France,Rhone,Wine,Wine Century Club,Wine of the Week

Wine of the Week ~ 2016 Côtes du Rhône Samorëns Blanc

As we finish our summer in July, August, and early September, here is a spalshingly refreshing, white wine for those lingering pool parties and trips to the beaches…

Right out of the gate, let me say this 2016 Ferraton Père & Fils Côtes du Rhône Samorëns Blanc just knocked me out with its gorgeous flavors. It has excitingly refreshing, lemon-zest and other citrusy flavors.  I enthusiastically recommend this wine, from the southern part of Rhone, for a delicious adventure on your palate…

The blend is 35 percent Roussanne, 30 percent Viognier, 25 percent Grenache Blanc, five percent Clairette*, and five percent Marsanne. It’s a great example of a tasty white Rhône, that’s easy to enjoy and remember.

I could enjoy this one every day, for the rest of my life, the way my Ada* enjoyed a sip of her Sherry every night after dinner. It brought me right back to those summer nights in Stoneham with her.

So ~ Clairette = Wine Century* Wine #170

Clairette blanche is a white wine grape variety, which is most widely grown in the wine regions of Rhône, Provence, and Languedoc in France.

Since this wine is from the Rhône, here are a few facts about the region.

  • The Rhône produces many wines under various Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) designations.
  • The major producer appellation for volume is Côtes du Rhône AOC.
  • Côte-Rôtie, when translated into English is “the roasted slope.” This refers to the long hours of sunlight, which these steep slopes receive.

From their site: History

The land and the people who tend it share the same history.  A history which grows from generation to generation. At the origin, one man, Jean Orëns Ferraton. Vigneron, and son of a vigneron.  A region basked in sun, the Rhône Valley. It was 1946. The story begins.

Michel, his son, inherited the same passion. He decided to give a new dimension to his father’s vineyards. The first Hermitage, Crozes Hermitage and Saint-Joseph Ferraton were brought into the world. A close friend of the Ferratons’, Michel Chapoutier brought his know-how. In 1998, the vineyards were converted to organic viticulture, then certified. Before embracing the culture of bio dynamics. An audacious step. For innovative and strong perspectives.

HB Wine Merchants is the Importer for this wine.

*Wine Century Club ~ Anyone can join and begin your journey to taste 100 different wine varieties. I’m headed toward my 200th wine tasted.

*Ada is the woman hired by my great grandfather (William T. Haines) to help my grandmother run her household, in Waterville, Maine. Ada not only raised my dad and his generation of siblings; but, she also went with my Aunt Edith, when Edith had her own family to raise, and ran her household, too. (She got to know five generations of our family.) I was with her two weeks each summer in Stoneham, Massachusetts. She was a very dear grandmother figure for me. Her quiet demeanor was an inspiration for all of us… And, she loved her nip of Sherry. I’d love to sit with her now and share this 2015 Côtes du Rhône Samorëns Blanc.


Wine,Wine 101,Wine Ed,Wine Education

Why is something so simple so hard? “Removing the Cork 101”

Just can’t get enough of this one, as I watch people struggle all the time, including nervous waitservers.

Why is pulling out a cork so darn intimidating?

Because very few of us in our American culture were raised on wine, so we don’t know how darned easy it is.

As we’re on stage when it’s our turn to remove the cork, our palms begin to sweat as we begin to insert the cork screw’s sharp, little point. Moisture begins to gather around our hair line, as we turn the cork screw in a clockwise motion. Then, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen next. Will we get it out, as the cork screw descends further into the bottle? Again, it’s anyone’s guess…

Well, that used to be the case for me. Once I began to work in winery tasting rooms, and that cork had to come out (because people were standing before me eager to taste the wine I was about to pour), I learned how to do it so quickly and smoothly that I surprised even myself.

Here’s how you, too, can look like you’ve opened enough corks to fill that wine barrel table you’ve created that’s full of corks, and has a glass top covering your masterpiece, so everyone can gather round and ogle at what you’ve done.

1. Securely grab your cork screw in one hand and your bottle of wine in the other.

2. Use absolute straight down aiming at that tiny cork (you’re so much bigger than that cork, so you’ve got to win this battle, and you will).

3. In the absolute dead center of the cork, insert the cork screw tip in a straight downward motion. (Don’t angle this procedure, as that’s the REAL trick in all of this… straight down.)

4. As the cork screw enters the cork, use a bit of pressure to make sure that the cork screw and cork are united in harmony.

5. Without any angling of what you’re doing, begin to twist the cork screw while simultaneously pressing downward, until all the “screw” part of it is inserted into the cork.

6. With a smooth, gentle force (you don’t want any splashing onto what you’re wearing), pull the cork straight out of the bottle. It’s all in the wrist pulling in an upward motion, too.

This is guaranteed to make you look like a pro, and have all the sweating never bead up on your forehead, again. (Three) Cheers!

And, welcome to Removing the Cork 201, where many producers are switching to screw caps!


Digital advancements,innovation,Wine,Wine Education,Wine Innovation,Wine Writer

SevenFifty Daily Needs To Be On Your Radar, if it’s not already

[Image above is from the SevenFifty Daily Website.]

On July 17, 2017, SevenFifty Technologies, Inc., the online platform for the beverage alcohol trade, launched SevenFifty Daily, a new online magazine, covering the business and culture of drinks.

SevenFifty Daily is definitely on my radar screen. Editor in Chief Erica Duecy has created a Platform for the Beverage Alcohol Industry. I believe that its a great idea for an entire new generation to have so many resources located in one place. And, the ‘voices’ for SevenFifty Daily are formidable.

This is serious wine, digital innovation, People… Wish I had had it while I was selling wine!

From Press Release

SevenFifty Daily’s mission is to connect the U.S. community of drinks professionals, creating a space that fosters conversation and a platform for showcasing the people and ideas moving the industry forward. Unlike other industry publications that focus primarily on an audience of corporate executives, SevenFifty Daily will serve working beverage professionals across a wide range of roles in the industry.

Erica Duecy, who comes to SevenFifty after holding Digital Director roles at Architectural Digest (Condé Nast) and Saveur (Bonnier Corp.), and is author of the cocktail book Storied Sips (Random House), will serve as Editor in chief. SevenFifty Daily will cover all three tiers of the industry, working with talented and trusted journalists including Jon Bonné, Megan Krigbaum, Wayne Curtis, Katherine Cole, Maggie Hoffman, Lew Bryson, and Betsy Andrews. Launch features include:

  • A profile of The Sisterhood Project, a grassroots community-building initiative that offers mentorship and career coaching to women working in bars and restaurants
  • The role of no-dosage wines in the Champagne compendium
  • How hidden tech is being used on the restaurant floor to improve the customer experience
  • Wine consulting in the gig economy, looking at the trend of somms consulting for multiple venues

The Voices section will provide a forum for discussing issues that matter to members of the trade. The debut package, “Do Wine Scores Still Matter?” was curated by award-winning writer and author Jon Bonné, featuring essays from Joshua Greene of Wine & Spirits, Neal Martin of The Wine Advocate, Lorena Ascencios of Astor Wines & Spirits, and Sashi Moorman of Domaine de la Côte and Sandhi Wines, among others.

“The launch of SevenFifty Daily marks a new chapter for the community of more than 100,000 trade professionals that use SevenFifty to do their work,” said Aaron Sherman, Co-Founder and CEO of SevenFifty. “Our goal is to help the three tiers operate effectively by connecting members of the trade with the stories and information that matters to most to them. SevenFifty Daily is where professionals can learn from top industry experts and discuss the many topics in the trade that aren’t talked about elsewhere.”

While SevenFifty works directly with on- and off-premise retailers, distributors, and suppliers, SevenFifty Daily has editorial autonomy—and a mission to clearly and accurately cover the drinks industry. In addition to its daily publishing schedule, SevenFifty Daily offers a weekly newsletter featuring top-performing stories, as well as regular social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About SevenFifty

SevenFifty connects the beverage alcohol trade on one easy-to-use platform that makes browsing distributor portfolios, communicating with your reps, and submitting orders incredibly easy. SevenFifty is used by tens of thousands of restaurant, bar, and retail buyers across the country and operates in 36 states. For more information, please visit www.sevenfifty.com.


Erica Duecy, Editor in Chief, SevenFifty Daily: erica@sevenfifty.com; 646-326-8659

Aaron Sherman, CEO SevenFifty: aaron@sevenfifty.com


Art in Wine,Event,Stags Leap District,Wine,Winery

If Napa is Disneyland of Wine, Then Disney Lives on at Silverado Vineyards

Everyone loves to call Napa the Disneyland of Wine for adults. In many regards, it is.  Now, if you love Disney… on top of that… take it to the next level.

I don’t know how many times I had passed the Silverado Vineyards winery sign… too many to count, that’s for sure… but I never took the time to stop. Each time, my curiosity was getting me closer to discovery.

What finally did it was being invited to the 2017 Stags Leap District Vineyard to Vintner event; and, the remembrance of the 2016 event, when I didn’t have enough time to get there. This year, I was determined, and it closed out our day.

What also did it was looking at the backside of their winery, while still at Taylor Family Vineyards. I spied, with my little eye, magic to the north… The magic of Disney.

I’m going to give you the skinny, first, and then I’m going to let the art speak for itself.

HISTORY ~ From their Website story:

“The beginning of vine planting is like the beginning of mining for precious metals: the winegrower also ‘prospects’.”

– Robert Louis Stevenson,
The Silverado Squatters, 1880

A century later, the Miller family began the journey Stevenson described, establishing Silverado Vineyards in 1981. “It was beautiful land, and it was land that was working,” says Diane [Disney] Miller of their first vineyards, purchased in the 1970s. Diane and Ron sold their grapes to some of Napa’s best vintners, who made award winning wines from them year after year. Encouraged, they struck out on their own with the goal of making the best wines the estate could produce at a fair price. This has remained the guiding philosophy over the years. The winery’s name, Silverado, comes from the abandoned mining town at the top of the Napa Valley, where Stevenson stayed so many years ago. It is an appropriate symbol: three generations of the Miller family are still “prospecting” for wine, staying true to the idea of coaxing something precious from the soils we are privileged to care for.

As Moira McGinty (events manager) and Amanda Haynosch (marketing manager) walked Jose and I through the winery complex, we spent the entire time marveling. Little did we know what a special location the Silverado Vineyards is… You need to find it, if you haven’t yet. It’s a museum of some of Walt Disney’s art work, a family collection of Disney’s fine art. Their exhibits, for instance, includes a gorgeous collection of Bele Epoch posters and Plein Air originals.

LEGACY ~ Diane Disney-Miller

“We grow the fruit and make the wine that Napa Valley is known for, and we are so glad to be here! Von and for generations to come.”

The following is an abbreviated tour through Silverado Vineyards.



Wine of the Week ~ 2016 Trivento Argentina White Orchid Reserve Torrentes with Blueberries?

2016 Trivento Argentina White Orchid Reserve Torrentes

Mendoza, Argentina + blueberries!

Yeah, blueberries… When I tasted this luscious wine, we had just purchased some blueberries from the farmers’ market. They were just sitting on the counter, where I was tasting. After I had professionally tasted the wine, thinking I was finished, with hunger nagging, I reached for some blueberries. I was astonished! Twenty five years into working with wine, comparing and tasting with foods, it never occurred to me to actually simply eat fruit while enjoying wine.


Argentinian Music

As I reflect on Mendoza being a Spanish country, I decided to find some Argentinian music to listen to, while I write… Make our journey more enlightening.  Okay, so here we go… (The image above will take you to Spotify. Just search on Luis Mendoza… so appropriate.)

Think of appetizers… Ever seen blueberries being passed around?

Entrees? Any blueberries there as a regular feature?

Dessert wines stand on their own.

Never, in all of this time have I ever reached for, or been offered, blueberries and wine.

Try it, you’ll like it, she said… if you like blueberries and you like white wines. I ate the entire pint of blueberries, while enjoying what was left in my glass.

Primarily know for its Malbec, Mendoza also grows a wide range of other wine grapes, and Torrentes is its signature white… Remember Joanie Mitchell’s, “I could drink a case of you?” Yeah, that comes to mind. This wine has a floral nose that you just want to dive into. It’s as crisp as ever, and it’s mouthwateringly refreshing. It’s my favorite wine to have with any ethic food, as a perfect complement. The heat, the touch of floral… Simplemente perfecto!

Reflections of Bodega Trivento Argentina

Bodega Trivento is a large winery, located in the Argentinian province of Mendoza. It’s large enough, for instance, to have a team of four winemakers. Each winemaker description below is part of the winemakers’ biographical sketches, from the Trivento website:

Germán Di Césare began to oversee the production of Trivento’s premium wines, in 2009. Those premium wines include Golden Reserve, Amado Sur, and Brisa de Abril. You know when you ask someone, what do you do to relax? Germán is also “an authority on traditional Mendozan culture. He’s a fantastic folklore singer, skilled dancer and a mean cook, specializing in the local cuisine.”

Yeah, now the music makes more sense, right? Taste, see, smell, feel and hear… Bringing in music when enjoying wine makes it so much more complete.

Victoria Prandina was brought onto the team to add to the feminine side of wine’s flavors. She’s responsible for Eolo wines. In her free time, Victoria enjoys a day in the countryside, a ride to the mountains, and the pleasant company of a good book.

Rafael Miranda’s passion for winemaking was passed on from his father Luis, who was a professional winemaker and general vineyard and agricultural enthusiast. Rafael can be found playing with his children in his spare time. He’s a great drinking mate among family, enjoys a traditional Argentinian barbecue with friends, and loves being in the thick of a friendly football match.

Maximiliano Ortiz is responsible for overseeing their premium wines while its in oak barrels. His charm and charisma also make him an obvious choice to lead tastings for clients and special guests at the winery. Maxi is a devoted sports fan, plays football in his free time, and anxiously looks forward to Sundays—a time for supporting his team among friends.

Each winemaker, on this well balanced team, has a life beyond the grapes, the crushing, experimenting, barrel choices, racking and bottling, or being an ambassador… How they balance their lives in play is a reflection of how well they balanced their wines in real time.

Trivento is a wine you can trust!

Torrentes is a wine you can love.

Trivento Torrentes? Muy delicioso!




Summer Wine Book Reading

Each year I enjoy putting a list together of the best wine and food books I read throughout the year, and recommend them for the holidays. Since I have a great collection – already – for 2017, I thought I’d share for summer reading. We’ve still got six weeks to go. So, sit back, glass of wine in hand, and relax with lots of great wine books!

A Vineyard in Napa, by Doug Shafer, Fills in an Important Historical Napa Timeline

Written by Doug Shafer, this one is a library keeper for sure, in my Napa Valley history area. From the 70s until 2012, I really enjoyed reading about how it all began; why and how it’s still moving along really well. But, as Doug will tell you, it’s never been a completely comfortable bed of fluffy roses.

From the Shafer family, Doug segues into the Stag’s Leap District, and then into the Shafer’s extended family. Actually, chapters are quick and to the point, until you arrive at Chapter 23, and Doug introduces the time when he and John needed some help with winemaking. A much more fact-filled chapter introduces Elias Fernandez, in 1984, their long-standing and honored

Cork Dork, by Bianca Bosker, is a joyful story of learning the who, what, when, and where of the quirky inner sanctum of sommeliers. Bianca is a down to earth SOMM, who’s a great teacher for the fun nuances of wine. She also writes about architecture, which complements her in a yin yang way… Science and emotion, all wrapped up into one very funny person. What a great sense of humor I found, throughout the book.

Page 46: Now, you can sip. Swish the wine around your mouth, then purse your lips like you’re about to say “oh no” and – oh no is right – suck in air over the wine so it feels like it’s bubbling over your tongue. “Aerating” the wine, the official term for wine snobs’ slurping, helps release its odor molecules, which combine with taste to form flavor. You’ll look ridiculous and probably lose friends, but you’ll get more from your wine.

Making Your Own Wine at Home, by Lori Stahl. Making your own wine is done by a lot of home winemakers. And, if you’ve ever thought about making your own wine, right in the comfort of your homestead, there’s a great new book on the market. Written by Lori Stahl, and published by Fox Chapel Publishing, Making Your Own Wine at Home is a no nonsense book that’s a practical, how-to beginners’ guide. Lori gives us creative recipes for making grape, fruit, and herb wines. From Fox Chapel’s Website…

It’s easier than you think to make wonderful wine at home. Get started today with this practical guide to making your first bottle of perfect homemade wine. Author Lori Stahl demystifies essential winemaking techniques with friendly, jargon-free instructions and gorgeous color photography. She begins by taking you step by step through making wine from a kit, and then shows you how to go beyond the kit with creative additions. Soon you’ll be making your own flavorful wine from fresh grapes, apples, berries, and even flowers and herbs. This home winemaking companion offers a wide selection of seasonal winemaking recipes, new twists on traditional favorites, and sweet ways to enjoy and indulge in the wines you create.

Red Mountain, by Boo Walker, is a novel that will draw you in, hold your attention, and have you up in the middle of the night because it’s nearly impossible to put down, wanting to know what happens next.

The challenge of a really great book, and this one is one of those, is that, for its readers it’s a reminder of our life cycle… It can begin with great joy. As it evolves, it has its intermediate moments of joy turning into learning curves for growth. And, like a dearly beloved family pet, its life is shorter than ours, so we have to take deep sighs at its “The End.” We eventually have to put it to rest in our libraries, for perhaps a revisit from time to time. I know that’s why I’ve schlepped my library from Maine to California, from Windsor to Geyserville, and the good gods only know where to next. But, schlep I will. Red Mountain is a keeper, and I’ll revisit it from time to time…

W(h)ine ~ 50 Perfect wines to Pair with your child’s ROTTEN behavior, by Jennifer Todryk, is so whiny and perfect in every single wine way. Got a behavior? Has she got a wine for you to fix that. Jennifer Todryk will have you choose a wine (Malbec) and pair it for certain behaviors (Temper Tantrum Wine). I was looking for Petite Sirah (given my history), but didn’t find it, among all of her varieties given the spotlight. For Petite, I was thinking all out warrior, ye-ha!, would have worked really well. Jennifer has covered so many other varietal wines, with so many other perfect tantrum storms, that I can just let Petite Sirah go for now.

If you’re a mom of small children, this book lets you know, you’re not alone. If you’re a grandmother, give the book to your daughters and sons, to let them know they’re not alone. Raising kids is the toughest job you’ll ever have, and if you can’t find the humor, when it’s all said and done, you missed a very important, adventurous boat filled with delights… beyond the tantrums, and some wine recommendations that will give you the giggles, at the end of the (long) day, before you hit the short, sleepless night.

White with Fish, Red with Murder, by Harvey Mazuk, is a murder mystery set in San Francisco and Russian River Valley in 1948. Harley Mazuk’s novel is one where you imagine Art Deco influences, with Humphrey Bogart (playing P.I. Frank Swiver) and Lauren Becall (Cicillia “Cici” O’Callaghan, as a brunette) getting it on in more ways than one. He calls her “doll,” she a vixen who’s sassy as all get out, and the intrigue, suspense, and sensuality draw you in… in this who done it, and why it’s been done to whom novel.

Does it help that it’s set in my neighborhoods? Yes, completely for me, while it will educate others to wine country, California Bay Area style. Even though Harley Mazuk was born in Cleveland and now lives in Maryland; he knows these neighborhoods well, though, while he shares his love for California wines (and the business life-style side of it, shaped into this well-crafted novel).

White with Fish, Red with Murder heralds the beginning of a stimulating new series… Thank the good lord for that, because as you realize you’ve just read the final words, you’re already hankering for more.

Excellent for me, and probably the same for you, too ~ James Gabler

Jim Gabler is a graduate of Washington & Lee University with degrees in economics and law. He served as a finance officer in the U.S. Army. He practiced as a civil trial lawyer for both the defense and plaintiff. He lives in Palm Beach with his wife. The following are his wine books.

Dine with Thomas Jefferson and Fascinating Guests: an account of 25 fact-based dinners at Monticello, the White House, Paris, Philadelphia, and the French wine country. The dinners center on four of Jefferson’s passions: wine, food, conversation, and travel. The guests are a who’s who of famous people of the time. A perfect companion for those who appreciate wine, food, travel, interesting conversation, and the camaraderie of fascinating people. $25, Amazon’s Direct link.

An Evening with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson: Dinner, Wine, and Conversation. Travel back in time to 18th century Paris and spend an evening with two of the most extraordinary men in history who loved wine and food and changed the world for the better. In the comfort of Jefferson’s residence, join Franklin and Jefferson for dinner, and in response to your questions they tell in their own words the most interesting stories of their lives. “A brilliant roman à clef around the lives and travels of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin,” Robert M. Parker, Jr, Amazon’s Direct Link print $18, e-book $9.99.

Passions: The Wines and Travels of Thomas Jefferson: “Brilliant”…”Magnificent”… “Remarkable”… “Exciting”… “Superb”… Winner of the 1995 “Veuve Clicquot Wine Book of the Year,” and a Robert M. Parker, Jr. “Wine Book of the Year” selection. “With the touch of an artist, Jim Gabler brings to life Jefferson’s passion for wine.” The definitive work on Jefferson and wine. $25, Amazon’s Direct Link

How To Be A Wine Expert, A Beginner’s Guide, 3rd edition, $15, amazon.com, makes learning about wine fun and easy with an emphasis on the three keys to wine appreciation: color, bouquet and taste. The essentials of more than 100 of the world’s best wine varieties are covered including the following:


Books,Wine,Wine Writer

W(h)ine, the Book, Is So Whiny And Perfect in Every Single Wine Way

I love to laugh. It’s good for disposition of mind, body, and soul. And, I love anyone who can make me laugh… Jennifer Todryk is just such a person.

I was asked if I would review her newly released book, W(h)ine ~ 50 Perfect wines to Pair with your child’s ROTTEN behavior. At first, I was a bit defensive, because my grandchildren are so adorable, right? That took about a New York minute for recovery. They, too, have rotten moments. Yeah, they DO!

I was all in, once I opened the book, and laughed all of the way from Geyserville to Sonoma Valley, where we’d be picking up friends. We had a hired car (no drinking and driving for us). The ultimate goal was heading to Yoshi’s (in Oakland) for dinner and music… From home to our friends, I took the time to read this lovely little book, just begging to be enjoyed.

Author Jennifer Todryk has a well focused approach with this book. First, you need to understand that she became an instant, sarcastic sensation with her blog, Life as a Rambling Redhead. She explains herself:

I’m a stay at home mom to two beautiful blue-eyed, super blonde babies. They both are extremely loud and have an insane amount of personality running through their veins. Thank God for this, they supply me with endless blog material and constant laughter. I am also a stay at home wife to an awesome, stud of a man with dark brown hair. Thank goodness he’s a trooper and participates in things with me, like YouTube videos, even though it may jeopardize his corporate career.

[Borrowed image from her Life as a Rambling Redhead website.]

So, the book: W(h)ine ~ 50 Perfect wines to Pair with your child’s ROTTEN behavior, is the result of seeing the humor in life, beyond each day-to-day craziness, when small children take up your every blinking moment that they fill with their emotional meltdowns… Big kids test the boundaries, too, she’s got a remedy for that, even.

Wine Pairings

There are so many facets to her book. It takes off with her Top 21 Signs You’re A Wine Mom (or dad)!

Don’t let it bother you, all of my granny (or grampy) pals. When the grandkids are dropped off for the weekend, this all also applies.

A few more tidbits lead you into the heart of the matter:

Got a behavior? Has she got a wine for you to fix that.

Jennifer Todryk will have you choose a wine (Malbec) and pair it for certain behaviors (Temper Tantrum Wine). I was looking for Petite Sirah (given my history), but didn’t find it, among all of her varieties given the spotlight. For Petite, I was thinking all out warrior, ye-ha!, would have worked really well. Jennifer has covered so many other varietal wines, with so many other perfect tantrum storms, that I can just let Petite Sirah go for now.

Just a tease

  • Malbec – Temper Tantrum Wine ~ Drink MALBEC when your toddler decides to throw a hellish temper tantrum while in a very public place, like Target.
  • Syrah – Common Core Wine ~ Choose SYRAH when homework battles have left you brain-dead and is a total state of depression.
  • Barolo – Change the Locks Wine ~ Choose BAROLO when your kid just can’t seem to stay away.
  • Sauvignon Blanc – “I Surrender” wine ~ Choose SAUVIGNON BLANC when your toddler uses you as target practice.

Her book finishes with THE PERIODIC TABLE OF W(H)INE

“Each pairing in this book has a corresponding sticker that you can add to your Periodic Table of W(h)ine chart that folds out.”

A PERIOD IN TIME OF SERVITUDE: If you’re a mom of small children, this book lets you know, you’re not alone. If you’re a grandmother, give the book to your daughters and sons, to let them know they’re not alone. Raising kids is the toughest job you’ll ever have, and if you can’t find the humor, when it’s all said and done, you missed a very important, adventurous boat filled with delights… beyond the tantrums, and some wine recommendations that will give you the giggles, at the end of the (long) day, before you hit the short, sleepless night.

Disclaimers abound, so no one can ever say, “The devil made me do it…” (There’s always one of those who pop up in court, right?) It’s just a fun (funny) book, to ease the strain of day-to-day life with kids, and I loved it as a parent and grandparent. It all applies to all of us. It just took this zany redhead to put it all together for all of us. Good on her!




Wine Culture Affects Art in Marvelous Ways ~ Portugal’s Azulejos

The Art of Portuguese Tiles

A great joy was visiting Portugal, a few years ago. That visit has stayed with me, in every aspect to this very day. Enoforum Wines, with Delfim Costa, Luis Rui, and Isabel Ramos led me to the alter of Portuguese wine. It happened not just by having me taste and visit wineries, but by immersing me into their culture. From foods, to the Atlantic Coastline, to the inner reaches of the Alentejo wine district and beyond…

No matter where I went, ceramic tiles were present, reminding me that tiles are much more than decorations. They’re part of the culture… tiny images depicting life in such beautiful ways.

Portugal’s wine history is very complex, as having been part of the Roman empire… While they’ve adopted varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, they also have held fast onto what is rightfully theirs… Hundreds of native, wine grape Vitis vinifera varieties that have are indigenous. In these tile images, you’ll see that wine is just a way of life, with depictions that reveal the processes and pleasures.

Azulejos are tiles that are prolific in Lisbon, the Alentejo, the country as a whole… They decorate the outside of homes, are found in towns to mark properties, and are in businesses as simply part of their walls. But it’s not simplicity at all… It’s images depicting life itself.

They’re all unique and prolific, and warm the culture’s being through its abundance of art in ceramic form.

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From Vine to Wine to in the Glass, Monique Soltani’s Great Adventure with Julie Johnson

[Image to right: Monique Soltani holding the 2013 Tres Sabores Cabernet Sauvignon, which she watched from vine to wine, to wine the glass!]

I asked the members of PS I Love You – on a first come, first served basis, “Who would like to work with a media person (Monique Soltani, but they didn’t know that), for her to shadow a complete harvest?”  That was in 2013. Only now can we share the complete adventure, as the wine from vine to bottle, then aging was just ready to be enjoyed this past May… And we did at Tres Sabores… Three women with a plan and luscious Napa Valley Cab…


Julie Johnson of Tres Sabores jumped at the opportunity, when my email reached her, and off we went.

Tasting this wine a couple of months ago, that’s how long the fruits of Julie, as her winemaker’s labor, was going to take, if the process was done as planned. Let’s just say, Monique Soltani of WineOhTV was ready for the opportunity, and against all odds, we got it done.  In the meanwhile, while waiting for the wine to be ready and luscious, Monique Soltani was able to have adorable, twin daughters in the process, and the story still hadn’t skipped a beat. Neither has Julie Johnson; and, neither has the wine.

It’s very gratifying to see talent (both Julie and Monique’s) unite in one special project. This is their story.

Winemaking 101 with Tres Sabores Winemaker Julie Johnson

FROM Monique: In 2013, Jo Diaz had this idea to have Julie Johnson of Tres Sabores Winery teach me what it takes to make wine. I covered three parts of the process: Bloom, Veraison and then Harvest. The fourth part came, when I pressed on for a final get together. Schedules were hard to coordinate, but I persisted. I needed to finalize the bottle being open, and have Monique taste what she had watched along the way. (Closure is important, in any project.)

It all began in 2013: Watching a vintner in the making ~ Who’s a fly on the wall?

  • Bloom, A great start ~ How to Make Wine with Julie Johnson: Bloom (VIDEO) ~ WINE TV, May 14, 2013


  • How to Make Wine: Veraison (VIDEO) ~ WINE TV, July 13, 2013
  • MONIQUE’S OWN WORDS: In our first video, How to Make Wine with Julie Johnson: Bloom, the grapes were in bloom, then they were in veraison. Veraison might be hard to say but it’s pretty easy to explain, it’s a grape-growing term that means “the onset of ripening.” The exact definition of the originally French word is: “change of color of the grape berries.” In this wine video, Julie Johnson shows me where we are at in the grape growing process as we continue our winemaking journey going from grape to glass!


  • How to Make Wine with Julie Johnson: Crush It (VIDEO)
  • Harvest is one of the most crucial steps in the winemaking process. Deciding when to pick is one of the most important decisions a winemaker can make. Harvesting is determined primarily by how ripe the grapes are. Punch Downs are another important part of the winemaking process. Punching down is done to keep the fermenting wine and skins mixed up during red wine fermentation. On October 9, 2013, I headed back to Tres Sabores Winery in the Napa Valley to continue my video series on How to make wine with Julie Johnson where Harvest and Punch Downs were in process!


THE TASTING, but only the beginning.

  • How to Enjoy Wine with Julie Johnson: Grape to Glass (VIDEO)
  • This past May of 2017, and a more gorgeous day couldn’t have been asked for…

The grand finale from Monique’s own words:

Then on May 22, 2017 , Julie, Jo and I sat down for a beautiful lunch (with a salad forged straight from Julie’s organic garden) and drank the fruits of our labor: 2013 Tres Sabores Zinfandel and 2013 Tres Sabores Cabernet Sauvignon. Watch as the winemaking process comes full circle as we go from Grape to Glass.

There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a positive project come full circle. We’re all the better for it. I’m thankful I have such successful resources surrounding me. I get to just wave a magic wand, and Voila!



Food & Wine,Health,Herbal,Wine

How Legal Plant Medicine is shaping Culinary Arts ~ The Herbal Chef

Posting from a press release… This isn’t in the future, anymore. It’s our present, and I endorse the health benefits of marijuana. All images have been borrowed from The Herbal Chef, Christopher Sayegh‘s Instagram page.

(I’ve only edited the following, as I use the Gregg Reference Manual, in my writing.)





The Herbal Chef™ Invites Guests to a ‘Symphony for the Senses’ at Emerald Exchange, August 12 and 13, to Experience the First Cannabis-Infused Pop-Up Restaurant to Prelude Future LA-area Brick & Mortar Cannabis Restaurant, HERB

Be among the first to experience what The Herbal Chef, Christopher Sayegh, the Number-1 Cannabis Infusion Chef in the world, has to offer with HERB at EMERALD EXCHANGE’s  “SUMMER OF SUN-GROWN,” a Cannabis Farmer’s Market & Wellness Festival in MALIBU, CA.


LOS ANGELES / MALIBU, CA / JULY 7, 2017 – HERB, a first-of-its-kind cannabis restaurant, by The Herbal Chef™ Christopher Sayegh, will make its debut this August 12 and 13, in a series of dinner and brunch dining services, at the fourth installment of Emerald Exchange [“EmEx”] “The Summer of Sun-Grown.” This is a cannabis farmer’s market and wellness festival. Michelin trained chefs leave behind the stuffy confines of the classic kitchen and re-imagine a new style of fine dining, featuring a 5-course meal comprised of fresh produce, outstanding culinary talent, and a full sensory experience for the canna-curious foodie. After years of trial and error, edible after edible, The Herbal Chef team brings EmEx guests the perfect balance of cannabis and cuisine, as part of a sneak preview to HERB, the first ever brick and mortar cannabis restaurant slotted to open in the LA-area in late 2018.

Sayegh, who has a background in molecular science that enables him to understand the chemistry of cannabis, describes the luxury cannabis dining service as a “cerebral experience,” meant to introduce more than just a high.  “There are terpene (plant) extracts in my centerpieces creating tantalizing aromas, guests are surrounded by art stimulating thoughtful conversation. So now it becomes an immersive experience, where you are present in the dining experience,” says Sayegh. “You’re eating with a different perception with each bite, with each course. You’re literally changing your brain chemistry, and you are viewing this food differently than you did five minutes ago, and then 10 minutes ago, it’s a journey of sensory pleasures.”

[Herbal Chef’s sponge cake]

In a captivating atmosphere, this multi-course duet of THC-infusions by Jetty Extracts and gourmet food, with kitchen setup by Julabo, all takes place outdoors on a scenic, 17-acre ranch in Malibu, California. Cannabis flower is provided by 3C Farms along with cannabinoid (CBD) water.

Emerald Exchange guests will choose from four separate dining services, as festival ticket add-ons including Saturday Dinner at 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sunday Brunch at  11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. With full bellies and relaxed bodies, guests will be asked to partake in a post-dinner ‘Decompression Lounge,’ sponsored by Fontera and Get Higher Beauty – a concept that will be implemented with playful luxury at the future HERB restaurant. This all helps ease the mind and balances everyone, before sending them back into the festival environment (or world), to experience everything else Emerald Exchange has to offer.

In a rapidly growing industry (U.S. cannabis sales are expected to hit $22.8 billion annually, by 2020), Christopher Sayegh continues to change the landscape for cannabis-infused cuisine worldwide. Sayegh and The Herbal Chef team played an active and vocal role as new California recreational cannabis regulation; which was being put forth, in efforts to pave way for the HERB restaurant reality. Not only is The Herbal Chef creating a dining experience that is completely new to the culinary world, the team is also setting an industry standard across the globe, for what a cannabis restaurant should be.  From the systems of operation, to the care of each and every guest, the attention to detail is unprecedented, in what can only be known as a landmark in culinary revolution.


Defining the future of elevated ‘Pot Culture’, Christopher Sayegh joins fellow cannabis entrepreneurs, and EmEx co-founders Justin Calvino of the Mendocino Appellations Project, and Michael Katz of EVOXE Laboratories, along with partner and event producer Jessica Cure of Cure Designs.

Emerald Exchange originated from the collective vision of like minded cannabis lovers and entrepreneurs. These people wanted to create experiences, which not only empower small businesses and promote mindful communities that foster sun-grown organic product, but also celebrate the rich history of the Northern California cannabis movement. This simultaneously penetrates mainstream, popular events, with a new paradigm and perception of cannabis being fostered today.

About Christopher Sayegh, The Herbal Chef ™

A walking brand full of charisma and charm, Christopher Sayegh, The Herbal Chef, has pioneered Cannabis Infused Fine-Dining to elevate the perception of Marijuana into mainstream media.  Dinners include a synergistic blend of art, music, fine wine, and top notch ingredients, while simultaneously educating his audience, and effortlessly entertaining, at the same time. Currently, Christopher is producing a brand of gourmet edibles and frozen CBD and THC-infused dinners, as well as offering catered and private dinners.  With the innovation of the ready-made frozen THC/CBD infused meals and the two television shows being produced about The Herbal Chef, Christopher has already been able to solidify his space as the Number 1 Cannabis Infusion Chef in the World.  He is a science minded biology student, who turned to the chemistry of food and herbs to feed the intellectual side of creation.  Chris is eager to share his brick and mortar cannabis restaurant vision with the world – HERB by The Herbal Chef ™. For more information, please visit www.theherbalchef.com, or follow The Herbal Chef on Instagram @the_herbal_chef.