OkieWineGirl

A Wine Drinker Rambling about Wine

Category: Life Happens (page 1 of 3)

Thanksgiving Cheer!

image: sfappstudio.com

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thank you for reading this ramble of mine and for commenting and sharing wine knowledge and for making me laugh and think and for just taking the time to be kind.  You may not know it but God has used you for good in my life and for this I’m grateful. 

I love Thanksgiving. Unlike Christmas, with the pressure to produce the perfect gifts, or mail a magnificent family Christmas card photo, Thanksgiving gives me an intentional opportunity to reflect on life and give thanks to God, family, friends, even strangers for impacting me in so many valuable ways. 

 

Praise the Lord!
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 106:1

 

However you celebrate this year, I pray your day is filled with lots of laughter and good cheer.  

And on that note, for those of you like me who stress over the holiday details, here’s a bit of advice from one of my favorite party hosts, Julia Child:

On cooking mistakes: “Always remember: If you’re alone in the kitchen and you drop the (turkey), you can always just pick it up. Who’s going to know?” 

Dinner conversation: “Just speak very loudly and quickly, and state your position with utter conviction, as the French do, and you’ll have a marvelous time!”

In general:  “With enough butter, anything is good.”

Our Saturday Sips: Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

The first week of November wrapped up the official Marching Band season with the final football game honoring the Seniors. Our family met our son at the 50-yard line as his name and future aspirations were read out over the PA system. Prior to this honor, Senior son had to fill out a form stating future plans, college, studies etc. He’s a joker and heavily encouraged by his father so this was a golden opportunity. Here’s what he wrote:

 

“Going to Colorado School of Mimes to pursue his dream of silently changing the world one motion at a time.”

 

Yeah.

In the end, I put the ‘mom’ squeeze on him and he put where he hopes to actually go to college to pursue degrees in Jazz and Physics. The traditional and boring answer. Looking back, I should have let him do it. No one ever remembers what’s said but they might have remembered that one. 

For the weekend, I picked one of my favorite producers to commemorate of our ‘Senior Mom and Dad’ titles. After four years of band, I’d say we’ve earned it! Now we only have four more years to go before we’ll be completely done.

 

“The Everyday Wine for the Well Informed” ~ Decoy

Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County 2015

 

I really like this young Cabernet with it’s blackberries, tangy cherry and spice. Very satisfying. Decoy is under the umbrella of Duckhorn Vineyards and Wine Co. and has grown into a well established Sonoma County winery. It’s the affordable cousin among the Duckhorn wine brands with ‘ready upon release’ wines selling for around $20. All of Decoy wines are Sonoma County appellation-designated and thankfully, widely available. 

 

 

Band Mom Corsage. It was as big as my head.

 

Homerun or Strikeout? MLB Swings Into the Wine Bizz

Recently, my sister-in-law, who is an ace at finding unique and interesting gifts, brought us a bottle of New York Yankee Cabernet Sauvignon from the MLB Club Series Reserve. She thought we’d have fun trying it out and as usual, she was right.

I immediately had thoughts of gimmick wines like Marilyn Merlot and Game of Thrones Blend but since the Yankees brand themselves with the image of ‘Old Money’, there was a chance the wine would be quite drinkable.

Apparently, Major League Baseball and wine is a fairly recent marketing venture dreamed up by the company Wine By Design and its founder Diane Karle. The offerings started in 2014 with 7 major league baseball teams who signed up to serve and sell their own ball club branded wines. To get past the novelty perception, each team uses either winery-specific partnerships or generic region-based wine holdings. The largest source for most of the team wines is from Plata Wine Partners with their vast California Central Valley holdings.

A few teams are fortunate enough to be located in well-known regions and have access to solid producers such as the San Francisco Giants Sparkling Brut which partners with Mumm Napa and the Seattle Mariners in Washington wine country. The Philadelphia Phillies bottle Reds from local Chaddsford Winery and the NY Yankees offer Finger Lakes Riesling by Anthony Road Winery.

As the 2017 MLB season wrapped up, there were currently 20 teams sporting their own club labels with many of the MLB Club Reserve wines priced between $20- $35 a bottle.

So, did the Yankees hit it out of the ballpark?

Um, not really. But my sisinlaw did score in the fun category. The wine was more like a sacrificed bunt for the run than a grand slam. For the $25 price tag, it was just  so-so and probably more suited as an accent to a great memory like sitting behind home plate in the Yankee Moat than served at home with a weekend dinner. Or to be given as a nice gift for baseball fans who collect Team memorabilia.  

We still had fun trying it, though, since anything is possible before you actually open the bottle. Cheers! 

Oklahoma Skies #6: Sunrise

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. 

 

 

Life, on this day, two years ago. Promising beginning to the new school year. 

September 18, 2015

 

Oklahoma Skies #5: Sunrise

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. 

 

Woke to a cracked summer sky . . .

June 29, 2017

 

 

Win(d)ing Down The Summer into Fall

Well, this may have been the fastest summer on record. Anyone else feel this way or is it just me?

Life seems to be on fast forward since we’re in the transition years with our teens as they move from high school to college. I’m having a harder time dealing with all this transition than I thought I would. After school finished in May, our teenagers got jobs, went to camps and basically had activities until band camp in August. There wasn’t even a free weekend for a short family vacation. Although, I did enjoy skipping the stress of planning one. If you’ve ever had the joy of packing, finding accommodations or driving numerous miles with a crowd, I know you’ll understand. My son calls us the ‘Six Man Side Show’. He vows he’s going to vacation alone after he moves out on his own.

However, come December, half of our sideshow is traveling to London to march in the New Year’s Day Parade. The other reason we didn’t vacation this summer. Converting pennies to pounds is expensive! Oh, and I’m a chaperon for this UK adventure. Pray. Please. Pray for me, as I and several other parents along with 250+ teenagers descended on London for a week. The trip is kinda bittersweet with everyone excited for the opportunity but at the same time having to leave half the family at home. I’ve started brushing up on the language (important words like trousers, crisps, chemist, chips, underground and rubbish) and hunting for waterproof winter jackets. Here we come ENGLAND!

courtesy of BBC.com

londonvisitors.wp.com

Anyway, August is now gone, too. Which got me to thinking. A dangerous prospect, I know. There were a lot of ‘new’ wines on the shelves this summer and I’m wondering if they are only seasonal fads or producers just new to me?

prophecywines.com

Will these wines disappear after a while? Will there be a new crop on the shelves next summer? Are these short-lived trends? Seasonal offerings like pumpkin spice latte? Summer is a good time to break into the market. Holidays, I know, are the other marketing window. From my experience in retail, 80% of our yearly revenue came from the months of October to December. Anyway, the wine market is saturated with offerings in the low to middle range. We tried a few with marginal results.

The wines of summer – the beginning was not the end

We also wound up opening a few bottles special to us. This was the summer to clear out and tidy up starting with a favorite of ours from Frogs Leap Winery in Rutherford, CA. My husband surprised me with an anniversary trip to Dallas and dinner at Perry’s Steakhouse and Grille. They have a beautiful wine cellar from which we chose Frog’s Leap 2014 Zinfandel. It didn’t disappoint! 

We finished the weekend with another Frog’s Leap bottle we’d brought home from our Napa Valley trip 3 years earlier; Frog’s Leap’s version of Rosé. It was a nice light bottle of summer fruit to go with all our of reminiscing about the trip.  

The last special bottle we opened this summer was Castello di Amorosa 2012 Reserve Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard from the Castello di Amorosa Winery in Napa. The winery’s a giant castle run by charming imported Italians. We had a great time there tasting and exploring and petting the chickens. I’m convinced chickens are a requirement for every authentic castle. 

The rest of the summer we drank a lot of white with an few reds mixed in. See if you recognize any of them: 

And here we are in September. Oklahoma weather is pretending it’s already deep into Fall with morning temps in the 50s. I’m loving it. Good college football weather. I’m not sure why God has chosen to bless us with such beautiful weather while the rest of the country deals with horrifically heartbreaking hurricanes and devastating fires. Maybe it’s so I’ll learn to think soberly about my days and to be thankful. Either way, I’m grateful.

Cheers and Happy Fall, friends!

Off the Vineyard Trail #6: The Attic

There comes a time in everyone’s life when you just need to let a few things go.

During these past few unexpected rainy days, we decided to tackle the job of cleaning out our attic. The chore has been literally hanging over our heads for months now. Last week when I pulled down the ladder to get an ice chest for band camp, there wasn’t floor space to stand on. Mind you, our attic isn’t huge but it’s adequate to store the non-everyday items.

Cleaning out one’s attic is like opening a Pandora’s Box of ‘These were the Years of Your Life.’ Granted, we’ve had over 13 years in this house to stuff ours, so there’s the typical junk. However, among the boxes of Christmas décor and childhood memorabilia there were a few forgotten surprises…

  • A brand new Street Hockey net and Sticks
  • A duffle bag of uniforms from my hubby’s stint in the military
  • A prom dress circa 1989
  • 3 boogie boards
  • An Eskimo Barbie and a Russian Barbie
  • A full-sized spare tire
  • 2 Saber swords from Uzbekistan
  • A Margaritaville frozen drink mixer
  • A Biology lab microscope
  • Ticket stubs for the 1988 Stanley Cup Playoffs with the New Jersey Devils – face value $11
  • A baby crib
  • Crutches and a knee brace
  • A bike trainer (rehab after the crutches)
  • 2 bales of chicken wire (I forgot I’d bought one already)
  • A buffalo costume from Halloween
  • A 1986 newspaper with the headline ‘Challenger Explosion’
  • A box of VHS tapes
  • A baseball card collection
  • A 1994 Playbill from the Broadway Musical ‘Guys and Dolls’
  • New York Yankee baseball tickets 1996 – face value $16
  • The green metal slide from my son’s loft bed
  • A plastic toy refrigerator and stove
  • A vintage Trombone case

We decided to sort through all the boxes and do some serious clean out. The nicest surprise was in the middle of going through a box of old letters, birthday cards and pictures. I found two letters from my mom. One she had written on her 25th birthday when I was 6 weeks old, that I was to open on my 25th birthday. The second was a Christmas letter she wrote when I was seven. She wrote on the envelope, “Allison, this is to be opened when you’re an adult and your Christmas seems less than it should be. OR when your 7 year-old child drives you crazy with their impatience at Christmas. Love, Mother.”

Apparently, I was driving her crazy. I wish I could remember when she actually gave me the letter. I’d like to think it was the Christmas we had four kids under the age of 7 and they could barely stay in their beds past 4:30 that morning!

Let me warn you, sentimentality is running high in our household right now from revisiting all the life the LORD has given us. The task started as a chore but I can honestly say it’s ended with a lot of thanksgiving, laughter and a few cringy moments. Especially, after my kids found my high school yearbooks. (Yes, I really did want my hair to look like Robert Smith’s of The Cure. Deal with it.)

After hauling seven bags of trash and two large bins of junk to the curb plus one vanload to the Salvation Army, I’m seriously considering joining the minimalist movement. The feeling of letting go is so refreshing! I just wish some of our rediscovered junk was valuable enough to hawk on EBay. Maybe it could of helped cover the University Bursar bill that arrived last week. Oh well, at least I can put the Uzbek sabers to use opening an inexpensive bottle of cava.

So, what’s in your attic?

Off the Vineyard Trail #3: A Wedding in WA Wine Country

Life can be full of irony. For example, I was literally in the middle of Woodinville Wine Country a couple weekends ago and left without visiting a single winery. As you know, occasionally, I like to write about wine and here was a golden opportunity. You could have tossed a bottle any direction and hit a winery and yet, I might as well have been in Death Valley. Surprisingly, I’m not entirely depressed about this fact despite feeling like the boy in the bubble after gazing longingly at winery upon winery and not being able to stop. To emphasize the irony, here’s a map of the area. 

woodinvillewinecountry.com

woodinvillewinecountry.com

Our hotel was four miles up the winery crowded road from Chateau Ste. Michelle at the bottom of the map. There’s only one reason I’d skip this golden opportunity: I love my brother and his wedding ranked higher than me tasting my way through Washington! The breathtaking beauty of the area was a nice consolation. 

img_9592Mt. Rainier welcomed us on the approach into Seattle. I swear I could have climbed out on the wing and skied down it, that’s how close it felt.

img_9601Sadly, my brother has lived in the Pacific Northwest for nearly a decade and I’ve not once gotten to visit him. I could use the excuse of how expensive it is to go or I might just be a lousy sister. We got up early the next day to explore Seattle with the promise to be back to Woodinville before the 6pm rehearsal. Ha! I’ve been in rushhour in NYC, LA & SanFran but Seattle is a whole different ballgame. With only one day, we hit the highlights: Space Needle, EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum with the Star Trek experience (my baby brother’s a sci-fi nut), Pike Place Market with the flying fish and Starbucks.  

 

img_9661We enjoyed the view from the top of the Space Needle. Although, Seattle might need to call an exterminator. 

 

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The Space Needle’s outside balcony causes you to unintentionally bump into fellow tourists and get a mild case of motion sickness. There should be warning signs on the doors telling you to brace yourself and leave the coffee cups inside. I watched more than one unsuspecting viewer stumble suddenly into the retaining wall. You’d have thought there was more than just cream in their cup.

Wavy floors of fun

Wavy floors of fun

Next we hopped the Monorail, after paying an exorbitant $4 for a round trip ticket, to watch the sport of fish flinging and ogle the birthplace of $5 cups of coffee. Pike Place Market is a multi-level, cavernous indoor/outdoor farmer’s market on steroids. You can walk for days through the winding passageways and still not see every booth or vendor. 

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Scent of money, er, coffee.

Scent of money, er, coffee.

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img_9705After playing Turbo Tourist, we got to enjoy a rainy, no wait it stopped . . . . it’s raining again . . . ok, it really has stopped, outdoor Fall Wedding. This was our first family gathering since our mom’s passing in April and it was a much needed welcome celebration. My dad had warned me to dress warmly because it’s more north than Oklahoma. Yeah, I know geography! 55 degrees in Seattle during the rainy season isn’t the same as 55 degrees in Oklahoma. It’s cold. However, Fall in Washington is wonderful. It rained the night we arrived and the trees were dressed in brilliant colors the next morning. My brother and his lovely bride tied the knot at a farm (ironically, not a winery but there was one down the street) and it even stopped raining for the reception. 

img_9753

img_9754

 

 

A rainbow blessing for the newlyweds.

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It was your typical wedding with dancing, hoop-la hoops, badminton and family tattoos. My new sister-in-law fits into our goofy family perfectly and she plans ultra-awesome weddings. 

No tramp stamp for me, thanks.

No tramp stamp for me, thanks.

I did get to drink Washington wine: 14 Hands. Lovely. And sample beer from a keg of Mac & Jack’s African Amber to go with the delicious Falafel Food Truck fare. I think food trucks may be the wedding trend of the future!  

Wedding Caterers

Wedding Caterers

In the end, despite no wineries visits, it was still a very enjoyable trip. And all those wineries gives me a really good excuse to visit my brother and sister-in-law more often in the future beside just wanting to see them. 😉 

Until then, 

Allison 

Me and my lovable goofball.

Me and my lovable goofball.

A Month of No Wine and a Trip to Planet Oregon

 

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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! 

relight-3

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. img_9167

img_9169La 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. 

 

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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!

Band_Geeks

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

 

marching_band_is____by_shadowdemonalchemist-d384qn2

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