Until I moved to Paso Robles 3 years ago, I did not have the best opinion of this region. I know this sounds bad, but hear me out. The reality is that within the broader wine industry, professionals (many of whom have not actually visited Paso) have a preconceived notion that Paso wine is over-ripe, over-alcoholic, unbalanced and therefore, not worth their time. Not so for consumers, however--typical wine consumers just drink what they like and are less likely to be bogged down by current trends and/or winemaking dogma. Paso wine is delicious and equitably priced for the most part.
I am both a wine consumer and winemaker, so my opinion was formed by my experiences in the industry. Before I moved here, I had worked in Sonoma County, the Willamette Valley in Oregon, in Woodinville and Walla Walla, Washington, and I felt like I had a pretty good grasp on American wine culture. In my mind, Paso Robles was that region too hot and too far south to make great wine, and most of the wines I had from the early 2000’s confirmed my theory.
Oh, how wrong I was.
When I first moved to Paso in 2013 for an assistant winemaker job, I quickly realized that I had grossly oversimplified the region in my mind. Not only is Paso diversified in its soil types and microclimates, but there is also an array of varietals and winemaking styles. While I still don’t particularly like many "big" Paso wines from the past (just my personal taste), I was wrong to assume that the region could not evolve into a world-class wine region.
Now that I’ve worked here for 3 years, I feel that Paso Robles is a premier region in the U.S. to grow Grenache, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, and several other varietals that are making an impressive mark in a highly competitive marketplace. Of course, not all wine in Paso is unicorns and rainbows (just like any wine region) but the potential here is certainly tangible. The interesting thing is that I doubt I would have discovered this potential without fully immersing myself here.
Paso Robles is a wine region that needs to be visited in order to be fully understood. You must drive through the back roads of the Paso foothills to find little morsels of tastiness. You have to experience the energy of the wine industry and the town itself in order to fully appreciate the wines—the atmosphere is something unlike anywhere else I’ve worked. As a winemaker, it is exciting to be part of a burgeoning and innovative wine culture that more and more people are experiencing for the first time.
Adelaida Springs Ranch is also a place that needs to be visited in order to truly understand Rangeland Wines and the land’s beauty. The dusty green canopy of vines and oak trees contrasted against the golden hills of oats is something to behold—especially while drinking a glass of rosé.
The Wine Whisperer
Wine Festival May 20-22
Paso Robles Wine Festival is coming up fast. We will be open by appointment only, Friday-Sunday, May 20-22 from 11 am to 5 pm. We are serving our mouthwatering lamb and beef sliders on Saturday only. You might want to make an afternoon of it! We'll be pouring our new Rosé along with a great line-up of reds, including some newly released 2013 wines. We look forward to seeing you! If you have a wine club to pick up, let us know and we'll have it ready for you. To make an appointment, click here.
Flora Rosé Case Special
Our 2015 Flora Rosé, the finest yet, is the first wine crafted entirely by our new winemaker Paul Hinschberger. It is available now and will sell out quickly. Last year's was gone before the end of summer. This crisp, dry, elegant Rose’ includes Zinfandel, Mourvedre and Cabernet, and is perfect for a warm summer evening. We are offering a special by the case: $225, or $180 with a 20% club discount. Killer deal. Order now while supply lasts; only 85 cases made!
The Great El No-no
El Niño finshed with a whimper and did not deliver the epic deluge we had hoped for. The 2015-2016 season totaled about 25 inches (80% of average) of rainfall so far. The pastures are now starting to turn "golden", but our lake is full and we have a good cover of rich grasses all around the ranch. Our animals benefited from the abundant spring fodder, so it should be a great "vintage" for our lamb and beef.
We started irrigating the vineyard this week. The vines look more healthy and vigorous than they have in several years. We did notice, however, fewer flowers (therefore less potential fruit) than in pre-drought years, indicating a hangover effect from last year's very stressed environment. Despite all the richness and inspirational beauty Mother Nature provides us, she's a hard one to live with. Since we are stuck with her, we'll just have to work it out. :-)
Spring Lamb Available
We are finishing up our spring lamb harvest. Lamb Club members who did not receive a shipment in March should receive it the week of May 23—emails will be going out to individual club members soon. A Lamb Club box contains 20 pounds of lamb, which includes a rack, loin chops, shoulder and sirloin chops, 2 leg roasts, shanks, riblets, stew meat, and a pound or two of ground lamb. If you’re not a member of the Lamb Club, this is a great time to join, or you can purchase a lamb share on one-time basis and your wine or beef club discount will apply. We also have 10 lb. boxes of ground lamb available. We can ship our meats anywhere in California or you can pickup in Paso Robles and save the shipping cost.
Beef Club Coming!
Our annual beef harvest will occur at the end of May into June. Our 2-year-old steers are grass fat and kick-up their heels healthy. We have nearly 300 Beef Club members now and will be ready to ship after July 1. Our beef hangs (dry aged) for about two weeks at J&R Meats in Paso Robles and is then cut and vacuum packaged. Lisa sorts and packs each Beef Club box in an effort to make each box “equal.” So she truly has touched all your meat! Whoa. She tops each box with a bonus soup bone. You can join the beef club here. Or you can purchase the 25 lb box on a one-time basis. And we almost always have 10 lb and 20 lb boxes of ground beef available.
Our annual Field Day is coming up fast: April 23, from 12 to 3pm. We’ll start with a BBQ lunch of J&R sausages, grass-fed beef and lamb sliders, side dishes and desserts. We’re excited about our band this year—the Central Coast’s own Bear Market Riot, a power folk duo that blends folk, blues and pop. They will get your toes tapping! Of course we'll be serving Rangeland Wines (as well as non-alcoholic beverages). Livestock, including calves and lambs, will be on display and we'll have an end of day ranch tour. Event and tour space is limited, so purchase tickets ($50 each before club discount) now if you want to attend. Kids under 12 are free. The ticket sales deadline is April 20.
Vintage Paso: Zinfandel+, March 18-20
We are open by appointment only during the Zin Fest this Friday-Sunday, March 18-20, from 11-5. On Saturday only (March 19), we’ll be serving our famous grass-fed beef and lamb sliders while they last. Please make an appointment, and let us know when you plan to visit. We’ll be pouring several wines, including our delicious 2013 Zinfandel, and are offering a couple of excellent specials.
Vertical Selection Wine Specials
Just introduced for the festival weekend, we are offering a Zinfandel vertical 3-pack (2011, 2012, & 2013) for $99, a $26 savings over the list price for these wines. Club member discounts apply—a really amazing deal for these rare wines. We’ve only got a few cases of 2011 and 2012 Zinfandel left in our cellar. Grab them while you can! Order here.
We’re also offering a first ever Cabernet vertical selection, 3 bottles for $199—2007, 2008 and 2009 Rangeland Cabernet Sauvignon. These are some of the ageworthy wines that we tasted at our library tasting event in February. They are still showing good fruitiness and developing a nicely resolved suavity after years in the bottle. Your wine club discount applies and again, we are down to just a few cases each of these early Rangeland Wines, so order now.
Field Day April 23
Our annual Field Day is coming up fast: April 23, from 12 to 3pm. We’ll start with a BBQ lunch of J&R sausages, grass-fed beef and lamb sliders, side dishes and desserts. We’re excited about our band this year—the Central Coast’s own Bear Market Riot, a power folk duo that blends folk, blues and pop. They will get your toes tapping! Of course we'll be serving Rangeland Wines (as well as non-alcoholic beverages). Livestock, including calves and lambs will be on display and we'll have an end of day ranch tour. Event and tour space is limited, so purchase tickets ($50 each before club discount) now if you want to attend.
Mother Nature's Whipsaw
January was quite wet here, with more than 9 inces of rain. It seemd like El Nino was kicking into gear, then a very warm and dry February caused our drought-sensitivity meter to light up. Now March is shaping up to be a rainy month, with 7 inches of rain in the last two weeks. Our current total for the year is almost 25 inches, approaching our normal 30 inches (fifteen year average). It's not an El Nino kind of total (50+ inches historically) but the rains are suffcient and well timed for a good year, agriculturally.
The rain has done wonders for the countryside (all green!) and for our spirits, which were admitedly ground down by four years of drought pressure. Our lake, which we use to irrigate the vineyard, is nearly full. The streams and springs, many of which have been dry for years, are flowing throughout the ranch. We’ve had over 100 baby lambs since January and expect 60+ calves through April, a nice bounceback after the drought-suppressed fertility we've experienced. Our cattle and sheep are clearly enjoying the rich green grasses and cool spring weather.
The Wine Whisperer: In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb
Spring is a magical time of year here on the ranch: green grass is in abundance, all the vines are pruned and looking dapper, baby lambs are frolicking around like kids in a Chuck E. Cheese, and of course, budbreak is just starting in the vineyard.
During the (not so) long, (not so) cold winter in Paso Robles, the grape vines go into dormancy where they can store up their energy, uptake water and get ready for another year of producing delicious grapes. The vines aren’t “asleep” exactly, but taking a kind of “staycation” between the grueling previous harvest and the upcoming growing season. This dormant state is not unlike a troubled poet who holes up in a secluded cabin, waiting for inspiration to snap her out of her writer’s block blues. Budbreak—when leaves first sprout on the vines—is the humble beginnings of what eventually will be, to stay with the previous metaphor, bottled poetry. (Click here to continue reading Paul's blog.)
Lamb, Wine and Beef Clubs
We are starting to ship our spring Lamb Club now. You can join the Lamb Club now and receive your first box in May. The Lamb Club is a twice yearly shipment (spring and fall) of 20 pounds of lamb including: a rack, loin chops, shoulder & sirloin chops, 2 leg roasts, shanks, riblets, stew meat, and a couple pounds of ground lamb. If you haven’t tried our tender, flavorful lamb, you’re missing out. Join the club today!
Our spring wine club will ship April 26 and will be available for pickup starting at Field Day, April 23. Here are the wines we are planning to include in this release:
- 2015 Rose' (new vintage)
- 2012 GSM (almost all gone)
- 2012 Watershed
- 2012 Cabernet
- 2012 Limestone Reserve Cabernet
- 2013 Cabernet (new release)
Please update your billing and shipping information, if necessary, at www.RangelandWines.com. All you need is your email address and you can update your password to login. Also please let us know by email if you'd like to customize your spring shipment.
Spring is a magical time of year here on the ranch: green grass is in abundance, all the vines are pruned and looking dapper, 130 baby lambs are frolicking around like kids in a Chuck E. Cheese, and of course, budbreak is just starting in the vineyard.
During the (not so) long, (not so) cold winter in Paso Robles, the grape vines go into dormancy where they can store up their energy, uptake water and get ready for another year of producing delicious grapes. The vines aren’t “asleep” exactly, but taking a kind of “staycation” between the grueling previous harvest and the upcoming growing season. This dormant state is not unlike a troubled poet who holes up in a secluded cabin, waiting for inspiration to snap her out of her writer’s block blues. Budbreak—when leaves first sprout on the vines—is the humble beginnings of what eventually will be, to stay with the previous metaphor, bottled poetry.
2016 now has the earliest budbreak on record in Paso Robles, even though 2015 held the non-coveted title last year—an early budbreak can be bad news. For us at Rangeland, it means we have to pull the sheep from the vineyard for the season. We like grazing our sheep in the vineyard because it is an effective way of mowing the grass and spreading nutrient-rich manure into the soil; but after budbreak we don’t want them eating the new leaves off the vines. In terms of vineyard health, early budbreak means the vines may not have had sufficient time in their dormant state and therefore might not have stored up enough energy for the upcoming season. This can put extra stress on the vines—unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do about it except to delay pruning until the last moment, which we did. Early budbreak also creates a higher chance of frost damage since the weather can turn freezing in March and April. Fortunately for Rangeland, frost risk is low in our vineyard since it is located on a high hillside, allowing cold air to sink down into the Jack Creek drainage below, leaving our vines unharmed.
This intricate dance with Mother Nature is part of what it means to be a grape grower. Just like writing a good poem requires both structure and spontaneity, growing excellent grapes requires sound vineyard practices while staying flexible through Mother Nature’s whims.
To close, I’ll paraphrase 18th-century British poet, Samuel Johnson: wine “puts in motion what had been locked up in frost.
Until Next time, Cheers!
Paul, the Wine Whisperer
If you are interested in watching videos of lambs and/or a very cool video on vine pruning made by our ranch manager, Nathan Stuart, please check us out on Facebook.
We had a great turn out for our first ever Library Vertical tasting last Saturday. It was a fun and lively group and the wines and the weather could not have been better. We had many requests for the lunch recipe, which is in the link below. I used this recipe for both the lamb and beef pies. For the beef pies I used stew meat and a top round roast. For the lamb pies, I used shoulder chop meat, stew meat and shanks. Enjoy!
Rangeland Library Vertical Tasting and Luncheon February 13
We've been impressed with some older Rangeland Wines lately, so we are excited to announce our first ever vertical tasting and special sale of Rangeland library wines on Saturday, February 13. We will start at 11 am with a sit down seminar at the ranch headquarters. Winemaker Paul Hinschberger and owner Laird Foshay will guide you through samples of our estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines from 2007 to 2011. We'll also taste a couple of other varieties from our cellar and you'll get a glass of library wine to enjoy with your meal. Our lunch buffet will follow, featuring estate grown, grass-fed beef and lamb Bourguignonne pie (you can have both!), with veggies, cheeses and some baked goodies.
The wines are very rare (just a few cases each), so seating and sales quantities will be limited. Library wines will be priced at $75 each, with a 3 bottle special price of $200. Club discounts will apply. The wines will be available at the event and also on our website afterwards, for those of you who can’t attend. Tickets for the event are $50 (includes tasting, lunch and a glass of one our library wines), before club discount. We look forward to seeing you on the 13th!
Purchase tickets now to reserve your place.
Ground Beef Shipping Special: Free for 20lb Ground Beef Orders
We are offering free shipping on any 20 pound box of ground beef ordered through March 1, and only $10 shipping for 10 pound boxes of ground beef, while supplies last. For those of you who regularly buy our beef and have it shipped, it’s a great opportunity to stock up. It should help stave off your cravings until the beef club becomes available in June.
Order meats here.
Beef and Lamb Clubs Open for New Members
Although we are sold out of last year's Beef and Lamb Club boxes, we are accepting signups for 2016. Our first Lamb Club shipment this year will be in March, in time for Easter. Our Beef Club will ship in July, as usual.
Sign up for clubs here.
(Inaugural blog entry by winemaker Paul Hinschberger)
One of the many reasons I love my job is that I rarely have to do the same thing two days in a row. Whether I’m in the cellar, filing government paperwork, or herding sheep--most days I don't know what excitement awaits me. My official title at Rangeland is Winemaker. For some, this might conjure up an image of me swirling a glass of cabernet all day and mumbling pompous comments about the wine’s nuances of purple petunias and tiger sweat. Others might think that I just sit in my office and write work-orders for my inferiors to complete. In reality, because we are a small winery, I am also the assistant winemaker, cellar worker, and intern/peon. I wash the barrels, clean the drains and I even harvest my own tiger sweat. On top of my cellar duties, I also help out on the ranch with cows, sheep, vineyard projects and basically whatever Laird or Nathan tell me to do. So although my task list may not seem as glamorous as most people’s expectations, I prefer to have some grit in my job description--even if that means shoveling sheep excrement. Read more.
Vintage Paso (Zinfandel and more) March 18-20
We’ll be open, by appointment only, during Vintage Paso (formerly the Zinfandel Festival). We’ll have some Zinfandel on special, and hope to see you during the weekend. Make an appointment any time Friday March 18 – Sunday March 20, from 11 am-5 pm. We’ll be serving our famous grass-fed beef and lamb sliders on Saturday only. We look forward to seeing you then!
Rangeland Field Day Saturday April 23
Save the date and keep an eye out for the official announcement about our favorite spring party. Also, you can see all of our 2016 event calendar here.
One of the many reasons I love my job is that I rarely have to do the same thing two days in a row. Whether I’m in the cellar, filing government paperwork, or herding sheep--most days I don't know what excitement awaits me. My official title at Rangeland is Winemaker. For some, this might conjure up an image of me swirling a glass of cabernet all day and mumbling pompous comments about the wine’s nuances of purple petunias and tiger sweat. Others might think that I just sit in my office and write work-orders for my inferiors to complete. In reality, because we are a small winery, I am also the assistant winemaker, cellar worker, and intern/peon. I wash the barrels, clean the drains and I even harvest my own tiger sweat. On top of my cellar duties, I also help out on the ranch with cows, sheep, vineyard projects and basically whatever Laird or Nathan tell me to do. So although my task list may not seem as glamorous as most people’s expectations, I prefer to have some grit in my job description--even if that means shoveling sheep excrement.
This week, Ranch Manager Nathan, Eddie ("retired" and does everything) and I have been building fence around the barn in preparation for lambing season. Constructing livestock fencing is so much harder and more precise than I would have ever imagined. Fortunately, Nathan and Eddie have been extremely patient with me while I am learning the rudiments of fencing--they give me the easy jobs so I can feel good about myself. It is times like these that I feel truly humbled as a weakling winemaker since I can’t seem to keep up with Eddie, who I’d wager is twice my age.
I don’t really know exactly what ‘lambing’ is going to entail just yet, but we are expecting to have 250 baby lambs born within the next few weeks! I can’t wait to be surrounded by so much cuteness. I have this bucolic image of myself dressed in shepherd garb cradling a newborn lamb and keeping it warm while I sing it to sleep with a soft lullaby. Then doing it 249 more times. However, I’m pretty confident that won’t actually happen. I may just end up covered in feces, cursing a lot, with my dignity shattered. But that’s what makes a better story, right? Stay tuned on that one.
So this is my first blog, and I’m not exactly sure where I want to go with it just yet. I’m not confident that anyone other my mom will even read it. Nonetheless, I plan on writing about wine-oriented topics such as the soil’s effects on wine, Paso Robles’s place in the wine world, and the relationship between wine scores, popularity, and price. Ideally, I would love it if our club members would ask wine questions of me in an “Ask Amy” sort of way. I could be your own personal wine butler, who answers to your every question. I shall call myself… the Wine Whisperer. (Apparently, there is already a trademarked ‘Wine Whisperer’ but I thought of the name idependently.)
For questions or comments, please email me at email@example.com or comment below.
Until next time, Cheers!
Paul, The Wine Whisperer
We loved having club members out to our pickup party last Saturday--the weather was warm and beautiful, the wine was tasty and the company was terrific. We had several requests for recipes, so here they are. We hope you enjoy!
MINTY LAMB POPS
1/2 cup best olive oil
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup honey
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, minced
1/4 cup minced mint leaves
1/4 cup minced parsley leaves
1 teaspoon minced rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon minced oregano leaves
2 pounds of chops
Freshly ground black pepper
1. in a non-reactive bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, garlic, onion, mint, parsley, rosemary and oregano. Add the lamb and toss to coat well. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 4 hours. (Can be marinated in gallon ziplocks).
2. Remove the meat from the refrigerator 30-60 minutes before cooking. Preheat the grill or a grill pan on high.
3. Salt and pepper chops, and then grill to the desired doneness, about 3-4 minutes per side for medium to medium rare. Serve immediately.
MARINATED LEMONY LAMB KABOBS
1 pound plain yogurt (regular or lowfat)
1/4 cup good olive oil, plus more for brushing grill
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 Tablesppons fresh whole rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 pounds lamb meat, cut into 1" cubes
1. Combine the yogurt, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, rosemary, salt and pepper in a large, non-reactive bowl. Add the lamb chunks, and stir to make sure every piece is covered. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
2. Soak wooden skewers (if using) for 30-60 minutes before cooking.
3. Thread 3-5 pieces of lamb per skewer, alternating with vegetables of your choice.
4. Salt and pepper both sides. Place on hot grill and cookr for 6-8 minutes, turning 2-3 times, until the lamb is medium rare.
NOVEMBER 14 PICK-UP PARTY
We are hosting our annual pick-up party on Saturday, November 14, from 12-4 pm. Come pick-up your fall wine club, or your lamb or beef order, and enjoy the party. All club members--wine, beef, and lamb--are welcome to attend and bring 2 guests (max party of 4 per club member/couple). Even if you don't have anything to pick-up, you are welcome to come enjoy the ranch.
We will be serving grass-fed beef chili, grilled tomahawk lamb chops and lemony lamb kabobs, all estate-grown. We'll also have grilled J&R sausages, as well as assorted cheeses, roasted veggies, fruit and, of course, Lisa's cookies. We may even have some barrel samples of new wines. It's a perfect time to do a little wine shopping before the holidays. We look forward to seeing you! Please RSVP.
FALL WINE CLUB
Our wine club shipment is available to pick-up now. It will of course be available at the November 14 party. Shipping orders will go out the week of November 16. Here are the wines included in the fall shipment:
- 2013 Mistletoe (new)
- 2013 Zinfandel (new)
- 2012 Watershed
- 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2012 Limestone
- 2012 Petite Sirah
If you’d prefer to customize your order, just send us an email or call with instructions. As always, you’re free to add more wines (while they last) to your wine club order. Also please let us know if you have any address changes, billing information updates or special instructions for pick-up or shipping, by phone (805-674-9232) or email.
Bordeaux 3 Pack. We are extending the killer deal on our beautiful Bordeaux wines—two 2012 Cabernet Sauvignons and a 2012 Watershed for $100, and that’s before you apply your club discount! These ageworthy wines are completely drinkable now and, if you plan to cellar them, they will develop beautifully for years to come. A worthy gift for very good friends. Click here to order.
Mistletoe 2 Pack. One 2012 and one 2013 Mistletoe (new release) for $50. The Mistletoe is a Cabernet/Syrah blend that offers the best of Paso Robles: Opulent fruit with good natural acidity and structure. Club discounts apply to this affordable, festive holiday gift. Click here to order.
We still have some ground beef available--10 pound boxes for $90, and 20 pound boxes for $160 (before your club discount). We can ship anywhere in California. This would make a great holiday gift for your grass-fed beef loving friends and family members! To order, click here.
We have a few more places left in the Lamb Club--all charter members get an additional 5 pounds of ground lamb with their first order. Lamb Club members will receive two shipments a year, in October (available now) and March, for $200 (20% off). The 25 pound box (half a lamb) includes:
- Rack of ribs
- Loin chops
- 2 small leg roasts
- Shoulder chops
- Stew meat and/or shanks
- 1-2 lbs ground lamb + 5 lbs charter bonus
To sign up for the Lamb Club, click here.
We picked our last fruit on October 12. Vintage 2015 was a relatively smooth and short season, less than six weeks total. As expected, we had much lower yields due to the drought--a story we heard repeated all across the Central Coast. The quality of fruit was good, however, with extremely small "berries" and intense flavors.
We're looking forward to tasting the first wines made by our new winemaker Paul Hinschberger. Paul was admittedly "excited" about his first season as chief winemaker--he was previously the assistant winemaker at Denner Vineyards--but he handled everything with aplomb and good humor. Paul introduced more whole (uncrushed) berry and some whole cluster (stems included) fermentations into our winemaking. These techniques may add more aromatic expression and complexity to the vintage.
As fall progresses, we are preparing our vineyard for the next season. We've already spread some lime on the sandstone portions of the vineyard to boost the structure and water-holding capacity of these powdery soils. We have a small mountain (70 tons) of compost which we'll spread throughout the vineyard and till into the soil after the first fall rains. We are looking forward to a rainy winter and a more fruitful harvest in 2016.
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