Ralph Shaw's 'Ukulele Strum Shop
Ralph Shaw’s ‘Ukulele Strum Shop

If you missed the 2009 Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival, I’m sorry.  It was an amazing 3 days.  We’ll be posting videos, photos, and reports on the festival website as they come in.  There are lots of folks to thank, but I want to take this particular opportunity to thank fellow flea jumpers: Eva, Patrick, Jeanne, Lois, and Diana for their very welcome and able assistance

MusicGuyMic on the Promenade

MusicGuyMic on the Promenade

throughout the day; to Taylor, Ariel, Erich, Kathy, and Elaine Herrick for gracing us all with their talent on the Promenade Stage at Beringer Vineyards; to Rob and Sue  for bringing their beautiful ‘ukuleles, hand-crafted right here in the Napa Valley, to Judd for hosting us Saturday night at Judd’s Hill; to John  and Julie  for hosting the luau Saturday night at Flora Springs; and to Steve  for making that amazing  event in the caves at Miner Family Vineyards happen on Sunday morning.  Warm thanks also go to our friends from over the hill at the Petalukes: Clarice, Karen and Curtiss. We’re a great team.  Let’s do it again. 

Speaking of doing it again: Don’t forget our monthly flea jumper gathering at 6:00 pm, Sunday, October 25 at Napaloha, 1428 Main Street, in St. Helena.  Diana has generously offered the store as a permanent gathering place  for our monthly flea fests, so unless you hear otherwise, that’s where we’ll meet the last Sunday of the month.  Bring pupus, as usual, but let’s also bring a beverage to share.  Since it does require some reconfiguring of the store to make room for us, it would be nice if Diana had a rough headcount, so please let us know if you’re coming by responding to the survey.   
Ohana soprano, solid spruce top, curly mahogany back and sides, $140
Looking for the perfect ‘ukulele? I will be bringing a few beautiful ‘ukuleles from Ohana and offering them at ridiculous prices so you can start your Christmas shopping early.  If  there’s a particular one you want to see, please let me know, and I’ll bring it along if it’s one of the ones that I have available.  And, as you know, Diana does carry the flea and other ‘ukulele accessories from Kani Ka Pila.
Ralph ShawIf you had the opportunity to witness the antics of Ralph Shaw in person at the festival, you already know what a funny fellow he is.   Here’s an excerpt from his latest newsletter, in which he describes how to  make  great wine:
Sometimes bad things happen to good ukuleles. Irreparable accidents are, fortunately, not common but always heartbreaking when they do occur. This summer a friend of mine was playing ukulele at a beach campfire singalong. Everyone sat on logs. Taking a break from playing he carefully laid his uke behind the log on which he was sitting. When someone piled more wood on the fire everyone got too hot and the log was rolled back…Crunch!!!
Now you might think that was the end of his ukulele – but no. I have been able to supply him with this recipe for delicious** Ukulele Wine.
This Recipe makes 1 Imperial Gallon of Ukulele Wine
You will need:
  • 1 ukulele (crushed)
  • 1 gallon of boiling water
  • 6 cups of sugar (organic raw sugar eg. Sucanat will add more flavor and body than ordinary white sugar)
  • 1 cup of prunes
  • 1 Campden tablet (crushed) (optional – this is a preservative but is also what puts sulphites in your wine. If you’re not using this do make sure everything is scrupulously sanitized.)
  • 1¼ tsp wine yeast
  1. Remove strings and all plastic and metal parts; tuners, frets, plastic nut/bridge etc.  from your ukulele. Rinse the ukulele well and crush as finely as possible. Remember, the smaller you make the pieces of your ukulele, the more flavor it will impart.
  2. In a large food grade bucket combine the crushed ukulele fragments and boiling water. Cover with porous lid and soak for 24 hours. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth (or clean pantyhose will do for this) into a large cooking pot. Bring to boil and remove from heat.
  3. Return the heated liquid to the fermenting bucket (this is called your primary) and stir in all other ingredients EXCEPT the yeast.
  4. Allow to cool until lukewarm then sprinkle wine yeast on top or prepare yeast as per instructions on the package. Cover fermenter with a porous cover to protect from fruit flies and to allow carbon dioxide to escape. You can use the other, left-over leg of your panty hose for this.
  5. Allow to ferment for at least 14 days. Stir daily making sure to always sanitize your spoon.
  6. Siphon wine off the sediment into a glass secondary. Attach airlock. When fermentation is complete (Specific Gravity = 1.000 about 3 weeks. Use a hydrometer to measure this) siphon off sediment into a clean secondary. Top up with cooled pre-boiled water. Attach airlock. Siphon off sediment again in 2 months to aid clearing and top up with cooled pre-boiled water again if necessary. Let stand until clear.
  7. At long last, after the 6 to 12 month clearing period, you get to bottle your wine. To do so sterilize all your bottles and tools. Siphon wine into bottles allowing about an inch of air space between the surface of your wine and the bottom of a fully inserted cork.
  8. Store the filled bottles on their sides to keep corks moist, ideally in a cool dark place.

That’s it – you’ve just crafted your first gallon of delicious *** Ukulele Wine! (aka Plink Plonk)
* ukulele wine probably should not be consumed internally. Non-organic glues and varnishes may be enough to render this drink poisonous and yukky.  Keep this in mind for the future. Next time you buy a ukulele, do insist that it be made from all organic, edible materials. I’m sure most ukulele builders will be more than happy to help you with your request.
** like I said before. You probably shouldn’t drink this stuff. I won’t take any responsibility for the after effects .
*** again. This stuff could be toxic and you may be better off using it for putting a deep and lustrous shine on your wooden furniture and antique leather items****
****Please note that ukulele wine may be damaging to products made of wood and/or leather.
PS. If anybody actually goes ahead and makes this, please let me know how it turns out.
Next Week: I’ll tell you how to deep-fry your old ukulele strings to make a delicious and “ocean-wise” alternative to calamari.

To be on the  receiving end of Ralph’s wit and humor on a regular basis, you can visit his newsletter sign-up page, where you can subscribe and also see the archive of previous newsletters. (I believe he also shares some useful information about playing the ukulele as well.)

That’s it for now.  Now that the festival is behind us for a bit, I hope to get back to regular posts and content.  See you Sunday.