For The Love of Sauternes!

A few weeks ago a dear friend got married. Yay! The wedding was in Florida and we were home in California, but we watched the whole thing. The Greek Orthodox Church has become super hip. They do live-streams y'all! Nai. Modern Greek for "yes". It was every bit as ceremonious as you might expect. However Gabe and I were kicked back at home, watching while I madly texted with my Kentucky peeps, representing various time zones, who were also tuning in. It was a very 21st Century experience. Texting with my friends made it feel like we were in community and bearing witness as our cherished friend made a monumental commitment. For the onlookers, there was no travel, no budget busting, no drama (unless you count my open weeping, tears of joy!). And all this happened in our living room while pleasantly nibbling on sliced apples, walnuts, Stilton and Roquefort cheeses. Accompanied by none other than Sauternes. That my friends, is not something provided by The Greek Orthodox Church. 

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Wanna host a tasting party on a budget? We got you!

Last month Gabe and I decided to host some friends for a little wine and cheese tasting. Our low-cost approach invited guests to bring their preferred $10-$15 wine from a big box store (think Costco, BevMo, Cost Plus, Target etc.) or a grocery store. The idea was that you could find yourself in various areas of the country, with limited access to boutique wine shops and the like, and still procure a quality bottle of vin. We wanted to see what other people found appealing and share some of our own selections. As the hosts, we were sure to have plenty of bottles on hand for this event. It was fun to shop based on our own, very specific criteria, and even more fun to taste from Italy, France, Spain and the U.S.!

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An Olympic State of Mind in Lodi

To cap off all of our posts about the recent Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi, CA last month, I would like to give out some medals. During the time we were there, the Games of The XXXI Olympiad, otherwise known as Rio 2016, were being televised. This backdrop of olympic hopefuls, representing 207 nations and 11, 303 athletes, rounded out each day of the conference, as well as that entire 2-week period. The talent, the emotional stories, the display of commitment, hard work, team work and pride was magnetizing. We sacrificed precious sleep to stay up late and watch. There were stand-outs, surprises and of course, a little controversy. So for this post, in alignment with the Olympics, I am giving nods to some wines, wineries and other noteworthy establishments in Lodi. Let the games begin!

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A Commentary on Ironstone Vineyards.

As Gabe mentioned in the previous post, we stayed for a post Wine Bloggers excursion to Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys, CA, in the Sierra foothills. What. A. Place. First off, it is massive. Our tour lasted several hours and we were moving expeditiously. With vineyards, a museum, caverns, a gift shop, a tasting room and an amphitheater, it is a lot of ground to cover. Thankfully we had an attentive team to escort us around the property. Gabe's post visually sums it up. At long last we were led into a grand ball room, all set up for our vertical tasting. Wine time!

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WBC 16 from behind the camera.

This year's Wine Bloggers Conference was held in Lodi, CA., and I had the pleasure of heading up that way to check out the town, the conference & taste some really good wines. This is Gabe, by the way, and I tend to be less verbose than Joanna. So, I will let my pictures do most of the talking for me, hence the title. But I will try my best to give a short, but sweet overview of the WBC 16 conference.

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Lodi to Lebanon, in a glass! (Video)

Last week I had the privilege of attending the Annual Wine Bloggers Conference, hosted in Lodi, California. If you have Lodi even remotely placed in your wine consciousness, you are thinking Zinfandel. Yes, dear. It gets hot there. All the better to ripen the grapes with. But Lodi is doing more than zin and this post is about more than Lodi. It is about the community of bloggers that comes together annually to connect, share ideas and highlight a region. That community of bloggers is diverse and they come from far and away, which brings me to tasting wine from Lebanon.

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The Soberanes Fire: What About The Wine?

This has been an odd summer. Aside from it being our first proper summer on The Monterey Peninsula and adjusting to “June Gloom”, now officially August and gloomy still, a fire is raging through the nearby hills. A few weeks back, apparently some careless campers failed to extinguish their fire, thereby sparking the Soberanes Fire. The fire began in the Big Sur area and spread northward to The Carmel Highlands having already ravaged 43,000 acres and still burning. Coordinated efforts to quell the fire have been underway, 350 evacuations have happened and still 57 homes have been lost and 1 human life so far. The fallen was operating a bulldozer to fight the fire on what is extremely treacherous terrain. It is a tragic turn in the ongoing devastation and my heart goes out to the family, the rescue community and all impacted.

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Yosemite and Wine.

Recently I had the privilege of returning to one of the most spiritual and awe-inspiring natural settings in the U.S. Reflected in the title of this post, Yosemite National Park is among the most revered locations in the world. Originally sacred to the native peoples, The Southern Sierra Miwok, recognized and honored Yosemite as divine, and treated it as such. Today visitors from around the globe visit the park, to take in the natural wonders. This year in particular, on the heels of 2 droughts, brought heavy rains, allowing the waterfalls of the park to gush in full glory. It is a sight that will stop you, make you be still and stare, revel in the grandeur. The force. The movement. Your own smallness in juxtaposition. And possibly move you to unbridled emotion, eclipsed only by The Falls themselves. 

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Know your wine? Get these 2 books.

Wine books. Which ones are worth the investment? In this era when seemingly everyone and their grandmother can write a book, it can be daunting to know what to choose. That choice really depends on your needs and what you are searching for. Some wine books are very technical, focusing on the science, others more poetic, paying tribute to the sensual tonic that we love so much. All can have their place. What if you just want to learn more about wine, plain and simple? The regions, varietals, styles and overall magic? Well then, I have two to offer up in this post. 

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An FLX Wine Legacy with Meaghan Frank

If you know a single fact about the wine making history in The Finger Lakes area of New York state, then you know of Dr. Konstanin Frank. He relentlessly pursued his belief that Vinifera could grow there, against the better judgement of all who were considered experts on the area. An immigrant of German heritage, who lived mostly in the Ukraine, he had escaped the era of The Cold War, with his family in tow, to pursue the ever-alluring American Dream. This my friends, is a success story. It is complicated and fraught with taxing tales of a man so steadfast to his own convictions, that eventually loses his edge. But he did it. He accomplished what he set out to do. In his 50's, when most people are thinking about retirement, cozy dinner holidays with grandchildren, warm and therapeutic vacations to Florida, Dr. Frank was just cranking up. 

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Napa in 48 Hours.

A few weeks ago Gabe and I at last made pilgrimage to the mecca of the U.S. wine world: The Napa Valley. It was time. We have been living back in California now for four months and we were ready. We were able to head up on a Thursday, which afforded us some of the weekday elbow room, not enjoyed on weekends. We had a ball! We moseyed up and down Highway 29 the first day and The Silverado Trail the next, with a loose outline of each day. We seized the moment, and the wine. And we relaxed into it. But it was not without some planning and research. 

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Love Day Wines!

Valentine's Day is almost here and whether or not you are partnered, dating, single by choice, poly or otherwise, you SHOULD be drinking delicious wine. Before we get into that, I must espouse my feelings on this holiday. I love it. Well I must love it, to not love Valentine's Day would be against my own self-interest. You see Valentine's Day is my birthday. Yes, Beverly Snawder pushed me into this world on one of the most special holidays, emblematic of love. Thanks Mom! She always made it a special day for me, baking many a heart shaped cakes, always chocolate, procuring thematic decor in the "pre-Etsy" era (basically the Stone Age), before the holiday had been commercialized to the 9's, as it is now.  The essential theme for me, on my birthday and most days is love. Love sweet love. Self-love. Love of life. Loving to love. For me, it is everything.

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Happy New Year from The West Coast!

Hi friends and fellow wine drinkers! I hope the latter part of 2015 treated you right. Mine was packed full of developments and BIG CHANGES! All for the best but very all consuming for the past few months. Alas, here we are on the first day of 2016 and my new residence is in none other than sunny, wine filled California!!! So much wine. We have re-located from Chicago to the Monterey Peninsula. Gabe and I arrived in early December and our movers finally showed up with our worldly possessions around the middle of the month, I started a new job and then it was the holidays and visitors and wine tasting...oh my. We are happy and obviously still getting adjusted but for the blog alone, this change is monumental. We have already done some tasting in the area, which you will hear about NOW.

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The 2015 Wine Blogger Conference: Notes From A First-Timer

Last week Gabe and I made our much anticipated journey to Corning, NY for the Wine Bloggers Conference. Yes, it is a thing. A whole conference is devoted to such. And people, it is done well. Seriously, it has taken me a week to process everything that happened, everything that I learned and everything that I want to share. It was a transformative experience, which I think is owed to both the stellar organization by Zephyr Adventures, the outfit who puts it on each year, and also to the local community who hosted us. In this case I am referring to The Finger Lakes area of upstate New York or FLX. They know how to welcome guests up there. And of course, the community of bloggers themselves...ahem, ourselves. Big smile. So proud to be amongst them.

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The Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan: Papa Don't Preach!

For those that came of age in the 80's or 90's, you undoubtedly got the Madonna reference in the title. Upon returning from Traverse City, I would test this question out on people, "We went to The Ciccone Winery. Does that ring any bells?" Many would pause, narrow their eyes and even ask, "Why does that name sound familiar?" Are you on to me yet? Madonna Louise Ciccone, lest we not forget, hails from Michigan. Good old Silvio, father to The Material Girl, has planted roots, quite literally on The Leelanau Peninsula, where he owns and operates a world-class winery. Salut!

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Traverse City, Michigan: Part 2, Wines from the 45th Parallel North

After leaving Bowers Harbor (see part 1), we were ready for some solid nourishment. I have to be judicious about using the word "snack", so as to be clear about what kind of snack I mean. After 2 wineries, it was time to nosh. Note that most wineries have nibbles for sale, crackers, cheeses, meats and the lot. For budget, preference and sheer convenience, we had packed our own yummies. When embarking on a day of endurance wine tasting, this is advised, even if you do plan to add in a sit down meal somewhere. After some munching, we were ready for the next establishment: Brys Estate.

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Traverse City, Michigan: Part 1 of 3 on The Old Mission Peninsula

Last month, Gabe and I took a few days to head north to the Great Lakes wine region du jour: Traverse City, MI. Here in Chicago, many local wine shops, restaurants and even grocery stores feature wines from this acclaimed, and for us, a regional wine area. Some of you may already be in the know, but those not, now hear this: Traverse City is making some damn good wine. Also known as "The Cherry Capitol of The World", the terroir includes a great lake. How ya like them cherries? Speaking of sweet fruits, though the Rieslings are world-class, Traverse City produces some considerable reds, including Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. They have an admittedly shorter growing season, due to their northern (read frigid) location but as the winos know, some grapes do very well in such conditions. I recommend visiting in June or July, if you are cold wimp, like me. Word has it that the Fall is quite stunning there. At the very least, try the wine!

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A Rosé fit for "Jennie Rose Day"

I consider myself one of the most fortunate humans alive, for many reasons. A huge part of this feeling of gratitude for my life, is owed to the gift that was and is, even since her death, my adult relationship with my paternal Grandmother, Jennie Rose Snawder. You see, this was a relationship of my own forging. It began as an attempt, at 18 years old, to get her to forgive me for a silly teenage blunder. I had left her off of my photo collage/high school graduation invitation. I did not have many photos of us, something I corrected later in life. I certainly did not want to use the one of us in which my hair was temporarily died green with food coloring for St. Patrick's Day. Though smiling in the photo, she was none too pleased with that move.  Jennie Rose liked structure. She held herself and others to such. She taught me the value of keeping to a system, a schedule. Her Germanic roots shining through. And I, always a challenge to her austerity, embracing the French aspect of our heritage. The two fostering an Alsatian sensibility, of course. That was Grandma and I: Germany and France. Finding our balance.

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