Women for WineSense launches contest for Women in Wine event

Years ago, when my friend and wine colleague Julie Johnson  (today of Tres Sabores) was making waves in Women for WineSense, I went to meetings and was so impressed by her and the group. She had her finger on the pulse (and still does).  At that time, little did I know that when she was going to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, with my husband Jose, none of us knew that we’d all be getting together in California one fine day. But, that day did come, and I’m so happy that we’re all on the same page, with this mutual history.

Now, Women for WineSense continues and Marcia Macomber from this group reached out to me. I’ve just become so busy being a woman, trying to make WineSense for everyone else, that I’ve been ignoring to take any time for my own soul in this regard; i.e., hanging out with other women and celebrating what each of us uniquely brings to the table.

This group has some exciting things going on this year as it celebrates 25 successful years; and as a public service, I’m going to be sharing.

My first share for the group

Women for WineSense launches contest for Women in Wine event

The Napa | Sonoma chapter of Women for WineSense (WWS) has launched a contest to select the speakers at their annual “Women in Wine” event, which will be held on March 5, 2015, at the Napa Valley College Performing Arts Center in Napa at 6 p.m. For the past seven years, the discussion panelists have been chosen by the chapter’s board of directors. This year the panelists will be chosen by popular vote in order to encourage greater member and fan engagement.

WWS Members and the public may nominate and vote on women in the wine business they would like to see on the discussion panel via the chapter’s website or Facebook page  throughout the month of January. In February, the winning “women in wine” receiving the greatest number of votes will be invited to appear on the March 5th discussion panel.

Christine L. Mueller, President of the Napa | Sonoma chapter, explained, “Putting the selection of the panelists in our members’ and fans’ hands has long been a goal to empower our membership.” She continued, “Anyone may submit a nominee to appear on the panel. And if she receives some of the most votes—and is local and available to appear—she’ll be sitting on the stage at Napa Valley College’s Performing Arts Center theatre on March 5th to share her wit and wisdom about her career in the wine industry. It will make for the most exciting ‘Women in Wine’ panels we’ve ever had! We’ve long known our Women for WineSense members are the most dynamic and resourceful group in Napa and Sonoma; and we couldn’t think of a better way to tap into their knowledge than to ask for their help in creating this event.”


Participants may win 2-for-1 tickets to “Women in Wine” on March 5th, gift certificates and more prizes by nominating great women in wine to serve on the panel discussion! There is no limit on the number of nominees participants may submit to the contest. And the public may vote daily on their favorite nominees.

In this story contest, participants are encouraged to write why they believe their nominee is the best to serve on the discussion panel and encourage others to vote via their social channels. Voters may also attach their comments to each nomination, if they wish.

To enter, visit the chapter’s website, its Facebook contest page, or its mobile contest site. Winners will be selected after February 2nd, announcing both the winning “Women in Wine” panelists as well as the winning participants.


“Women in Wine” will be held at Napa Valley College’s Performing Arts Center on March 5th, at 6 p.m., honoring International Women’s Day (March 8) a few days early, as well as kicking off the chapter’s 25th anniversary celebration. The event’s reception, slated for the theatre’s lobby, will include a mini-trade show featuring food, wine and exhibitor tables before moving into the main theatre for the panel discussion.

Early bird ticket pricing ($35 for members, $65 for non-members, and $25 for WWS student members) applies throughout January during the contest. Once the contest finishes on February 2nd, ticket prices go up to $65 for members, $95 for non-members, and the panelists will be announced. Tickets are available now at: https://WWS-WomeninWine2015.eventbrite.com.


The chapter’s full 2015 calendar of events can be found at: http://wwsnapasonoma.com/events. And to receive a magnet with the chapter’s event schedule, contact Rebecca Barbaree, Communications Director at Communications@WWSNapaSonoma.com. Prior to their March event, the chapter will hold “Bubbles Meetup” at Sigh in Sonoma on January 22nd and the first of its 2015 Tasting Series (formerly Wednesday Wine Club): “Wines of the Loire Valley” at Back Room Wines in Napa on February 12th.

Women for WineSense is a not-for-profit organization 501(c)6 formed in 1990 as a way to help its members advance their careers in the wine industry, providing educational events as well as aid wine enthusiasts in developing their wine knowledge. The Napa|Sonoma WWS chapter currently has more than 325 members of which 70% are professionals in the wine industry. For information about becoming a member, please email our Membership Director, Ellen Reich Luchtel at Membership@WWSNapaSonoma.com, or visit: http://wwsnapasonoma.com/join-our-membership/.





Twelfth Day of Christmas

Twelfth Day of Christmas: Twelve drummers drumming = twelve points of belief in The Apostles’ Creed.

Get yourself a great glass of wine; this is a good finish to our series.

In Catholic countries, this is a day of great joy, also called “Three Kinds Day” or the “Epiphany.”

From the 123Holiday.net site:

History of Three Kings Day or the Epiphany

Lovers of carols and Christmas parties know that this season has 12 days, packed with golden rings, calling birds and various kinds of gentry, musicians and domestic workers. December 25 is Christmas – and 25 minus 12 does equal 13. Do the math and you will see why shopping malls, newspapers, television networks, and other cultural fortresses annually deliver some kind of “Twelve Days of Christmas” blitz, beginning on December 13.

Problem is that for centuries church calendars in the East and the West have agreed that there are twelve days of Christmas and they begin on Christmas Day and end on January 6.

The twelve days of Christmas end with the Feast of Epiphany also called “The Adoration of the Magi” or “The Manifestation of God.” Celebrated on January 6, it is known as the day of the Three Kings (or wise men/magi): Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. According to an old legend based on a Bible story, these three kings saw, on the night when Christ was born, a bright star, followed it to Bethlehem and found there the Christchild and presented it with gold, frankincense and myrrh.

And, you thought Christmas was all about Santa Clause! This concludes our refresher in what Christmas is all about, boys and girls.

Have you had your share of wine along the journey? You were supposed to! Merry Christmas, until next year.


Public Relations,Wine,Wine Blogger,Wine Publicist,Wine Writer

How much can I dissolve myself as a wine publicist?

Throw in some wine, and I’d say I could dissolve my wine publicist job in the blink of an eye, wine being the liquid factor here.

This is what is swimming around in my head today, as I write my journey as a wine publicist… I need to keep myself in balance, on this Eleventh Day of Christmas.

Understanding my position is complicated, I’m sure, because I’m so public.

I’m asked daily for one thing or another, because I’ve got a foot in both the wine writing world and the wine publicist world. My connections are valuable. They’ve also been nurtured over the course of two plus decades. So, that would and does make me a “go to” person for many; some I know, some I don’t know.

And, I’m willing to help… to a point. I find myself not willing to stretch my professional life too far for “free,” though. I just had to write to someone:

As a publicist, I connect my clients to media all of the time, but I’m not comfortable doing this outside of my work realm. Thanks for understanding… I can’t dissolve that part of myself, since I’m not yet retired.

That’s the crux of it. I did write an entire blog post for this same person, who was leading a topic in a conference. It was long,  thoughtful, and took about five hours to accomplish. I’m sure it helped to give credibility to the subject at hand. But, to start to connect media dots, too, steps into my other world and that’s for sale.

After nine years of blogging, I’ve given away a lot of information, advice, and nurturing. But, I can’t give away the best part of what I do… helping my clients to get ahead of the pack.

It isn’t mean spirited, it’s just business… When I do help, it’s because I know both parties well, and I’m willing to connect their dots, too. But, if I don’t know the person well, who is wanting to reach the writer, I can’t recommend what I don’t know, in the event that it might backfire. Then, I’m complicit in what might go wrong.

Will everyone understand? Probably not; but, as I just wrote, it’s just business and I am a business woman. When it’s all said and done, I have to keep myself in balance and reputation protected.

Eleventh Day of Christmas: Eleven pipers piping = eleven faithful Apostles…

And, I do take care of my Apostles.



Tenth Day of Christmas

Tenth Day of Christmas: Ten lords a-leaping = Ten Commandments.




Ninth Day of Christmas

Ninth Day of Christmas: Nine ladies dancing = nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.




Eighth Day of Christmas

Eighth Day of Christmas: Eight maids a-milking = eight beatitudes.



Bubbly Wine,Champagne,Holiday,Sparkling,Wine

Seventh Day of Christmas

Seventh Day of Christmas: Seven swans a-swimming = seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
This is also New Year’s Day.

Happy New Year

Dear friends, the Seventh Day of Christmas is also New Year’s Day. My New Year’s Wish for you is that 2015 brings miracles into your life.

This image of Champagne being poured also inspired a bit of a post for this day, seeing way too many bubbles, from my perspective as it’s being poured. It doesn’t have to be this way, and it made me think of helpful tips for pouring bubbly wine.

  1. It’s critical to pour this wine slowly, so you don’t waste all of those bubbles that we see in these glasses, like the “head” on a mug of beer.
  2. The fewer bubbles that escape from the glass, the zippier your wine is going to taste. And, we all know that if it’s a bubbly wine, it’s pretty much mostly about the tiny bubbles.
  3. Tip the glass quite a bit, as you s-l-o-w-l-y pour the wine into your glass. This also keeps lots of bubbles from being wasted.
  4. Enjoy!



History,Holiday,Wine,Wine Blogger,Wine Writer

As Wine-Blog celebrates nine years… Robert Parker just influenced me, again

As I read Robert Parker’s “Best of 2014″ in his latest newsletter, it reminded me of how I’ve been handling being “on pointe,” since December 29, 2005. Yes, I’ve been wine blogging since then… and it’s now nine years later. I think I only keep track, because it’s so much writing. I’m going to now stop counting…

Bob wrote the following:

Best of 2014:

Top 3 Get-a-Life Outside of Wine Things of the Year

US NAVY SEAL FOUNDATION fund-raiser at Napa Valley Reserve, Napa Valley

Listening to Lucinda William’s new double CD – “Where the spirit meets the bone”

Watching the FX series – THE BRIDGE

Robert Parker

For many of us, Robert Parker has been a hero, inspiring us to also write about our wine passions. He’s an icon and good on the Chinese for respecting their elders… It’s a manifestation of a collective society, to honor age. That’s something that I sometimes miss in our individualistic society. As my father beat into me that I should respect my elders, I did get it, even though the method was quite extreme. Now, I’m an elder, and I can’t help but wonder… And I have lots of things rattling around my brain for what went wrong, including un-monitored television as the age of visual violence has increased to epic proportions.

Meanwhile, I respect my fellow elder, Robert M. Parker, Jr. I don’t have to enjoy every wine that he does to respect the man who paved the way for me. I do, however, enjoy that our thinking is about the same in many ways, including… Have a life outside of wine…

I began Wine-Blog on December 29, 2005. Jose asked me the focus at the time, and I told him I’d be journaling. That’s all I’ve done since then.  Jose continues to chuckle at my off-the-way presentation of “Juicy Tales.” He knows that he never knows what’s going to be a topic. For me, I’m in the wine business, I have to even be thinking about it in my sleep; so if I go off pointe, I’m still “on pointe.”

My wine blog was always intended to be my journal as a wine publicist…

  • It’s not about being a wine critic
  • It’s not about favoring my wine clients (although they do seep into my stories – because it’s a public journal)
  • It has no singular focus (other than being the journal of a wine publicist)


And there’s my hero, Robert Parker, advising others that there’s life beyond wine. (Thanks, Bob, you’ve taken that important step to guide people to also have “other” passions.)

Another devotion of mine, since I began to have children, is writing things for them, like stories, rhymes, etc.; although, I should have written a whole lot more, but I was busy wiping noses. The joy of being a grandmother is that I don’t have to wipe as many noses as I used to, and the writing has increased.

So, following in Robert Parker’s footsteps:

Best of 2014:

Top 3 Get-a-Life Outside of Wine Things of the Year

Taking four children to the San Francisco Ballet’s December performance of the Nutcracker, in two separate trips this year; three of whom were seeing it for their very first time.

Watching Showtime’s series “Homeland”

Getting back into a gym

And… Today is the Sixth Day of Christmas

Sixth Day of Christmas: Six geese a-laying stood = six days of creation.


Wine,Wine Writer

Paraprosdokians ~ Learning something new everyday

Winston Churchill loved paraprosdokians. They’re figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence, or phrase, is either surprising or unexpected.

And, by the way, Happy Fifth Day of Christmas ~ Five golden rings = first five books of the Old Testament.

I came up with one of my own paraprosdokian years ago, not hearing it ever said before; but I’ve I’ve heard it a few times it since. I now see it popping up occasionally, as great minds do think alike.

Time wounds all heels.

It a good response for Karma, for someone who really deserves it. (I can think of a few people, and I’m betting that you can, too.)

My father’s favorite: I’d like to help you out. Which way did you come in?

I just had a friend send the following to me, and I know that there are a few of you who would also love reading them. So, on the Fifth Day of Christmas, here’s my gift to you, today, to enjoy with a great glass of wine…

Merry (Lingering) Christmas!

  •  Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.
  • The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but it’s still on my list.
  • Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
  • If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.
  • War does not determine who is right – only who is left.
  • Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • They begin the evening news with ‘Good Evening,’ then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.
  • To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
  • I thought I wanted a career. Turns out, I just wanted pay checks.
  • In filling out an application, where it says, ‘In case of emergency, notify:’ I put “DOCTOR.”
  • I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
  • Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street…with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.
  • Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
  • A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.
  • You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
  • Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.
  • There’s a fine line between cuddling and… holding someone down so they can’t get away.
  • I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.
  • You’re never too old to learn something stupid.
  • To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
  • Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
  • Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
  • Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
  • I’m supposed to respect my elders, but now it’s getting harder and harder for me to find one.



What’s a carboy? If you’re in the wine business, and still curious…

During harvest, carboy is a good word to know, if you don’t already know it.

Carboy* is a common term in winemaking. I’ve heard it now for about two decades, always wondering about the derivative. It’s usually talked about in wine cellars, and is a vessel used for a small fermentation. This is a clue as to whom else you might know that would use one with any frequency: home winemakers, home brewers, and cider makers.

So, I dug around and found what gave birth to that name, because within the name, there’s no obvious clue. It turns out that it’s from the Persian word “qarabah” (قرابه), and from Arabic qarraba, meaning “big jug.”

All I can deduce from this is that the pronunciation is close enough to “carboy” that that’s what it’s become in English. If you think about the words “car” and “boy,” the name for this vessel makes no real sense; but the “q” in qarabah has a “c” and/or “k” sound, just as Arabic for the “Koran” is “Qur’an.” Now pronounce the Arabic “garabah” and you’ll see how we went from the Arabic word to our Anglo pronunciation.

Usually a carboy is fitted with a rubber stopper and a fermentation lock. This prevents oxygen and bacteria from entering the vessel during the fermentation process, which in a small vessel is really important. I’ve had only one experience at winemaking, taking my Zin grapes and putting them into a vessel, which wasn’t a carboy. Within two days I had the best mold culture going in my neighborhood, and decided that I’m a better marketer than a winemaker. I can write about wines, and winemakers can share their wine… It’s a great union; the player and the cheerleader…

Carboys are 5 gallon jugs, and the glass is super hard, which is more shatter resistant than other glass. This is not only important in winemaking, but also necessary… as carbon dioxide is forming and putting pressure internally on the vessel. Carboys are also used by chemical companies, and no one wants to see any hazardous chemicals escape, if one of these carboys is accidentally dropped, right?

As Paul Harvey always said, “…and now you know the rest of the story.”

And… Happy Fourth Day of Christmas. Four calling birds = four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.


From Dan, who’s a wine professional:

Just a note regarding carboys. In my 35 years in the wine business I have witnessed 4 extreme injuries as a result of these containers breaking while being held or moved. One incident virtually severed the workers hand. I will not allow any carboys inside a production winery. Be careful with these things. They are very dangerous. Use Stainless Kegs if you need storage for small quantities of beer or wine.