A Branch off the True Vine Rambing about Wine

Oklahoma Skies #1 – Sunset

I thought I’d start a new blog feature after noticing there are approximately a thousand pictures on my iPhone of the Oklahoma skies. Apparently, I’m infatuated with them. Some days, they can be fairly spectacular. We might not have much here in tornado alley, but more often than not the skies are saturated in a range of glorious colors. 

            Hope you enjoy a little slice of heaven. 

Sunset – January 21, 2017


There’s a Circus in the Vineyard: Michael David Petite Petit 2014

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Circus will be shuttering the Big Top in May. After 150 years, no more clowns tumbling out of tiny cars, Ballerinas poised on galloping horses, Chinese acrobats, Lion tamers or tightrope walkers cartwheeling at death defying heights. The Ring Master’s stage will go silent and the elephants will go into retirement. Personally, I’ll shed no tears over the clowns. They’ve always given me the hebee-gebees. Also not too worried for the acrobats because they can get higher paying gigs in Vegas. So all is well. But the elephants, those majestic beasts of the African Savanna, how will they fare?

Well, no worries. They’ll be happily employed in the vineyard or at least poising on wine labels for Michael David Winery in Lodi, California. Yes, it’s true. They already have a lovely gig representing Michael David’s Petite Petit 2014  which my husband and I had the pleasure of drinking over the holidays. And again, after the holidays because it really is that good. The Petite Petit was recommended by our local wine source and backed up by Lori @Dracaenawines (you can read about her experience at the winery here). Plus, you know me, I’m a sucker for arty labels and this one is arty and entertaining. There’s a lot going on in the picture. The mice are busy opening other bottles from Michael David. One of the elephants has a tattoo. The entire pachyderm demeanor is a mix of tough guy and wine connoisseur. Just relaxing after over a glass of petite Sirah while the mice play cards. There’s even a cute poem on the back label.

Michael David Winery (here’s the website) could revive the Circus with this full-bodied red.  The wine is a blend of 85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petit Verdot. A nice balance of dark fruit, spice, cherries and a touch of mocha. Great for sipping  alone while picking out all the stuff going on on the label or with a pulled pork sandwich smothered in Head Country BBQ sauce and side of potato salad.  I’m not sponsored by Head Country BBQ but if they feel so inclined, I’m happy to oblige. If you can’t get Head Country, I feel for your deprivation. However, Michael David wines are widely distributed so you can stage your own little circus at home. These days, mine includes a dog. I’m looking for a top hat for her.

Thanks, Michael David Winery for keeping the elephants gainfully employed. And thankfully, no sign of any creepy clowns. (No offense to clown lovers. Some childhood phobias last a lifetime).

Welcome to the Big Top,


And the Winner is . . . OkieWineGirl! Yeehaw! #MWWC30

“I can no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks.”
~William Shakespeare


Last week or maybe longer, the most incredible thing happened in the life of this humble and rambling wine blogger. The results for the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge#30 were posted (HERE) and this Okie Wine Girl WON! My heart still gets a little racy thinking about it and I know I owe all of you: friends, family, fellow bloggers a ginormous THANK YOU for voting for my obscure post (HERE – encase you didn’t get to read it or you’ve got time to burn).

Wow. I’m humbled. Thank you. 

For those who aren’t familiar with the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge, you can click HERE to get the scoop and even join in for #MWWC31.  It’s the brainchild of Jeff @thedrunkencyclist whose writing cracks me up. Especially his posts on being a Cycling tour guide (Click OMG). Oh my goodness, with his last installment I almost found out what it’s like to laugh and vomit at the same time. But I digress . . .  

The honor of picking the next challenge word was my reward. The fellow wine bloggers who enter each month are a dynamite group of writers so the gravity of the honor struck me. Did I say thank you for voting for me?  Thank you.

Do you know how many great words there are to choose from??? It can drive you mad. Here was my short list: Failure, Respect, Mistake, Tremendous, Light.

And yet, I picked FAITH.  Why? Because, regardless of your beliefs, we all have faith in someone or something. It’s a powerful intangible of life.

Because when you plow up a field, plant some obscure vine and try turning it into wine, it takes a lot of faith it’ll turn out divine. Cheesy, I know. But cheese always pairs perfectly with wine. (Alright. I’ll quit. Cheesy jokes are a family specialty so I can do this all day!) Anyway, cheese aside, once again, thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. 

~ Allison


#MWWC30: Obscure Wine Drinkers

The following post is my entry for #MWWC30. The very last #MWWC of 2016 was won by the Texas wine blogger of NYC and favorite of mine, Shez of The Epicurious Texan. Her choice is Obscure. Congrats, Shez!


The title should probably read more like a tabloid headline:

Obscure Wine Drinker Becomes Twitter Seat-filler to the tune of Hundreds of Dollars Worth of Wine.

photo credit: pinterest

Do you know me? Probably not. Most would say I’m just another face in the crowd. Unremarkable. Ordinary. Possessing no charismatic traits or notable features to attract attention. Just your average wine consumer. Even my wine buying habits are average. They lie between economically affordable and always dependable. You could call me Joe Public of the wine masses.

And yet, in 2015, something strange happened. Social media and good old-fashioned marketing caught me as I went quietly from one familiar bottle to the next. A bright spotlight appeared on wines I’d steadily ignored for the ‘safer’ wine offerings of widely known grapes.  

Maybe it was the timing or the weariness of routine but I’d grown restless with the comfortably mundane. Then, one night while scrolling through Twitter, I eavesdropped on a conversation with the hashtag #winestudio. It sucked me in like a tornado with its seductive wine banter between a lively group of wine drinkers and a Chilean winemaker. Who knows what possessed me, but this average wine drinker did the unthinkable. I asked a question and a kind wine stranger answered!

The next day, I found myself at the wine shop searching the shelves for Montes Sauvignon Blanc from Chile. I’m positive I heard an audible high-five between marketers for successfully snagging this consumer. Except, I think I was ripe for the picking. The thought of buying a wine produced from a far off local seemed exciting and exotic. My heart raced as I timidly asked my wine shop clerk if they had the mysterious bottle. I began calculating what this international adventure was about to cost as he rang it up. Enthusiasm can be expensive. The total was $15. I stared dumbly at the clerk. Huh? Hold on, let me clean out the earwax. Repeata, por favor? $15. Was it discounted? A bottle you’ve been trying to get rid of for ten years? No, he assured me. The regular price is $15. Were Chilean wines usually this inexpensive? No. However, there were several delicious and quite affordable. I could be drinking wine from Chile and I didn’t even know it! What else was out there in the affordably global wine market? 

Being the astute wine marketer, he immediately recognized an open door and pounced with a second suggestion to go with my awakening wine vision,   Hopler Pannonica, a red blend  from Austria. Only $9. ‘I like to suggest it to Millennial professionals,’ he said grinning. ‘They balk at the low price but are reeled in by the taste. Plus, it’s grapes, Blaufrakisch and Zweigelt, are so unknown to most, it guarantees they’ll be the center of attention at any dinner party. And since it’s impolite to ask the price, they’re safe from being called a cheapskate.’ Might be narcissistic for wanting all the attention, but Austria came home with me.

In the meantime, I started paying more attention to #wine hashtags and tweet-ups. These #wine playdates popped up all over at various times and days. My social media activity drew the attention of a few wine marketers who were desperate for seat-fillers for tweetups. One contacted me with an offer to participate in their Bordeaux Fan tasting. Bordeaux. To me Bordeaux was like glimpsing a celebrity across the street as they entered a darkened car. A wine tasting kit and gift card arrived with instructions to try Bordeaux at three different price points and then answer a questionnaire. Reality sunk into my wine ignorant brain. I was responsible for answering intelligently about my wine choices. Me, an average wine drinker who’d only ever thought of finding a nice affordable wine for dinner.

Pride, vanity, and terror gripped me. However, the thought of free Bordeaux got me to the wine shop. As I crossed the threshold, once again panic set in. I knew zero about Bordeaux but was suppose to buy a few bottles on their dime and talk about them? Thankfully, the clerk who’d gotten me into the Austrian red blend was eager to help. I’m going to let you in on a secret: our local wine shop has a handful of certified wine specialists. The clerk gleefully went from bottle to bottle rattling off producers, regions, and winemaking facts as I tried to get it into my notebook. Terms flew swiftly by my head.

Over, the next year. The scene repeated itself. Marketers wanted to know if I would participate and tweet about the wine, etc.? Sure, but you know I’m only a wine drinker, right? No problem! Bottles of wine would arrive on my doorstep from tiny hamlets, quiet European villages or Middle Eastern countries. Several were made from lesser-known grape varietals I couldn’t begin to pronounce. For example, Boğazkere from Turkey. All I can say is it means ‘throat burner’ and it lives up to its name.


Two things became clear to me. One, my lack of knowledge wasn’t a strong impediment to participation as long as I was willing to learn and two, the majority of the wines I received landed in the $10-20 range. How could the world be so affordable?

Those bottles from countries I might never visit opened a Pandora’s box. It required me to do research and learn to ask questions. Why was this winemaker giving his life to wine? What was the environmental, cultural, political climate of these areas? Why does this grape only grow on jagged hillsides in granite soil? Did you know there are over 10,000 grape varietals? There are wines out there made with grapes sounding closer to classic film stars such as Spain’s Eva de Los Santos or Sicilian mob boss’ with Nerello Mascalese than reliable old office managers like Merlot.

What shocked me was how obtainable these wines are becoming. They’re even starting to make an appearance in ‘fly-over’ Oklahoma! I guess I should say I owe social media a nod of thanks for giving me a hunger for obscure wines. And for plucking this relatively obscure wine drinker out of the crowd to stand eagerly in the middle of the wine aisle and try to decide between Assyrtiko from Greece or Godello from Spain.

Excuse me, has anyone here tried Mala . . .Malago . . .Malagousa?

Comparing the Affordable Cabernet Sauvignon of 2014

Ok, so we drank three wines over the past month,  only to realize later they were from the same vintage and variety albeit not the same location. Two are from California and the third is from Washington State. Each wine was a 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. All three are ones you’d have with pizza on a busy mid-week night because of their affordable price points: $12-15 dineros. Since all three wines are of the same year, I started wondering what else was going on three years ago in 2014.

Look back with me, to a much more pleasant year shaped by the power of nature, and not by the bitter winds or acid rain of this past election year. The year began with the University of Oklahoma beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. A spectacular beginning to any year, I’d say.

In California, the vineyards were experiencing a mild winter punctuated by a severe drought. Early spring saw rain but unfortunately also hail. Lack of water and milder temperatures accelerated bud break and vineyard growth and an exceptionally early harvest.  To add interest to the winemaker’s already busy schedule was a destructive earthquake centered in Napa Valley in August. My husband and I visited the area 8 months later and there was still a lot of rebuilding to do.

Up north in Washington State, they were experiencing the warmest season on record tempered with a beautiful, cool fall that produced the largest harvest on record. Like the vineyards in California, WA State vineyards had earlier bud break and harvests due to the mild warm winter. WA winemakers rejoiced at the near perfect conditions.

So how did these mid-week Cabernets fare?

R Collection by Raymond, Lot No.1 Cabernet Sauvignon California 2014: 13.7% alc. The label states the R Collection Cabernet Sauvignon is “referred to as Lot 1 to represent the first generation of five generations of winemaking.” This wine was darker in the glass than the other two and lush with raspberries, tart cherries and a flavor that reminded me of bell pepper and spice. I’m not particularly fond of bell pepper. The finish was long with a bite of tannin. My taster might have been off that evening or other factors could have affected the wine. It happens.


14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2014: 13.5% alc. From Washington State, this was our second favorite out of the three. Medium bodied for a Cab with dark cherries, currents, a hint of coffee and accented with a touch of spice. The Steelers won their playoff game the same night we drank this so it was a win/win evening.  


Sterling Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Vintner’s Collection California: 13.5% alc. The grapes are sourced from Central Coast vineyards around California. Full bodied with dark fruit aromas and lush blackberries, Bing cherries, vanilla and spice. This was our favorite of the three.


This wasn’t intentional but I’m loving it. I set up a wine learning opportunity for myself without even thinking! Imagine what I could do if I actually put some thought into it. Scary, right?! I’d definitely be a lot farther along in wine knowledge  . . . but my problem is most of the time I just want a glass of wine without all the attachments. Just a pleasant glass that fits the moment. And that moment is most often the one where I’m sitting in my yoga pants relaxing at the end of the day, unwinding with the Better half of me and watching repeats of ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.’ Or the Steelers in the Superbowl. (I can hope.)

Well, take it from this wine drinker, the next time you pick up a deep dish Schooner from Hideaway Pizza, there’s an affordable Cabernet to offset the delicious but pricey pie.

Happy Friday, or whatever day it may be where you are!



Off The Vineyard Trail #4: Doggone it! Good Changes for the New Year

Hola, I’m Biscuit.

After firmly resisting sad eyed pleas, begging, and cajoling for over twenty years, I caved in and let them get a puppy. Not just any puppy, mind you, she’s the sweetest, brightest, cutest, brilliant-est puppy-butt ever. And she even has superpowers. For instance, she’s able to reduce mature adults into babbling baby talkers. And turn non-dog people into dog-loving people. Mainly, me. It’s baffling even to me how this transformation happened. My arguments against a dog were solid and based on verifiable facts. One, the oldest was deathly allergic to my parent’s dogs and had to be heavily medicated when we visited. The kid not the dog. But she’s appeared to have grown out of it. Another fact, I’m the one at home for the majority of the time, so I’d be the primary caretaker and four kids was enough for me.

And then, two weeks ago, I unexpectedly crumbled. There was an adorable snapshot on the Central OK Humane Society Dog Rescue webpage to cause me to do some serious life reassessment. I weighed my old arguments against life’s realities such as the kids are growing up faster than I expected. Life is more exciting with crap on the lawn. With four kids, the floors are never clean anyway. Starting the new year with a good change is a blessing compared to the changes we experienced last year. And that’s when I caved, only to then spend a sleepless night of terror thinking, “What have we done!?!” In the light of the new day, sanity returned and I realized as Biscuit eagerly tried to lick my face off this was a good thing. A very good thing and I need to embrace it or actually, Biscuit.

With a new change comes a plethora of new experiences. New phrases have come out of my mouth:

“Do your business. Come on. Do your business, Biscuit.”

“Grrr. Grrrrrr. Grrrr. Grrrrrrrr.”


“No, not the new blinds!!!”

“Stop chewing that. Chew this instead.”

“When you go out, watch for landmines.”

“Do you want me to drag you?”

“Quick! Grab her before . . . just grab her!”

I’ve also turned into a parrot. “Let go! Let go! Let go! Let Go! Let go!”

And Biscuit is teaching me new things.

  1. Running socks are a delicacy, especially new ones. And shoes. All types.
  2. Barking at 4am means ‘I need to go out NOW.’
  3. Children wear out faster than puppies.
  4. Puppies eventually discover lid-less kitchen garbage cans, dummy me.
  5. Puppies shouldn’t be left alone. Unless in a crate. Seriously.

On average, our family tends to be a more reserved, introverted bunch but that all changes when you get a dog. You learn quickly to be social because puppies are people magnets. At the end of the day, I think Biscuit is going to do more good for us than us for her. We’re forced to learn how to converse with complete strangers. People smile at you more. People ask you all kinds of interesting questions. The dog food aisle smells less repulsive. Overall, I know the LORD has good for us through our sweet puppy and it makes me kinda pumped about having membership in the dog club. However, I refuse to plaster the van with ‘I love My Australian cattle dog/terrier mix’ stickers. At least for a month or so. In the meantime, we’re planning the first visit to the dog park, that mysterious playground I’ve only seen from across the fence but never had access to. Now I have a ticket to get in the gate and see what all the fuss is about! 



Miraculously cured of allergies.

Puppies sleep any which way.

Happy Happy New Year!

As 2016 comes to a close, it’s with a grateful heart I wish you all a Happy New Year!

I’m choosing to remember the good over the last 12 months as this tumultuous year ends.

Good bye 2016. You’re a year I’ll probably not remember with much fondness but I will remember these:

  1. All the family, amazing friends, and even strangers, God blessed us through, who’ve given love, encouragement & rearranged schedules to spend precious time with us.
  2. Our first high school graduate and the hilariously terrified look on her face as she crossed the stage to get her diploma. The realization you are actually going to have to grow up can be terrifying!
  3. Dropping off our college freshman.
  4. Running in my first half-marathon
  5. First trip to Seattle. Washington State has a winery on every corner and someday I might visit one.
  6. A new sister-in-law – an amazing woman to put up with my brother 😉
  7. Getting to serve in the New Moms Bible Study in the role of Old Mom. Strange as it seems, those halcyon days of strollers and play dates are about as appealing as a root canal now.
  8. Wine from Mallorca – Thank you, Alaska Cousin!
  9. Meeting up with #winestudio friends while on vacation
  10. Discovering Rías Baixas through fifteen bottles of Albariño from Spain. Thank you #winestudio!

I didn’t want to put too much effort into picking the celebration bubbly so I chose one I can always rely on. Mumm Napa Brut Prestige.

Cheers to your new year and a toast to new beginnings.  Oh yeah, and I just learned we’re getting a dog. As in, Today.  2017 has an interesting start already.

Happy New Year,


Merry Christmas & Wines Opened in December

An entire month has passed since we last met. We’ve been all over the place with our wine selections this month. However, as I glance through my notes I see a heavy emphasis on France and Italy with one Sonoma County thanks to my sweet sister-in-law. I was also introduced to Cabernet Franc this month due in part to my wine scientist friend and winemaker, Lori of  Dracaena Wines and #CabFranc Day on twitter. I’ve tried two so far: one new world which didn’t leave a good impression and one old world Chinon that I’d drink again. You know I tend to hang out in the $10-20 price range for wine so trying a new wine with a higher price tag brought some momentary discomfort. More expensive bottles ($35 – 60) are usually for holidays, celebrations and special occasions like if the Steelers win the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, a second obstacle was the scarce availability of Cab Franc, at least in my area. Remember, the majority of Oklahomans like sweet wine and craft beer. But I’ve started noticing more and more international varieties popping up in our local wine shop from around the globe so we have hope. 

Anyway, I could ramble on but I’ll post pictures instead. Plus I need to bake Christmas cookies with the youngest so time is short! Waiting till the last minute to get Christmas stuff done is my specialty.


Penya 2014 Côtes Catalunes IGP France 

Silky, dark fruit, smoky with plums and cherries and spice on the finish.  Easy to drink. $12


‘Poggio Anima’ Lilith Primitivo – Salento IGP MMXII

Dry, slightly sour cherries and plums with a touch of spice. I thought it was just OK. Here’s an interesting touch of trivia: the name Lilith comes from a Hebrew myth of wild proportions. The myth is Adam had another wife who refused to be subservient and was thus banished from Eden to become a demon. And I thought Adam had enough trouble with his real wife! This Primitivo is named Lilith because it too is racy and uncontrollable. Might be another myth. $16

‘Messanges Rouge’ Chinon Récolte 2014

Bright, lovely floral and spicy with loads of acidity. I really liked this Cab Franc from winemaker Domaine de Pallus. A nice introduction to the world of Cab Franc. $22


Cantina Zaccagnini Riesling 2013 Colline Pescaresi IGT 

It comes with a piece of vine tied to the bottle. That’s where the charm ended for me. This was my first Italian Riesling and I was wishing by the second taste I’d picked something different. But for $15 not to much “skin off my nose”. I like Riesling so there had been hope. Oh well.

Simi Alexander Valley, Sonoma County 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

Lovely smooth tannins with velvet dark fruit and blackberries. Delicious. For a non-winedrinker, my sister-in-law has a talent for picking good wine. She brought us one for Thanksgiving dinner and surprised me with a second bottle she’d slipped into her suitcase. Cabernet Sauvignon is my husband’s favorite so Sis is awesome.


That’s a wrap on the wine. There were a few other not so note-worthy bottles and several old favorites I haven’t included plus with Christmas in two days I’m out of time. Besides, my youngest has abandoned me for a Barbie movie marathon so I’ll go bake alone until the first aroma of cookies drifts through the house. Then the kids will crawl out of their iPhones to make sure no one’s poisoned the king. 😉

One more thing before I go. I wanted to express a heartfelt Thank You, dear friends, for all the encouragement you’ve given me through this difficult year. I’ve appreciated your shining lights in the darkness. Wishing you peace and joy in the Savior this holiday season! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Cheers, Allison

Caught Santa Rumble spreading good cheer.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.”  Isaiah 9:6-7

Post-Thanksgiving: “The Chickens are Fun and Seals Clap”

Happy belated Thanksgiving.

I’ve missed posting anything on OkieWineGirl mainly because this Okie Wine Girl has been wrestling with preparing for the holidays. Honestly, I’ve dreaded Thanksgiving for the past two months. Many nights have been spent being awoken by spinning thoughts of gloom and disaster. Grief gave way to fear and fear turned to anger and anger back to fear. For the first time, my heart understood why many choose to skip the holidays. But the inner part of me, the place where I live, has longed for peace, joy and laughter and a touch of healing. I didn’t, and still don’t, want to waste any more energy on grief or lose more important moments to sorrow. Grief has made me weary and I knew when Thanksgiving arrived, if I was to celebrate with the right perspective, it would have to come from a resource outside of my wounded heart. God was going to have to move in and around me to produce what I longed for because choosing to be thankful was taking a ginormous effort.

Sorry for letting the bummer vibe come out. I thought this was going to be an easy post focused on the love of family and friends, how great the day went, all the blessings from the Lord, the delicious wine my cousin brought from Europe, and reminiscing over a glass of Cava about last Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, the more I type, the more I seem to be sinking into melancholy. Our pastor recently reminded us our minds i.e. thoughts, drive our emotions so I’m going to turn back to dwelling on the precious and happy memories of the past week. Where to start? 

The only way to describe how the holiday unfolded is to compare it to relaxing on the couch wrapped in a warm blanket while watching your favorite movie. A comforting blanket knit by God. Comforting inside: a peaceful spirit, and outside: a loving family. Joyful. Peaceful. Easy-going. In the end, none of my fears about the day came to fruition, but only peace surpassing understanding. This had been my prayer when fear came:

“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Everyone seem to enjoy the meal and each other. These days, since my mom passed away, I worry a lot about my dad dealing with special occasions. Stress tends to set off his autoimmune disease and tank his diabetes with unfortunate results. However, not this time. Just one more reason to thank the Lord. While I was busy setting up the buffet, I turned around and caught my dad sheepishly grinning at me as he snuck a Heineken from the fridge. I know it was still a hard day for him but he genuinely seemed to be enjoying himself as he visited with various relations.

My cousin from Alaska via Arkansas, who loves wine even more than me and got to cruise around Europe and several wineries last month, brought us wine from Mallorca, Spain and Tuscany. I suspect when my cousin retires, she’ll probably move to Tuscany and manage a Wine Tasting venue. Maybe she’ll even give me a job washing the wine glasses to pay for my room, board and wine. img_0086

She brought Gallinas & Focas 2013 Mallorca, Spain 13.5%Alc. It’s comprised of 90% Manto Negro & 10% Syrah. My first Manto Negro. It was slightly sweet with subtle berries and earth and great with turkey. Or so I was told. I’m not a big turkey connoisseur but it was delicious with the small bite I had. However, it went really well with the huge helping of broccoli casserole and homemade cranberry sauce I piled on my plate in lieu of the turkey. Sidenote: My first attempt at fresh cranberry sauce. As the saying goes, “Had I only known”. The recipe is from Suzanne and her blog, apuginthekitchen. I think I’ve mentioned her before. Thanks to her simple and elegant sauce, I basked in a steady stream of compliments. Thank you, Suzanne. Her blog is full of wonderful recipes and photos. Gorgeous photos that stay upright. Give her a read, she’s delightful!

Coming back around, Gallinas & Focas wine is produced through a beautiful and touching collaborative work that benefits those with a few more challenges in life than average folks. The effort is guided by Mallorca Oenologist Francesc Grimalt.

“Hens and Seals is fruit of a collaboration between 4Kilos and non-profit organization Amadip Esment, which helps intellectually disabled adults with job placement, social housing, and apprenticeships. The organization’s members participate in the entire winemaking process and are also behind the wine’s label and name! It is a cheerful and unpretentious wine, with pleasant earthiness and vivid acidity.” – indigowine.com

The label features artwork by Amadip Esment members. The participants also chose the wine’s name which is translated ‘Hens and Seals’ because they thought chickens are fun and seals applaud. What a sweet and precious outlook on life. 

img_0082The second bottle was Fattoria Il Poggio Incantate IGT from Tuscany. Dark berries, light tannins and easy-going. I think my cousin and I have very similar tastes. This wine could be the one to get me to drink more Italian.


Later on over the weekend, my husband and I opened Mercat Brut Cava in honor of my mama. Why Cava? It’s a long story about last Thanksgiving in Little Rock, Arkansas, involving a Secret Wine Santa, a hunt for any place still open selling pizza and a laughter filled breakfast with my parents. We toasted to loved ones and the precious moments you only realize later were really treasures God gives to equip you to face the future.

Oh no. Here I go again with the bummer vibe! Ok, I’m coming out of it by mentally pumping my legs as if on a swing, back up into the blue sky where thoughts of gratefulness float like puffy white clouds. Wow. Channeling a bit of Karen Carpenter there. If you spend any time around me, you’ll quickly discover I have a Hallmark channel/K-Drama heart filled with sentimental cheese and wine.

Well, I think that about raps it up. If I could hug you, I would, but since that’s not an option, please accept a thank you instead. 

Grateful, Allison


The Pre-Holiday Line Up: Philbrook Wine Tasting

On Monday evening, our best and dearest wine shop started the Holidays off early by throwing a pre-holiday wine tasting featuring the wineries from the Philbrook Wine Experience. The Philbrook Wine Experience is a charity wine event that brings together over 40 wineries to raise money for the Philbrook Museum educational programs and museum operations. The Philbrook, located in Tulsa, OK, is a favorite of mine. So, of course, I jumped at the chance to taste some of the wines featured.

Wine + Art = Philanthropy. Tasting and buying wine for the greater good.

Obviously, there wasn’t enough time, space or manpower for our little wine shop to pour all 40 wines so the lineup was cut to 6 starters.


img_9922Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs, Carneros SRP$21

If I had created the lineup, I would have placed the bubbles last as the Clean-up hitter. The Blanc de Noirs was a deep golden and slightly dry. It had bread yeast aromas and citrus with a mild bitter finish. As I’m writing this, after thoughtful consideration, I concede that Amy, our wine shop somm, may be a better team manager than me. Greeting my Thanksgiving guests with a glass of bubbles could possibly defuse any pre-holiday tensions from previous gatherings that may or may not have transpired. Bubbles potentially puts everyone in a good mood in the first inning. Thank you, Lord. 


img_9915Villa Creek White Blend 2014, Paso Robles SRP $28

This wine has a very small production and wasn’t what I expected as I moved from nose to mouth. Nice and unique. It’s made with 85% Grenache Blanc and 15% Roussanne. The texture changed from racy and bright to a thicker cream soda made of pears, raw apples, herbs and a slightly bitter lemon finish. There was even a touch of effervescence. It’s the one player that loves to surprise you by stealing a base. 


img_9916Joullian Chardonnay, Monterey 2014 SRP $25

Once again, my perception of chardonnay and reality is shifting. Joullian was smooth, creamy and floral with nice stone fruit. Chardonnay has always been a DH for me in the lineup. But I moved it back to starter and brought this one home. This in itself shows how much wine and wine drinkers change over time. I was a child in the chardonnay oak-boom era so I’m not sure why I let other’s past disdain shadow my opinion. I’ve tasted a few oaky butter bombs but recently like merlot, the next generation of chardonnay is a calmer, balanced version of its predecessors. It might not be first or second up but it’s in the top five.



Barra Pinot Noir, Mendocino 2013 SRP$21

Pinot, I love you. Pinot is always a solid hit, steady and dependable. With that biased declaration, I will happily vote Pinot into the hall of fame. This pinot was true to form, spicy, cherries, low acidity and would definitely go well with Thanksgiving dinner. The finish was a little weak but still gets the job done. Barra is estate grown, family-owned and operated, 100% organic vineyard which is always a home run for any team.


img_9920Radicle Vine Red Blend, Columbia Valley SRP$19

It came to the plate swinging with a strong aroma of fruit and berries. There was acidity on the front decked with plums and raspberries and tannins at the end. Overall, it’s the flamboyant player on the team who entertains on and off the field. It’s sourced out of northern Oregon with 4 different grapes in the blend.




Pietro Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast 2013 SRP $23

The team motto on the bottle states, “A century of wine history in every glass”. Pietro Family Cellars sources their grapes from Napa (I suspect Laird), Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake County to create this solid hitter. Down to earthiness, it’s very fruit forward with blackberries and smooth tannins. An old world style player that brings experience and balance to a team. Dependable in the present as well as for the length of the contract. I found it delicious.

Happy pre-holiday menu planning, friends and thanks to Amy for getting a decent lineup for the start of the holidays!




p.s. I’m really enjoying this World Series. For one, my team isn’t in it so no pressure. Two, I kinda like both contenders with their storied pasts so it’s just been good old fashioned baseball. Go C!

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