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Matt Booth Q & A

Date: Tue, Oct 20, 2009 Wine Business

Matt Booth is a good friend of Joseph & Curtis and someone we admire very much...he is a man who marches to his own beat and his quality of work is second to none..here is a glimpse into the "Conspiracy"

"We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those that would do us harm"

J&C: That's my favorite quote...so first things first: Much respect for your service to this GREAT nation...do you have a favorite quote?

I don't do many quotes - one that stuck with me however, is from our man Benjamin Franklin... "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both"

J&C: Tell us about your service to our country as a marine.

I served four years with 3/7 India Company in their Weapons platoon as a machine-gunner 0331 from '96 - 2000. I made some of the best friends of my lifetime, and now several years later several of us work together surrounding Room101.

J&C: How does a marine become a jewelry designer?

That is an interesting question - the short version is....after I got out I moved directly to Hollywood proper to pursue music as a career - and started digging in to the insidious "industry" in general...

I was introduced to this style of crazy silver jewelery here in Hollywood and it took me from simply interested and intrigued - to obsessed and ultimately I am where I am today because of those earlier experiences here in LA.

J&C: Tell us about your feelings about a cause very dear to both our hearts, the Wounded Warrior Project.

The Wounded Warrior Project is an extremely vital program that focuses on raising aid for the guys and girls that are coming home severely injured as well as lobbying for new legislation that will help support those same soldiers and provide them with much needed care for their injuries. It is a cause that I support whole heatedly and I am utilizing the marketing campaign surrounding the launch of the Room101 cigar to help raise awareness for the cause. I urge everyone that has not already to log on to www.woundedwarriorproject.com to learn more.

J&C: Tell us about what Room 101 is and about the Conspiracy.

Room101 is my baby, my brand and my life.

In my opinion (of course I could be somewhat biased) Room101 is the finest, and most fully comprehensive luxury lifestyle collection in existence. We pride ourselves on our jewelry design first and foremost of course - but we have expanded the collection with items ranging from travel accessories to custom instruments, custom vehicle collaborations, custom knives and of course as you may be aware, cigars.... Room101 is something I live and breathe.

The Conspiracy began as my middle finger to the world - to let the nay-sayers know that this brand is for real.Since its inception, the Conspiracy has grown to include other believers and supporters who understand what we are doing, connect with our philosophy on a deeper level, and contribute their own talents to our mission. I like to think of the Conspiracy as our own "by invitation only" club. The momentum has grown to the point where we are now approached by people asking if they can be a part of it.

J&C: Describe your style in four words.

1. I
3. TO

J&C: What's an average day for Matt Booth?

My days are anything but average. Everything changes on a day to day basis, depending on the needs of the brand. People have a perception that this is all glitz and glamor because they see the final product. However, few people realize the hard work and long hours that go into what I do on a daily basis. Now that we have added the cigar brand, my responsibilities are twice as great and my time is more in demand than ever. Everyday I wake up ready for all of it. I am blessed that I am able to work for myself and the future of the Room101 family.

J&C: Eddie Bauer had the Ford Explorer...I am thinking a Matt Booth F-16?

It's funny you would bring up airplanes...lately I have been itching to Room101 out a private jet interior....now I just need the plane.

J&C: I know you work with a couple chopper builders...do u ride?

I grew up riding dirt bikes - and the Room101 bobber is going to hit the streets of LA 2010.

J&C: What's your favorite place to chill?

To be honest with you - the ability to chill has eluded me for the past few years. I would have to say lately it would be the deck on my pad in Hollywood with a good cigar and my Chihuahua.

J&C: Tell us about the cigar launch...and where can someone buy them AND what makes a good cigar?

From what I hear it's nothing short of a success. The Room101 cigar can be purchased most anywhere fine Camacho products are sold. It's a killer smoke - go out and get you some!

J&C: Would you ever consider lending your Room 101 flavor to a humidor for us or one of our clients?

Of course..It would be my pleasure my man...I am always looking to take on projects that are new and interesting. I'm looking forward to the first Room101 walk in humidor project with Joseph & Curtis.

J&C: Where can our readers learn more about Room 101?


Needless to say, Matt Booth is the real deal and fights for what he believes in, doesn't let anything get in his way. We all can learn a lesson from Matt and the Room 101 Conspiracy - party hard, work harder!

Room 101 and Camacho sent us 2 boxes of Room 101 cigars that we will review at the Joseph & Curtis Fan Page on Facebook, Become a Fan to keep in touch!

Matt, thanks again for the interview, we wish you NOTHING BUT SUCCESS and look forward to collaborating on some killer projects with Room 101.


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Erik Weihenmayer Q & A

Date: Mon, Aug 17, 2009 Wine Business

Erik Weihenmayer is someone we can all marvel in. It's very easy to be inspired by all of Erik's amazing accomplishments, but what I admired most was his sense of humor, and his work ethic. Everyone might not make it to the top of Everest, but we can all summit our own personal Everest by using adversity as the fuel to our fire.

Erik Weihenmayer climbing in Thailand.
Erik Weihenmayer climbing in Thailand. (Photo credit: Charley Mace)

Now let's talk with Erik...about wine...about adventure...about dealing with adversity.

Do you have a favorite wine?

I especially enjoy Shiraz, an Australian red which may be the country's highest profile wine. Someone told me the grape first came to Australia from the Rhone area of France many years ago.

Do wine and skiing mix?

Sure they mix, but only after you're done skiing! And I have a rule: when guiding, no drinking.

Erik skiing in the Alps
Erik skiing in the Alps

You have just returned from Istanbul. What did you do there?

I had two speaking engagements, with Pepsi/Frito Lay and with P&G, but then I climbed Mt. Ararat in eastern Turkey, where Noah's Ark is supposed to be buried. We didn't find it, but we did find the summit. It was much colder than expected for this time of year. Heavy snow had covered the high mountain, and for my team, the climbing was a little treacherous. Luckily, though, trekking in snow is much easier for me. There are few rocks and mini-boulders to avoid, and you simply slog your way to the top. We climbed with three Iranians, mountaineers we have been in contact with for several years. One has translated my book, "Touch the Top of the World," into Farsi, and is now working to get it approved by a special committee which reviews all books and films for the Iranian market, so that it can be published.

Please tell us the Australian champagne story.

Kosciuzsko, the tallest peak in Australia at 7,200 feet, was more a bump than a mountain – by far the easiest of the Seven Summits. The real work of Mt. Everest, as well as my five other continental summits, was behind us. We figured Kosciuzsko was only a ceremonial walk to the finish line to complete my seven-year quest. When I told a local Aussie of our plans, he responded, "Ah! What a lovely stroll. I did it with my dog last summer." We planned interviews over a satellite feed to news programs around the world for the historic moment I finished. We even had a bottle of champagne along with us for a celebratory toast at the top.

Erik (4th to right) and team celebrates on the top of Kosciuszko by popping a champagne cork in a strong wind.
Erik (4th to right) and team celebrates on the top of Kosciuszko by popping a champagne cork in a strong wind.

However, it seems that whenever we finally let up and assume something will be easy, we are presented with a dramatic reminder that life involves suffering. Climbing my Seventh Summit felt like a mini-version of the Odyssey, as if the winds had been unleashed against us. From the moment we arrived at Kosciuzsko during the Australian spring, a series of huge low-pressure systems, half the size of the continent, repeatedly dumped snow over the mountain. The winds near the top roared at eighty miles per hour. After waiting five days for the weather to clear, and with no improvement in sight, we made the decision to go for it. What match would little Kosciuzsko be against hardened mountaineers who had summited the tallest mountains in the world?

Only a half hour out of the parking lot, as the howling wind roared down the slopes and drove hard bullets of ice directly into our faces, I was already questioning the wisdom of continuing. One of my teammates was actually lifted up by the wind and sent sliding 100 yards down the snow slope. When he waved up that he was fine, and we knew he wasn't hurt, we all let out a relieved laugh.

It seemed like the winds had focused their attention on our team, because next I was struck by a tremendous gust. The wind flung me back into Eric Alexander, who was right behind me, and we both went down in a pile. We were a tangled heap of arms and legs as we slid twenty feet down the hard-packed slope before Eric managed to dig his ice axe into the ice and stop us.

As we got above the tree line, we were faced with an indistinct wind-scoured landscape, made even more disorienting by the blizzard. Jeff Evans took the lead and had to navigate with a compass. For three hours, we wandered around through the whiteout looking for the actual summit.

Finally, after trudging up a last snow face, with the wind fighting us at every step, Jeff described to me the truck-sized boulder layered in ice that signified my Seventh Summit. It took four of us holding tightly to our banner to pull it out of my pack and hoist it for a few summit shots as the wind tried to rip it away. Then, sticking stubbornly to our summit celebration, we popped open the bottle of champagne. The cork sailed away, zinging, I assume, past all seven continents on its way down. As I took a drink, the fierce wind tipped the neck of the bottle, caught the liquid, and plastered half the contents across my face and Gore-Tex suit. The irony wasn’t lost on us. This summit, typically host to T-shirt clad tourists, young children, and dogs, was doing its best to blow us off the mountain. In fact, of my Seven Summits, little Kosciuzsko’s brutal winds topped them all. Nothing else was even close.

If I had confronted that kind of adversity on my first summit, it might have sapped my will to even attempt the others. But along the journey, my tolerance for suffering had expanded, and by the time we reached Kosciuzsko’s summit, all we could do was laugh. In fact, we must have all looked like lunatics, covered in frozen champagne and braced together against the hurricane-force gale as we howled with laughter. Lovely Kosciuzsko had done everything in its power to make our experience as memorable as our ascents of far bigger mountains. Instead of a ceremonial stroll to the finish line, we had to work for every inch—and our accomplishment made us proud. (Excerpts from Erik's "The Adversity Advantage.")

Is it easier to be adventurous being blind?

Probably yes, because every day and every experience is an adventure for me. When I walk from my home into town, it can become an adventure. One day, I was going with my guidedog to the local gym. We got to a place in the road where I knew the gym was straight ahead. But Wizard would not budge. Irritated, I commanded him, "Forward," but when I stepped forward it was into a fairly deep pool of water. So, I went home to change my sneakers and then started out again.

Erik on a rock overhanging the sea in Thailand.
Erik on a rock overhanging the sea in Thailand.

As I learned to live as a blind person, I realized that blindness truly makes life a big adventure, and that's how I try to look at it. Sure, there are frustrations, but more often than not, if you take a step back and look at the situation, one should probably just laugh. So, you have a choice. You can either let adversity crush you, as it does many people, or you can use its energy to propel you on the pathway to your dreams.

How amazing was climbing Everest?

Most people focus on me being the only blind person to summit Everest, but the even better story is that 18 of my teammates stood on the top that day as well, which is the most climbers from a single team to summit Everest in a single day. We had no superstars, just good solid climbers, but there was tremendous cohesiveness around the vision of helping a blind person to stand on top of the world.

Looking across the final section of the southeast ridge towards the Hillary Step and the summit of Mt. Everest. (Photo Credit: Didrik Johnck)
Looking across the final section of the southeast ridge towards the Hillary Step and the summit of Mt. Everest. (Photo Credit: Didrik Johnck)

I could have been standing there alone. Instead, and much better, was standing with all my teammates who have made this feat possible. Time Magazine called it perhaps the greatest team to ever climb on Everest, which is the ultimate compliment.

Erik on the cover of Time Magazine.
Erik on the cover of Time Magazine.

How did you get involved with speaking?

Shortly after my climb of Mt. McKinley in Alaska in 1995, which was the first of my continental summits, we started getting inquiries about movie and book rights, tv shows and magazine articles, and speaking engagements, mostly from non-profits and schools.

My dad was serving as my manager (he still is), and he arranged 8 talks at private schools in one week.

Erik and his dad Ed work together building his speaking business,  writing books and producing films embodying his message.
Erik and his dad Ed work together building his speaking business, writing books and producing films embodying his message.

Even the small speaking fees represented huge money to me then, but it was really a tough road, because by the 5th or 6th presentation I honestly couldn't remember whether I had already told them the story I was about to share. From there, it just grew, mostly by referrals and good testimonials. Now I am speaking around the world, occasionally sharing platforms with people like Secretary Colin Powell, General Norman Schwarzkopf, Prime Minister Tony Blair and other heads of state.

Even my corporate talks, though, have had their ups and downs. My very first presentation at a big conference for a Fortune 500 firm was at AT&T. Twelve hundred people were packed into the auditorium. I was given a glowing introduction, and was warming the audience up with a few stories which had them laughing and cheering. I was just ready to plunge into the real message when a loud alarm interrupted my presentation.. I wasn't quite sure what it was, until I heard people getting up from their seats and exiting the room. Then I realized it was a fire alarm drill, and I went outside with the conference head. We didn't begin filing back in for 30 minutes. My momentum was doused. Cold water had been thrown on my flow.

With all of the inspirational people you have been around, do any stories stand out?

When I was 12, I was watching a TV show called That’s Incredible. I could still see a little out of one eye, though I had to crane forward just a few inches away from the set. Being featured that night was an athlete named Terry Fox. Terry had lost a leg to cancer and, when not yet discharged from the hospital, made a decision to run across Canada from east to west. With my nose pressed up against the screen and with tears pouring down my face, I watched Terry run. The miles took a tremendous toll on his amputated leg and its primitive prosthetic. He hobbled along mile after mile, fighting the pain of blisters and raw skin, often using a pair of crutches to propel his body forward.

Erik on the last pitch of his climb of El Capitan's 3000-foot vertical face.
Erik on the last pitch of his climb of El Capitan's 3000-foot vertical face.

What struck me most was the look on his face. It was a look of extreme contradiction: full of exhaustion, yet radiant with exaltation. In his thin face was the trace flicker of an intense internal light that burned power into his struggling frame. The image filled my sagging spirit and gave me a feeling of utter courage. Many would have retreated from such hardship, but—surprisingly—Terry faced it head-on and literally ran into its midst. It was while staring into Terry's face that I first wondered how we could harness that great storm of adversity swirling around us and use its power to make ourselves stronger and better. (Excerpt from "The Adversity Advantage.")

With all of your accomplishments, what drives you to continue on these adventures?

I love the adventure itself, to be sure, and the pleasure of working with teammates to accomplish stretch goals, but what drives me most is the discovery process, the innovation necessary to do something which the world sees as impossible but which I know in my heart is truly possible. After I began climbing big mountains, I wanted to become a better rock climber. Some said that a blind guy may be able to slog it out on a steep slope, but feeling for holds up a vertical rock face was too difficult, even impossible. But faces are tactile, and using my hands and feet as my eyes, I climbed steep faces such as The Nose of El Capitan, 3000 feet of overhanging rock. But when I thought about ice climbing, critics claimed that ice faces were smooth and you had to discern the good ice and see precisely where to plunge your ice tool...but I learned how to tap the ice with my tool and use the pitch to tell me about the quality of the ice. Later, I climbed Polar Circus, a 3300-foot vertical ice waterfall in the Canadian Rockies, in 11 hours. As in other ventures, I learned that there are many ways to climb a mountain, and that sight is helpful but not indispensable.

Tell us about your work with the school systems?

It is important that our young people learn to dream big. They need to get passionate about something, and then work to surmount the obstacles that stand between them and their dreams. So I spend a lot of time in schools and colleges sharing this message, using my own life experiences as a practical example. I love to go to a campus, show one of my films to students, parents, faculty and the community in the evening, then share my story in a formal presentation with videos and slides the next morning. It is rewarding to know the school is abuzz with a message about overcoming adversity. We have held city-wide school programs in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York, where thousands of students from tens of schools read my "Touch the Top of the World" and then came together in a central venue to hear my message. I wish we could take this program to more cities and schools across the country. The Touch the Top message needs to reach today's youth.

What is your favorite food and any story about it?

My best and worst are both from Nepal, where I have spent a lot of time climbing. Momos, Nepalese dumplings, are at the top of my list. Fortunately, there are several Nepalese restaurants where I live in Golden, so I can still enjoy them back here at home. At the other end of the spectrum is dhalbot, a bean dish which is a staple for our Sherpa guides in the mountains. Dhalbot has been my nemesis - and my teammate's - in the Himalayas. In fact, every time I think about dhalbot, even now, I get this sick feeling in my stomach.

Anything exciting on the horizon?

There are many mountains still to climb, including the 53 Fourteeners in Colorado (I have summited only 30 of them). I may climb Damavand in Iran with my Iranian friends, if the authorities approve. I am investigating biking across the Salt Flats in Nevada. And I may return to ski the Haute Route, from Mt. Blanc in France to the Matterhorn in Switzerland at elevations above 10,000 feet; last Spring, my team had to make an emergency descent on Day 4 because of a severe snow storm and avalanche dangers, so the Haute Route remains "unfinished business." The north face of the Eiger, a classic in the Alps, is a near-term target.

Erik doing figure 8's on a practice ski.
Erik doing figure 8's on a practice ski.

And next year, I hope to climb the Moose's Tooth near McKinley in Alaska, which is known for its stark vertical walls, elevator-shaft like couloirs and razorblade ridges. There are no "walk-ups" on this mountain.

How can one obtain a copy of any of your books or dvd's?

Go to my website, http://www.touchthetop.com, not only for video clips and articles, but also to order "Touch the Top of the World" or "The Adversity Advantage," or our films in dvd. Teachers and students will want to look at the Education section of the website, which includes a curriculum guide for "Touch the Top of the World" for use in classrooms, plus other educational materials.

How insane was Primal Quest?

In retrospect, very insane. Those who said that my team and I would not get beyond the first day were close to being right. Primal Quest is the most brutal adventure race in the world: for us, 9 days, 467 miles, 60,000 feet of elevation gain, no time outs. We were one of only 42 teams of 80 elite teams from around the globe to finish within the prescribed time, but it was a huge struggle. Our worst enemy was the sleep monsters, because we only got an hour or two of sleep each night. Jeff Evans, my tandem partner, and I took turns falling alseep on our mountain bike. I was a 5th grade teacher at the time, and began hearing my school children cheering me on from the sidelines, before realizing they couldn't be there in the mountains at midnight. Jeff, on the other hand, felt goblins and trolls biting his toes. He had been to 107 Grateful Dead concerts.

Erik and Jeff biking a mountain course on Primal Quest.
Erik and Jeff biking a mountain course on Primal Quest.

Who are the people you credit with getting you where you are?

There are so many: my Braille teacher, Ms. Murin, who insisted, sometimes with a heavy hand, that I learn Braille.... fortunately; the Carroll Center who the Blind, which bravely introduced a bunch of us blind kids to rock climbing; Sam Bridgham, a fellow teacher and climber in Phoenix who challenged me to climb something bigger, which led to McKinley; Jeff Evans, my principal adventure partner who has summited more mountains with me than any other climber, who was prepared to sacrifice his own Everest summit by setting ropes for me on the steep slopes at 28,000 feet; amazingly, he got a second wind and stood with me on the top. But my parents were the broom and dustpan, my dad continually sweeping me out into the world of adventure, working with me to find ways to do things which blind kids didn't do; and my mom who, when I finally crashed, would pick up all the pieces, and put me back together again with TLC, until my dad would sweep me out again.

In walking away from our interview with Erik Weihenmayer, I find myself wanting to be a better man...and to try just a little harder at everything I do...and above all else...to NEVER take a moment for granted.

Thank you Erik.


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Garage to Wine Cellar Conversion

Date: Sun, Aug 16, 2009 Wine Business

Most people assume that wine cellars are in the , well, you know- cellar, but at Joseph & Curtis Custom Wine Cellars we are always looking for innovative places to create a custom wine cellar. We are doing more and more wine cellars and custom wine racks on the main living level from new construction where an entire room is specified by the architect near the kitchen or dining room to retro-fitting a wine cellar into an existing (and underused) butlers pantry which we completed recently in Holmdel, NJ - watch for upcoming blog.

The garage project however was a first. We were contacted by the homeowner Phil who told us ' it doesn't have to be elegant or fancy, but it does need to store and organize as many bottles as the space will allow' and will need a wine cellar cooling system that will maintain my collection at 56 degrees' for his extensive wine collection.

We met Phil and surveyed the room he had in mind, an approx 10'x10' annex to the garage that would be a perfect space for a wine cellar once the room was prep ed with the proper vapor barrier and insulation. We designed the space for maximum storage and were able to give Phil upwards of 1800 bottles! A space that might otherwise be full of old lawn chairs, fishing rods and rusty bicycles has been transformed into a wine lovers tour of France, California, Italy, South America etc.

Fancy or not we still produced beautiful Redwood custom wine racks and Phil loved the display rows we gave him that allows him to easily locate the wine he is looking for since you can see the label and the bulk storage above and below that bottle for wines he stores a quantity of.

Phil loves gardening and has a massive vegetable garden and commented that the cellar would be a perfect environment to store his canned harvest. So if you happen to be wandering through Phil's cellar don't be surprised if you see a mason jar sitting proudly beside a '86 Mouton Rothschild.

Hmmm, which wine do we drink with the pickled beets?


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Gettin a little 'Rough&Tough' with blues legend John Hammond

Date: Wed, Aug 5, 2009 Wine Business

We meet lots of interesting people designing and building wine cellars. From the wine makers themselves to professional baseball players and while John Hammond is not a customer, he has taught me many things about wine. John first noticed one of our custom wine racks at a small dinner party we had and a wine conversation naturally followed.

John & his wife Marla are fantastic cooks who can get everything from slow-smoked bbq to refined Italian on the table and it was a mutual love of food & wine that first brought my wife & I and John & Marla together.

We have been friends for nearly 10 years and one thing we have learned is John is constantly touring and so whenever we have the chance to get together to cook, drink wine and catch up, we do.

This evening was great. Standing Rib Roast, Soft Shell Crabs and a chance to sample John's new record- Rough & Tough (Chesky Records). Curt came by and we sat on the patio, ate, drank wine and enjoyed some of the best blues that is currently being recorded.

Rough&Tough is John Hammond at his best. If you are a hardcore John Hammond fan, this record reminds you why you are. If you don't know John's music, but wonder why John has the reputation he does, listen to Rough&Tough and you won't wonder any longer.

Check out the CD at CD Universe

Its tough to pry John away from his big California Cabernets but we went all Italian while we ate and listened to the new record thanks to some fantastic selections from Italian Wine Merchants NYC. Rough & Tough was recorded at St. Peters Episcopal Church in New York City by David & Norman Chesky (Marla co-produced) on the Super Audio Format and the sound is stunning.

Beginning with 'My Mind is Ramblin' to John re-visiting 'Get Behind the Mule' from his Grammy nominated Wicked Grin CD we were treated to some of the purest, most honest blues that you will hear anywhere. John bends the strings on his Guild 12-String playing 'Statesboro Blues' and beats up his National Steel guitar all over this record.

Rough & Tough is as good as it gets.


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Man Cave - Yankees and Wine

Date: Fri, Jul 24, 2009 Wine Business

We recently had the pleasure of converting a closet into a wine cellar in New Jersey. The customer then asked if we could paint a mural in the arch of the wine cellar, which led to a conversation about the homeowners basement.

He asked if we could turn the basement into a real "man cave" so we discussed a general theme (New York Yankees with a wine tasting area), but other than that we had great flexibility. Once the demo was complete we decided on a raised panel theme with antique paint finish (to make the room look as if it had been there a long time) .

We also decided on walnut wine racks and a distressed plaster wall finish. We then added a wine barrel tasting table with bar style leather chairs to match the custom pool table. We then arranged some of the owners NY Yankee photos and added a few of our own.

We had our friend Paul O'Neill sign a personal note to the homeowners (BIG fans) and the NY Yankee pool table light. The television was hung on the wall with 2 Yankee photos left and right as well as a walnut cabinet to hide the components. The basement was a tremendous success as the homeowners loved it and so did we.

We also included a NY Yankees engraved humidor (from our cigar room) which every man cave needs! (other teams available)

Some day we may even do their whole first floor and kitchen! Hmmmm...stay tuned for more.


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Paul O'Neill Wine Cellar Q &A

Date: Tue, Jul 14, 2009 Wine Business

Words do not describe how excited we were to work with Paul O'Neill. As a life long New York Yankee fan it was and is a dream come true.

There are 3 players that I have always told my kids to look up to: Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon (once he became a Yankee because of his Wounded Warrior work) and Paul O'Neill.

Paul played the game with such passion and was the epitome of what I call a "gamer." I highly recommend reading his book called Me and My Dad: A Baseball Memoir by Paul O'Neill, with Burton Rocks. His memories are treats to Yankee stories, hometown tales, and valuable insights into what has made him the person he is today, all of it shaped by his relationship with his father.

So let's start the Q&A with Paul O'Neill ...

What do you think of this year’s NY Yankee team?

“They are right there in the toughest division in MLB. They have a lot to live up to with the new stadium and signing three of the top five free agents. Let’s face it, Yankee fans expect them to win it all. September will decide everything. They have to get away from the injury bug. It has really added up these last two years but great teams play through adversity and find a way.”

How is your retirement going?

“Great. I don’t miss traveling so much. I do miss the pinstripes. In golf, etiquette is a little different when you get frustrated but I have chucked a few clubs when it starts driving me crazy. I don’t feel retired with the golf events, broadcasting, kids and charity. They all keep me busy.”

When did you start getting into wine?

“In about 2001 when I felt my playing career should end.”

What are your favorite wines?

“Silver Oak, Insignia, Von Strasser Strauss, Prisoner.”

Ever thought of owning your own vineyard?

“A lot of wine drinkers have fantasies of it. My father came from a farm family and always told me how the work never ends and since a vineyard is a form of farming, I think I better let others and just enjoy the fruits of their labor.”

Are you enjoying the wine cellar?

“I love it. It’s sort of like my space in my house. A special place where others have to be asked in. Sort of like my treehouse as an adult.”

How often do you entertain in the cellar?

“Not too often and usually just one on one. Mine is not big enough to have a table or bunch of chairs.”

What was your most memorable Yankee moment?

“Game five of the 2001 World Series was certainly up there. The fans spontaneously chanting without being prompted by the scoreboard. I felt like it all had come together, my father, baseball, the fans thanking me when nine years before, I had a lot of doubts about making it in New York. Who would have ever imagined we’d become the greatest baseball dynasty since the 50s Yankees? We beat the best team in the National League, the Braves, eight World Series games in a row. We won 14 straight World Series games. If teams entered the Hall of Fame, Cooperstown would be right to have the 90s Yankees high on their list.”

How many Gatorade coolers have you destroyed?

“None. I just tuned some up but they still worked.”

Tell us about Right Field Charities on your website at www.pauloneill21.com

“We just started it a couple years ago. Basically we serve other charities that serve children with money and memorabilia to their auctions. We seek to serve children, the heart of baseball which I owe much gratitude to. I also don’t like seeing people who work for charities pay themselves four and five times what the average person makes in America. If you want to be paid like that, go into private industry and take the risks others take. So we try to be careful of whom we give to. There are great charities out there and there are lemons. We do our best to distinguish. More than anything, whether a person gives to Right Field or someone else, it’s to send a message that the world needs you to help. You don’t have to be famous or wealthy to qualify. You just have to be there. Do something. Contribute. One day we’d like to build a beautiful park full of diamonds that kids can play great baseball in even if they can’t afford it. I’d like to dedicate it to my father who played, coached and spectated his whole life for almost no financial gain to him. He probably spent more money buying kids milkshakes than he ever made playing in the minor leagues. That could steer a lot of kids onto the right path. Give them a sense of belonging. It is a long process. Nobody at RFC even takes a paycheck right now. But the charity world is competitive in itself. A lot of organizations compete for available funds.”

Are there any events coming up?

“Yes. There is one in the works. So many people have written in asking about it. We will send notices to our fan club mailing list which can be found at www.pauloneill21.com

I heard you may have a special event at Italian Wine Merchants.

“Yes, that is in the works. These events are hard to schedule because when I’m in NY, the days are very busy because I don’t reside there anymore. We have to fit everything in in just a couple days and you never know about rain outs, extra innings. But we’ll get it together.”

Do you prefer white or red wine?

“Red. I don’t like a lot of sweetness in wine. Dry is good for me.”

What is your favorite wine story?

“Going to Italy and discovering I loved the super Tuscans more than the French wines.”

Who is your favorite band?

“The Stones and then Kenney Chesney. Bon Jovi and John Mellencamp are up there too.”

Are you still playing the drums?

“Yes, but I’m being eclipsed by my two boys. I can’t sing so I don’t know where I’d sit if we formed a band.”

Do you miss NYC?

“Of course. It’s a place where you could never see everything or know everything about. I don’t miss the traffic but living there full-time was certainly a high point in my life with priceless memories.”

Once a date is set for the IWM event, Joseph and Curtis Custom Wine Cellars will auction off a wine racking system to help our friend Paul O'Neill with his charity Right Field Charities. Please stay tuned for dates to this awesome event. I have to say I always loved seeing "Paulie" in the
pinstripes...but he looks DAMN good in a J & C shirt!!


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Happy 4th of July

Date: Fri, Jul 3, 2009 Wine Business

Joseph & Curtis would like to wish everyone a happy 4th of July weekend!

We would also like to thank EVERY man and woman in our armed forces for serving our country and preserving our freedom. Please visit www.woundedwarriorproject.org to learn how you can help support our troops because the greatest casualty is being forgotten.

For any orders in our cigar room from now until July 11th, Joseph & Curtis will make a donation of 15% of the order amount to the Wounded Warrior Project in the customer's name.


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Dramatic Wine Cellar in New Jersey

Date: Mon, Jun 29, 2009 Wine Business

Welcome back to our blog about building custom wine cellars.

Our latest project in New Jersey started with a blank canvas - a 17' x 17' room which was finished, but not for one of our custom wine cellars.

Check out a video walk-through of this dramatic wine cellar, then read more about the project.

The homeowner had just built the home and was entirely finished except for the wine cellar. He told us that he was tired of making decisions and wanted us to do everything "soup to nuts" including all of the design work.

We began by asking some questions as to the style the homeowner envisioned...we then began to walk through the house to visualize their tastes...we also walked the outside of the home as well. Once we had the feel for their tastes we began to sketch a design - we included pictures, 3D CAD drawings, paint finishes, tile, door swatches, lighting, just about everything the owners would need to see and feel as if they were sitting in the room.

They loved it, and we went right to work!

Once the room was gutted we began to build the wine cellar. The wine cellar had several features: Granite peninsula, smoke eater for cigars, 2 murals with stone effect paint finish, custom humidor, 2 mahogany wrought iron doors and window, Jerusalem gold stone tile with 2 custom mosaics, and of course 3 stone arches 8' tall with 6 scones.

The cellar has a very dramatic feel...the stone tile accents the wine barrel and paint finish...while the "red dragon" granite makes a very bold statement yet picks up all of the colors of the stone arches as well as the murals.

The room was completed with 2 alligator chairs which beg you to light a fine cigar and open a 94 Sassicaia...Bellissimo!!

Please stay tuned for the opening of La Bionda (the blond girl) which is under renovations in Manville NJ...it will open in August with a night club in back, fine Italian food, brick oven pizza, and of course a Joseph & Curtis custom wine cellar.

Check out our website www.josephandcurtis.com if you are interested in a custom wine cellar for your home or business.


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Man Caves with Joseph & Curtis

Date: Tue, Jun 2, 2009 Wine Business

Joseph & Curtis Custom Wine Cellars recently completed its second episode of the Man Caves show on DIY network.

Every guy needs a space to call his own… a sanctuary where boys can be boys, where life essentials include a wet bar, a poker table and a place to watch the game with the fellas. And of course a custom wine cellar! Joseph &Curtis joined DIY Network’s Jason Cameron and football great Tony “The Goose” Siragusa to offer our idea to this particular space in Kennilworth, NJ.

We spoke with the DIY design team and producer John Marsala several times before the actual taping of the episode...trying to figure the best idea for this particular mancave. We asked about the owners interests and were told he loved food and wine. John mentioned a second kitchen was going to be installed in the basement.

Our design team went to work on an idea to have 6 sections of redwood custom racking which would represent 6 different food groups (pesce,pollo etc).

We included a chalkboard sign above each rack with the name of each food group. The owner loved the idea of being able to make a fish dish and walk over to the "pesce" rack for a perfect match.

It took us a little over 3 weeks to coordinate, design, and assemble the racking...being true "veterans" of the DIY network we knew it would make more sense to assemble the racking at our shop which we did. The man cave show has a two day limit in completing the entire space...so we made it very easy on ourselves by bringing two of our craftsman and doing the bulk of the work ahead of time.

When we arrived in Kennilworth we met with the homeowner for a final walk through...hung out w "the goose" and Jason and then began to make the chalk boards. Tony felt the racking needed to have a platform to raise the racking off of the floor which we built on site. After about 5 hours we installed the platform, chalkboard, and custom wine racks with display rows and 750ml storage.

We also included a cellar management software for all of the owners inventory needs.

As all of this was being done the rest of the basement was being installed as well. A kitchen, flat
screen, paint, a custom dinner table which came out especially nice (made by Jason). By the time we finished with our "shots" the basement looked fantastic. The homeowner was thrilled and so were we.

We plan on doing more episodes in the future...and we will keep everyone informed as to when the shows will air. Who knows maybe there will be a show called WINE CAVES with J & C (something we are working towards)


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Vega Sicilia Dinner & Spanish Wine Festival

Date: Wed, May 13, 2009 Wine Business

Join PJ Wine and Joseph & Curtis Custom Wine Cellars for two spectacular wine tasting events. PJ Wine, one of our friends, is sponsoring a couple exclusive wine events in mid-June that are sure to pique the interest of Spanish wine lovers.

If you don't have many Spanish bottles in your wine cellars but have been meaning to expand your collection, we recommend getting in touch with PJ Wine.

PJ’s has built a nationally recognized reputation for its extensive Spanish wine selection. Named one of the best retailers in the country for Spanish wines by The Rosengarten Report, the PJ Wine team tastes thousands of Spanish wines every year. Their accumulated years of experience tasting and traveling to Spain allows the PJ Wine team to uncover and bring back the very best of Spain.

Vega Sicilia Dinner - June 17th

Here is a rare opportunity to drink 8 vintages of Spain’s most lauded wine, Vega Sicilia, while dining at one of New York’s most prestigious restaurants, Daniel. More information

Spanish Wine Festival 2009 - June 18th

Join PJ Wine for this opportunity to celebrate and sample over 150 of the best Spanish wine selections available on the US market, paired with scrumptious Spanish cuisine. Every major wine region will be represented, including such classics as Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Priorat and Sherry, and hot emerging regions like Toro, Bierzo, Jumilla and more. More information

Thank you for stopping by, we are working on a couple new blogs about recent custom wine cellar projects, so stay tuned for more.


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Summit Wine Cellar Q & A

Date: Fri, May 1, 2009 Wine Business

Welcome back everyone. If you have been reading our blog, you know that we recently had the pleasure of working with Dan A. from Summit NJ. The homeowner was very detail oriented, with African mahogany wood raised panel and coffer ceilings throughout the entire basement. We decided the wine cellar needed to blend with the overall look yet have its own unique footprint in the space. We decided to build the racking out of 100% Malaysian mahogany (which is a lighter species of mahogany than African) to really contrast the other woodwork in the basement...as well the custom bar.

Once the cellar was finished we decided to bring Dan into Italian Wine Merchants for a night in their "vintage room"...It's a night of sensational food and wine pairings. Dan has also been back with his wife and even tried the tripe (which he loved). Dan was very impressed with IWM'S philosophy and attention to detail and even decided to sign up for their cellar management software.

Since we were in Summit catching up with Dan about his wine cellar and taking some pictures, we decided to ask Dan about his new cellar and to learn a bit about his favorite wines.

Q: How is the cellar?
A: We love it. We do alot of entertaining in the basement and of course the wine cellar. My father has always made his own wine so I have always had an interest in wine. I love the fact you can share it with so many people as well as the chance for the wines to increase in value.

Q: How many bottles do you currently have?
A: about 600

Q: What is your favorite part of the wine cellar?
A: Besides all the wine...the mural. It was hand painted into a niche in the
custom wine racks that was from a photo of my families villa in Gallinaro, Italy. I also like the granite which ties in the granite from the bar. We also decided to turn the sump pump closet into a storage area in the wine cellar rather than closing up the area with a door. Joseph and Curtis were able to design racks that fit the space and tied both rooms together. We currently have some large format displays in the niche area.

Q: What wines have you been drinking lately?
A: Alot of Sangiovese and northern Italian wines...Barolo, Nebbiolo etc.
I have always loved super-tuscans but after working with IWM we have been able to try some fantastic wines from not only Italy but France as well.

Q: What are your favorite everyday wines?
A: Movia,Tenuta San Guido 2005 Guidalberto

Q: How about special occasions?
A: Barolo or Amarone

Q: You get locked in the wine cellar..you can choose only 1 bottle to open...which is it?
A: Sassicia 2004

Q: How is the Italian Wine Merchants cellar management software?
A: Love it. Very easy to use...I go to it very often. It gives you the ability to leave tasting notes...as well as organizing your cellar to the exact bottle count. It has charts, graphs, and will even show your percentages of the regions or countries your wine is from. I also love the write ups about the producers and will take you to their websites.

Dan, thanks for sharing your passion for wine with our readers. It was a pleasure creating your wine cellar and we are very pleased you and your wife are enjoying it. We wish you many years of enjoyment!


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Cigar Humidor Preparation Tips

Date: Mon, Apr 27, 2009 Wine Business

At Joseph & Curtis, we not only build wine cellars for our clients to preserve their wine collection, we also build custom humidors to preserve their cigar collection.

When I started smoking cigars several years ago I found myself a little lost when it came to the proper storage of my collection. There were plenty of products out there that looked beautiful and promised a fine seal or boasted of Spanish Cedar but I had heard enough horror stories to know that there were some nuances on which I needed further education before making my purchase.

After some light research, I decided to purchase a humidor with a solid wood lid. There is no question that a humidor with a glass lid like the Chancellor humidor or the Regent humidor makes for a beautiful presentation, however, a wood lid is preferable for long-term storage, particularly if you plan to keep the humidor in an area exposed to sunlight. I am not a heavy cigar smoker and I keep a small collection of fine cigars on hand which I have found age quite nicely in my small solid wood desktop humidor.

For my purposes, the Napoli Humidor excels. Its simple design is elegant, quality construction ensures a tight seal and the interior is crafted with fine Spanish Cedar. The size is also perfect for a light smoker like myself who keeps no more than a couple dozen cigars on hand at any given time.

After configuration, size and aesthetic considerations have been taken into account the lining of your potential humidor must be scrutinized. A Spanish Cedar lining is very important. Some humidors on the market use inexpensive liners which will lead to variable humidity levels and could destroy your cigars.

Once you decide which humidor to purchase you need to understand the basics before putting your valuable collection of cigars inside. The typical humidor uses a sponge inside a plastic or metal case to generate humidity. The hygrometer displays the humidity level inside the humidor and, typically, you want to keep this at around 70%. More important than keeping strict to a minimum humidity level is preventing rapid or frequent changes to humidity.

The first step to generating the proper environment inside your humidor is to be taken before you ever put your first cigar inside. Humidor preparation is essential to maintaining your collection. First, your hygrometer must be calibrated in order to give an accurate reading. The easiest method of doing this is to remove the hygrometer from the humidor, wrap it in a thoroughly moistened cloth, wait about an hour, and then adjust the hygrometer to display a relative humidity of 96%.

The second step is to moisten the Spanish Cedar lining of your humidor using a clean cloth saturated with distilled water - only use distilled water for this process just as you will only use distilled water to hydrate your sponge (a wet environment will tend to grow things if not kept sanitary). Moistening the cedar is a very important step because the humidity in the air and the saturation of the wood and sponge must all hit a level of equilibrium before you put your cigars in the humidor.

If you have prepared your humidor properly it will require very little maintenance. Just make sure that it is stored in a place that is not subject to temperature and humidity changes. Using a small system like described above, you will want to open the lid as infrequently as possible and rotation of the cigars is unnecessary. During the winter the sponge will demand more water and this fact alone demonstrates the importance of obtaining a humidor with a proper seal around the lid. Under normal conditions, you should find yourself adding water to the system every couple weeks to keep the needle on your hygrometer as steady as possible.

With the correct preparation of the humidor and some very light maintenance, you will be able to age a collection of fine cigars to perfection with any Joseph & Curtis premium humidors.


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Special Winemaker Tasting Event

Date: Wed, Apr 22, 2009 Wine Business

An Evening of Vintage Movia with Ales Kristancic

Thursday, May 7, 2009, 6:30 PM

Don't believe a white can age 40 years? Doubt a Friulian and Slovenian red or white can challenge Burgundy? Not sure what biodynamic wines truly are?

Joseph & Curtis Wine Cellars invites you to experience a truly unprecedented winemaker event that will challenge what you think you know about wine with our partner Italian Wine Merchants. A vintage collection of Movia wines dating back to 1967, and on through 2006, will be presented and poured by the master winemaker Ales Kristancic. This is a rare opportunity to taste these wines as this special collection is being sent directly from Ales's cellar.

For more information and to purchase a ticket, please click here.

We look forward to sharing some of Ales Kristancic's finest wine with you.


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Meet Scott Cutaneo World Class Chef

Date: Tue, Apr 14, 2009 Wine Business

Where does an all-star chef go once the restaurant he has owned achieves almost cult status...4 stars...and a worldwide following? He becomes the owner and full time chef at Equus Tavern in Bernardsville, NJ. Of course I am talking about Scott Cutaneo (former owner of Le Petite Chateau).

After spending time with Scott (whom I consider a personal friend) its impossible to not feel his passion for food, wine, friendship, integrity, quality and above all family. His eye for detail is remarkable. His passion for food is second to none.

Read Scott Cutaneo's bio at the Equus Tavern website.

At Equus his mission is simple...everyone is a VIP and yet nobody is a VIP...he wants everyone to feel welcomed. At the Equus Tavern he wants everyone to know that he is here to serve...and that all who enter will feel this extension of his heart.

Equus is one of the nicest restaurants in NJ. The inside had a major renovation 2 years ago...but never lost the true integrity of the 1850 landmark stone structure.

The address is 1 Mill St Bernardsville, NJ 07924
(908) 766-3737

>> Google Map & Directions

Equus offers a full bar with private party availability on the 2nd floor and a gorgeous outdoor patio. Scott plans on a new menu dedicated to the amazing foods he prepared at le petite chateau but with a true American flare. The wine list is also going to be similar to the previous restaurant as well.

Equus will be having its friends and family party April 15 from 6:30-until. Please give J&C a call for availability. We were honored to be chosen for the wine cabinet enclosure on the main dining floor...pictures soon to follow.

Scott Cutaneo is also a regular on Fox & Friends, check out his website Great Scott Chef for video clips.

Scott is also involved with www.teatogether.com, their products are TRULY second to none..and will be featured in many of the amazing dishes at Equus. Tea Together's mission is "to turn the unremarked details of day-to-day life into small but authentic pleasures. In doing so, we promote and encourage the cause of real food."

I cannot tell you what an honor it is to be working with our friend Scott Cutaneo "Great Scott" and the Equus Tavern restaurant. At J&C we give Equus 5 stars...we think you will as well!


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