Temecula: Not All Valley Floor

Temecula: Not All Valley Floor

The first full day of our Temecula press trip began with a precarious drive up to the Wild Horse Peak Vineyard. Of course, I was sitting on the side of the bus with the mountain drop off views. Deep breaths. I kept my head down and prayed for a safe ascent. Mind you, I have climbed Machu Picchu in Peru, and that bus ride up is much more precarious. But I find as I get older, the things that never scared me, have started to.  Alas, we reached the top and enjoyed fresh air and sunshine, surrounded by vines and trees. 

Louis Lucas: A Grape Calling

Louis Lucas: A Grape Calling

It’s a convivial atmosphere in the Lucas & Lewellen tasting room in Santa Barbara wine country one weekday afternoon. The tasting room is busy, staff pulls bottles from the shelves, and I am in the back of the tasting room with Louis Lucas as we taste our way...

Domaine Carneros: A Touch of France in the Napa Valley

Domaine Carneros: A Touch of France in the Napa Valley

Last year I was invited to a wine pairing dinner at Avra Estiatorio in Beverly Hills featuring the wines of Domaine Carneros. Joining us for dinner was no other than winemaker, Zak Miller. I have only ever tried the widely distributed opening pricepoint sparkling from Domaine Carneros, so I jumped at the chance to taste other selections from their portfolio.

Harney Lane: Love, Laughter, Family, Wine

Harney Lane: Love, Laughter, Family, Wine

A couple of times a week I receive wine sample invitations from various PR firms. I reply to the requests, and within a week or so, the wines are delivered to my house. When I received the Harney Lane shipment, I was struck by the personal touch. In addition to the...

Kudos Sonoma. Now What?

Kudos Sonoma. Now What?

Earlier this year I attended a press dinner put on by the Sonoma County Winegrowers. The purpose of the dinner was to share updates from the destination – ranging from the status of their 5-year plan to become the first 100% sustainable wine region in the United...

Vintastic Voyage: Napa Valley

Vintastic Voyage: Napa Valley

There is no shortage of articles/blog posts related to the Napa Valley. BUT, I wanted to share a tested and approved Napa itinerary that I’d recommend to the wine novice and the wine geek alike. This itinerary has something for everyone. I visited the region in early Spring with my friends Neal and Alyse of Winery Wanderings and found this itinerary to be relaxed and easy to follow.

Wine Tasting in the Columbia Gorge

Wine Tasting in the Columbia Gorge

As the Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla, Washington came to a close, my post-conference excursion was just beginning! We headed off to the beautiful Columbia Gorge to visit Maryhill Winery and Cathedral Ridge Winery. The Columbia Gorge, 60 miles east of Portland is part of two AVAs, the Columbia Valley AVA and the Columbia Gorge AVA. The unique climate of the Columbia River Gorge earns it the title “Mediterranean of the Northwest”. I will say that we visited in October and it was sunny and the weather was beautiful. Insert gratuitous scenery shots!

They Make Wine? Maryland Edition

They Make Wine? Maryland Edition

When you hear “Mid-Atlantic” do you think of wine country? Me neither! But alas, at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where the Shenandoah River meets the Potomac, lies Big Cork Vineyards. Big Cork is a family farm in Rohrersville, Maryland started by David Collins, who spent many years making wine in Virginia (see my Virginia wine post HERE). David Collins formed a partnership with Jennifer and Randy Thompson (owners of the land), and Big Cork Vineyards was born. The first 22 acres were planted in May of 2011 and they have now surpassed 5,000 cases in annual production.

Kiona Vineyards & Winery: Small But Mighty

Kiona Vineyards & Winery: Small But Mighty

In 1970 John Williams was said to have proclaimed “this just might be a pretty damned good place to grow wine grapes” when speaking of the area that is now known as the Red Mountain AVA in South Central Washington. Because of his proclamation and the subsequent formation of the Red Mountain AVA, I found myself at Kiona Vineyards & Winery in early October at the Red Mountain AVA pre-conference excursion as a part of the annual Wine Bloggers Conference. John Williams and his family are what I consider “the OGs” of Red Mountain. The original “first” family.

The Lenné Experience

The Lenné Experience

Walk into some wineries and you can tell that they’ve read the studies: millennials are drinking wine at increasing rates and the way to get to their hearts (and wallets) is through experience. These wineries have crafted Instagrammable moments onsite, they sell wine...

Artesa: Barcelona Born, Napa Raised

Artesa: Barcelona Born, Napa Raised

Imagine a career where you have about 30 chances to prove yourself. Each year you get to make one decision and that decision stays with you your entire life. This is the life of a winemaker, according to Ana Diogo-Draper of Artesa Vineyards & Winery. Every year she works hard to craft a wine she is proud of. As she says: You’ve got 30 chances to make it right. And once that wine is in bottle it starts all over again. At the end of her career, she will have about 30 vintages of wine that have her touch on it.

August: Washington Wine Month

August: Washington Wine Month

August is Washington Wine Month, which is quite apropos as over 300 wine bloggers will be heading to Walla Walla in 8 weeks for the Wine Bloggers Conference! Disclaimer: I know NOTHING about it as I don’t have much tasting experience with Washington wine. Also, it was not a big topic in my WSET studies. Let’s face it, the Brits (who run the WSET program) are not too interested in the nuances of a Washington Merlot. With that being said, it’s exciting to visit a wine country and have no preconceived notions. Let’s learn some of the basics of Washington wine on our journey together.

Beneath the Surface at Hertelendy Vineyards

Beneath the Surface at Hertelendy Vineyards

Ralph Hertelendy was our host at the LA Wine Writers luncheon in April at Cafe del Rey in the Marina. Ralph is tall, dark, handsome, and he comes bearing his big, bold, gutsy Napa wines. Ok……is this one of those “all that glitters isn’t gold” moments? We are talking Napa, you know. And in Napa, sometimes the shiny exterior (i.e. the chateau on the hill or the #boldAF bottle of wine) is not all it’s cracked up to be. Is there more than meets the eye at Hertelendy?

Kenwood Vineyards: Home in Sonoma County

Kenwood Vineyards: Home in Sonoma County

Recently I had the opportunity to taste through samples of Kenwood Vineyards’ latest releases. Kenwood puts out 500,000 cases annually. As you may know, I don’t tend to steer towards larger producers, but I have started making some exceptions. For one, I like to see...

Chateau Montelena: A Review of Two Wines

Chateau Montelena: A Review of Two Wines

Chateau Montelena in Napa Valley is most famous for winning the white wine category of the Judgement of Paris tasting in 1976. The Judgment of Paris was a blind tasting organized by Steven Spurrier, a British wine merchant, in which classic French wines from Bordeaux...

Inner Mendo Odyssey

Inner Mendo Odyssey

Last fall I attended the annual Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa, CA. The area had just been hit hard with the wildfires only a month earlier, but the resiliency of the community was apparent, as they welcomed us with open arms and leaned on us to help spread...

Grenache: The Next Great Grape

Grenache: The Next Great Grape

We’re going to Napa y’all! Actually, I already went and will be telling you all about it! Read my contest-winning blog post HERE. In April I had the pleasure of attending one of the most well-organized and informative wine events. They had a great mix of producers, winemakers, sales reps, retailers, and sommeliers, which is probably what made it so dynamic. I attend a lot of seminars, masterclasses, and walk-around tastings and I am usually left a bit underwhelmed.

They Make Wine: Michigan Edition

They Make Wine: Michigan Edition

I tried my first Michigan wines a couple of years ago, on New Years Eve no less! Fun fact: Michigan has over 13,000 acres under vine, making it the 4th largest state for grape growing! However, most of that acreage is for grapes that are used to make juice. If we...

Lodi RULES!

Lodi RULES!

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Lodi wines, as I have written multiple blog posts about the region (see HERE). I used to be a naysayer, but I have since visited Lodi multiple times and tasted many wines, not just the crap that’s sold at the grocery stores. What people might not know about Lodi is that they are one of the leaders in regards to sustainable winegrowing.

Vintastic Voyage: Lodi

Vintastic Voyage: Lodi

I’ve had the privilege to visit Lodi multiple times over the last couple of years. For one, I live in California, so visiting any California wine country is quite convenient and only a car ride away. And secondly, I gained an in-depth appreciation for Lodi after attending the 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference where we learned about multi-generational family producers, the history of the local old vines, and met many incredible people who welcomed us with open arms and who were proud of Lodi and happy to show it off to us!

#WineStudio: Perseverance is the Name of the Game with Ordaz Family Wines

#WineStudio: Perseverance is the Name of the Game with Ordaz Family Wines

Many of us can relate to being an underdog at some time in our life. In studying for the WSET Diploma, I find myself to be an underdog. I don’t work in the wine and spirits business, so I don’t get to talk about wine all day, nor do I have access to the myriad of bottles that someone in the industry has access to. I’ve had to learn about wine mostly through reading (books, the Internet, blogs, etc). I then supplement book learning with tasting as many wines as I can get my hands on. But those in the biz have a distinct advantage, as they live and breathe wine all day. I, on the other hand, spend my days producing events in the LGBT non-profit world. A far cry from the wine industry!

An Insiders Look at the Wine Bloggers Conference

An Insiders Look at the Wine Bloggers Conference

The Wine Bloggers Conference is one of the highlights of my year. This is only my second year attending, but the arsenal of information I absorb and the contacts, scratch that, FRIENDS I make have been wonderful. It truly feels like a community and not just some sort of networking mixer with your colleagues. We are all real-life people who aren’t afraid to show our vulnerabilities and our insecurities (whether online or offline), albeit while dropping some serious wine knowledge!

From Lodi, With Love

From Lodi, With Love

As happened last year, I am suffering from the post-WBC blues. A week ago I returned from the Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi, California. This was my second conference and the people I met and the connections I made were just as strong as last year at the Finger Lakes, NY conference. I had such a good experience at the conference last year and really ended up loving the region, the people, and the wines. So much so that I wasn’t sure if I was going to have the same experience in Lodi. I can attest that I did! The people are JUST as nice, and the wines, let me tell you about the wines!

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