Hello, My Readers… How about an update on this week’s activities so far exploring some of the smaller American Viticultural Areas in Monterey County. It’s been pretty much a whirlwind of bus travel, greeting and tasting and then on to another winery or stopping point to meet with a group of winemakers. I’m writing this post at 7:20 a.m. in a Tower Room at the hacienda of William Randolph Hearst’s former cattle ranch, though as a hacienda goes, this one, designed by Julia Morgan, is palatial in scope. It also happens to be on an Army base — Hearst sold the ranch to the military in 1940 — so everyone has to show picture ID to get in. Monday, we were in Carmel Valley; yesterday we stopped in Arroyo Seco in the morning and the new San Antonio AVA in the afternoon. Today we go on to Chalone and up to The Pinnacles, where we’ll taste pinot noir and chardonnay from some of the upcoming producers in Santa Lucia Highlands, including Sabrine Rodem’s Wrath Wines and Peter Figge’s Figge Cellars, both of which have been getting attention recently. The picture included with this post is of a Barbary falcon improbably named Sugar; perhaps she has a really sweet demeanor under her fierce exterior. We saw a demonstration — the first on a wine trip for me — of how one falcon (and handler) can do the work in a day of seven beaters using mechanical means to scare away birds that feed on the grapes. It’s cheaper and more environmentally sound for the farmer or winery. Anyway, off to breakfast and another day under these incredible pure blue skies of traveling and tasting wine in Monterey County. At the conclusion of this brief travelogue, you may all return to class.