Nashville Wine Diva

What is the definition of a diva? What comes to mind for me is a famous singer or entertainer, but in a single word one could sum it up to be a Prima Donna.   I have never thought of my self as such but suddenly had a change of heart when I found myself in Nashville Tennessee, in the middle of nowhere right by the airport, without a car.   Let me explain.     I made my way downstairs and asked the lady at the desk of the Hotel where I was staying if there was a place I could get a nice glass of wine.   She looked at me and smiled in a way that made me think that I must have had a look of desperation on my face.  She pointed to a hotel across the street and said,  “They have a bar over there.”

DebraLee Darling Diva

I stepped outside and made my way across the street in eager hopes that there might be a decent glass of wine in the cards.   I had my serious doubts as I walked in and spotted a very small bar that offered just a few selections of wine with what appeared to be generic labels.   The young gentleman behind the counter offered his help.   I just sighed and said, “I would like red wine please, I am from the Napa valley in California.”   YES I said that! Seriously who do I think that I am,  a celebrity that thinks if they throw out their name that a magical glass of glorious perfection might present itself from somewhere in the shadows? He looked at me and laughed saying,  “Just taste this I promise it won’t disappoint you.”

I was willing to give it my best shot and to my amazement  this Cabernet was absolutely wonderful.   This little experience taught me that INDEED I am a WINE DIVA.  Since that day I have been over several times and the young people that run this place have become my friends.  The young man that helped me the first night just finished school in Hotel management and knew quite a bit about wine.  Raj was his name and I also had the pleasure of meeting Nakia, Ian, Sasha, and Reggie .  They were all warm, friendly, and made me feel well taken care of.  The owners of this Hotel should be very proud of their staff.  In turn, anytime you see employees that are pleasant and helpful it is a direct result of they way they are taken care of by management and owners.   If you ever get a chance to visit Nashville and need a place to stay go visit  HYATT NASHVILLE AIRPORT

The wine which is worth writing about was created by  Michael Mondavi (Napa Valley) HAHA!  Yes I had to laugh!!! CANVAS – Wines Developed Exclusively for Hyatt Hotels:Cabernet Sauvignon – This Wine is smooth from start to finish with a slight sweetness, mellow tannins, and nuances of tobacco and cedar. Canvas also makes Chardonnay, Merlot, Zinfandel, and Pinot Grigio.

I was blessed to make new friends and find a pleasant glass of wine in an unlikely place.  Now if I could only fix the challenge I have with hotel coffee…..YUCK!!!!!!

Cin,Cin Salute!!!



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The New Kitchen Medicine Cabinet

This is just way too cool to not post and share. It was sent to us from a friend and though we are not sure where this home is located, the fact that it exists is really awesome. To say we are slightly jealous would be an understatement.

“As we’ve gotten older we have found that our little medicine cabinet in the bathroom is too small.  Also, we’ve learned that there are certain medicines you want to keep close for quick access.  So…. we are installing this in our kitchen.”

PS – Don’t miss the simple, old fashioned cures at the bottom.

Disease & Wine Daily dose

Allergies — Médoc 1 glass
Anemia — Graves 4 glass
Bronchitis — Bourgogne or Bordeaux > ( + sugar and cinnamon ) 3 cups
Constipation — Anjou blanc electricity . Vouvray 4 glass
Coronary arteries — Dry Champagne 4 glass
Diarrhoea — Beaujolais Nouveau 4 glass
Fever — Champagne sec 1 bottle
Heart — Burgundy , Santenay Rouge Two glass
Uric acid gout — Sancerre , Pouilly Fume 4 glass
Hypertension — Alsace , Sancerre 4 glass
Menopause — Saint Emilion 4 glass
Depression — Médoc 4 glass
Obesity — Burgundy 4 glass
Obesity — Rosé de Provence 1 bottle
Rheumatism — Champagne 4 glass
Excessive weight loss — Côte de Beaune 4 glass

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Peju Winery Napa Valley

Peju Winery is one of the first you see when entering the Napa Valley Wine Country.  We have passed by it many times never stopping, but on this day we were drawn to it.   As we drove down the road that leads to the Winery, there were interesting long tree stalks growing on the side of the road.   They are a type of sycamore.   The architecture and beautifully landscaped grounds are picture worthy and are part of the wonderful experience at this winery.

As we entered, we were greeted by Kerry (a Wine Steward)  who introduced himself and then later, even remembered us by name.  He gathered a few more couples and then led us to the the tasting bar where he gave a brief introduction of the Winery.   Kerry began describing each wine in great detail  before we tasted.  I really liked his descriptions and found them to enhance our tasting experience. My husband also came up with a clever name describing our artful tasting experience  saying it was “Taste-u-cation.”

I enjoyed every single wine put in front of me at Peju Winery.

Kerry reminded me of someone very familiar, and as I closed my eyes to smell my wine,  I realized who it was.  Steve Martin.   Kerry later told me that someone had given him the nickname: Kerry “FATHER OF THE BRIDE” Andrews, and we laughed about it.

As we were were tasting, we were pleasantly surprised when we heard yodeling coming from behind us. It was one of the winery employees named Alan “Yodelmeiser”  Arnopole.   He pulled out his guitar and began serenading us with a song.   His musical gifts are described as VINTERTAINMENT.   



It’s funny I am a red girl,   I don’t prefer white wine much less Sauvignon Blanc , but on this day it was one of the wines that resonated with me the most.

Peju-2009 Sauvignon Blanc

The nose was like a symphony of fruit dancing in my glass even before hitting my mouth.

It exploded in my mouth and grapefruit flavor popped!!!   I then tasted Pineapple and Peach.   It was well balanced and slightly acidic and made my taste buds sing.   Smooth and refreshing.  It reminded me of a Spring day.

On our way out we were greeted by Brendan Scholl, (Retail Sales Manager) who was very interested in our experience.  I felt that he really cared and it made him proud to see how happy and satisfied we were.  He invited us back and we felt his sincerity.

In addition, Peju offers a wonderful art gallery with Local Artist’s work, a small book library, and a gift shop.    They use organically farmed fruit from a couple of their sustainably farmed vineyards.  What could be better than that?  Though the wines were exquisite,  the wonderful hospitality alone will draw us back to Peju!   Visit PEJU Winery and be ready for an amazing experience for ALL OF THE SENSES!!

Cin, Cin, Salute!!

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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 for more info about the Woodenville Wine Country.

Happy Holidays

Cin, Cin, Salute!!!

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What is a 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.


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 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.


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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