A Wine Drinker Rambling about Wine

Category: Wineries (page 1 of 3)

“One of The Best-Kept Secrets of France”: Bugey Appellation

I love this time of the year! Our local wine shop hosts an abundance of wine tastings in prep for the coming holiday season so it’s an excellent opportunity to be exposed to wines all for free! I guess it’s not totally “free”.  The tasting and learning are free. However, I usually do come home with at least a bottle or two so you get it. Plus, there’s the opportunity to chat with a wine rep who’s sole aim is to help you get to know their wines. They are always amiable and enthusiastic talkers!

Once again, we found ourselves squeezing in a tasting  on a crowded Wednesday evening but it was well worth it.  Our local wine shop was throwing a Fall Wine Tasting hosted by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants. The wines were all from France, food-friendly and geared towards holiday gatherings.  Our favorite was the sparkling wine Bottex “La Cueille” Bugey-Cerdon Rosé. It was the last pour in the line up and the one that elicited the most smiles from everyone.  The color alone brought a great reaction and coupled with it’s very heady fragrance, the crowded back corner bar where it was being served quickly turned into a lively party.  A few of us may have circled through a second time while the rep spun stories about the Bottex family and the Bugey appellation.

Bugey-Cerdon is actually a blend of the grapes Gamay and Poulsard. The wine is low in alcohol content, vibrantly pink, bubbly, slightly sweet, and fabulously fragrant. Extremely festive. And from a region that according to Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, “… is one of the best-kept secrets of France.”

Patrick Bottex “La Cueille” Bugey Cerdon Rosé NV

I really enjoyed doing research on this wine region. Not many of the region’s wines usually flow past their local dinner table but a few are making their way to foreign shores. The region of Bugey is tucked at the foothills of the Jura mountains between Savoie and the Rhone. It received official appellation status in 2009 but has been around since Medieval times.

“Today, Cerdon is considered one of three crus within the appellation of Bugey, and the only one whose entire production consists of sparkling wine.” ~ KermitLynch.com 

I’m thinking they’ve mastered the old adage, “Focus on one thing and do it well.”

“Le Cueille” Picture courtsey of Bottex Website

The 5 hectares of the  Bottex vineyard lies in the hamlet of Le Cueille.  According to French law, the wine has to be made in the Mèthode Ancestrale which is an ancient process that pre-dates Champenoise. Basically, the wine only goes through a single fermentation in vats and finishes up in bottle. Fairly simple. In my opinion, the results are wonderful! 

The wine tasting was so festive that just looking at the picture I snapped in haste (before getting back in queue to ask a question and maybe a drop more wine) makes me excited for the holidays. The “best kept secret” is now out but I’m confident I can get a few bottles during the wine shop’s Fall Sale this week. (Thank you,  Alexander Graham Bell

Rest assured, if you’re coming to my house anytime in the next two months, this is what I’m serving! Cheers!

Madeira: My ‘Wow’ Wine Moment

Last evening, we attended a tasting at our local wine shop hosted by The Rare Wine Co. They specialize in old vintage wines and were pouring 6 offerings with the help of their rep Master Sommelier Anthony Anselmi. I throw his name out there encase anyone knows him. I adore name dropping whenever possible. 

All of the wines were Old World which gives me immediate recall issues on the where, whom and why but once I get my bearings on a wine I can sometimes remember. My brain picks up New World better. Anyway, my poor memory became irrelevant once I tasted the last wine poured. 


The Rare Wine Co. Historic Series Charleston Sercial Madeira NV

19.5% Alc. Retail $50

This was my first Madeira and it hopefully won’t be my last. It’s produced by Vinhos Barbeito from the Island of Madeira, Portugal. 

It’s deep golden in color and powerfully aromatic.  So powerful on the nose that bourbon came to mind and I hesitated in tasting. Strong drink gives me a tummy ache. I braved it and took a sip.

And time stood still. I’m not joking. You all felt it right? Who else has experienced this after one sip? 

In that moment, I had my first ‘Wow’. It was magical. I’ve been fortunate to taste a few good wines over the years. Nothing of the famous cult variety but still very good. However, that little sip topped them all. Stupefied and stunned, I just kept looking at the glass.  Sniff and look. Sniff and look. I was clueless at that point as to where Madeira was located but I knew I was in love. The taste was nothing like the nose. Soft and dry with what I first thought was butterscotch but turned out to be caramel and a touch of saltiness. Delicious.

We had crammed the wine tasting in between a busy work day and rushing to a class at church but once I sipped the Madeira all thoughts of hurrying were gone. I wanted to draw out finishing it as long as possible and savor the moment. I’m making a note for future wine tastings to keep the schedule clear just in case a wonderful wine happens.  

This particular bottle is part of The Rare Wine Co. Historic Madeira series produced by the Barbeito family. The wines are named for U.S. cities where Madeira was super popular in the 18th and 19th century. They chose two cities in the south, Charleston and Savannah, which are drier Madeira and two cities in the north, Boston and New York, which are sweeter. Having a southern mama, I would have picked Charleston for sweet but historically the South preferred dry. 

Here’s a few info-bites I hastily gleaned about the wine I am now designating as the gift to give for all future weddings I might get to attend:

  1. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Madeira is a fortified wine which means it practically lasts forever making it a great anniversary tradition to save and sip each year. 
  2. High in alcohol. It can have between 19 – 22%. Another reason you might not finish the bottle in one sitting although it’s tempting. 
  3. As a landmass, Madeira is a mountainous island with mild temperatures. 
  4. The four current global Madeira wine producers survived by buying and stockpiling vintages during a 13 year phylloxera outbreak. The one we tasted was in barrel for 22 years. 
  5. Apparently, Japan really likes Madeira and buys lots of it. 
  6. It goes well with duck. (Thank you, Amy) 

Actually, it apparently goes well with lots of dishes for that matter. I’m thinking for Thanksgiving it’s goodbye Prosecco and Hello Madeira. The only thing stopping me is the price. Well, and the alcohol content. Other than that “if I were a rich man . . . yada yada yada” 


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


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?


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!

#Winestudio Thru Rose Colored Glasses: Bonterra Rose 2016 Mendocino

“La Vie En Rose. It is the French way of saying, ‘I am looking at the world through rose-coloured glasses.” -Aubrey Hepburn

Who doesn’t enjoy viewing life through Rosé colored glasses? Cares melt away. Edges soften. The harsh world warms up into a bright summer glow. That’s exactly the effect the Bonterra Rose 2016 Mendocino produced for #Winestudio this month. And in a touch of playfulness, rose colored sunglasses were included with the Bonterra Rosé for #Winestudio participants to sport as we virtually visited the Bonterra Vineyards and farms. 

30 years ago, under the direction of winemaker Bob Blue, Bonterra Vineyards made a commitment to organic and biodynamic practices before organic was even cool. Today, organic is very cool despite the fact it’s been around for centuries! Bonterra’s organic vineyards fit perfectly with the June #Winestudio theme of “What’s ‘Old’ is ANew”. Regardless of the present trends, Bonterra remains passionate that great wine comes from farms and vineyards teeming with biodiversity and healthy soils. As a result of their commitment, Bonterra leads the U.S. in organic wine production and it’s garnered them the award of being named “American Winery of the Year 2016” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

“Our style has always been about restraint, because we have fewer tools in the vineyard & winery. Balance trumps trends, always.” -Bonterra Wines


Bonterra Vineyards and Farms

 It takes years to become an accredited California Certified Organic Farmer (CCOF). You must adhere to two of the Demeter farm standards which in Bonterra’s case is applying bio-dynamic preparations and composts and increasing biodiversity. Located in Mendocino County, the Bonterra biodynamic wine collection explores site-specific expressions from three Demeter-certified estate vineyards. 

According to the Bonterra website:

“Our three ranches (Blue Heron, McNab and Butler) are certified Biodynamic® by Demeter and our status is reviewed annually to ensure that each ranch adheres to the Demeter Farm Standard. The principle of Biodynamic farming is the simplest way to understand what it is: a living organism which is self-contained, self-sustaining, and follows the cycles of nature.”

 Bonterra Rosé 2016 Mendocino (Grenache, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo) $16


How’s it made?

Bonterra believes style and method go hand and hand. “Method drives the style, and we knew we wanted to make a Provence-inspired Rosé.” The Rosé is made in the Provencal style using the direct press method. Bonterra selected Grenache as the main grape because “it’s great for rosé and Sangiovese and Nebbiolo do well in Mendocino”. 

The Resulting Taste?

A refreshing mouth full of light summer strawberries, hints of rose petals and nice acidity. 

Let me know if you try a bottle. Rumor has it, with only a few days into the official summer season, the winery is almost sold out. If you come across a bottle I’d be happy to share it with you. In the meantime, may the LORD bless you with a very rosy summer. ~Allison


Disclosure: I received a media sample of Bonterra Rose 2016 Mendocino as a participant of #Winestudio. All rose colored opinions are my own. I think these month long Rosé sessions are turning me into a Rosé drinker. For me, this was another delicious bottle of wine. With any varietal, all it takes is finding a good bottle so I’m committed to trying! Cheers!

Kicking off a Month of Rose for #Winestudio: Domaines Paul Mas

Program note: I started this post last week with the intention of publishing ASAP because of the timeliness of the subject, however, reality often eclipses intention. June is #Winestudio’s annual month of Rosé, so technically I’m still on time! 

June 10th    is   was National Rosé Day so it’s only natural #Winestudio’s June program feature Rosé. To kick off a month of Rosé education, the first week featured  a portfolio of wines from Domaines Paul Mas with vigneron,  Jean-Claude Mas, as guide.  In 2000, Jean-Claude left a career in motorsports to restructure his family’s declining vineyard estate into a viable winemaking business. He has worked hard to cultivate a wine style focused on a philosophy of “the simple pleasures of life” and has built a wine empire in France’s Languedoc region with their wine exported to 61 countries. 

“Luxe Rural sums up our culture and philosophy. With the greatest respect for our rural roots, we aim for perfection. Our wines are the result of our mission to inspire real emotions.” ~ Vigneron Jean-Claude Mas

With the philosophy of Luxe Rural in mind, we tasted through three different rosés; two still wines and a sparkler.  Now is when the education part of #Winestudio kicks in – I had to revisit the meaning ‘free run juice’ which led me to an inner dialogue about my lack of formal wine certification/qualifications and how basically the fact is I’m only a wine drinker. I run on intelligence guided by experience.  What am I saying? The following is focused more on the specs of these wines than the taste so it might be drier than usual. Although, the taste was a very pleasant experience and is further changing my views of Rosé.  

To get the party started, we popped a sparkler:

Côté Mas Crémant de Limoux Rosé Brut NV St. Hilaire Languedoc ($16)

  • 70% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc, 10% Pinot Noir (Personally, in my palate’s opinion, chardonnay is more pleasant when she brings friends along to temper her buttery personality.) 
  • Production is by Methode Traditionelle – Primary fermentation is in stainless steel vats with a blend of sugar and yeast, “Liqueur de Tirage” added before bottling. The bottles are placed upside down to gather the lees in the neck and aged a year. The bottlenecks are then frozen to trap the lees in an ice plug which is easily removed. The bottles are re-sealed and aged a second year. 
  • Limoux is often cited as the oldest sparkling wine region in France.
  • Don’t you think sparklers make excellent introductions to the world of Rosé?


Côté Mas Rosé Aurore 2016 Sud de France ($11)

  • The grapes are de-stemmed and the varieties: Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah – are vinified separately.  
  • The Cote Mas Rose Aurore is made with only free run juice.  Free run juice is the juice pressed out from the sheer weight of the grapes stacked on top of each other into the winepress. This juice is treasured for it’s characteristics of purity, freshness and clarity of flavor. Wines made from free run juice are bottled under a separate label and often at a higher price point. 
  • The Aurore ferments for 3 weeks at 17*C in stainless steel and then aged on its lees in new cement vats with regular pump-overs. Pump-over – a technique used to increase optimal extraction of color and flavors. Also known as remontage, the wine is pumped up from the bottom of the tank and splashed over the top of the fermenting grape skins, seeds and stems; the purpose is to submerge the skins so that carbon dioxide is pushed to the surface of the must and released.
  • This free run juice is widely available at the astronomical price $11. 


Arrogant Frog Rose 2016 Languedoc ($10)

  • 100% Syrah and nicknamed ‘Lily Pad Pink’
  • The Arrogant Frog has become the mascot of Domaines Paul Mas Estate wines.
  • It had a rich body and weight to it with lovely strawberries. (That’s all I’ll say.)
  • Protected by a pine forest, the vines grow in a gravel, clay and limestone soil wrapped in a Mediterranean climate. 

The Arrogant Frog was the only wine I had time to plan a proper menu pairing so I decided to try my hand at homemade street tacos. The spices paired really well! The Frog was my favorite of the three.

There is so much more I could share with you about these luxe Roses besides them being simply affordable but I think I’ve already loaded you down with enough information. Plus my goal isn’t to cause your eyes to glaze over! I’ll leave you with this: Domaines Paul Mas makes a lovely range of rosés. Let me know if you try one! Adieu.


Disclosure: I received these wine media samples as a participant of the online wine educational program #Winestudio. All ramblings are my own. 

A Bird’s Eye view of Texas Wine: 4R Ranch Vineyards and Winery

Our plan was to visit a Texas winery on the way home from Dallas. My husband had surprised me with a quick trip for our anniversary and our teens are finally old enough to babysit themselves, so we had time to explore. Ironically, I’ve lived on Texas’ doorstep for over twenty years and have traveled all over it’s vast land, yet I’ve never tasted Texas wine. So you can imagine my excitement for this first Texas wine experience.

Here, I’m going to pause a moment for those with young children and let ‘teens babysitting themselves’ sink in.Yes, there comes a day when you can take an overnight trip and not have to get a sitter. It is a GLORIOUS day.

We meandered northwest over rural county roads and wide sweeping plains toward the quaint town of Muenster and it’s rich German heritage. Then farther north and closer to the Red River onto chalky gravel roads where among sweeping vistas and rocky terrain lies 4R Ranch Vineyard and Winery  in the North Texas Hill country.The ranch and vineyard have been cultivated by 6 generations of Texans. 4R Ranch’s tasting room, the Wind Shed, opened last November and is named after the vast wind turbine farm that dominates the landscape.

Although the winery directions were clearly marked with signs, my distrust of google maps kicked in as we drove farther down a narrowing dirt track. Of course, it was completely unfounded, for there, on a rocky hill, a stone building came into view as we gunned the engine up the last steep, winding curve to the top. The entrance to the Wind Shed appeared sparse but sleek and curiously inviting. A simple front compliments a cantilevered deck in the back with a magnificent view of the Red River Valley. We soon discovered the view and wine to be utterly relaxing. 

The  front entrance

The back entrance

Stepping inside, we were charmed by the modern decor and inviting staff. The winery had just opened for the day but the place was already bustling with activity. This was a surprise since we hadn’t passed a single car on the way up for over twenty miles.There was a brief debate on whether to stay inside at the granite bar and air conditioning or sit outside. Both were great, however, one glance through the large glass doors and concern for the warm humidity evaporated. The view was amazing! We sat relaxed and mesmerized while watching turbines whirling in the distance, birds soaring between vistas and a deer bounding across the lower floor of the Red River valley. 










We’d skipped lunch so their cheese plates and pub mixes were a welcome addition to our tasting. 4R Ranch offers a tasting flight of 3 or 5 of their 17 wines on the menu with all but two of the wines made solely from Texas grapes. Of course, we’re were going with all Texas for our flight of 5 wines which included 4R Ranch’s estate grown Viongier and Cabernet Sauvignon. By the end of our tasting, my husband leaned close to whisper, “Everyone’s envious of us.”

Huh? Startled out of my thoughts of wondering if the birds soaring in between the turbine blades ever smacked into them, I glanced around the deck. The view and wine had so captured my attention, I hadn’t noticed the place had filled up behind us. Peering over the railing into the valley below, my hubby was right. We had scored the best table and a thoroughly enjoyable overview of what Texas has to offer.

5 Wines of Texas: Viognier to
4R Ranch Red

Although there was a pleasant breeze, the day was warming up typically Texas so for our flight we gratefully started with the orange-gold hued Viognier Estate “Texoma” 2015 and its refreshing fruit, load of acidity, and minerals. It was my husband’s favorite of the two light wines. Up next was the spicy Tempranillo Rosé “Stampfenstier” 2015 or the ‘Stomp Animal’. 4R Ranch has several of their wines named with a nod to the area’s German heritage. Their Rosé was classic and refreshing. The last three wines were red: Cabernet Sauvignon Estate “Texoma” 2013,  Lenior/Grenache “Hoof und Hund”, my favorite, and the 4R Ranch “Texas”. The “Texas” is the winemaker’s homage to the wines of Chateauneuf-du-Papes with a constantly changing blend of Texas grown Rhone varietals. All three were delicious and balanced. Not a bad introduction to Texas wine!

I’m not that naive to assume every Texas winery produces stellar wine but for a first taste, this was a fantastic start. I wonder if in twenty-five years Texas will be the new Napa? Man, I hope so. It’ll save me a ton on airfare and wine shipping charges! In the meantime,“if you’re ever down in Texas” . . . get to a winery! 

~ Allison








Wines of the West Festival – Stockyard City

If you’ve ever wondered what cowboys do between rodeos and cattle round-ups, then next June strap on your spurs and head to the west side of Oklahoma City to Stockyard City. There’s more than steers and Stetsons in this historic part of town. For the past 8 years, the Stockyard has hosted the Wines of the West Festival where 15-20 Oklahoma wineries gather each year in the old Mercantile building to pour their wine. It’s a great opportunity to sample the Oklahoma wine scene and enjoy a step back into the Old West.

Riding into town at high noon and we ambled over to the Cattlemen’s event center at Cattlemen’s Steakhouse to check in and pick up our wrist bands. The majority of the wineries had set up shop in the old Stockyard Mercantile with a few others located in the Granville Music School and the Rodeo Opry. After getting a couple of glasses from the Saloon keeper, we wasted no time burning the breeze to the Mercantile. A lively crowd was gathered around the twelve watering holes dispersing fire-water while a future Garth Brooks strummed a 6-string and sang. 

We did a quick two-step around the room and then jumped into the shortest line. Most winery lines moved faster than molasses but with the spirits flowing, everyone was in good spirits. 

I’d hoped to chew the fat with a few of the winemakers but between the music and the crowd it proved to be harder than uncorking a bronc. I gave up and settled down to enjoying the wine and western atmosphere. Y’all, despite living in Oklahoma with ranchers, farmers, country music, western ambiance, and loads of pick-up trucks, must of us OKC locals are just good old suburbanites. Or at least we’re a hybrid of cowboy suburbanite. Either way, I see more ball caps behind the wheels of the F-150s flying by me on I-35 than cowboy hats. So an afternoon of soaking in a bit of western heritage was really refreshing.



After saying howdy to each winery at the Merc, we wondered over to the last two tasting spots while admiring the western haberdashery along the way.

Our last stop was at the Rodeo Opry building and the wines of Water’s Edge Winery. The line was thankfully small cause by then we were tuckered out. Water’s Edge Winery was pouring a watermelon wine that reminded me of that first cool, sweet bite of melon on a hot summer day. 

The regular Rodeo Opry band was setting up in the auditorium for the evening show so we took advantage of the opportunity to sit and relax. Apparently, Rodeo Opry has a variety show on Saturday nights with everything from country western to blues. Loads of local talent. The auditorium is small and well laid out so there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Overall, the afternoon was really enjoyable so I think we’ll be coming back for a bit more western culture in the future! Until next time friends, Happy Trails!

On the Oklahoma Wine Trail: Route 66 & Cabernet Sauvignon

Summer break is almost upon us! How do I know? This is the last week of school, my kids are freaking out over finals and the air conditioner just clicked on for the third time this hour despite the interspersed chilly days of rain and tornadoes.  Anyway, I’ve started planning a few mini-road trips and hope to get to a couple Oklahoma wineries before school starts again in August. Ya, I know, it’s only May but I guarantee we’ll both wake up in July in a week or two and pre-school activities will be on the horizon!

Oklahoma Wine Trail

I know I’ve mentioned my home state’s love affair with sweet wine. However, there appears to be a steady growth in the production of good red blends, Cabernet Sauvignons, and Merlots among Oklahoma vineyards that’s simultaneously gaining appreciation among Oklahoma wine drinkers. Make good wine, they will come. Even the number of licensed wineries has multiplied since the mid-90s from 4 to over 60 with a handful located along the historic Mother Road – Route 66, which can make for a very pleasant road trip. 

We had the opportunity to taste two Oklahoma Cabernet Sauvignons a few weeks ago while in the middle of a very successful DIY project; successful because it only required two additional trips to Lowes. The first one we tried was while strolling through our town’s annual Arts Festival. The evening was calm and comfortable, crowned with a clear twilight sky. A couple Oklahoma wineries had tasting booths where you could buy a ‘Large Taste’ to enjoy alongside the art appreciation. It cracks me up that the ‘taste’ was really a big glass but the law requires creative semantics. Anyway, we sampled several wines from Sparks Vineyard and Winery located in southeastern Oklahoma and decided their Cabernet Sauvignon was worth bringing home.  

Yup. The bottle’s empty. We drank it.

The second Cabernet Sauvignon we picked up was from a vineyard closer to us, Clauren Ridge Vineyard. The challenge of wiring in a new kitchen light can produce great thirst as well as anxiety, so we took a break and enjoyed the sunshine and wine on CRV’s lovely porch. It made for a good comparison between the two wines. Clauren Ridge is nice but Sparks resembled more of a traditional Cabernet with pronounced bold fruit and tannin. However, both contained a certain native flavor on the finish. 

Here’s the thing. If you’ve tasted an Oklahoma Cabernet, you’ll notice immediately a certain something consistent with all of them. A particular aroma/flavor I like to refer to as the Oklahoma ‘umami’. Regardless of the vineyard, this ‘umami’ seems to show up in almost every bottle. I think it’s born from the windy, heat kissed red clay terroir of these Great Plains. So, this summer if you get a chance to visit our panhandled patch of red earth, make a point to visit a winery and try it. 

The Historic Mother Road

Last weekend, while a few of our teens played Commencement and our college kid took her first road trip sans parents to Texas, we explored Route 66 between Oklahoma City and Stroud. The main reason; there’s a winery tucked in among the historic attractions and, of course, Pops with its nearly 700 sodas. Our youngest daughter got stuck with us for the afternoon so we bribed her with the promise she could drink herself into a sugar-induced coma.

Pops is a diner and gas station with two main attractions: a gigantic roadside soda bottle and 700 sodas.

It’s lights up at night!

Soda flavors range in everything from Chocolate Covered Maple Smoked Bacon (It really does taste like chocolate bacon), buffalo wings, peanut butter & jelly to jalapeno. Their monikers are just as interesting with the likes of Deadworld Zeek Cocktail Cotton Candy, Rowdy Roddy Piper Bubble Gum, Avery Bug Barf and Gross Gus’s Bloody Nose. I think Gus’s  is actually cherry but I don’t have the courage to try it. And for the coffee lover there’s a soda called Martian Poop. Yum. Overall, a worthwhile stop with or without kids. 

Sugar coma complete, we headed up the mother road toward Stroud and Stable Ridge Vineyards which sits a mile off Route 66 in a relocated Catholic Church. The vineyard and winery were actually started from the result of two separate tornado events. Moral of the story: if a tornado wipes out your house, plant a vineyard. 


It’s friendly tasting room is located in the town’s original Catholic Church.

Stable Ridge Vineyards has a variety of wines to sample. Their most popular and award-winning is Jeremiah Red, a dessert wine made from a blend of full-bodied reds and blackberries. However, the owner/winemaker has an affinity for growing Chenin Blanc. Chenin Blanc is hard to impossible to grow in Oklahoma but the winemaker enjoys the challenge. The owners have recently planted more of the vines to try and replace dwindling growth. 

In the end, we left with a semi-sweet white wine made of Riesling and natural lemon flavoring named Soleil which was a refreshing compliment to the humid evening. It’s basically wine lemonade and pairs very well with summer. 

At the beginning of June, I’ll have another opportunity to compare more Cabernet when a majority of Oklahoma vineyards and wineries gather for Wines of the West in historic Stockyard City. You’re welcome to join me. Just shine up your cowboy boots and ride into town on June 3rd. 

Artfully Crafted Inside and Out: Meeker Vineyard Winemaker’s Handprint Merlot

“There’s nothing too serious except the wine itself.”

~ Molly Meeker, Owner, Meeker Vineyard Sonoma County

Where do I start?

After participating in a speedy hour of #Winestudio chat covering various aspects of Meeker Vineyard wines, I feel like Dorothy gazing out the window as the tornado spins objects around her. Spring time in Oklahoma and my mind goes automatically to twisters! However, instead of a Spinster flying by on a bicycle, it’s a 2nd generation dynamic wine duo and their deliciously full-bodied Merlot. Their impressive social media and wine acumen has me thinking of those purple clad super twins from the ’80s which is fitting since it was their Merlot we were chatting about! For those who grew up in the early 80s, you’ll know them. Yup, the Wonder Twins. Except, these Wonder twins activated their superpowers in  form of Merlot crafting winemaker, shape of wine savvy social media maven and are working to preserve a strong family tradition while progressing toward the future. Who are these Wonder Twins wielding their wine power in Sonoma, you ask? Brother and sister team, Lucas and Kelly Meeker, of Meeker Vineyard in Sonoma County, California.

This sibling duo are 2nd generation heirs wanting to preserve their parents legacy while crafting a progressive vision for the future of Meeker Vineyards. Definitely, No Woolworth heiresses here. Their parents, Charlie and Molly Meeker, who purchased the first vineyard in 1977, are still very much involved as President, CEO and chief bottle-washers. However, Lucas is now head winemaker and bottle decorator while sister, Kelly, manages the winery’s social media, website and marketing.


I was only going to ‘check-in’ on the March #winestudio chats but the second week’s wine, Meeker Vineyard 2013 Winemaker’s Handprint Merlot Sonoma County, (14.4%, $43 SRP), immediately had me contacting my trusty wine shop guru about the bottle. I love artful approaches and wanted to see it in person. The winemaker’s actual hand print adorns every bottle. All 2000 to be exact. I wasn’t able to buy the 2013 that #winestudio was tasting with the discussion but the 2012 Merlot was just as marvelous.

Upon opening, we quickly discovered an artfully crafted Merlot on the inside as a heady aroma of berries, cherries and spices filled the air. My husband and wine partner remarked of it’s strong resemblance in color and aroma to a Cabernet Sauvingon. However, the body was a touch lighter with complex layers of luscious cherries, strawberry, rhubarb, spices, vanilla and oak notes and long-lasting tannin.

The Meeker Winemaker’s Handprint Merlot is their flagship wine and a Bordeaux varietal. The Handprint is almost always a blend of two core Merlot vineyards, one in Dry Creek and one in Alexander Valley with around 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Syrah blended in to achieve a more layered flavor profile. The core wine making focal points are centered on acid and tannin structure building. According to Lucas, “A lower pH and increased tannin (grape tannin more than oak!) build integrated, seamless structures with elegance because Meeker wines are made to age. It’s a core part of how we view our identity and style goals: we’re part of a tradition we value.” 

After ‘tweeting’ with the Meeker Wonder Twins and experiencing a little of the superpowers they’re using to preserve and broaden the family wine tradition, I think Meeker Vineyards might age quite nicely. If you get a chance to visit, the Meeker Vineyard tasting room is located in the 113 year-old Geyserville bank building in Geyserville, CA. The original tasting room, interestingly enough to this Okie, was a Sioux Tipi. For more info. about Meeker Vineyard click here.

If you happen try this artfully bottled Merlot, I’d love to know your thoughts on it. My empty Handprint bottle is now displayed in our kitchen. Heck, maybe I’ll make a lamp out of it! In the meantime, I’m activating my own superpowers in the form of WineDrinker and shape of patio for pairing! 

Cheers friends,


Sonoma Winemaker to Watch – Eppie Ordaz & Sandoval Vineyard Malbec 2012

To wrap up the February #winestudio with Ordaz Family Wines and it’s winemaker, Eppie Ordaz, we opened his Sandoval Vineyard Sonoma Valley Malbec 2012 and chatted about growing Malbec. Malbec is rarely produced in Sonoma and that’s exactly why Eppie chose it.

This was probably one of the most enjoyable #winestudio sessions I’ve participated in. Drawing from a rich family heritage in farming and vineyard management, Eppie is humble, friendly and focused on crafting wines rare for the Sonoma AVA. Working alongside his father, Jesus ‘Chuy’ Ordaz, they operate by the philosophy “great wine is made in the vineyard.”  This philosophy encompasses their entire approach to winemaking by using small lot, single varietal vineyards to pioneering organic vineyard practices and safe farming practices for the protection of vineyard workers.

Sandoval vineyard is indicative of Eppie’s vision to make exceptional wine from single variety, small lots. Located on Sonoma Mountain, the vineyard is a whopping 2 acres of 30-year-old Malbec vines planted and managed by Chuy Ordaz. The vines thrive in the rocky, clay soil and a climate of cool, foggy nights and hot days that helps manage Malbec’s susceptibility to mildew.  Eppie crafts the Malbec closer to the Argentinian style while tinkering with it depending on the year. His tinkering tends to drive his father a little crazy since Chuy’s a farmer and likes predictability. Eppie ages the Malbec in lightly seasoned French oak for 18 months before bottling. Only a 132 cases of the 2012 Malbec were produced with 40 cases still available.

“It’s cool to work on something that has a finite amount. Two acres can only produce so much fruit” – Eppie Ordaz

The Sandoval Vineyard Sonoma Valley Malbec 2012 ($25, 13.5%) was dark plum colored, medium bodied, with nice acidity that smoothed into gentle tannins on the finish. Aromas of muted cherries, blueberries and cinnamon opened up slowly. I was surprised I picked out the cinnamon. I guess all this wine drinking is starting to pay off. I was mighty proud of myself for recognizing an aroma other than ‘berries’. The taste was a nice blend of earthy tobacco, cinnamon, cocoa, blueberries and dried plums or prunes. Plums and prunes are the same thing, right? They’ve always baffled me. When plump, they’re plums (hot young things). Dried and wrinkly, they’re prunes (Old Grannies). And that, my friends, is a tiny peek into how my mind works. Probably more than you wanted to know.

For the meal pairing portion of our #winestudio evening, I picked up a Tony’s Italian and House salad from our favorite corner hang out, Upper Crust.


It proved to be a classic case of food and wine doing what they are made to do: compliment each other. With the pizza, the Malbec came alive! The spicy flavors woke up the fruit while in turn the wine tamed the heat of the peppers and spicy meats. It was a happy marriage and I thought it made the Malbec even better. As the evening wrapped up, I asked Eppie what surprised him about becoming a winemaker.

“How difficult it is to be a small label amongst titans of  (the) industry.”

For now, Ordaz Family Wines are only available through their website. However, based on the wines sampled, and the Ordaz Family tradition of tenacity, hard work and excellence; I suspect this small label has a good chance of distinguishing themselves and growing to stand strong among the Titans. 


The wines were samples courtsey of #Winestudio and Ordaz Family Wines. All rambles are my own. Salud! 

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