A Branch off the True Vine

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

Off the Vineyard Trail #1

This is the first post of a new feature called ‘Off the Vineyard Trail’. It’s a short diversion from the daily focus on wine and a sort of ramble down the faint, wild paths that wind through the main course of life.



Grief is a funny thing.

You never know quite how you’ll respond when you’re confronted with it. I’ve watched from the sidelines while others grieve. I’ve lived through the loss of classmates, neighbors and external family so I assumed I knew how I’d handle things when it was someone even closer. It would be managed with graceful dignity. Ha. Who did I think I was? Queen Elizabeth? The woman has turned emotional control into an art form. No, I’ve learned in reality grief is wildly unpredictable.

I’ve discovered grief sneaks up and catches me in the most mundane moments. Surprise, surprise! We live 99% of our lives in the mundane, ordinary moments. You know, just unimportant, everyday tasks, like doing the dishes or buying milk. Everything appears to be going fine and Wham! I find myself with tears dripping off my chin. It makes no sense to me. And it’s even more baffling when it happens at places like the car wash or the grocery store. I find myself making ridiculous excuses to alarmed strangers for why I’m tearing up by the mangos.

“Oh, would you look at the mangos! So beautiful! The red! The orange! That perfect oval shape. My Aunt Rita’s mango salsa is a shoo-in at the Fair this year with these sublime specimens. I’m all verklempt just thinking about it! I’ll finally take down that snotty Mitzy Garner and her 5 years in a row win! Blue ribbon, I tell ya! Blue Ribbon!”

The most recent occurrence was at the mailbox. I’ve kept up on the bills so it wasn’t a final notice for our Netflix account. Although, if it had been, I’d probably reclaim countless hours of my life back that are spent endlessly scrolling the “Suggestions for You” list while trying to find something to watch. No, it wasn’t a bill. The river of sympathy cards was now a trickle and have actually been replaced with happy, cheerful cards containing checks and gift-cards for my daughter’s graduation so absolutely no danger there. No, lurking among the colorful cards and invitations to graduate parties, was a plain white envelope. Harmless. But all it took was a glance at the sender and the waterworks started flowing.

The cause of this latest torrential downpour, you ask? A car title.

Yes, a car title. This should have been a joyous occasion where I hollered “Hallelujah! Thank you, God!” and cheerfully locked it in the firebox. But no, sorrowful tears. The sort that looked like we’d just received an eviction notice.

See, our daughter got a car for graduation from the grandparents. Every 17-year-old’s dream come true! Now before you get the impression my parents are as rich as the Rockefellers (does anyone remember the Rockefellers anymore? I guess I should say Zuckerbergs, instead), it had originally been a laptop. However, since my dad isn’t able to drive two cars at once until Ford develops that driverless type and my mom definitely won’t be driving, the graduate got a car. You might see her zipping around town. Dashing off to Starbucks. Racing to work. It’s red so you can’t miss it. She even picks up her siblings for me. It’s great. She loves it.

I hate it. Sort of. I should love it too, since I don’t have to spend half my life in the carpool line anymore. It should produce profound thankfulness but when I see that car it reminds me of what’s happened to us. However, with each new day, I’m slowly coming to terms with it sitting in the driveway. Ironically, I had been praying for a car. I just wish the Lord had chosen a different route in which to give it.

So I cling to the Bible verse in 1 Chronicles 16:34 that says,

 “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!”


1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

And sometimes start crying while shopping in the plumbing aisle at Lowes.

But that’s grief for you.


photo credit: zastavki.com

Rias Baixas Souvenirs: A Bunch of Empty Bottles #winestudio


A picture really is worth a thousand words or in this case sparks a pile of memories. At closer inspection, what do you see? Besides a whole lot of empties! A wide range of wineries? Different colored and shaped bottles? Corks verses screw caps? Interesting labels and artful typography? 

The picture above represents 9 weeks of  DO Rías Baixas in Galicia, Spain and the refreshing, acidic, citrusy, saline and fruit laced Albariño. There should actually be three more bottles in the basket but I accidentally threw one out. Horror. And the other two are being kept until the frying pan of summer aka Texas, sends waves of heat up to Oklahoma and cooks my garden. 

Before you start wondering out loud or in your head, “Al, did you really drink all of those? And wow, woman, you must have a cast iron liver!”Or clandestinely try slipping a card for a support group into my handbag and ask if you can pray for me, the answer is yes – to the drinking, I have no clue about the liver. However, I had accomplices so you can stop fretting about my organs and remember it was over NINE weeks.

Now before I go off on a lengthy list of all that I gleaned about the wine and the wine region, I’m going to pause and ask you to help me figure out what to do with all these cool empty bottles. I haven’t the heart to throw them in the dumpster but I don’t relish looking like a lush either. Beyond that, feel free to post any of your borrowed Pinterest ideas in the comments. No use re-inventing the wheel!

For me personally, this Albariño journey pic represents 9 evenings of fun twitterchats with #winestudio pals, @Protocolwine and host RiasBaixasWines about Albariño, a whole lot of learning about Galicia wine history, (The Celtics & 2200 hours of sunshine!) the birth of a dominating wine region (tradition re-tooled with help from modern wine technology) and a particularly lovely evening sharing a few bottles with our neighbors.


Each bottle represents various winemaker’s personal expressions and style of their sub-region.



Many of these were crafted by women. Some of the wines were excellent alone while others needed a partner from the sea to coax their flavors. All of the grapes were carefully grown on trellises of stone pillars and hand-harvested.



Four deep estuaries cut like God’s finger prints into the landscape. Granite, alluvial soil and Atlantic breezes buffet the grapes. Beautiful beaches.

photo by panoramio.com

photo by panoramio.com

Medieval Roman villages. Five unique sub-regions. Rainfall is around 76 inches annually. You can sleep in century old estates turned into wineries. They speak Gallegos. They play the bagpipes!

Whew! I think I barely drew a breath between those last sentences as new facts popped like popcorn through my brain. Many thank yous to our host, Rías Baixas Wine. Albarino will definitely keep the Oklahoma heat at bay and Galicia is now on my travel wishlist! Grazas! 




All of these bottles were media samples courtesy of RiasBaixasWines and Protocol Winestudio in participation with the wine education forum #winestudio on twitter. The opinions and rambles are my own. Viva la Albariño!

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Time to pick the most Celebrated Travel wine post. #MWWC25 Time to vote! — the drunken cyclist

It is time to vote! The Remaining Timeline: Voting Begins: Tuesday, May 31st, 2016 (Today!) Voting Ends: Monday, June 6th, 2016 Winner Announced: Tuesday, June 7th, 2016 I am writing this a bit ahead of time as I am about to climb into a car and head off to Châteauneuf-du-Pape for a couple of days. Right now, there are only a […]

via #MWWC25 Time to vote! — the drunken cyclist

Wine Time-Travel #MWWC25

For this month’s Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #MWWC25 the word is TRAVEL


I love travel! I love to travel! The sights, the people, the cultures, the odd things others do, the food, the history, the magnificence of seeing familiar hopes, fears, and dreams in the hues of exotic people altogether unlike me. Traveling the world has always been a dream of mine.

The desire to discover fresh places comes from my globetrotting Grandma Rose. Every winter she’d fly through our “port city”, basically wherever our family was currently living, shower us with a bounty of garden produce, visit a day and then be on her way out of the country before the cold Northern California weather “would frost her orchard”. Belize, the Philippines and India were her favorite hangouts. Returning the first week of April, because she had to “get her taxes filed”, Gram Rose would stop long enough to share weird and wild stories accompanied with projector slides (tiny plastic framed negatives for all of you born after 1985) and treasures from faraway lands.

Ah, travel.

Nowadays, I do most of my traveling closer to home. But someday, Lord willing, my modern steamer trunk will display those coveted passport stamps of foreign lands and my iPhone will hopefully contain a picture or two of an Italian or even Croatian vineyard.

Well, buckle up, buttercups, cause we’re going to do the unconventional – we are going to time travel. 

Why time travel? Why not? If you can fly in and out of time zones belted to a metal gas can and begin the day with a champagne brunch in Brussels and end it with a cocktail in Beijing, then why not time travel?  I’m sure the current reigning #MWWC winner, Loie of Cheap Wine Curious, might agree there are events in wine history worthy of daydreaming about. Not the phylloxera outbreak of 1855, mind you, and the total decimation of vineyards across Europe but perhaps more exciting moments that changed the course of wine into what we drink today.

I’ve decided to follow the style of the movie “Midnight in Paris” starring the affable Owen Wilson.  So hop into a 1920s Peugeot 176 with me, we’ll pour some champagne and take a short trip through wine history by beginning in Paris. Why? Because I love the movie and I love wine. And if you watch closely, each 1920s scene is laced with famous personalities such as the Fitzgeralds, Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, and Salvador Dali and accented by a glass of wine. 




 (Just to warn you, dear friends: for those of you who yawn at lists, I’m about to make one.)


Let’s time-travel through a little wine history together!

  • 1820s – Madame Clicquot of the Champagne house Veuve Cliquot drills holes in her Louis XVI dining table and forever ‘rids’ her champagne bottles of pesky sediments  – We sip her sediment-free bubbly and watch as she makes all her employees sign Confidentiality Clauses but unfortunately somebody talks.
  • 1920 – In America, we sneak into a meeting of the Mafia Kingpins and watch as they dress as well-meaning citizens, effectively hijack Congress, lobby for the 18th Amendment and Prohibition is born. We get our jazzy wine fix in the most popular Speakeasy in New York, The Cotton Club. Located in Harlem, it’s hipper than Pa Luke’s backwoods moonshine shack. (Seriously, my Arkansas Great-Grandpa was a moonshiner and way cooler than those wannabes on TV.)
  • Jetting back to France, 1976:  We take a front row seat as upstart Cali-boys, Chateau Montelena and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars top French producers in the blind tasting of Paris and high-five each other as New World wine REPRESENTS!  
  • 1001: We sail with the Viking  Leif Eriksson who names North America  ‘Vineland’ for the endless species of native grapes he found. Unfortunately, Amerigo Vespucci renames it ‘America’ 500 years later and it sticks. This may not have changed the course of wine history but seriously, I would have been fine with the United States of Vineland.
  •  1224 – Cyprus. We score tickets and t-shirts to “The Battle of the Wines”. It’s the first recorded wine tasting competition staged by the French king Philip Augustus. Over 70 samples from France and across Europe, including Cyprus, Spain and the Mosel region, were tasted and judged by an English priest. The priest classified the wines he tasted as either Celebrated for those which pleased him or Excommunicated for those that did not meet his standards. Who the heck was this guy? Did he have a Master of Wine certificate?? (wikipedia.org)

On a personal note, I will now be adopting the priestly rating of  Celebrated or Excommunicated for all future wine tastings and reviews. Clear and simple. BOOM! _______ wine, You’ve been Excommunicated! 

To end our time traveling wine tour, we wind up in ________. Use your imagination. You know why? Because, thanks to the exploding global economy and transport, modern wine technology, invention of stainless steel temperature controlled vats, and a plethora of amazing modern wine science practices, you can get your passport stamped in 100 different burgeoning wine regions without ever leaving your backyard. Countries with century-old wine cultures are making a splash in as far off lands as Oklahoma. Yes, OKLAHOMA.  And it’s only the beginning to all the wine travel. What an amazing time period we live in. Just as Owen Wilson’s character, Gil Pender, discovers from all his nostalgic, sentimental wanderings: the Present can be all together just as exciting. 

Now get out there and collect a few wine stamps in your passport!


This is my entry for the #MWWC25,  hosted and moderated superbly by Jeff @thedrunkencyclist, founder. If you like it, vote for me with a Celebrated and if you don’t, then just keep the Excommuncated rating to yourself. Thanks.



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