Wine For Dad

Father’s Day is this Sunday. What better way to say thanks to the fatherly figure in your life than with wine? Here are wines, and other things, that your dad would love.

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1. 2010 Ehlers Estate 1886 Cabernet Sauvignon – $95

This full-bodied, tannic wine is a collector’s item. Any wine drinker would want this in their cellar, reserved for special occasions. Ehlers is among the most prestigious wineries in the Napa Valley. The 1886 Cabernet Sauvignon, named after the historic stone winery built in 1886, is the epitome of a Napa Valley Cabernet at its best.

2. Govino Wine Glass Shatterproof, Set of 4 – $12

My dad spends a lot of time outdoors. These stem less, plastic wine glasses are perfect for picnics, outdoor concerts, and camping trips. The glass is indestructible! You can use this glass for red and white wines.

3. True Fabrications Wine Infused BBQ Blocks (made from recycled and used wine barrels) – $9.00

This is a great gift for wine lovers who love to be behind the grill. These BBQ blocks are made from used wine barrels that have been used for wine production for 2 -5 years. The flavors emitted from these blocks is fantastic!

4. Deluxe Home Wine Making Kit – $120

Make wine at home with this home winery kit! Make 2 cases of wine from one 6 gallon vat. Everything you need to make quality wine is included. Not only is it fun to make wine at home, its fun to drink it when all is said and done.

5. 2011 Landmark Vineyards Overlook Chardonnay – $25

This Sonoma County Chardonnay is well-balanced with its modest oak presence and hints of honeysuckle and nectarine. The grapes used for production are sourced from 21 different vineyards spanning from Sonoma County to Santa Barbara.

6. Mumm Napa Brut Prestige- $20

Bubbles are always a safe bet! Mumm Napa’s Brut Prestige is a perfectly balanced sparkling wine made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Just the right amount of acidity highlights the crisp citrus flavors of this wine. What’s equally as impressive is that this sparkling is made in the “Traditional Method”. The production process is similar to that of the bubbles originating in Campagne, France – a secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle, creating the carbonation and bubbles that we all love.

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How to Pick A Wine You Like

The world of wine can be pretty intimidating. Especially when you’re staring at a restaurant wine list with multiple volumes, trying to find a wine you hope you’ll enjoy; the pressure is on.

Never mind the time you spend pacing up and down the wine aisle at your local store, wondering which wine is worth your time and money. For tips on navigating the wine aisle click here.

If you’re new to wine, you may not know what wines best suit your tastes and preferences. Below is a diagram that can help you identify the different types of wine and their characteristics.

Different Types of Wine

 Source: Different Types of Wine

Tips on making your wine ordering experience as smooth as possible.

1. Relax! Take your time when looking over a wine list. If you have questions about any wines, don’t be afraid to ask.
2. Just like you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, don’t judge a wine by its price. Many inexpensive wines have been some of the best I have tried.
3. If ordering wine by the glass, try a wine you are unfamiliar with, from a producer you have never heard of. When purchasing wine by the glass, you are spending less money than you would on a bottle of wine, so try something new when the stakes aren’t as high. You may even find a wine that you would eventually like to order by the bottle.
4. If you have no idea what wine to order, keep it simple. Pair red wines with roasted meats and heavier meals; white wines with lighter fair and seafood. Use descriptors from the chart above to describe what you’re looking for in a wine to your server (fruity, sweet, savory,etc.)
5. If a wine is not to your liking, speak up. If something doesn’t taste right to you, you shouldn’t be afraid to return it.  If a guest isn’t satisfied with a glass of wine, I wouldn’t think twice about replacing it with something else.

Wine Wheel Giveaway

wheel1

Which wine with which food? Which food with which wine?

This handy little wheel pairs different California Varietals with complimentary foods. 28 different wines are listed with 4 foods per wine. This laminated and durable wheel is small enough to fit in any purse or pocket!

The wheel even tells you proper serving temperatures for whites, reds, and bubbles!

Enter using the giveaway tool below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Life in the Wine Business

During the past few months, my cup has been filled with wine, more like overflowing with wine!

As you may know, I left my corporate career to venture out into the wine industry. Since then, I haven’t looked back. Everyday seems like a Friday. I get to do things I love- drink wine, make wine, and meet new people. In addition to my blog and my wine column, I am a sommelier/wine specialist at The Village Cellar in Hinsdale, IL and a winemaking assistant at Wild Blossom Meadery & Winery in Chicago. It’s a busy life, but a fun one.

Here’s what my life, through photographs, has been like since! If you’d like to know more, feel free to ask!

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The day I met the Mondavi Family. Such wonderful people! Pictured here is Dina and Rob Jr.
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My first day on the job at Chicago’s Wild Blossom Meadery & Winery as a winemaking assistant! I kept thinking of Lucy!

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You’d think we would drink a lot of wine at the winery. We actually drink a decent amount of…beer.

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Bottling day! Here, these pretty blue bottles are lined up to be filled with Blanc de Fleur mead.

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The aftermath of a wine tasting at The Village Cellar. It would be hard to find a better inventory of wines elsewhere!

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A group of fun people who made wine with us at the Marriott on Michigan Avenue!

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Sign is up…let the pouring begin! Our weekends are filled with toting our wines all over the state. People love us!

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At the Tinley Park Brew & Vine festival. We won “Vintner of the Year!”

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You make friends with others in the beverage industry. In this case…Blue Moon!

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Blending the Rules seminar with Landmark Vineyards at Public Hotel

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Me creating my own Chardonnay blend with Landmark Vineyards

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Delicious meal with Greg Stach of Landmark Vineyards.

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Thursday night wine school at The Village Cellar with some awesome people!

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It’s pretty cool going to a restaurant and seeing your stuff on the menu!

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Beautiful dinner at Spiaggia with Andrea and Franco from Sartori.

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Sartori dinner aftermath

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Myself with Franco Bernabei and Andrea Sartori of Sartori wines. A legacy in the history of winemaking in Italy.

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My Chardonnay blend I made with Landmark arrives!

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An afternoon at The Village Cellar. I love this place!

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Introducing new friends at Rock Island Public House to our meads.

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My dear friends Nolan and Angie visit The Village Cellar!

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It’s always good seeing Tommy Fogarty! I love Thomas Fogarty wines.

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Mike and Dan really like Pirates Blood. Wild Blossom’s honey mead fermented with chile peppers!

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A beautiful spring night in Chicago. Sipping on Yarden’s Sauvignon Blanc.

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Just a few of our fermenters in all their glory. Making delicious mead.

Visit my blog often to keep in touch! There is plenty more to come.

Cheers!

Reminiscing on Ravenswood

Six years ago I made my first trip to Sonoma Valley. My dad and I rented bikes from Sonoma Valley Cyclery and were given a hand drawn map to find a hand full of wineries that were within a reasonable riding distance from the bike shop. In other words, a route that we would be able to complete in one piece after wine tasting all day.

If you have the chance to tour Sonoma on two wheels, I highly recommend it. There’s something about the wind blowing through your hair and wine bottles clinking in your basket that make the trip hard to forget.

What was even more memorable was the bike ride to Ravenswood Winery. The turn down Gehricke Road was like a scene from a movie. A vineyard lined road with blue skies as the backdrop, a light breeze rustling through the vines, and Bebel Gilberto’s “Girl From Impanema” playing in the background.

The sound of birds chirping and the music stopped though when I got to the hill that brings you up to the winery. That’s right, a hill. And I had to get my bike up it if any wine was to be had.

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Truth be told, I still haven’t been able to pedal up that hill. There’s something to be said about walking your bike to make sure that the bottles of wine you just purchased don’t break. I keep telling myself this!

At the top of the climb…OK, I may be exaggerating the size of this hill, but when you’re on a bike, and have had a few glasses of wine, the game changes.

Inside you’re greeted by friendly staff, Siriusly Sinatra playing through the speakers, and laughter of others who got there before you; tasting the “no wimpy wines” made by winemaker Joel Peterson.

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I was overwhelmed with the hospitality and stories that were told to us about the vineyard and the siting of the different varietals. It was here at Ravenswood that I began to appreciate the amount of care that went into maintaining the vines, the process of making wine, and the people that made careers out of the craft.

I’ll also never forget the lessons that I learned about Zinfandel and Ravenswood’s mantra, “No Wimpy Wines.”

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I’ll never forget because I was politely told that White Zinfandel is generally NOT the best wine you can drink when I asked for it, let alone at a place that doesn’t stand for wimpy wines. I’m glad that the nice man behind the tasting counter told me this before I embarrassed myself asking other wineries. I decided to go out on a limb and try Ravenswood’s flagship Zinfandel for the first time.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed such full bodied, complex, non-wimpy wines. So much that this was all I was purchasing when I returned home to the Midwest.

Today, Ravenswood’s Zinfandels are among my favorites. I recently tried the 2010 Sonoma County Old Vine Zin and the 2010 Dry Creek Valley Teledeschi Zinfandel.

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The Old Vine Zin is definitely not for wimps. This is a big red wine made from vines at least 50 years old. This wine is incredibly well balanced with its full body, big tannins, and acidity- just what you want in a Zinfandel. The nose is fantastic, with aromas of cinnamon, cherry, vanilla, and almond. You know you’re drinking a Zin when you taste black cherry, raspberry, and vanilla on the palate. This wine packs a lot of heat in the mouth from the higher ABV-14.5%. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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I was born to drink the Teledeschi Zinfandel. This is the poster child of Zinfandel- big, red, and….BIG. It’s not too aggressive, though. I can certainly drink this alone, or pair this with my favorite meal made on the grill. It’s rich and smooth velvety texture make this smoky wine one of the best Zinfandels I have had the pleasure to taste. Full of cherry and plum flavors, this bold wine should be on your must have list for summer. Pairs perfectly with BBQ.

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Winemaker Joel Peterson is among the best producers of Zinfandel in California. I will be paying a visit to the winery in the near future. I must pay tribute to the place that peaked my interest in the wine industry, and taught me how to enjoy wine no wimpy wines. This time, I just may be able to make it up that hill on my two wheels.

Personalized Wine Service…Delivered To Your Front Door!

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These days you can get just about anything delivered to your home. Services such as Birchbox and Shoe Dazzle have become wildly popular, tailoring the product to a customer’s style.

If you can get beauty products and shoes delivered to your door step, personalized to your liking, than wine should be no different. Many of us spend a decent coin on wine club memberships, only to be disappointed every now and then if a wine doesn’t suit our tastes. It’s time to enjoy EVERY bottle we spend our hard earned money on.

Well, brace your self. This is amazing!

Today, one of the neatest creations in the wine world has been launched!

It’s called Tasting Room by Lot18. Not only does it provide us wines that live up to our own tastes and standards, it’s a valuable resource for the everyday wine-o;providing in depth explanation of what wines best suit our tastes, which region produces those best varietals, and even foods that wood create a perfect pairing. And if thats not enough for you, you no longer have to traipse the wine aisle to figure out what wine you would best enjoy. It’s like a personal shopper, but for wine.

How does this work?

1. Consumers sign up for the membership on tastingroom.com

2. Tasting Room sends consumers a Wine Sampler Kit, which contains six 50mL miniature bottles of wine – two bottles of white and four bottles of red.

3. Members then log on to TastingRoom.com for simple instructions on how to taste and rate the wines. The member’s ratings of the wines allow Tasting Room to capture the nuances of the member’s taste and generate a unique wine profile – which Lot18 calls a ‘WinePrint’ – that gives a detailed but easy-to-understand explanation of the types of wine that match the member’s tastes. The resulting WinePrint will not only generate personalized club shipments (12-bottle cases, four times a year),it will also provide general helpful insights, including advice on what types of wine to ask for at a restaurant, food pairing tips and other regions and grapes worth exploring.

4. After the member tastes and rates the miniature bottles, Tasting Room will send him or her a case of wines – 12 standard-size 750ml bottles – that match the member’s unique WinePrint profile.

5. The consumer enjoys 12 bottles, personalized to their own tastes, every 4 months! (The membership can be cancelled at any time).

Ok, how much is this going to cost me?

The initial charge to become a member of Tasting Room is $9.95, which covers the mini-bottle tasting kit as well as its shipping cost. The first club shipment of 12 bottles is $84.49 and shipping is included ($7 per bottle). All following club shipments, sent every three months, are $149.99 plus $19.99 shipping and handling ($13 per bottle). Tasting Room has an open cancellation policy. Users may cancel at any time, and there are no cancellation fees.

I don’t think you can find a better wine club to join. I could also think of several people who would love this as a gift.

Visit tastingroom.com to sign up!

Cheers!

Learn to Drink Wine with the Pros!

wine 101

Many of you have expressed interest in learning how to sniff, swirl, and sip like a wine professional. Well, here’s your chance!

Come to my wine shop, The Village Cellar in downtown Hinsdale, and learn all about wine, and have fun while doing it! We call it our very own wine school!

The Spring semester begins April 18 and runs through June 6. You can sign up for one or all courses.

Here, we encourage fun conversation and lots of questions. From novice to expert, all wine drinkers are welcome. The only prerequisite is that you be prepared to learn about and taste fabulous wines.

Each class is led by sommelier Eoin O’Donnell and includes 6 featured wines, with lessons about terroir, vintage, and varietal; along with cheese and hand-made chocolate pairings! Don’t you worry, I will be there, mingling and sipping along with you all, answering any questions that you may have. So if we haven’t had a chance to meet yet, here’s your chance!

Classes are held at the store on Thursdays, 7pm-9pm and are $75 per person in advance. Sign up through Living Social and pay a special price of $37 per person, per session.

Sign up here on Living Social!

Here’s our class lineup:
4/18: Tuscany and Italy
4/25: Great Wines of France
5/2: Napa, Sonoma, & Oregon Gems
5/9: A Taste of Europe’s Vineyards
5/16: USA vs Europe
5/23: Big Reds & Super Sparklers
5/30: Heritage & Bordeaux Tasting
6/6: Great Cabernet Sauvignon & Pinot Noir

Click here to visit The Village Cellar’s website.

Hope to see you all “in class”!

Cheers!

A Thursday with the Mondavi’s

Mondavi Family (2)

From Left: Michael, Dina, Rob Jr., Isabel

I swear, my life is typically not this glamorous.  My days consist of  sampling wine, reading and writing about wine, and peddling the stuff in between.  Ok, I have a pretty good life.

But the Thursday I spent with The Mondavi’s was one for the books.  I was kindly invited to have lunch with them and to sample their Family Collection brands.  Between meeting Michael, Dina, and Rob, sampling fantastic vino, and eating great food at Naha, I was certain I could cross one thing off my bucket list.

When entering the dining room, I didn’t feel like I was being greeted by one of the most famous names in the wine business.  I’m not sure what I was expecting, but behind the big Mondavi name was a humble and unpretentious family of four, whose goal is to just make wine and have fun while doing it.

I sat in between Dina and Michael, directly across from Rob.  I could see myself fitting into this family, for sure.  Michael was such a warm, father figure like person whose stories I could listen to all day long, as long as he was willing to tell them.  Dina reminded me of my best friend Traci; elegant, personable, and great company.  Detail oriented and interested in art, she explained the concepts behind the Isabel and M brand bottle labels.  Then there is Rob.  I have never had a brother, but if I did he would need to have the qualities of Rob; someone who gets my witty humor, someone who could fend for himself if I were to ever play a prank or two on him, and most importantly someone I could smoke cigars and drink whiskey with.

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Me with Dina and Rob Mondavi

Many of you had questions that you would want to ask the Mondavi family if you had the chance.  So here are their responses.

1. What wine do you drink when no one is looking?  Is it in a box?

Rob drinks a lot of his friends’ wines, who also work as winemakers in the area.  None of them come in box format.  Aside from wine, he likes to drink Bourbon.

2. Do the Mondavi’s always feel pressure to compete with their past legacy whenever they plant a new vineyard or release a new wine?

They do not feel pressure to compete with their past legacy.  The past was then, and Rob, President of Winemaking for Michael Mondavi Family Estate, likes to make wines for people to enjoy today.  Experimentation in the winery is ongoing. The family’s Emblem wine pays tribute to their winemaking heritage.

3. Can I call you Dad?

There have been numerous requests from people who would like to be adopted into the family.  Unfortunately their family tree is filling up.  Speaking of, here is The Mondavi family tree.

Mondavi Family Tree

4. Are you hiring?

There is a program in place that hires entry-level professionals who are pursuing a career in the wine industry.

5. To those of us investing in futures, 2012 in Napa should have technically been a masterpiece year unseen in more than a decade.  Did you allocate a greater percentage of harvest to ‘winery exclusives’ allowing your winemakers to express and experiment?

Michael believes the 2012 vintage has been the best since the 70s.  Rob took full advantage of the harvest and experimented in the winery.  Regardless of vintage, Rob and Tony Coltrin, Director of Winemaking, are always experimenting and trying new things.

Michael says that Mother Nature is the winemaker.  She’s unpredictable and can’t be controlled. The wine is only as good as the fruit produced in the vineyard.

6. If not wine, what other profession would you pursue?

Michael would pursue architecture if he were not in the wine business.  He was intrigued with my architectural studies, but also thought it was great that I was pursuing my hobby and passion for wine as a career.

Dina would pursue a career in the culinary field.  She enjoys cooking.

Rob would like to be a distiller.  He loves Bourbon.  His wife, Lydia, is a southern belle.

7. What is it like following the family tradition of wine? Was it expected or a natural decision?

Both Dina and Rob said it was their choice to pursue wine.  Michael and Isabel wanted their children to experience work away from the winery and then make a career decision.

Dina first started in the wine business as an account manager for Southern Wine and Spirits.  Later on, she became a wine educator at Robert Mondavi.  Today, she is the co-founder of Michael Mondavi Family Estate and is responsible for directing the organization.

Rob showed interest in the wine industry at an early age.  He was always playing in the vineyards at Robert Mondavi Winery. When Rob was 14, he broke a piece of farming equipment on the property.  So to help pay for it, he started working at the winery.  Like Dina, he too worked  in sales at Southern Wine and Spirits.  In 2004, Rob and his family founded Folio Fine Wine Partners, followed by Michael Mondavi Family Estate in 2006.

8. Why did you sell the Robert Mondavi Winery?

Dina- “Because it stopped being fun.”  Michael agreed.  It was becoming too much of a big business.  He was always having to tend to logistical, legal, and financial matters.  He rarely got to spend time in the vineyard.

Today, Michael is very much hands on at The Michael Mondavi Family Estate. He now has time to walk the vineyards with Rob and John examining the fruit, deciding when to harvest the grapes, and enjoys being involved in crafting the family’s wines.

9. What is a typical day like for you?

Rob has breakfast with his son, typically organic eggs from the chickens on his property.  He then puts in a full day of work at the winery, returns home to his family, and does the same thing the next day.  Everyone is very active in the family business.

10. How  do you think Robert Mondavi would have reacted to online tools (blogs, Facebook, podcasts, etc.) that we use to communicate about wine?  Would he have been an active participant?

Both Dina and Rob agreed that Robert would have been an active participant in using social media as a means to communicate with others about wine.  Robert was invested in making wine for people to enjoy.  Having an additional means of reaching people would have been looked highly upon.

The Wine

Photo: Michael Troutman/www.dmtimaging.com

As I said, I had the honor of tasting several of the family’s wines with Michael, Rob, and Dina telling me stories behind each one.  Here were my favorites:

2011 Isabel Mondavi Chardonnay

Isabel Mondavi Chardonnay_2 I love chardonnay, especially from Carneros.  I thought Isabel’s Chardonnay was very well-balanced.  Just the right amount of acidity with no overpowering oak on the palate. To me, a successful chardonnay is when you can get a sense of the fruit on the palate without being distracted by the oak.  The palate was similar to the nose with aromas of green apple, pear, and mild vanilla.  I also noticed a little minerality in this wine, as if this wine were a cross between a Chablis and a well done California Chardonnay.  This wine paired excellent with the beat salad that I had four lunch.

2009 Isabel Mondavi Pinot Noir

2009 Isabel Mondavi Pinot NoirMost of you know how I feel about Carneros Pinot Noir.  I was born to drink this stuff.  One of the things I love most about Carneros Pinots is that they are incredibly elegant, medium bodied, with a smooth finish.  Isabel’s Pinot Noir is no exception.  Aromas of cherry, raspberry, and strawberry greet the nose, with the same fruits presenting themselves on the palate in addition to light carmel notes.  This wine has a hint of black pepper on the nose and palate that adds complexity to the wine, which I love.  This was an amazing wine to drink with the vegetable risotto at lunch. It complemented the dish very well.

2009 Emblem Oso Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

2009 Oso VineyardFor those of you that were wondering how The Mondavi’s have paid homage their winemaking heritage, this is it.  Emblem is a culmination of 4 generations of winemakers, looking for the best vineyard sites in Napa Valley, determining the best location to grow Cabernet Sauvignon.  Michael, Rob, and Dina produce this wine together.  This big cab is a blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot.  Lots of baked fruit on the palate (cherry, blackberry) with subtle tannins, culminating with chocolate and toffee.

2009 M by Michael Mondavi

M by Michael Mondavi Bottle Shot 2006I was honored to have Michael tell me himself about his wine, M.  The fruit is sourced from his Animo vineyard.  Michael was taught that great wine starts in the vineyard, and that every winemaker should have  respect for Mother Nature and the soils.  The wine is instilled with a sense of place, reflecting the soil, vines, and climate.  He named the vineyard “Animo”, “soul” in Italian, because he believe that it had a sense of place.

The artwork on the label depicts the vine’s roots underneath the soil, where the winemaking process begins for Michael.

This dynamic wine’s rich black fruit flavors and ripe tannins and acidity create an elegant Cabernet Sauvignon, reminiscent of the Mondavi cabernets of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

One step in this winemaking process that intrigued me was the use of a light egg-white fining in the barrel, using organic eggs.  This aided in the clearing process of the wine.

If you couldn’t tell, this Thursday was a special day for me, one that will not be forgotten.  It was a pleasure meeting The Mondavi family and listening to their stories they shared with me. You’ll be able to read more about my experience in my upcoming column.

Cheers!

"Animo" ("soul" in Italian) Vineyard

“Animo” (“soul” in Italian) Vineyard

Win a Riedel Decanter and Glass Set!

It’s the 1 year anniversary of my blog, “Drink More Wine”, today!

Last year, I wrote my first post on green wine. The fun was just beginning!

In celebration, we are auctioning away wine stuff!

Click the link below and sign up for a chance to win the Riedel Decanter set!

http://www.wishpond.com/sw/48592?scid=10876&type=Merchant

Keep on Reading, and DRINK MORE WINE!

Win The Wine Wheel #1: Wine and Food Pairing Wheel!

Which wine with which food? wheel1Which food with which wine? These are the issues most frequently discussed by wine aficionados.

This handy little wheel pairs different California Varietals with complimentary foods. 28 different wines are listed with 4 foods per wine. This laminated and durable wheel is small enough to fit in any purse or pocket!

The wheel even tells you proper serving temperatures for whites, reds, and bubbles!

Enter the Giveaway Below:

 http://www.wishpond.com/sw/48592/reference?id=48592&scid=10784&type=Merchant

Meeting the Mondavi’s

Today I got the call (or email, mind you) that I always thought would be so cool to get.

It was a request to meet with The Mondavi family for lunch.  Notice how I capitalize “the” before Mondavi.  That’s because their family, I believe, is responsible for the development of Napa Valley. The name is legendary.  Everyone knows them; and most wine drinkers have drank their wine.

I didn’t even have to think about it.  I didn’t even know what was on my calendar.  I would reschedule anything to meet with them.

A long time  ago I made a mental list of things I would ask either Robert Mondavi or Kendall Jackson, legends in winemaking.  Some of the questions are serious, some have nothing to do with wine.

What would you ask the Mondavi Family?  Please respond and I will add it to my list and post their responses!

Hello Old Friend…

It’s really good to see you once again.

Yes, I know.  It’s been way too long.  I’m rarely at a loss for words, so why haven’t I blogged in (gasp) months?

I’ll spare you the excuses and drop a quick line saying hello, I am still here, and that the wine has never tasted better.

It’s been nearly a year since the creation of Drink More Wine.  On that note, I have a few things to give to my readers as a way of saying thanks!  In order to participate in the giveaway, you need to like my Facebook Page (button on the right).  Information on the giveaways will be posted soon on my Facebook page.

The Year in Review

Taking My Act on the Road

Shortly after the start of Drink More Wine, I started writing a monthly food and wine column for the Sun-Times Media Group.  My column appears in print in The Southtown Star, my home turf, and frequently in digital format in The Chicago Sun-Times, The Naperville Sun, The Herald News, etc.

I have to say, I was surprised people were interested in reading what I had to say.  Then again, who knows if people really do read it!  I just needed an outlet to express my love for wine.  I’ve never taken any formal writing classes (I can hear my editors laughing all the way from the Sun-Times building), and being published was…well, like discovering you can hula hoop and hoping to join the circus.

I have met some wonderfully talented people in the wine industry.  Winemakers that I have had the pleasure of interviewing include, Chris Millard from Newton Vineyards (California), Victor Schoenfeld from Yarden (Israel), and Karen Hand from Blue Sky Vineyard (Illinois).

My Office. Wall of Columns Growing

My Office. Wall of Columns Growing

The Trip to Seattle

In July, 2012, I jetted out to Seattle to take The Court of Masters Sommelier Level 1 exam.  After lots of studying, and an expensive plane ticket, I passed!

The Pin

The Pin

The Collection

I have scored some pretty awesome wines over the past several months.  Here are a few, some that have been graciously given to me as gifts.  I included a few close-ups of my favorites.  If you remember, I started this blog admitting I had work to do on my cellar.  I believe I only had a handful of bottles at the time.  I’m pleased with how my collection is growing!

My Growing Wine Collection

My Growing Wine Collection

The People

The year in review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning all of the people who I have had the pleasure of working with.

Not pictured: Diane Baldus, Don Singelton, Eoin O’Donnell

A Look To The Future

No one ever really knows what the future holds.  But I do hope that there is more wine in store for me.  Hopefully you will all continue to read and take something away from my ramblings!

One thing is for certain, I will be writing more about wine, beer, and spirits (The Wine and Whiskey Post has been a big hit).

I will also attempt to give a glimpse of my life as a blonde german girl from the Chicago suburbs, emerging into the wine industry.  Who says you can’t turn your hobby into a career?

“Today is life-the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get  interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of  enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto.” – Dale Carnegie