue. Mosquitoes are very attuned to the carbon
inserting her serrated proboscis. It’s her aim not to
                                                                dioxide we exhale with every breath. But even if you
disturb you so she can get a nice long drink and fill
                                                                hold your breath, mosquitoes have other ways of
her belly with blood. You itch not because of the bite
but an allergic reaction to her saliva.                         Please see “Mosquito,” page 4
                                                            3
                                                                                                Board of Directors:
                                                                                                Maryalice Faltings
                                                                                                David Furst
                                                                                                Steve Goodman
                                                                                                Scott Kamena
                                                                                                Beth Wilson




Mosquito, continued from page 3                               Winery, continued from page 1
finding you. They also are                                    fathers announced that they had found about 100
highly sensitive to the                                       whiskey barrels in the basement of the distillery.
smell of chemicals you                                        Shortly after that, federal revenue agents appeared and
exude when you sweat.                                         ordered the still and any whiskey destroyed. The
Once they’re headed in                                        fathers quickly complied.
the right direction, they                                          In the late 1930’s the winery buildings burned,
can hone in by sensing the heat                               and the area was used by the Concannons who stored
you put out. Why do some people get bitten more than          farm equipment there and maintained the remaining
other people? There isn’t one good answer to this             vineyards up into the 1950’s. It was during the 50’s
question. There are so many possible factors – smell,         that the last original vineyards and some of the
blood type, metabolism etc. And some people have a            orchards were removed along with several of the
greater allergic response to the bites than others. One       estate’s original smaller outbuildings.
source says that mosquitoes are especially attracted to            Now, all that remains of the original winery
those who are male, overweight and have type O                operation are the partial walls of the winery building
blood (sorry dad!).                                           and a few momentos. In 1965 a pencil sketch of
     I came upon an interesting account of mosquitoes         Ravenswood drawn in 1899 was found in the estate’s
in an essay written by Lafcadio Hearn as part of              billiard room, including a rare glimpse of what the
“Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange things”,             winery looked like at its height. Also, an archeological
published in 1904. He says that according to Buddhist         dig at the winery site in 1985 uncovered some artifacts
doctrine, certain unfortunate sinners are reincarnated        like old hardware, wine labels and even a religious
as “Jiki-ketsu-gaki” or blood-drinking pretas (hungry         medal from the
ghosts) when they die. He writes of walking in a              Redemptorist period.
cemetery near his house where water is left for the                While Ravenswood
dead in bamboo cups and bowls. The graveyard is               will always be
infested with mosquitoes as they breed in these bowls.        associated more with
He considers emptying the bowls or poisoning them             the elegance and
with kerosene but then muses, “Considering the                politics of its heyday, it
possibility of being doomed to the state of a Jiki-           also played an
ketsu-gaki, I want to have my chance of being reborn          important role in the
in some bamboo flower cup, whence I might issue               Valley’s burgeoning wine industry and proved its
softly, singing my thin and pungent song, to bite some        master to be a successful vintner in his own right.
people that I know.”                                          Buckley would indeed now a farmer be.
     Aside from this poetic image, what good are
mosquitoes? Humans may despise them, but they are
LOVED by many other creatures. Adult mosquitoes
                                                              Park News
are an important food source for bats, larger insects,        Summer registration
and many species of birds. The larvae also provide                 Registration for summer classes begins May 7 for
tasty meals for other pond dwellers including fish and        on-line registration, and May 14 for walk-in and
the larvae of many insects. So when the mosquitoes            phone-in. Join the rangers for trips to Brushy Peak or
are making a meal of you, take solace in the                  tidepools. Youth can attend summer nature camp,
knowledge that many of them will soon get their               climbing camp, or travel on a Bay Area Adventure
comeuppance as they’re eaten by the birds and                 trip. See the LARPD web site - www.larpd.dst.ca.us
dragonflies and other creatures you delight to see.           for more information on these and other programs.
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