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Squeezings from the Livermore Grape Press

Now that my initial effort, a prop. card in the December bundle, is out of the way, I can begin with the first issue of Squeezings from the Livermore Grape Press.

The choice of name for my hobby handplaten comes from an organization I helped found four years ago and served as its president from 1981 – 83. Friends of the Vineyards was formed in the Livermore Valley to help preserve and promote the wine industry which is being threatened by the developers’ bulldozers. In California the money is in developing every square foot of land which means the death of the grape industry and historic vineyards unless some people stand up to the big money interests and shout HALT!

We have been doing this in our valley just 35 miles southeast of San Francisco because we are second only to the famous Napa-Sonoma area in production of premium wines. We have such famous names as Wente Bros. Winery and Concannon Vineyards, plus lesser known wineries such as Stony Ridge, Villa Armando, Livermore Valley Cellars and Elliston. Tragically, Stony Ridge has just gone broke and will be no more, unless bought and revived out of receivership. So the fight to preserve our heritage of fine wines is never ending.

But most of my 44 years has been spent in the news business. I am an Illinois native and owned three weeklies there in the 60’s: The Genoa Republican, Sycamore Sun-Tribune, and DeKalb County Journal at Kirkland. These were small town, folksy letterpress papers which we converted to offset (shame, shame) to make them more competitive and “modern” in appearance. But I never forgot my high school years as a printer’s devil pouring pigs and casting ad mats, plus cleaning up the C&P handplatens, Little Giant and Lee 2-revolution flatbed presses. So 20 years later here I am back in letterpress cleaning the ink off the platen like I did nights after school!

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In 1966 my wife Kay and I sold the weeklies and headed west, stopping in San Bernardino, California where I worked a year as a copy editor on the Sun-Telegram. Then I headed to the Bay Area to be editor of the Tri-Valley Herald in Livermore, then back to DeKalb, Illinois to be editor of the Daily Chronicle, then back to California to edit the Valley Times around Dublin and Pleasanton, and finally returned to the Herald in Livermore as editor from 1973-80.

Looking for a midlife career change (translated that means less hours and more money, plus job security which small dailies don’t offer) I found a public affairs post at Sandia National Labs to my liking and now have five years here, also doing science writing for our company paper plus features for the Bay Area dailies.

Meanwhile our two sons, Todd and Darrin, finished high school and are now both in college (neither majoring in Journalism though). My wife majored in sacred music at Illinois Wesleyan but hasn’t found church organ work that pays, so is a secretary for a mortgage/realty firm. She previously worked for a winery two years and in our weeklies was business manager/ad taker.

Enough about us, next time I’ll begin telling you about fine wines, some varieties featured in our valley, and more.

Thanks to the help of Michael Dearing and his linotype at the Pleasanton Rubber Stamp Co. I didn’t spend a month handsetting all this type, but handfeeding it on my Peerless 10×15 without motor or treadle did take one weekend.

And keep running those dumb trucker cartoons Walt Brovald, some day they’ll make the comics hall of fame…

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Barry Schrader
The Livermore Grape Press
Livermore, CA 94550

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