Halloween Wines – Deep, Dark, and Spooky

For our October wine tasting party of course we had to go for a Halloween-based wine theme — “Deep, Dark, and Spooky”.  So Petite Sirah was the perfect choice due to its mysterious nature and dark, brooding appearance.

In deciding the food to pair with our Petite Sirah, I tried to select flavors as bold and challenging as the wine itself – spicy, sweet, and savory.  Here’s the food we prepared and the wines we sampled!

Braised Short Ribs
Caramelized Soy Pork Loin
Thai Red Curry Pumpkin
Chili Jam Long-Bean Stir Fry
(Laurent’s Endive and Goat Cheese Torte)
(Linda’s Homemade Membrillo Spread with Manchego Cheese)


2003 Mettler Petite Sirah
2004 Mettler Petite Sirah
2005 Rock Rabbit Petite Sirah
2005 Shypoke Petite Syrah
2001 Varozza Petite Sirah
2004 EOS Petite Sirah
2005 Rosenblum Appellation Series Petite Sirah
2003 Ursa Paso Robles Petite Sirah
2004 La Felice Cepage (a somewhat off-theme blend…)

And then to finish the evening and in consideration of 2 French visitors who joined us, we opened a Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne and a 2001 Cabernet Franc IceWine.  Great stuff!

Petite Sirah is one of my favorite wines and this tasting event turned out great.  We enjoyed some good wines and I have to say my favorite was the Rosenblum – it just seemed to have a deep core of dark fruit which held off the raspy tannins.  I was a little unsure of how the food was going to be received since some of these dishes were first-timers for me.  But everyone “said” they liked it — and it all disappeared!

What did you guys think?!


PS: Stay tuned for next month’s wine tasting, November 30th, which brings us to a holiday wine theme that we’ll have to figure out…

Rental Trend

Over the past 12-18 months I’ve been watching the monthly apartment rent prices of the Bay Area as they have increased – sometimes at 4x or 5x the rate of inflation!  It seems we spend a lot of time discussing the high cost of buying a home here, but it’s also an expensive place to rent.

Here is an unfortunate side-effect of the housing and lending market slowdown.  It seems we are seeing more people continuing to “wait on the fence” while the slowdown plays out, which means there will be more renters in the market.  Supply and demand puts upward pressure on rents when there are more people looking for any given apartment – result is that rents go up. 

The Tuesday October 16th San Jose Mercury commercial real estate section shared an article about Bay Area apartment sales and rental trend.  Average Bay area apartment rents were found to have increased 4.9% or 6.5% over last year, depending on the size and configuration of the building.  It is noteworthy that purchases of apartment buildings and complexes were down but the unit price per square foot was unchanged from a year ago.  Essentially, whoever bought an apartment building this year has been able to pay last year’s price and yet raise the annual income by 5-6% over last year’s rent.  As an investor, this is a “double-win”.  As a renter, maybe this is a good time to think about getting off the fence.

As always, we welcome your comments and insights.


Opportunity Knocking!

My heart jumped when I came across this new listing in Palo Alto on Friday and I’m so excited that I just have to share it with you.  As you may know, Sabrina and I are HUGE Eichler fans, having gone through some extensive remodeling on our own Eichler over the last 5 years.  So when I saw 716 Ames Ave, Palo Alto come on the market it was something I had to see immediately.

This is a gold mine of an opportunity!  Here we have an all-original Eichler from the 1960s in need of extensive remodeling at an unbelievable price.  If we had the means to afford it, I would be making the first offer ASAP.  No joke.  There is huge upside here!

We’re talking about the mature Los Arboles community of Eichlers, fantastic schools, 7500sf lot, 2100sf living space, in a 4/2 configuration.  It’s listed for just under $1.1M* and yes, I know, there may be overbids.  Even though I haven’t been in the house yet, I can imagine spending $200k to get everything the way I want it.  The neighborhood can easily support a resale of $1.6M or more, just look at this killer Eichler remodel about 5 houses away from this listing.  Alternatively, you can just stay there having built a nice cushion of equity for yourself.

The most fun came as I sat in my car talking to the listing agent about some of the details of this home.  A silver Porsche Cayenne S pulls up and the “3 tycoons” proceed to jump out of the car – 2 of them with fresh Starbucks coffee in hand and the third, the driver, still on his cell phone.  Each of them clean and neatly pressed, with the driver wearing a suit jacket and gold bracelet.  I could see it coming.  Here we have 3 20-something house flippers coming to check out the newest deal in town.  Hilarious!

But these guys are right on target.  This is a serious opportunity.  Sure it needs a lot of work.  Sure there are a lot of uncertainties with a home that has been neglected over time.  But if you are a young couple with 2 solid professional Bay Area incomes, and have found yourself watching too many TLC Property Ladder or Flip This/That/or the Other House; then you need to get ready for this house.

You can choose to listen to the news of “doom” about the crashing real estate market, or you can get out there and network with people to find some of the phenomenal opportunities we know are out there — and as always, we would love to hear your feedback!


* The result for 716 Ames Ave, Palo Alto was 13 bids and final price is just a little over $1.4M with a 7-day COE.

Real Estate is LOCAL, period.

Location, Location, Location.  The first 3 words unanimously determined as the most important in any real estate consideration are appropriately the first three words of our own real estate blog adventure.

If everyone knows that Location is the most important real estate factor, why is it that very few people are applying this to all the news articles they read about the entire market falling apart?!  The newspapers and TV you are reading do not adequately narrow the focus to your exact neighborhood.  Real estate is local, period.

Of course there are national and global eco-political factors that influence the entire real estate market on a daily basis.  Future posts here will no doubt discuss many of these factors as I love to read 2 to 3 newspapers a day and dissect stories aired on CNBC and Bloomberg TV.

Before you hit the panic button on what’s happening to the price of your home, please look at what is happening in your very neighborhood first!  In our business we favor the Days Of Inventory as a leading indicator of what is happening in any given area.  In Santa Clara county, we have areas with 28 days of inventory and 700 days of inventory.  Such diversity even within 45 minutes of each other! 

Please don’t jump to any quick conclusions after hearing some National statistic about the housing market.  In the markets we serve, we continue to see white-hot areas like Mountain View doing very well. Ask us about what’s happening specifically in your neighborhood before you draw the wrong conclusion.