Christopher Ranch Grows Crowd of Holiday Revelers

Natalie Kuburovich, third from the left, celebrated her 13th

The Mint Julep Lady is back! The gracious Southern hostess now
residing and entertaining in Morgan Hill should consider a second
career as a stand-up comedian. Annette Baker and her husband, Bill,
have not forgotten their tradition of Southern hospitality; they
merely transplanted it to South County. Lucky for us!
The Mint Julep Lady is back! The gracious Southern hostess now residing and entertaining in Morgan Hill should consider a second career as a stand-up comedian. Annette Baker and her husband, Bill, have not forgotten their tradition of Southern hospitality; they merely transplanted it to South County. Lucky for us!

After publishing Annette’s recipe for mint juleps a few weeks ago, I was treated to the real thing at the Baker residence during a holiday party last week. Demonstrating true graciousness and thought, the Bakers have come up with a way to share the joy of a party with those in need: They requested that the usual hostess gifts of flowers and wine be replaced with an unwrapped toy that will be designated for the Toys for Tots toy drive. The guests placed the toys under the Baker tree to be delivered to the worthy charity. I think they have found the true meaning of the season.

I have also found the true meaning of a stiff drink. Back to the mint juleps … Annette moved into the bar to prepare the Southern specialty while warming up the crowd with her stand-up routine.

As Annette handed the juleps to the laughing guests, she warned, “Be careful. It will feel like your skeleton is being pulled out of your body.” After 20 minutes, it felt like the Gary Larson cartoon about the boneless chicken ranch. Wow! Not a wimpy ladies drink. After a few of those, you won’t care if your horse doesn’t win at Churchill Downs.

Drinking only sodas and having a good time on her 13th birthday was Natalie Kuburovich out in the Ford Excursion limousine that her father, broker and co-owner of Century 21 Real Estate, agreed to hire at a moment of weakness.

Friends from Monte Vista Christian School piled into the “disco on wheels” and cruised South County, picking up the guests from their homes and stopping for pizza and ice cream. Her mother, Patty, and her friend Carol Matsche drove the chase vehicle (no parents in the limo was a special request from the birthday girl). It was definitely a right of passage for an up-and-coming young socialite. Thirteen guests for 13 wonderful years included Amber Koval, Erica Villarreal, Jillian Smith, Cayla Hogan, Daniel McElroy, Hollie Coombs, Michelle Jenness, Shannon Welch, Lisa Lombardo, Kyle Reno, Tony Gonzalez and Bruce Ziegelman. Happy birthday, Natalie!

In other birthday news, Christopher Ranch celebrated the holidays and the anniversary of 50 years in business last Saturday afternoon at their 35th annual barbecue. Hosted by Don and Bill Christopher, the event featured a theme of “50 & Fabulous.” A few of the guests, including Mike Rauschnot, have been part of the ranch from the beginning.

“We were a bunch of teenagers parking cars for the farmers that came for the ‘men only’ barbecue. We parked all of the cars in time to see the belly dancers that were a tradition,” said Rob Christopher, legal counselor for Christopher Ranch and Don’s son. He was recalling his father’s wisdom when inviting the sheriff for the traditional poker games.

Through the 35 years, the party has evolved into a celebration that includes wives, Christopher Ranch workers and their families, vendors and local celebrities – including Roberta Hughan, former mayor of Gilroy who, for the record, is the only female mayor in the city’s history.

Jack Pate, former City of Gilroy council member, mingled with Al Navaroli, former President of the South Valley Symphony Board. Also attending the barbecue was former belly dancer-watcher Steve Costa, of Head Start Nursery, who has cultivated a close relationship with the Christophers along with his father, Harold Costa. Pat Destacio was the woman in charge of planning the party (who also, I’ve learned, is a wonderful singer with the group the Corvairs). She describes her title at the company as, “I do a little of everything.”

Destacio’s “little bit of everything” includes decorating the fabulous warehouse where the barbecue has migrated due to the ever-increasing guest list. The backdrop to the traditional Mariachi band was creative and easy to accomplish.

Every Christopher Ranch truck is detailed with a work of art depicting the lush garlic growing region of South County, so Destacio simply had a bobtail truck back into the building, providing the stage with a wonderful mural. The smell of pepper steaks and pasta created a delicious aroma, and the 50-foot bar provided the cheer.

Cheerful at 40 years old is Gilroy resident Jorge Maciel, who christened his newly styled home dance barn with a birthday party complete with more than 100 friends and family. The glue was barely dry on the newly installed granite bar and the antique barn wood walls were in on time for the 6pm dinner. The disc jockey spun tunes from the loft above the dance hall as the rotating ball flickered on men reliving their high school days, wondering who to ask out on the dance floor.

Jorge and his brother saved the day with “in-tune” renditions on the karaoke machine. Jay and Julie Lee fought the urge to grab the microphone, opting not to share their rendition of “Dance Hall Days.”

Jay admitted to the working with a wild crowd at the water district, and Julie also comes across her fair share of partying people as a ranger at Coyote Lake. This was the coolest place to hang out and share some laughs. Beautifully done, Jorge!

Ciao for now.

Breaking news! This just in from the Southland. Apparently after last weekend’s rival game between USC and UCLA, celebrating Trojans infiltrated the UCLA campus and left a wasteful human product on the stairs of a select UCLA dormitory.

According to a close source (my Bruin nephew, Miles Prince), it took three Los Angeles County HAZMAT teams to rope off the area and clean up the present left by the Trojan visitors. I know some stable hands that would have been cheaper.

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