quick notes :
check out claycord.com , a very cool site in the same vein of concord history.
As well, a few weeks ago, yours truly visited Martinez historical society (don't visit the CC historical records department a few blocks away, there's a bunch of old scornful crows in ther), but, so I was at the museum, and this delightful Irish lady named Sanchez (I don't get it either) took me under and toured me the place. Sure, there was old milk jugs and generic junk you'd find in any historical museum of how life was 100 years ago, but interesting exhibits of the Italian fisherman (pizza, yum), and more to the point, my interest, an exhibit regarding the wineries that were of Martinez, complete with old wine bottles and old wine labels. Irish Sanchez also noted that Christian Brothers Brandy first started in Martinez and continues to donate money to the local De LA Salle High School in Concord. Also noted is the fact that though there was a plethora of wineries in the Martinez region, only one survived, and that is Viano Vineyards
I had the opportunity to visit the winery there. . . spooky. Instead of your normal wine snobs that frequent these places, the type that swirl and sniffthe glasses, and spit the wine, (well, that's what stands out in my mind- I'm a booze hound, don't waste the stuff!), the place was empty save for two strange men, i could get what they were doing or discussing, and the lady behind the counter. My traveling partner and I entered and eyes were fixed on us like an African visiting the North Pole. My partner informed me that after a few tastings the wine was nondescript, but at seven bucks a bottle, really, who's complaining. I intend to toss a couple bottles t a wine critic friend and hear what he says, I'll probably duck from the flying glass.
On the subject of wineries, there were wineries peppered throughout contra costa county, specifically Diablo Valley; one in my back yard, the Hookston winery, by the Hooks brothers, of which, when the old railway system was being built here, they had pull to make a stop near their winery to load up barrels for shipping.
Now, as stated, though wine's got a percentage of which I enjoy, my preference is beer and whiskey. Maybe it's Irish heritage. Maybe it's ethnic slurs. Italian equals wine, Irish equals beer and whiskey. I don't know of any irish wine, but then again, I don't know much of anything. I remember reading one of the many illustrious books by Nilda Rego "Days Gone By" series, of which some Irish immigrant living in Port Costa brewed his own suds, gave it away, a liter to those lucky passers by. He became so popular, he became a judge. A happy, realistic success story. This is the only historical beer story I know. Presently, there's Black Diamond Brew Co., Shasta D Brew Co, and EJ Phair. Any others, please post