California Heartland Episode 907 Transcript

California heartland is made possible by the James G. Boswell foundation, committed to sharing the stories and successes of California growers.  Bank of America, bank of opportunity.  Funding provided in part by, the California farm bureau federation, proud publishers of “California Country” magazine.  More information is available at .

A predator in this small sierra lake posed a serious threat to California’s aquaculture.

If the state thinks it has problems with the salmon spawn now, you can’t even imagine what the pike would do.

See how residents and the department of fish and game worked together to reel in the problem. And, how they’ve kept pike out of Lake Davis.

Plus, how many kids have their own chocolate company?

A young group of entrepreneurs is tasting the sweet success of chocolate.

And, if you’re looking for a garden good guy, it’s hard to beat ladybugs.

Why refrigerating ladybugs can save your garden.

Next, on California heartland.

Chris Burrous: From your backyard, to the back country, in a field, or on your family table, it’s all about what keeps California moving and growing. This is California heartland.

Abbott Dutton: Five year old Cayton white is determined.  She’s about to head out on Lake Davis and her grandpa has promised to help her catch her very first fish.

Mike Juden: She hasn’t caught a fish yet. So, it’ll be good to get her out here and see her face and get a picture of it.

Abbott Dutton: Today, the odds of catching a trout are pretty good for Cayton and the dozens of others who are casting their lines.  But that wasn’t always the case. 

Abbott Dutton: Troubles began for Lake Davis in the early 90’s with the discovery of a fish that wasn’t supposed to be there.  An angler caught a northern pike, an extremely aggressive predator that devours its competition.  In this case, Lake Davis’ prized trophy trout.   Officials determined the pike had been illegally planted in the lake.  That would begin a fourteen year saga that would create a bitter feud between the community and the department of fish and game.  As well as cripple the local economy.

Fisher: Good morning, how you doing? 

Fisher: Good.  How's the fishing? What kind of fishing are you doing?

Abbott Dutton: Sara Benzinger’s store is just steps from the lake.  She’s often the resident expert on what’s biting, and what’s not.

Sara Benzinger: You’re familiar with the lake or you’re not?

Fisher: Not really, no.

Sara Benzinger: I’ll do you a little map, show you where to launch, show you where the fish are. Tell you all the secrets I tell everybody.

Abbott Dutton: When Benzinger bought the grizzly store and resort in 1999, it was no secret the northern pike had invaded the lake.

Abbott Dutton: The nearby community of Portola had been extremely vocal in its protests over the state’s efforts to poison the lake.

Randy Kelly: In 1997 they did a chemical treatment to eliminate pike that had been found here in 1994.  And a pike reappeared about 18 months later in 1999 and we’ve been working with the community ever since to get to this point.

Curt McBride: Well, this is our drinking water supply. From what I understand it was a cancer causing agent.  And that’s what concerned me. I’m married, my wife and my three kids, we’re living up here and I was very concerned about the chemical problems.

Abbott Dutton: So a lot of people may not realize it wasn’t just the lake that was affected by the pike eradication.  It was the forest as well.

Lori Wood: Yes it was.  From the Plumas national forest side, we put in a forest closure for public health and safety to help protect the tributaries where we were going to have workers.  That way we prevented an accidental contact with the public, with the chemicals and it also allowed us for a smoother operation.

Abbott Dutton: But the protests and the poisoning went on.  For two years.  Residents waited, the pike came back but the people didn’t.

Sara Benzinger: They did the original eradication of pike in 1997.  And then ten days after I purchased the store and closed escrow, they rediscovered pike.

As a business owner I was completely against the treatment of the lake. It was an economic disaster for our business. We lost a lot of customers, a lot of revenue.

Abbott Dutton: But the pike weren’t just threatening this northern sierra lake.  There was an even bigger problem.  Officials feared the pike might escape Lake Davis and travel downstream to the Sacramento and American rivers and then possibly into the Sacramento‑San Joaquin delta.  It was a scenario that could have caused an ecological and economical disaster for the state.

Bob Clements: If the state thinks it has problems with the salmon spawn now, you can’t even imagine what the pike would do.  The pike are aggressive fish.  They’ll take over a body of water.

Randy Kelly: It’s the same with a lot of other invasive species.  But, this one was a particular problem, right here in this location and its potential downstream impacts.  And, you know, the economy up here was really suffering, as well as the environment, the wildlife and the fisheries. 

Abbott Dutton: If the pike had made it downstream, it could have taken a huge bite out of California’s commercial fishing industry by threatening the already fragile delta.  Remember, there are no known predators for the pike in California and this fish eats everything! That’s what lead the department of fish and game to go for a second round of eradication treatments in 2007.

Randy Kelly: Last time it was very controversial and confrontational up here.  And this time businesses welcomed us with open arms and invited us into their community.

Abbott Dutton: Finally, after removing nearly sixty five thousand pike from this precious water source, Lake Davis has a clean bill of health. 

Randy Kelly: We’re looking at the lake water, we have trap nets out there and we’ve had 170 days approximately of net time in there and we’ve found no pike.

Abbott Dutton: More than a dozen years since the pike were first discovered the predator appears to be gone.  And the community is celebrating. 

Donald Koch: What a beautiful day. Lake Davis is back. It’s once again back as one of the premier destination certainly in California.

Abbott Dutton: Fish and game plans to restock Lake Davis with over one million rainbow trout, these aren’t just any old fish though.  They come from Eagle Lake, which means they’re heartier and they’re faster growing, which also means they have a greater chance of survival. 

Fisher: So how do you guys feel about that?

Fisher: It’s good. 

Abbott Dutton: Back at the grizzly store, Benzinger has her own set of goals.  Now that the fishermen are back, she’s ready to reel in her own dreams.

Sara Benzinger: I would like to see the lake become so popular that we would be able to stay open two or three extra months, or maybe all year round.  That would be great.

Curt McBride: The community and the federal agencies all worked hand in hand to make this happen and it worked out right this time.  It’s beautiful!  Brand new beginning, we’re excited about it.

Fisher: We are totally psyched.

Fisher: Very psyched. Fish on!

Abbott Dutton: And what about Lake Davis’ newest fishing fan?  Yep, Cayton white has caught her first fish.  Her grandpa has the picture to prove it.

Chris Burrous: You’ve probably heard of Chilean sea bass, but have you heard of California White Sea bass?  This firm fish is a popular dish and it’s found right here in California!  The fish is caught down along the pacific coast and its average size is between ten and thirty pounds.  Sea bass is loved for its tender, moderately fatty and flakey texture, which makes it perfect for searing, poaching, pan frying or grilling!  Food and life-style expert, Laura McIntosh is “bringing it home” and prepares a poached sea bass meal, with a little help from the Tadich Grill in San Francisco.

Laura McIntosh: We’re cooking today, this next recipe with a sea bass.  But, you can substitute; don’t be afraid because it’s very easy to do.  Ok now, Rajko, do you have this much fun at the Tadich Grill? 

Rajko Marin: I do a lot of fun cooking, and I enjoy it.

Laura McIntosh: Ok well let’s get started.

Rajko Marin: Let’s get started. 

Laura McIntosh: Ok, this is a simple recipe.

Rajko Marin: This is a simple recipe, what we’re going to do is, we’re doing a lot of creation.  So I gonna’ do a little bit of shallots, I got a little bit of garlic.  I’m gonna’ add, this is a little bit of mixed vegetables.  Little bit of tomato, a little bit of celery; little bit of leeks, yes it’s a very nice combination.  This, a minute or two I cook.  I add a little bit of wine, and then I got a little bit of fish stock. 

Laura McIntosh: Ok.

Rajko Marin: This I cook for minute or two. 

Laura McIntosh: And do we add the fish to this?

Rajko Marin: Yes, and so I got a piece of nice sea bass.

Laura McIntosh: That’s beautiful.

Rajko Marin: Yes, nice sea bass.  Just put a little bit of pepper, I got some spices.  So what I do, I put a little bit of olive oil.  So I just sear this for a second.

Laura McIntosh: Ok.

Rajko Marin: Yeah, you can just flip it.  Just add a little color to this.  So this, i add a little to this dish. 

Laura McIntosh: That’s awesome.

Rajko Marin: So, add a little bit more of the…

Laura McIntosh: This is the stock.

Rajko Marin: This is the stock, which you have.

Laura McIntosh: This is what we sautéed before. We add that to the fish.

Rajko Marin: So, to this I add a little bit of, just one piece.  This is going to be my finishing touch. 

Laura McIntosh: Look at that! A scallop?

Rajko Marin: One scallop, one prawn.  So for this dish, it’s nice to put the lid on it.  You steam it for five minutes.

Laura McIntosh: Right, and that’s it?

Rajko Marin: And that’s it.  Wala, delicious.

Laura McIntosh: And you’re happy?

Rajko Marin: Happy pappy.

Laura McIntosh: This looks fantastic, and you’re right it was easy. 

Rajko Marin: It’s very easy.

Laura McIntosh: And it should be.

Rajko Marin: It should be easy.

Laura McIntosh: Cooking should be fun and easy. 

Rajko Marin: So I just put this in the middle of the plate.

Laura McIntosh: And with fresh fish and fresh ingredients.

Rajko Marin: So to finish this dish, I’m going to garnish with one prawn.

Laura McIntosh: Oh you’re getting fancy.

Rajko Marin: The rest of this scallops and prawn, I put a little sherry wine cream.  Just a little bit, just for a minute or two, just to get the flavor infused, that’s it.  This is just fine; you can just place this on a plate.  It’s a very nice, light dish, you’re gonna’ like it at home.

Laura McIntosh: Uh, I’m gonna’ like it right now.

Rajko Marin: This is about it.

Laura McIntosh: Uh, this is the perfect time of year for something so delicious; remember all the recipes are on our website.  Rajko, you made this so easy. 

Rajko Marin: It’s easy.

Laura McIntosh: I can do this!

Chris Burrous: It’s the time of year when farmers’ markets are bursting at the seams with fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Chris Burrous: But this morning at the Davis farmers market, shoppers aren’t oooing and ahhing over tomatoes and peaches.  They’re excited about homegrown chocolate!

Customer: Mmmm good stuff!

Customer: It’s fabulous chocolate!

Customer: It’s good stuff!

Chris Burrous: But these chocolate bars aren’t made by a corporate giant.  They’re made by seven girls ranging in age nine to fourteen.

Rowan Foley: We’ve made about 13,000 bars.

Chris Burrous: Once a month, the girls: Bay, Sedona, Rowan, Rachel, Sara, Risa and Stream gather together to concoct their secret recipe for yummy dummy chocolate bars.

Is everybody ready? 

Girls: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Chris Burrous: What started out three years ago as a couple of sisters making Christmas gifts, is now an assembly line of friends and relatives cranking out various kinds of candy bars.

Rowan Foley: We have five main bars which are, almond, plain, marshmallow, espresso and cherry.

Chris Burrous: From the recipe to the label design, and sales and marketing, these girls do it all!

Rowan Foley: We have a Yummy Dummy meeting and everybody votes.  That’s what we do.  We go over what we made today, what we’re going to need if something is running low, like chocolate or marshmallows

Chris Burrous: Parents are allowed to help out a little!  They take turns overseeing the production days, wrapping bars and building contraptions.  Like Mr. Wiggles, this helps smooth out the chocolate molds.

Chris Burrous: The nut-o-matic that drops the almonds into each bar.

Chris Burrous: And the penguin’s cave, the final stop for cooling the bars.

Chris Burrous: Once the assembly line is ready to go, each girl oversees a station.

Chris Burrous: But it’s not all work and no play.  While the chocolate tempers for the next batch, the group gets to act like kids!

Chris Burrous: Then, its back to making more chocolate to keep up with the demand.

Dana Pesavento: We’re doing this extra batch because we ran out and it’s only June.

Chris Burrous: Each bar sells for two dollars.  But, the money raised from this sweet success doesn’t all go to the girls.

Rowan Foley: Every quarter, ten percent of our profits go to a charity of our choice.  It made us feel like we were doing something for someone else instead of just having a chocolate company

Chris Burrous: Their social awareness doesn’t stop there.  The group also insists on using only local ingredients and keeping each bar 100 percent natural

Dana Pesavento: I think just kind of the way they’re being brought up. We’re trying not to eat any preservatives at home

Chris Burrous: Yummy dummy bars are gaining popularity throughout northern california due in part to its website and support from local businesses like this one.

Mark West: Hi girls.

Girls: We brought you some fresh chocolate, just made this morning.

Mark West: Excellent.

Chris Burrous: At Rominger west winery in Davis, winemaker Mark West is a big fan of Yummy Dummy Chocolate.

Mark West: It’s really good chocolate.  The other thing is that we really liked what the kids were doing in terms of their support of charities around the world.

Chris Burrous: An added plus, it makes for a very good pairing.

Rowan Foley: How many kids have their own chocolate company? So it’s cool to have to get up in the morning to go make chocolate…at like 6.

Girls: I also like donating to charities, especially wildlife.

Girls: I get to hang out with my friends and it’s really nice to do that.

Chris Burrous: But the best part is definitely eating the leftovers!

Chris Burrous: The roots of California’s farming families grow deep.  This is the heritage of our heartland.

Maddlena Riboli: I'm Maddlena Riboli.  I’m married to Steve Riboli.

Steve Riboli: My name is Steve Riboli; I’m the second generation of San Antonio Winery.  My uncle Santo started this winery in 1917.

Steve Riboli: My name is Steve Riboli, third generation at San Antonio Winery and we've got a great story to tell ya.

Jennifer Quinonez: What started out as a weekend hobby by Italian immigrant, Santo Cambianica has now turned into a multimillion dollar success story.  Thanks to one dedicated Los Angeles family.

Steve Riboli: Uncle Santo came looking for opportunities here in the great new city of Los Angeles.  So he came and his employment at the time was working for the largest employer which was the southern pacific railroad.

Steve Riboli: On the weekend he started as a hobby.  He started this little winery with the name San Antonio and he named it after San Antonio the saint, De Padre.

Jennifer Quinonez: Santo’s micro-winery began in a rented garage not only to make a little extra money, but also to keep his European dining traditions alive.

Steve Riboli: In Italy, they used to make the little wine, they had a little grape, and they know how to do it.  And all the brothers and all the relatives that came over at that time, they have to have a glass of wine with their meals ha ha.  So that's how he started this little winery.

Jennifer Quinonez: But just three short years into his new business.

Steve Riboli: This crazy law comes in, prohibition.  Frankly, these Europeans had no concept about it, they said how could the government create a law that would take away one of our food products? Wine, was at every meal.

Jennifer Quinonez: The center of California wine making came to a crashing halt as winemakers in L.A. began closing down. But Santo’s strong ties to the Catholic Church saved him from going belly up. 

Steve Riboli: Within a very short period of time he begins supplying them with wine for the sacrament.

Jennifer Quinonez: By 1938, running this winery alone was taking its toll on the Italian immigrant. That’s when he called for his nephew for help.

Steve Riboli: The first day I arrived here, he put me to work.

Jennifer Quinonez: When Steve married Maddlena in 1946, all three worked hard to come up with creative ways to keep the winery in business.

Steve Riboli: So my uncle and my dad put their heads together, and they said, well what can we do to survive?

Steve Riboli: In those days, there were all people that came from Europe and drank wine with their meal every day.

Steve Riboli: My great uncle and my dad were super hardworking men, but my mother was truly the visionary for the company.

Maddlena Riboli: I would pour a little taste and I said if I give them a taste, and I like it, they would buy it.

Steve Riboli: So we became the first winery in the state to have a wine tasting room.

Steve Riboli: And that’s how we survived.

Jennifer Quinonez: After Santo passed away, his winery was left in the hands of Steve and Maddlena. Together, the couple expanded and bought vineyards in Paso Robles, Monterrey and Napa.

Maddlena Riboli: Well first of all we bought the best grapes, and we have vineyards our selves.

Jennifer Quinonez: With the expansion of vineyards up north came changes to the original winery in L.A., adding a restaurant in Maddlena’s name, plus a bigger wine tasting room.

Jennifer Quinonez: Now the third and fourth generations of Riboli’s are working together to keep this family business competitive and successful.  

Steve Riboli: Here's the next generation of the company, here's Anthony my nephew, fantastic winemaker, super talented young man.  Here's Michael, a super salesman and will probably take over for what I do as a marketer of the company.

Jennifer Quinonez: The family is now producing five million bottles of wine a year.

Jennifer Quinonez: Do you ever think about that your family is doing it a lot harder than other families in California because you have a huge operation here down in Los Angeles, but then 1/2 of your other operation is up north with Napa and Paso Robles? Going back and forth was some guys staying in one location?

Steve Riboli: Jennifer, it's a good question and we've been able to manage it. It is tough, I won’t kid you; we do visit our vineyards often, every couple of weeks and during harvest.  We're there every day. The plus side is we're in the middle of 14 million people here.

Jennifer Quinonez: For the Riboli’s, carrying on their uncle’s winemaking traditions and strong family values is a given and will ensure that this little winery and their family tree will continue to grow.

Steve Riboli: If he were here now to see things like this I don't think he'd believe it, from the little garage that we start, to what we have now, we're lucky.

Chris Burrous: Everyone’s a farmer when it comes to their own backyard; try these tips for doing it home grown.

Fred Hoffman: Here in California, battling pests is a year round job.  And our pests extend from microscopic insects, to four legged animals.  And with all of the chemicals available to control these unwanted bad guys, what do you choose?  Well I’ve got some safe, effective means for controlling the pests in your yard without harming the good guys.  Let me show you a few.

Fred Hoffman: One of the most damaging insect pests in California is a sucking insect known as the aphid.  Well, hello Mr. Bad guy.  So how do you battle aphids without using harsh chemicals that may destroy the beneficial insects, which are also on this very plant battling the aphids.  Your first line of attack against aphids in the garden should be this, a blast of water from the garden hose.  Just be sure to hit the top sides and the under sides of the leaf, and that’ll be sure to wash the aphids off.  Once they fall to the ground, they’re not going to get back up onto the plant, and without a food source they’re going to perish.  So let’s get us a few aphids here.  Take that! 

Fred Hoffman: If you’re looking for a garden good guy, it’s hard to beat ladybugs.  And the best part is you can buy ladybugs at just about any nursery.  When you buy ladybugs, take it home, stick it in the refrigerator over night.  The next morning, go get a branch of the plant that’s infected, and cut if off.  Let’s say this austromeria has a few aphids on it, and I’m sure it does.  So what we’re going to do is take the plant that has the aphids on it, a branch or so and in the morning put it in the bag.  And then you’re going to take the ladybugs, open that up.  Hello boys!  And put a few of those in the bag.  Close the bag lightly, and stick it over by the plant that has all the aphids in it.  So by cooling them down, it makes them not want to fly, by giving them a taste of what’s there, they know there’s food around and by placing the paper bag next to the plant that has all the bugs, they know they don’t have to go away to have a good meal.  Ladybugs, it’s a great solution.

Fred Hoffman: If you need to up the battle against the aphids in your yard, turn to this, insecticidal soap.  The fatty acids in insecticidal soap smother insects like aphids, thrips and white flies.  It won’t harm the beneficial insects, it won’t harm the plant and best of all, and it won’t harm your family.

Fred Hoffman: When you look on the leaves of your plant and you see chew marks like this, that’s the tall tale of California’s most unwanted bad guys, snails and slugs.  When it comes to controlling snails and slugs, there are a lot of chemical controls on the market.  If you’re concerned about the health of your family though, the active chemical to avoid would be metaldehyde.  So, look for the ones that contain iron phosphate as the active ingredient.  Another family safe method to control snails and slugs is copper tape, as weird as it sounds.  But copper tape acts like an electric fence when it comes to snails and slugs.  When they come up to it, they turn right around and go away.  The trick is, when you put the copper tape down make sure there are no snails and slugs inside the plants at the time, otherwise you’ve just locked them in the restaurant. 

Fred Hoffman: When you go nursery shopping, take a close look at the plants that you’re purchasing.  Don’t just look at the tops, look below, look at the under sides of the leaves and make sure there are no hitchhiking pests.  There are a lot of chemicals on the market to control insects, choose the ones that are a safer alternative.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some nursery shopping to do. Hey hey hey, I like these.

That’s California heartland, for more information on any of these stories go to I’m Chris Burrous see you next time.

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California heartland is made possible by the James G. Boswell foundation, committed to sharing the stories and successes of California growers.  Bank of America, bank of opportunity.  Funding provided in part by, the California farm bureau federation, proud publishers of “California country” magazine.  More information is available at