A Branch off the True Vine

Delicious Destructive Force(s) of Nature #WineTasting




Hurricane Matthew is bearing down on Florida this morning as I try to put pen to paper to describe a wine tasting at my favorite wine shop recently that introduced me to a small but powerful winery. Oklahomans are familiar with the devastating power of nature. Out here on the plains, unencumbered by mountains or forests, God displays an array of iPhone camera worthy skies. OK, we are totally obsessed with weather, earthquakes, and all types awe-inspiring atmospheric activities. These destructive entities are basically our main source of entertainment on the prairies beside sports. And I’d say we have good reason because if the forecast calls for rain, it really means magnificent torrential, house shaking thunderstorms or tornadoes.

Pour OUT those Forces!

Pour OUT those Forces!

A few Saturdays ago, Force of Nature Wine hit Oklahoma. Produced by Rabble Wine Company from the central coast of California, the wines are as rich and luscious as the labels. Whimsical, vibrantly colored prints of mayhem wrap the bottles with no visible name brand. Mt. Vesuvius erupts in Pompeii on the Cabernet Sauvignon. A Chardonnay kraken destroys a coastal seaport. A Red Blend tornado wipes out a city. A Zinfandel firestorm decimates a village. The labels are actually public domain German woodblock prints from 15 and 16th century.  Heavily textured and embossed.

If you read braille, the word ‘gullible’ is printed down the middle of the Chardonnay label. Unsettling attention grabbers from a winery whose name ‘Rabble’ means a disorderly mob; stirring the comforts of public opinion.

Force of Nature Wine

Force of Nature Wine

I have to say the labels got me excited with their evocative subject matter. I love vibrant artwork and these were intriguing. Vintners and partners Rob Murray and Andrew Nelson go for the unconventional.


 Kraken good Chardonnay

Kraken good Chardonnay

2014 Chardonnay, Murmur Vineyard, Santa Barbara County

Confession: Chardonnay isn’t my usual white wine pick. The creamy oak tends to be too much for me. Second confession: I bought a second bottle yesterday. 100% Chardonnay. Pale golden, drafts of peaches and delicate flowers with a light chiffon body. The taste was green apples, peaches, and salty toasted nuts, which makes it sound like a cobbler, but in reality is a bright wine with refreshing acidity and a lingering finish. To further shake things up, the chardonnay is bottled in a dead leaf colored bordeaux bottle. I’d say its delicious with a spicy grilled kraken. $23/bottle

Red Wine Blend

Red Wine Blend

2014 Red Blend, Paso Robles

Dark purple with cherries, raspberries and cocoa aromas. This blended firestorm was more like a docile campfire than wicked uncontrollable wildfire. As with a fire, there was smoke, spicy cherries and a dusting of tannins. I’d say this is a good table wine but at $19 not serious enough to call out the fire department.




2014 Zinfandel, Mossfire Ranch, Paso Robles

A tornado of raspberry jam, black cherry and a hint of orange whirl out of this young bright ruby colored wine. The aroma draws you in immediately but there’s a lively ‘wow’ of dark fruit and chocolate on the palate. Crisp tannins and acidity. This isn’t a typical zin. The winemaker said it leans more to old world Primitivo than new world zin which is probably why I liked it. Maybe I’ve been in too many tornadoes, but this one was my favorite of the four tasted. $23


Volcanic Cabernet

Volcanic Cabernet

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mossfire Ranch, Paso Robles

Dark garnet in the glass, the Cabernet was a beautiful dark berry aroma. Loads of volcanic earth, herbs and bushels of blackberries. The berries made it a bit sweet but it had great balanced tannin. I actually liked it better the second day because the sweetness mellowed like cooled lava rock with a nice long finish. $23

By the end of afternoon, these were my favorite natural disasters. Although, Krakens don’t regularly attack coastal cities, do they? The poor little guy on the label just wants to share his chardonnay!

So keep your eye on the sky or is that wine? Whichever!

Cheers friends,

Allison from Tornado Alley


post script: Stay safe dear Florida friends! Praying the hurricane turns into a docile tropical storm. 

Let’s Play with Wine Like We Play with Food

Happy Sunday!

Just wanted to pop in. Praise God, our weather is turning to Fall. I’m ready. I’ve intended to post on wines we’ve enjoyed lately.  I even made it to a wine-tasting yesterday BUT in between watching our son run in the Cowboy Jamboree (cross country race at OK State), picking up daughter #2 from a band clinic and getting daughter #3 to Band-a-palooza, I haven’t had the time.  This week is going to be short for me because I’m flying to Seattle for my brother’s wedding. My brother happens to live in the middle of Washington Wine Country so I’m hoping to make the most of a golden opportunity and visit a few vineyards. We’ll see. I should get to at least the one on the other side of his back fence. You know how it is at family gatherings, there’s never enough time to do everything you plan.

Anyway, today, after reading a food blogger’s post on how to “break into” food blogging in a saturated niche while simultaneously being mesmerized by a photo of a tomato rainbow, I got to thinking. What if we play with wine like we play with food? Then I realized, we already do. Wine and food pairings are already a hot topic with photos and links to recipes flooding social media. Heck, #winestudio religiously encourages participants to post their wine/food pairings and share, share, share. Therefore, Inspiration is at our fingertips.

photo: smittenkitchen.com

photo: smittenkitchen.com Click for blog – here

I’m inspired to start playing with wine. That’s all. Maybe start a supper club called Playing with Wine.  This could be a new fall goal. If you remember, goals are big in our family. Fall is here so it’s time for new goals. Gives everyone a fresh start.

And I leave you with this:

Chardonnay with a Kraken destroying a seaport on the label.





World Peace with a Bottle of Champagne #MWWC27

image: pinterest.com

image: pinterest.com

Alive, effervescent, whimsical, fragile, temporal, celebratory, mirthful, joyous, bright, spirited. Fills you with anticipation. All this from something that appears dainty and fragile and yet wields mesmerizing power.

For the new #MWWC27 word, the current winner, Jim of JVB Uncorked, chose Bubbles. In a flash, my mind traveled from childhood bubbles to Champagne. Utterly captivating and mesmerizing like the opening scene of the movie “Father of the Bride”.  It’s just a screen shot of champagne and bubbles steadily ascending with the promise of something good about to happen. wine-stain1-3

Why are Champagne bubbles so captivating? They sparkle. They shine. There’s a promise of a giddy, tipsy good time. Make a great moment, Greater. Champagne. Champagne has a powerful effect on people. I believe God created bubbles with the sole purpose of making us smile. It just took a while to embrace it.

According to Wikipedia, the loosely accurate Encyclopedia Britannica for the 21st century, the 17th century Champenois wine makers, such as Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon (1638–1715), tried to actually rid their wines of bubbles. The Champagne region longed to emulate their Burgundian cousins. Unfortunately, the long winters suspended the fermenting wine in ice only to have it thaw in spring and produce carbon dioxide. Today, there’s a heady rush at seeing bubbles but in the 17th century, the combination of unbridled bubbles and weak bottles only produced a feeling of anxiety. Bottle explosions were common. Job related injuries and death ranked high among cellar rats. Their vigilant efforts to get rid of the bubble blight left them with nothing but a pale, pink still wine both bitter and strongly acidic. It would take another century for Champagne winemakers to embrace their “flaws” and become who they really are; wine with an ethereal bubble. Sometimes our flaws are what makes us the most interesting.

Fast-forward a couple centuries to modern times. As in today.

Ponder a moment life’s celebrations crowned with a bottle of champagne. Bubbly foam shooting a foot into the air and spraying over everything as the cork pops. Cheers and laughter. Glasses raised in a toast to the future and salute to the past. Why is it that historic occasions are better punctuated by opening a bottle of Veuve Clicquot than a bottle of Jack Daniels? What makes it the copula for life’s momentous occasions? Why not fire up the tea pot or crack open a case of beer to crown life’s victories? Tradition? Or something more powerful? Ironically, the wine flaw monks tried in vain to eradicate now transcends cultures and links mankind in a type of global unification. Champagne goes beyond language, culture, and social mores. Open a bottle and notice how quickly you have everyone’s attention. It’s riveting.

It got me to thinking about our current state of affairs both domestically and internationally. Strife, unrest and tension seem to rue the day. But what if there was one shining element to supersede all this? Maybe there’d be less conflict and war if when a General whipped out his sword and instead of heads, he sabered a few bottles of Champagne? A burst of golden bubbles is a far more pleasant sight than the swift blade of a guillotine or bomb. Maybe if we offered a glass of Champagne to our neighbors there’d be more harmony in the world. Besides, who’s ever felt cross while sipping Champagne? Giddiness. Relaxation. Generosity. But not aggravation. Maybe Champagne is a God-given peace offering. Just think what might be achieved if we shared its powerful, bubbly magic? Now, I’m not naive to believe Champagne will cure all the world’s ills or instantly change men’s hearts. I’m just being fanciful for the moment. But wouldn’t it be nice if it was that simple?

World Peace. With a bottle of Champagne.

A Month of No Wine and a Trip to Planet Oregon




I just spent the entire month of August practically wine-free. Well, there was one glass of Chambourcin from Missouri I drank by myself and the very last bottle of Boulevard Wheat in the fridge, I drank by myself, but that was after spending the day moving our oldest to college.  I say “drank by myself” although technically my husband was on the couch with me watching the Yankees at the time. Other than those two, we wine fasted. The self-imposed hiatus couldn’t have come at an odder time after reviewing everything that happened in August. I compare it to someone going on a diet in November. Just call me Kamikaze and yet, we survived.  

And now the calendar says September. College football started last weekend and the Sooners have decided to keep us in suspense as to their game-winning strategies for the season. Hopefully by the first home game, they’ll warm up to winning. In the meantime, I continue to chant the mantra, “It’s only one game.” I’m praying they start playing like the top ten team I know they are before the September 17th game against Ohio State.  Such is the life of a college football fan. You enjoy the good years with the bad and remember there’s always the next game, unless your quarterback has a torn ACL, then the only thing a Sooner fan has left is to root for the team playing against Texas. We’re mature like that.

Anyway, the month of no wine was short and long simultaneously. Short because it was busy with school starting and we moved a kid to college. I mentioned that, right? Long because there wasn’t time to sit and drink wine on the patio even if we’d wanted to, so I guess in the end it really was a good month to halt wine consumption. 

With September, wine is back on the menu and we celebrated by opening a $25 bottle of Planet Oregon Pinot Noir 2014. The label was silent on producer or vineyard but after a long break I really didn’t care. With lightening speed, it was all ‘twist and pour’ then aaahahhhhahhahhaahhh! 


My confidence was high for this wine being a perfect drought breaker after sampling it earlier in the summer at our favorite restaurant, Upper Crust. Great pizza. Delicious wine list. There was no disappointment with Planet Oregon’s deep, dark fruit, cherries, earth and bitter chocolate. If you’re curious, the winemakers are James Cahill and Tony Soter of Soter Vineyards in Dundee, Oregon. The wine is their sustainability project which you can read about here

For the start of Labor day weekend, we opened a Rosé. 



La Châsse Côte du Rhône Prestige 2015. The rosé was the usual floral, spice and shy red fruit which nicely complemented the 80° evening we enjoyed as we sat gazing into the clear sky and tried to forget the Sooners had just played like a 2A directional school for the season opener. 

Rounding out the weekend was a bottle of Domaine la Millière Châteauneuf-Du-Pape Vieilles Vignes Cuvee Unique 2012. Wow. I wished I had grilled a filet for this bottle but it was just as lovely alone. How is it that a light/medium red can cause an assault of spicy herbs, hints of tobacco and delicious plums that start to speak up as the wine breaths? It was a treat. Oh la la. img_9173-1



I have to admit the wine break had a positive effect beyond giving my liver a rest. I had to contemplate other aspects about wine as I lived vicariously through other’s wine blogs. The result: I was forced to think and ask questions instead of blissfully remaining content to only enjoy  and I even expanded my vocabulary. I learned the term ‘tight’ which means “the fruit usually needs more time in the glass or additional aging in the cellar.”  

Cheers to your college team opening the season well (unless you’re Texas. Yes I know they won against Notre Dame).

Until we meet again, Cheers!


Off the Vineyard Trail #2 – It’s Marching Band Season!


It’s the first week of August and temperatures outside are over a 100 so that can mean only one thing: Marching Band season is here and we are right in the middle of Band Camp. I have two lovable band geeks (trombone and clarinet) who got up before daybreak on Monday morning to prepare for another year of Battle of the Bands. Our tiny town alone has three high schools and the stakes for ‘Best Band’ bragging rights are high. I’m impressed every year by the number of students who willingly endure grueling hours of practice, sunburn, heatstroke and blisters to be able to strut their musically choreographed talents before a football crowd on Friday nights. Let me tell you, it’s good times!

Camp is a 12 hours a day, total immersion experience where only the truly committed survive. By Monday evening, our clarinet player (a freshman trying to keep up with her hyperactive brother, a junior and trombonist) reported they’d lost four. After Wednesday morning, some had moved to the color guard, others quit and in the end, 26 clarinets had fallen to 13. The summer heat had taken them out. Literally. I guess the sight of fellow bandmates being carted off the field was unnerving or it could’ve been the uniforms they were issued. Who knows? Regardless, I’m convinced that any kid who survives marching season is as tough as the football team. Forgive me, it’s the crazy band parent pride talking.

When we became “band parents” two years ago, we’d only heard faint rumors about the commitment required for band. That first month about killed me but my son was so excited to have finally found his tribe, I curtailed the complaining and tried to enjoy the exhausting experience. I’m pretty sure that’s when my two cups of morning coffee jumped to three. Then came the first marching contest. Wow. This was seriously Big Time. Well-equipped, mini band villages sprang up all over the  stadium parking lot. Each band had their territory  carefully staked out with school flags, tents, equipment trailers, buses and RVs. At our “band village”, a couple of the dads had set up a large tent with chairs, tables, and a 60inch TV to watch the football games. A second tent was for serving  meals. Massive grills and coolers lined the periphery. They grilled chicken. And served homemade potato salad, baked beans, fruit, corn on the cob and dessert. I recite the menu because I naively thought serving sandwiches would’ve been sufficient. Shame on me! We are raising band champs, people! How else will we beat the eastern Oklahoma schools? They need real meals to succeed! Then it hit me. Band was serious and subsequently, band parents (like football, dance, soccer, baseball, etc.) have no lives, I mean, love their kids. A lot.

Actually, it’s been a great experience for our whole family. I’ve seen my kids grow and excel and they’ve gotten to hang out with some pretty incredible people. Then there’s the band parents and their crazy dedication. They will do anything and everything for the band: cook 200 hot meals, hem uniforms, drive equipment trailers at 3am, host 70 girls for a sleepover, lift heavy show props. Whatever’s needed.

Which brings me to the last few days of camp and the start our third marching season. It’s 100+ outside and the oven’s on cause I’m baking dozens of chocolate chip cookie bars for band camp lunch.  The transformation is complete. I’ve morphed into a crazy band parent.

GO WOLVES! Beat Broken Arrow!

Now for a little band humor . . .

done band


Zombie band


dino band



Chilling On the Patio with Torre La Moreira Albarino

Hola! I have finally opened the last of the #winestudio Albariños from the two months exploration of Rías Baixas DO on the southwestern coast of Galicia, Spain. You could say we were practically swimming in them! It’s been a very enjoyable journey and I have that feeling you get from finishing a really good book. A mixture of contented satisfaction tinged with sadness that it’s over. I really liked this last bottle with it’s classic crisp citrus characteristics. Once again, if you haven’t tried Albariño then put down the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio you’ve had on the patio all summer and try one. Trust me, many are excellent drinking solo be it sans food or people and this one was no exception.

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Bodegas Marqués de Vizhoja, 2015 Torre La Moreira DO Rías Baixas

  • 100% Albariño
  • 12.5% ALC.
  • SRP: $9

The Torre La Moreira poured clear with a hint of yellow and muted aromas of  tropical fruits and seashells. The first taste was tingly acidity on the tongue. It reminded me of the sea as the waves roll to and fro on the shore leaving tiny bubbles in its wake, clear, lively and very, very temporal. Classic lemon zest, limes, herbal notes and minerals. Everything you would expect of an albariño. It was a mouthful of acidity and sunshine with a lengthy lemon finish. Torre La Moreira definitely stays with you long after the final drop is gone.

IMG_8790Torre La Moriera comes in a cool flask shaped bottle sealed with wax over the top of the cork.  I forgot to get a picture before we opened the bottle but that little piece of red wax was flush with the top. IMG_8791  IMG_8794The next time you’re stocking up with refreshing whites to tame the summer heat,  grab a bottle of albariño . You might just find yourself cooled down with a crisp tingly taste of the Galician seashore.

Happy summer sipping!


WhirlWind Winery in Watonga, Oklahoma

Have you ever stumbled upon a ghost town?  A lonely Main street dressed in decaying storefronts and dilapidated buildings. Empty east to west as far as the eye can see? Which seems as far as Texas when you’re in the western plains of Oklahoma. I stumbled upon one over the weekend. With one exception. In the center of the barren avenue, between practically the only other businesses left open, an antique store on one side and a live theater on the other, was a tiny working winery and tasting room pioneered by a gregarious winemaker. 

Whirlwind Winery

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Whirlwind Winery in Watonga was founded by winemaker Brad Stinson of Fay, Oklahoma ten years ago. As we stepped through the door, we were taken in immediately by Brad’s welcoming nature, the cozy tasting room and the scent of fermenting wine from a ginormous wine spill. It’s also a working winery so wine accidents happen! 


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Brad chatting as he prepares a goat cheese from heaven

Brad prepares a goat cheese from heaven

The place was quiet for a Saturday which I thought was a wonderful advantage. My husband and I immediately moved in and made it our home away from home. Brad didn’t seem to mind. He pointed to a table he’d prepared for us and then poured us an almost full glass of his Sweet Fay Rosé which he’d paired with probably the best goat cheese I’ve ever tasted from Middle Mountain Dairy in Clayton,Oklahoma. The rosé was blushing pink and tasted of slightly sweet fruit. I was tempted to finish it off but that would have been the end of the tasting for me. Did I mention the glass was generously poured? And so were the next four that followed! Brad definitely makes you feel like a friend just popping in for an afternoon chat. As he plied us with wine we peppered him with questions. How did he wind up a winemaker in Oklahoma? After traveling the world with a cruise line and falling in love with the vineyards of Bordeaux, France, he came home to plant and cultivate a plot of vines he’d purchased with his father in 2002. He partnered with two other investors and winemaking moved from being a hobby to a viable lifestyle. His passion for making wine and having a successful winery was evident. Currently, Whirlwind Winery has approximately 3200 vines  across three vineyards. 


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Next, we tasted Honey Apple, a semi-dry mead, paired with an Oklahoma Italian cheese-maker, Lovera’s Smoked Cow Cheese. The smokiness of the cheese paired deliciously with the sweetness of the apple. Whirlwind acquires honey from a variety of sources to make this flavorful mead. This was my first mead wine and it was definitely sweet.

photo - pinterest.com

photo – pinterest.com

Wild Sand Plum with Oklahoma “Gruyère” was the third pairing. Wild sand plums are native to Oklahoma and grow like weeds. In fact, I have one in the field behind my house that my kids like to pick. Brad said he’s aim was to make an “all Oklahoma wine.” This is the only sand plum fruit wine in the world. It was paired with a funky, pungent, rough “gruyère” made by Wagon Creek Creamery  out of Helena, OK. Brad called it a “crazy pairing” and heartily encouraged us to try it. The cheese was rough but paired with the wild plum’s supple sweet taste the flavors melded into a creamy treat. It’s a classic example of how wine and food can compliment and work very well together! 

As Brad poured the next pairing, he lamented he’d hoped to make dry reds when he opened the winery in 2005. But Oklahomans have sweeter tastes so the winery focused on more sweet offerings. However, he does make two really nice reds. The first one was a dry red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot named Stiletto. Dark red but bright in the glass, it was earthy, rustic tart cherries, vanilla and nice tannin. I asked him about learning to make wine and he laughed. Making wine is super easy. It’s really hard making good wine.” Stiletto is a good start!

The second wine was Sojourn Red Blend 2012, a bright, dry, medium bodied wine with berries and cocoa.  IMG_8747 (2)

At this point a group of ten had shown up for a tasting way earlier than their reservation time. At larger wineries this might not be a problem but Brad was a one man show that day. He warned us it was about to get a little crazy. I think he was trying to tell us we might feel neglected for a short time. No problem. As Brad got them settled, the first glass poured and was talking them through the first pairing, we relaxed, peeked at the current fermenting wines, and took a second listen to the winery history. 

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To keep us busy, as he hustled to set up more chairs, he’d given us a huge bowl of dark chocolate made by Bedré Chocolates of Oklahoma and the instructions to eat it with the Sojourn. Wow. Chocolate and wine are truly a marriage made in heaven. Note to all chocolate lovers – Brad believes in generous portions! As we wrapped up the afternoon, Brad snapped this picture. Good times! 

Selfies w the Winemaker

Selfies w the Winemaker

Whirlwind Winery offers wine tastings Fridays and Saturdays 12-6 pm. If you find yourself driving through the plains of Western Oklahoma, I encourage you to stop by and try the Wild Sand Plum. You’ll be tasting a bit of Oklahoma and you’ll most likely get to hangout with Brad. Trust me, he’s a funny guy and he has wine!

~ Allison

p.s. If you do go, let me know! I need to go back cause my bottle of Sojourn 2012 is already empty! 




Cross Country Travels and Meeting Up with Wine Friends

In the past couple of posts I mentioned our family was traveling to visit the Grandparents on the east coast so here are a few highlights.

Since there are 6 of us, it’s more economical to drive the 1600 miles than fly. Actually, we’ve always enjoyed driving and now that our kids are teenagers it’s a breeze. All you need are loads of movies, MP3 downloads and snacks. They act like they’re still at home just sitting around zoned into their computers. Except at 80 MPH which I think is a lot more exciting cause at least they’re going somewhere even if they aren’t paying attention at the time.

Another perk about driving cross country is you travel through some interesting places.  This year we decided to take the ‘northern route’ instead of our usual path through Arkansas, Tennessee and Virginia or as we say the ‘southern route’. We skipped Calhouns by the river in Knoxville and Bristol Motor Speedway for exploring Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania and the Gateway to the West. Or is it east? I was driving east at the time. 

St. Louis Arch

St. Louis Arch

Who wouldn’t buy wine from a top hat wearing Dino? Met this fellow next to the local liquor shop in Vandalia, Illinois. Catchy wine marketing!

TopHat Dino

TopHat Dino

Hello Ohio

Hello Ohio

Ohio. It’s Hi in the middle and round on both ends. But before Ohio . . . we drove through Missouri and discovered Uranus. However you pronounce this sideways planet, it still elicits giggles. 


Rex promises Big Fun

Rex promises Big Fun

It claimed Big Fun at the Fudge Factory . . .  in Uranus . . .


Fudge from Uranus. Yeah. Tempting, but we had to make Ohio by nightfall, so you understand why we didn’t stop. 

So moving on . . . to New Jersey and the shore. I had a lovely picture of all the umbrellas by the water not just my lone one but I accidentally erased it. Tragic thumb mishaps are my specialty. 

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and a NYC Broadway Musical for the high school graduate . . . 

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Waitress. They made Pie!

Waitress. They made Pie!









In the middle of our visit, I got two wine surprises. The first occurred while picking up a bottle of wine at a local wine shop. My husband and I met Kevin Ciftja, a winemerchant with IlCrinale Di Cavino located in the Italian region of Abruzzo. Kevin effortlessly talked us into buying a bottle of his family’s wine. I could claim exhaustion from the 22 hours of driving but he had me with his earnestness, Italian accent and the $12 price tag.

IMG_8462IL Crinale Quiterano Montepulciano D’Abruzzo poured a deep purple and was dry and earthy with cherries and vanilla. It was perfect with our cheese and pretzels while enjoying the cool evening in my dearest In-laws’ backyard. The wine was nice but I suspect the lively chat with the wine merchant may have influenced our perception. Or I should say enhanced it. Another’s passion can rub off on you.

The second enjoyable surprise was in the form of a wine-meetup with two twitter friends I had met through the online education program #winestudio. Originally, I’d asked about wineries to visit in the area but instead, it turned into a great afternoon of #winestudio live with Debbie @hvwinegoddess and Lori @Dracaenawines at a local pub. These two women are definitely passionate about wines! Conversation flowed around the latest #winestudio Rosé, our families, backgrounds, wine blogs and tornadoes. Yup, tornadoes. Ironically, in the middle of chatting, Debbie got a weather alert for none other than a tornado warning and a text from her hubby confirming the crazy weather. What are the chances she’d be hanging with a tornado savvy Oklahoman at the same time? So for the next 30 minutes hook-echos and wind gusts dominated the convo.  In the end, all was well and we went back to talking about WordPress quirks and wine. 


Me, Lori & Debbie (L2R)

As the afternoon came to a close and we parted ways, Debbie said this moment was what social media was all about – building relationships with others who share your passion. What a fantastic and enjoyable afternoon getting to know these two wine friends and then reconnecting that evening on #winestudio to chat about Rosé. This may be the start of a #winestudio tradition! 

In the meantime, hope you’re having an enjoyable season and making new wine friends!

~ Allison


Roping Rose with Angels & Cowboys of Sonoma County #winestudio

By chance, I received the last wine featured on #Winestudio‘s June program: Sonoma County Rosé Revolution.  Since our family was going to be traveling for a chunk of June, I had decided not to fully participate except an occasional “check-in” on the Rosé  twitter discussion. And I confess, Rosé hasn’t been a wine I’ve readily enjoyed. However, just before we flew the coop to the East Coast, a bottle of Angels & Cowboys Rosé Sonoma County 2015 arrived. I was delighted and confused and then in a panic because  even though I hadn’t requested the wine, I still felt an obligation to get involved and thought we might not be home in time.

Well, I was home with just enough time to do some surface research on Angels & Cowboys and Rosé. Apparently, a kind winemaker was determined to get me to  rethink Rosé. With an open-mind, I opened the bottle and was immediately lassoed by it’s contents. (Please forgive the cowboy references. I tend to get carried away but I’ll stop with this: “Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.” Unless they’re Rosé Cowboys making heavenly Rosé!)

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Angels & Cowboys is a collaboration between Yoav Gilat and Dennis Hill, co-founders of Cannonball Wine Company and Northern California Graphic Artist, Michael Schwab. They wanted to create a handcrafted, propitiatory Rosé blend for the “lover, trailblazer and rule-breaker”. Right away, the label brought back memories of the beautiful Southwest Art my mama collected when we lived in Albuquerque. Clean lines and straight-forward design with the wine acting as the pale pink sunset hues typical of art in New Mexico.

photo credit: graphis.com

photo credit: graphis.com

This dry Rosé is made in the old world Provencal method with the grapes harvested at 21° Brix. Brix is the scale used to measure the sugar content in wine. Winemakers Dennis and Yoav strive for a Oeil de Perdrix color which means “Eye partridge” in french or light pale gray and pink. The grapes are lightly crushed and left to soften on their skins or macerate until this color is achieved. Then the juice is pressed off and kept cool during fermentation. Finally it’s aged for 2 months on its yeast lees. Lees are those delightful dregs that rest in the bottom of the wine vat. The end result is a mouthfeel of savory, dry, well structured, vibrant, fresh wine with minimal fruit flavors and minerals.  To me, it seemed to have a light hue of orange playing in the clear pale pink. It was easy to drink and refreshing with our 93° evening. I loved how the flavors blossomed from spicy floral acidity to mild citrus as it warmed.

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Beautifully blended of Grenache Rouge, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Grenache Blanc from three of their vineyards: Carneros, Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Valley for those of you familiar with Sonoma, it boasts a low alcohol content of 12.8%. Rosés are meant to be drunk young and this one didn’t last long. You can serve it with or without food. It’s a great summer sipper while sitting on the patio with it’s screw cap closure.

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Thanks to the Sonoma County Rosé Revolution lead by #Winestudio of ProtocolWine and the efforts of Dennis Hill and Yoav Gilat, I’m open to Rosé for summer. I’ve heard rumors Rosé is great all year-round, especially with Thanksgiving turkey so I’ll be looking to rope a couple of bottles when that lovely holiday comes around. Until then, I’m learning to keep an open mind about wine.

If you’re interested in learning more about wine or chatting with other wine enthusiasts, ProtocolWine Studio hosts (hashtag) #Winestudio on twitter every Tuesday at 6PST/8CST.

“#winestudio is a free, interactive wine education program conducted via social media. If you have a Twitter and Facebook account, you can participate! Each month we select a unique wine-based (or cider) topic to explore from a social, political, cultural, geographical and of course a wine-oriented perspective. Bloggers and wine lovers from across the world join us every session to discuss the culture of wine.”  

Join the fun! You might be tempted to try or rethink a wine.

In the meantime, happy summer sipping! 


The wine was a media sample of Cannonball Wine Company in conjunction with the online educational program #winestudio. Opinions and thoughts are my own. Many thanks to MM. Hill and Gilat for introducing me to a mouthwatering Rosé. Best Wishes!






Summer Reads: Wine Wars



I’ve been trying to post this for a week but between packing to head east to New York City and the Jersey Shore and all the extra shopping required because at least three of the four munchkins has outgrown their bathing suits, it didn’t happen. Even my favorite pastime – Twitter, has seen neglect! But tonight, while half the family watches the Cavs and the Warriors play, I have a moment to post. One thing, I so hoped it would have been the Thunder and Cavs but maybe next year. 


Summer is upon those of us living in the northern hemisphere.  Time to break out the summer novels, those saucy paperbacks, chilling thrillers, tales of romantic heartbreak, sweet memoirs, and mysteries. Whatever whiles away the hours by the pool or shore. Nothing too taxing on the intellect of a sun drenched and Long Island Iced tea soaked brain. At the start of our summer break, I picked up  a few wine books to fill my beach bag before we left for the Jersey shore. There is a cornucopia of wine literature out there that you can prop open with a bottle of Banana Boat SPF50 while lounging around.  Here’s one I plucked from the shelves and opened early:



Wine Wars by Mike Veseth

It’s a fairly straightforward tale of global wine marketing told by a witty professor of economics. Wine Wars zeroes in on the influences at work behind directing wine drinkers to buy certain wines and untangles the economics behind the wine route. It starts with a lesson in British wine history and the Empire’s vast influence on wine global marketing and moves to the homogenization of wine or what Veseth calls McWine. There’s an interesting antedote about Karl and Theo Albrecht, founders of the Aldi grocery stores. Aldi, the barebones discounter,  apparently sells wine for .97 cents/liter in Europe. Their upscale American shop, for those of you in the know, is none other than that West Coast hipster, Trader Joes. Since there aren’t any Trader Joes in my area I’ve never had the pleasure of sampling a TwoBuckChuck but recently there has been a push to modernize Oklahoma’s liquor laws and allow grocery stores to sell wine. This means our neighborhood Aldi might be hocking wine for a $1.00! Now the question is Will I Buy it?  Definitely! I’m up for adventure and I can spare a dollar. Well, at least until we hand over the college tuition in August.  After that the only wine I’ll be able to afford will be Aldi’s “dump bucket red”.

In war, you need opponents and with the birth of McWine, a group of vignerons called CRAV (French acronym) or the “Regional Committee for Viticultural Action” has arisen. These wine vigilantes are the modern version of the Boston tea party. They hijack wine containers filled with what they deem as inferior wine and dump them out. They have vowed to protect wine’s sense of place, it’s terrior and the “heart of European Culture”, thus creating the wine war and their nickname of the wine terroirists.

“Globalization brings the world to you, Two Buck Chuck makes it understandable and gives you the confidence to buy, but we need terroirists so that we don’t forget that wine is a beautiful product of nature, not a commoditized manufactured good.” – Mike Veseth, Wine Wars.

Overall, I liked the book.  Now I think I’ll hunt for a wine novel about vineyard adventures with complex characters, an old wine cellar and mystery or maybe just a wine comedy with quirky characters and recipes. I’ll let ya know what I find.


photo credits: flickr.com & amazon.com respectfully

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