Sunday, November 27, 2011

Les Bourgeois Winery - Power Partners - October 19, 2011

I am still playing "catch up" with our postings. This one is another outing with our retirement club, Power Partners back in October. It was a chilly, cloudy, and windy day but most of our activities were indoors at the Les Bourgeois winery near Rocheport, MO.

The winery is owned and operated by second generation Bourgeois family members. Wine making started as a hobby back in 1974 but has grown to a fairly large business. As a matter of fact, Les Bourgeois is now the third largest winery in Missouri. They have moved from the kitchen table to some very modern facilities with production reaching nearly 100,000 gallons each year. The winery is located about half way between Kansas City and St Louis just off I-70. Edel and Sigrid are ready to do some wine tasting.

The last of the grapes for 2011 are at the front door of the tasting room.

Their wines have done well in competition.

The names of the wines indicate that the winery doesn't take itself too seriously despite the fact that they have received excellent reviews.

One of the family members gave us a wonderful and fact filled tour. It was clear that what was once a hobby has turned into a serious business and the family has done its homework and invested carefully to produce high quality wines.

The processing area is all new and very clean. You can see some of the fermenting tanks along the wall. Maintaining a precise temperature during fermenting is of utmost importance and they have high tech equipment to do the control.

De-skinning and pressing equipment are located at this end of the building.

Grapes ready to go.

This area has the bottling equipment and stocking/shipping operations.

Filling and corking machines.

The barrel room is used for aging certain wines in oak barrels before bottling....not much spare space here.

The family also operates a restaurant near the winery. Many in our group joined us there for lunch.

The restaurant sits high on a bluff and has a beautiful view of the Missouri River. One of the family members is an architect so they designed their own building. It was very warm inside and the food was great. They have a chef in the kitchen.....not just a cook.

After lunch, we went out to get a better view of the river.

The leaves were just starting to turn color.

You can see why the restaurant has such a nice view from the dining room.

Some of the family's grape vines.

A nice way to spend a cold and cloudy day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Roasterie Coffee Company - Power Partners

On November 16, we toured the Roasterie Coffee Company plant with the Kansas City Power & Light Power Partners retiree club. The plant is located just off Southwest Boulevard near downtown KC.

The Roasterie purchases its raw coffee directly from the farmers in several countries around the world. Roasterie buyers actually travel to many locations to sample the coffees before buying in bulk. They only look at coffees grown at specific altitudes so they can get the very best quality available. As the beans arrive at their plant, they roast and blend the coffee based on the quantities and types order for the day. That way, the coffee is as fresh as possible for the consumer.

The Roasterie sells coffee under its own name as well as for other large sellers like Costco. Most of the coffee produced in the plant is used in the Kansas City area. The company is still growing and is set to expand its facilities greatly during the first half of 2012. They laugh about the fact that the local Folgers plant produces the same amount of coffee in three days as the Roasterie makes in a year.

Waiting for the tour and drinking coffee of course.

All kinds of coffee gear available for sale.

We had about 50 people in our group.

A demo on coffee tasting and grading.

No photos or loose hairs allowed in the production area.

Roasting equipment in the distance. After roasting and grinding if required by the order, the coffee is packaged in a bag that is filled with nitrogen as it is sealed. Keeping the oxygen out of the bag keeps the coffee fresher.

Tours are given every week day at 10:00 am and on Saturdays. Check with the office for details if you would like to tour the plant.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sigrid's US Citizenship and The Great Wall of China

We have been busy and posting has had to take a back seat for a while. I still have some good stuff to post, but as I said, there have been other things with higher priorities. I won't bother you with a list of all those things because it would be really boring.

The single most important thing that we have done recently, was work hard on getting US Citizenship for Sigrid. She has been in this country for 27 years and it kind of looks like she will stay here for the rest of her life so she might as well get the right to vote and serve on jury's.

We started on the project last year but got sidetracked with all the travel. After getting back from Germany this year, we vowed to complete the project. We had the N-400 application ready to go in July. We had to get some documents sent to us from Germany and then get them translated into English by a Washington DC specialty firm before filing. It cost about $800 so far. The USCIS moved quicker than we thought. It wasn't too long and Sigrid was in for her biometrics (photos and fingerprints) so the FBI could clear her to continue with the process.

On Monday this week, we finally had the Interview with a USCIS agent. In the interview, they go over all the info on the application and ask loads of other questions to assure themselves that you are a good candidate for citizenship. Normally, Sigrid would have to take an English reading and writing test, but she has been here long enough that they waved that part of the interview. She did have to take the US history and citizenship test. There are 100 standard questions that we had to study to prepare for the test. The agent selects 10 questions from the 100 to ask you. You must get at least 7 of the 10 correct to pass. Sigrid got them all right......we have been studying for over a year now. The bottom line is that the hard work is all done now and all we are waiting on is the invitation to take the oath of allegiance and get the certificate of citizenship. We are both pretty happy and excited.

As soon as we have the certificate, we can get a US Passport for Sigrid. After that, we will celebrate with a nice cruise. Hip, hip, hooray!!!!

A family member wanted to see our photos from a trip we took to China in 2000. Rather than get the old slide projector out, I scanned the slides from the trip so we can show them on the big screen TV. The one below was taken on the Great Wall. It never hurts to see a "golden oldie" photo.