Hospitality is EVERYTHING

A simple greeting can make or break any deal for me. A smile, a friendly and caring attitude, product knowledge, and passion are all part of good customer service.   It takes just the right person to make you feel at ease, to make you feel like they really care about your experience.   This person for us was Annie Keilman at  Trefethen Family Winery.

Annie greeted us warmly and walked us to the tasting bar.  She introduced us as INDUSTRY, meaning that she took notice when we explained that we write on this very web/blog.   Though the winery was busy, she is the one that made us feel important.

We enjoyed the wines but our experience with her is what was most impressionable.   We witnessed her amongst the visitors talking and getting to know people.  She came back to us while we were tasting to give us needed attention and to make sure we were happy.

Upon leaving she asked us about our blog and bookmarked it in her computer, bidding us a warm goodbye, and inviting us back.

The owners of this FAMILY WINERY should be very proud of Annie and we think she should have her own link and photo on their website.

Cheers to Annie!   Customer service DOES still exist!!!!

Cin,Cin, Salute!!

 

 

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Wine Flights

What is a wine flight?

Wine didn’t grown wings and fly away…and no it’s not a new airline that offers wine tasting aboard.

Wine flights, or what are commonly referred to as a TASTING FLIGHT, are 3 or more generous tastes of wine in succession for the purpose of trying a variety in a certain year,  region, or varietal.   Flights are gaining popularity in many bars and restaurants.

Wine flights are a little different than a wine tasting in the sense that you get to choose the wines you want, and the amount of wine in your glass is a bit more generous than a usual tasting (approx. 3 ounces) and at a pretty good price too.    In addition, it gives you the ability to enjoy many different wines without drinking too many glasses and plastering yourself to the wall.

Recently at the Suisun Valley Wine Coop my husband and I were in a tasting room and were communicating our love for Zinfandel.   Kat, the wine steward was gracious enough to pull out 4 bottles of Zinfandel from the same vintner which was Sunset Cellars and we got the privilege of tasting a flight from four different harvest years.  It was amazing the difference in taste and subtle nuances of each wine.

Tasting Flights are a great way to compare different interpretations of the same varietal or different wine region.

It would be interesting to create a pairing flight to go with your 4 course meal starting with an aperitif before or during the appetizer, and then move to something to go with your soup and salad course, and so on finishing up with a sweet dessert wine at the end of the meal.

There are endless possibilities whether you have your flight already set up for you, or you create your very own.  Go and have fun with it!

Cin, Cin!  Salute!

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Winterhawk Winery – Suisun Valley, CA

Wine is such a blessing to me, but being so close to Napa Valley is an amazing luxury!   My husband and I live quite literally 3 miles away from a quaint little area which is the Suisun Valley Wine Country here in Solano County.    In about a three to five mile radius you can find a handful of wineries, some art Galleries, and  great eateries.

One day not long ago my husband and I decided to venture out and visit one the of the wineries near where we live called WINTERHAWK WINERY.  What a great place.  We drove up and walked up to an area that looked like an open warehouse or hanger and payed a $5.00 entrance fee.   We were invited to the wine tasting bar where we received about 8 generous tastings and the one we liked the best, we got an entire glass of.   That’s not all!   Included in the $5.00 price we got to eat the brick oven pizza being made, and sit down to enjoy a great Blues Band that was performing.  NO KIDDING.

As I sat there thoroughly enjoying the wine, band, and pizza my husband walked up to talk to the musicians on their break.  I sat there and smiled feeling utter contentment and happiness.  The band began to play again and my husband and I danced and laughed and had the best time together.  Then the singer/blues guitar player ROBERT HOLLYWOOD JENKINS took the mic after the song and said, “I would like to invite Debra Lee and Brad, some musical guests up to the stage,”  OH so THAT is what my husband was up to.  Okay by me!

We performed a couple of songs and danced more and as we were dancing HOLLYWOOD walked up to me and stuck the mic in my face and we traded off singing the blues.   The band was great and I have to say that I was really surprised at how generous and kind the staff was.  We made many new friends that day who frequent Winterhawk.  We will be visiting again soon as they have live music most weekends.

For five dollars I got to have a wonderful date,  wine, and sing my heart out…what a lovely day it was.  You never know what treasures you will find in your own back yard.

Cin,Cin, Salute!!!

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Woodenville WA Wine Country

This week my husband packed me into his suitcase and we headed up to Seattle Washington for business (his) and pleasure (mine).   His company, ZILLOW flew us in for their annual Holiday party.   During the day he went to the office, while I myself got to enjoy the amenities of the wonderful Hotel 1000.

During our stay, we had the opportunity to do some sight seeing. We stumbled across a wonderful area called Woodenville Wine Country,  home to the world renowned Chateau St. Michelle.

Just 30 minutes from Seattle, this wonderful little spot houses more than 50 wineries.  Washington has a wine region that is said to be only second to California in it’s wine volume, and with a latitude similar to that of Burgundy, France,  I would say that Washington is indeed a WINE COUNTRY in it’s own right.  You will find many little clusters of boutique wineries all bundled together in the Woodenville area.

We had lunch at a wonderful spot called THE BARKING FROG located near The Willows Lodge where a very nice gentleman, Jonathan (The Concierge of the lodge) recommended a number of wineries to visit.

With little time we were only able to taste at one place and Mark Ryan Winery was at the top of our list. When you enter this little upbeat space you hear rock music playing in the background.  You’re greeted warmly by a dog named JACK.  There are vintage motorcycles and artwork on the walls, which can be found on several of the wine bottles.

The names of the wines themselves are very interesting like, DEAD HORSE,  LONG HAUL,  WATER WITCH,  WILD EYED Syrah.  I was told that these names were inspired by Mark Ryan on the Long Haul to the Vineyard and back.  (Hence the Name LONG HAUL)  Apart from the Chardonnay and the Syrah, the other wines are all blends.

We had the privilege  of talking with,  Phillip Fromhertz (Business manager/ assistant wine maker) and felt his passion and concern for the labor that goes into the wines.  I can understand why he and  Mark Ryan (Owner/wine maker) are present as they literally have the pleasure of seeing the fruits of their labor as their guests enjoy the wonderful wines they’ve created.

We also had the pleasure of meeting David Gelles, owner of JACK THE DOG, and KLIPSON VINEYARDS, who graciously shared a glass of the wonderful SEMILLION wine, FANCY PANTSwhich is a joint venture between himself and  MARK RYAN. 80% of the grapes in this lovely wine come from KLIPSON VINYARDS.


The Wine I chose to review was the WILD EYED-Syrah. 100% Syrah from three vineyards off of red mountain (Red Mountain Appellation is Washington States smallest viticultural  appellation.) aged 80% in french oak.  I found it to be very bright and explosive in my mouth.    The wild berries and lavender smooth out the edgy tannins nicely.   The smokiness of the coffee and bacon flavors made it rustic and earthy.  This wine is very drinkable now, or will age beautifully for years to come.

Being artists and musicians ourselves, it seemed so fitting that this ONE winery chose US!

Whether you visit Washington or not,  these wines are worth ordering! If you do have the pleasure to come to this wonderful state be sure to visit MARK RYAN WINERY.  You cant go wrong with the warm welcome, generous pours, and the tasty wines.  You can also visit Washingtonwine.org for more info about the Woodenville Wine Country.

Happy Holidays

Cin, Cin, Salute!!!

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The Meritage Resort – Trinitas Wine Cellars

The Meritage Resort – Trinitas Wine Cellars

Yesterday was a ME day. I have been known for having the desire to turn off the rest of the world periodically and focus on my artistic and spiritual side.

I booked a day at the lovely Meritage Resort And Spa in downtown Napa.   There I entered what is the only wine cave that also houses a spa.   It was an absolutely decadent experience.   I was able to go early enough and do some wine tasting at TRINITAS CELLARS before my massage.

I enjoyed the reserve tasting and was pleasantly surprised that all four wines were full of flavor and lived up to their descriptions in the wine notes.  As an artist I love to create my own picture of words,  but in this case chose to use their wine notes as the descriptions were so on point as to what I smelled and tasted in my glass!   Layer upon Layer all of the beautiful notes synergistically became a symphony in my mouth.  These wines spoke musically to me!!

TRINITAS CELLARS

The Latin word for Trinity, is the fundamental principle of Christianity.  It symbolizes Sun, Soil & Humanity, which are the three ingredients evoking the perfect wine.

2009 Proprietors Reserve Chardonnay

“Our 2009 Proprietors Reserve Chardonnay is a blend of our owner and winemakers favorite Chardonnay Barrels of the 2009 Vintage. It is a perfect marriage of high-quality fruit and American wood barrels:  The toast on the barrels is prominent, giving a crème brûlée character to the nose.  Underneath the toast, you get the intense tropical fruit – pear, peach, lemon zest and citrus. The rich mid- palate, explodes with cinnamon toast, cream and butterscotch – which is a contribution to the length of time spent in the oak barrels.”

2008 Pinot Noir Carneros

“Aromatics of candied red fruit, vanilla, mocha, and campfire.  It boasts flavors of baked red apples covered in butter and cinnamon with a rich entry and broad mid palate. The weight of the fore- and mid-palate over shadow the delicate dark chocolate finish which will lengthen with age.”

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon

“Grown east of Highway 29 just south of Oakville Cross Road, our 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon displays aromatics of spiced plums, black cherry, vanilla and espresso. It has a rich entry reminiscent of chocolate covered cherries. Barrel aged 18 months in 57% new French oak.”

2007 Old Vine Mataro

Mataro, commonly referred to as Mouvèdre is one of our most esoteric varietals. It displays beautiful aromatics of black cherry, cola berry, chocolate, smoke, vanilla, caramel, and cinnamon. The mouth is full of juicy red fruit and its fleshy core carries though the long velvet finish. Dry farmed and meticulously grown by our favorite Oakley growers the Gonsalves family.

I was taken back by the fact that ALL four of these wines were amazing. This is not usual in most of my tasting experiences,  so I had to include each one here.

MY REVIEW:

The star on this day was the 2007 Old Vine Mataro. Mataro, is usually blended with other grapes, but was bottled alone here and I have to say was very surprising.  Medium tannins explode midway then smooth to a nice finish.  I found it very earth forward which I usually don’t prefer, but in this case the rich dark berries and creamy vanilla balance it out nicely.

In addition to the beautiful spa and stellar wines at The Meritage Resort – Trinitas Wine Cellars, there was wonderful art displayed in the cave, and I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Italian artist, Carla Almanza De Quant.  She specializes in 17th Century inspired Venetian Masks and sculpture.

Thank you Jennifer Beasley for your warm hospitality.  My hats off to Winemaker Kevin Mills and Trinitas Winery.  I am inspired by the Art of Wine making and the passion that I felt and tasted in each of these wines.  What a Blessing and a treat!!!

Please visit, you will be glad that you did.

Cin, Cin!, Salute!!!!!

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What is a Sommelier?

Sommelier

I don’t claim to be a wine expert.  I just love wine, period!  I am sure in this day and age you have heard the term Sommelier.  This is a person who is literally schooled in the knowledge of wine and food pairing.  But what they have to learn in their schooling is not at all a simple thing.  I myself picked up a book not long ago called. “WINE FOR DUMMIES.”  Really!

Wine For Dummies
The beginning was simple enough but once the book got into the region’s my head started to spin.  I have a lot of respect for people with such knowledge.  I came across a quote during some of my research that I have to share with you.  I found it to be simply poetic and beautifully articulated.

“For me, wine is all about food. Without food, a wine is like a single person who has never fallen in love. It may be interesting, and show loads of potential, but it won’t release its inner promise until coupled with the right dish. And when a good bottle meets up with the appropriate food, both are elevated to a higher level.”

By Ken Collura
Wine Director/Sommelier
El Monte Sagrado Living Resort and Spa
Taos, New Mexico

I leave the expertise to the experts.  I am a novice and a lover of wine and I am on a personal adventure.   In reading Ken’s musings, he made it really clear that when he meets people who claim to know it all,  he just laughs as WINE is an ever changing, never ending learning experience.  I appreciate and respect Ken’s attitude.   There is no need to feel intimidated by wine snobs as no one can ever really KNOW IT ALL.  I myself can glean so much from talking to any quasi wine buff.  Most of it may go right over my head,  but in the end I learn something new.

ENJOY THE JOURNEY!

Cin! Cin!, Salute!

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The Castle Of Love

Recently on a trip to Napa Valley my husband surprised me and took me to the Castillo Di Amorosa.    As we drove up the road I could not believe my eyes.   There right in front of me was a real Castle.   Little did I know that my husband had planned the whole thing days in advance.

He had contacted the castle ahead of time and arranged a private table atop one of the towers with a dozen roses, wine, cheese and candles and it’s where he proposed to me that we get remarried.  It was an amazing day full of romance and the Castle just added to the magic!  (Later I will write in detail of my experience  of  the winery itself.)

THE REVIEW:

The wine that my Husband chose for this wonderful occasion was La Fantasia “FANTASY”   A very fruity Rosé with creamy berry flavors and a slight effervescence.  Not at all like a Champagne.  I wouldn’t even venture to say it is a sparkling wine.    Men,  you will score big points with this one  for a romantic Valentines Day dinner with a few raspberries dropped inside the glass.  It goes well with yummy creamy Brie and Chocolate covered berries.

Cin! Cin!,  Salute!!

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That Dusty Bottle of Wine

The other day I was dusting and I picked up a bottle of wine from our little wine rack and suddenly my husband said to me, “NO!  Don’t dust that!”   “Why?” I asked?  “Because the bottles look better dusty, it makes them look nostalgic.”   he said while laughing.   Well now that kind of set me back a bit,  but hey, if I get to skip dusting a section of my house,  I am all for it.

Late in the evening, I was on Facebook and saw an entry from a friend talking about wine and it got me to thinking about a bottle of wine that had been sitting on the rack for about two years maybe longer.  I went and dusted it off and it turned out to be a 1999  RUMANIEN CASTELU CABERNET SAUVIGNON which is to simply say, it was a bottle of Romanian Cab.  Something that my husband was saving for a  “Special Occasion”   It was a beautiful bottle with a Romanian Crest on it.  It somehow called to me.

THE REVIEW:

We popped it open and I have to say we were quite surprised as to what was inside. The nose was not that of a wine per-se but smelled like a Brandy.  We tasted it and were shocked to find that it didn’t taste at all like a Cab but like a yummy treat that closely resembled a MADEIRA.   It was super sweet with flavors of oak and raisins.   Some Madeira wines are fortified with Brandy and that is what this tasted like.  It was smooth and warm to it’s finish but light enough to actually drink a whole glass of.  It reminded me of our all time favorite Madeira wine from V. Suitui Napa Valley.

I Googled the wine and could not locate it at all.   We could have opened the bottle and it could have been ruined, but it was perfect.  So I am thankful that we got to enjoy it as I have an idea that it was a very rare wine.    I may dig further to find out more about it but so far all the research that I have done has come up empty.  Perhaps I could find a wine collector who may know something of it.  I have saved the empty bottle.   I wanted to share the experience with our friends here.  You never know what treasures you may encounter on your own Wine Journey!!!

Cin Cin!, Salute!

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Is Aerating Over-rated?

What does it mean to let a wine breathe? In the biological sense, wine is not alive but the nurturing hands of a wine maker  might beg to differ.  Wine absorbs oxygen and then gives off carbon dioxide similar to humans.    Though it can’t reproduce, it can die very quickly if exposed to light, heat, movement, and even noise.  But what we are talking about here is something a bit different.   If you have ever heard of the term aerate, it simply means to let air get to your wine before you drink it.  WHY?

Letting air get to your wine for a period of time before drinking it can actually change the flavor of the wine for the better. Experts say that some young red varieties should breathe for 1 to 3 hours.   Now who in the heck is going to let their wine breathe that long when they are biting at the bit to pop open the bottle and drink it?  Personally, before I knew enough about wine, it was years before I understood what it meant to let wine breathe.  What you don’t know can’t hurt you right?   Not really. There is a significant difference in the wine flavor from the time it leaves the bottle, hits the glass, and then hits your mouth.

If you have doubts please do your own taste test. Even a few moments can make a big difference, but to completely let your wine breathe  helps the wine soften and the authentic flavor profiles to really come alive.    Some wines are perfect the moment you open them but wines that are high in tannins (usually young reds) are good candidates as the harshness softens quite considerably.    Some white wines can also benefit from aeration.

What are ways in which you can aerate a wine? Simply pour it in the wine glass and wait or decant it.   A decanter used to be thought of as just a beautiful glass bottle in which to display or serve the wine,  but there is a method to it’s madness.  The wide mouth of the decanter allows enough air to the wine to help it breathe better but again for a lengthy time.  It is a great way to let any sediment in the wine settle to the bottom so when you pour it you avoid it in your glass.

I personally recommend the VINTURI aerator.  It properly aerates your wine so it is perfect to drink the moment that it hits the glass.  No need to let it breathe.   Now THAT is what I am talking about!!!   These devises also remove any sediment left in the wine so you can drink every drop without filtering it.

So is aeration over-rated? I THINK NOT!   I have tried it every which way and I AM SOLD that aeration definitely works!   See for yourself and have some fun with it!!

Cin Cin!, Salute!

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Tasting With All Of The Senses

Tasting wine with all of the senses

Consider a glass of wine as a piece of ART.  A wonderful creation that is dictated by the land, the weather and location of the vine, the handling, aging, and even bottling of the product you are drinking. It has so much more meaning when you consider that one harvest year will be completely different from the next depending on so many factors. Wine tasting itself becomes more interesting and fun when you concentrate on the flavors in your mouth whether one stands out or a few. What you taste, may be different from what another person might taste and who is to say who is right and who is wrong?   Though I hope you would never taste such a taste in your glass,  if I say my wine has the taste of stinky socks who is to say that it’s not true?

Case in point, on a recent weekend away to Monterey, my husband and I were at a 5 star hotel and asked for a nice glass of Pinot Noir.  We received our glasses, we both took a sniff and agreed the nose on it (the smell) was pleasing.  Next was the first sip.  My first reaction was that I liked it, it was interesting enough.  I always take my second taste and really dig into what flavors are popping.  On this occasion, the taste in my glass was deceiving of the smell.  The berries that I smelled were not present, and the entire wine fell flat on flavor.  There was also a strong metal taste at the finish of the wine.  My husband said it tasted like what a public bathroom smells like.

It reminded him of those discs they put into the urinal to freshen them.  haha~  He laughed and called the wine “POTTY PINOT” Go figure!!  He also said, “Make a note of this one so we don’t make the mistake of buying it again.

When tasting wine, use all your senses to enjoy every nuance.

  • First look at the glass preferably next to a light colored wall so you get a true sense of the color, the richness and depth.  Can you see through it or is it slightly cloudy?
  • Put your nose into the glass and smell the wine. Any strong aromas around you will alter the taste of your wine.  A fire, strong food aromas, or even someones fragrance can interfere.  What aromas are present in your wine?   You might smell an earthy smell, fruit, grass, coffee, vanilla, chocolate etc.
  • Feel it in your mouth as you TASTE it. When it touches the front of your tongue.  The middle part of your tongue (Mid pallet) and how does it taste as you swallow it?  Is it hot?  Does it go down smoothly?  Do you taste sweet, sour, salty, bitterness at all?
  • Focus on the tastes and sensations as they change from the beginning to the end of each taste.   Realize that the nose and the tongue work together in this part.  You are actually tasting the smells and smelling the tastes simultaneously.

This is not rocket science and there is no need to be intimidated.   When you approach wine tasting with an open mind, and an adventurous spirit, it can be an enjoyable and delightful experience.

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