Calistoga is Updating Their Game and I’m Musing in My Hopes for It

I can’t figure out if this is a blessing or a curse. Only time will decide, if this is going to be a great move. I’m going to reprint a press release from the town of Calistoga, California. Their intent is pure, so I really hope their plans will out work well!

My editorial comment, before I copy/paste the text, is this:

Whenever in Napa Valley, going to the Rutherford Grill was so delicious… The food, the ambiance, the convenience. Then, the Valley filled up with wall to wall tourists, and getting in means that we have to arrive at 11:00 a.m., when they first open, to get some of their delicious foods that I still crave. Yeah, right.

Next Gotts Roadside originally known as Taylor’s Refresher – We’ve been using it as a meeting place, when our granddaughter Chloe and her mom meet us halfway; they coming from the Suisun Valley area and we’re coming from Geyserville. Last weekend, while we were waiting for them (they were running late), Jose decided to get in line. after about 10 minutes, he came back to the car:

He: I can’t still keep standing there, the line is in an “L” shape and not moving. I don’t know when I’ll get to a window and then I’ll have to wait again.

As we continued to wait… after he came back, a party van pulled into the parking lot with a bus load to Silicon Valley 20-somethings. One-by-one they piled out of the van: 1, 2, 3, 4… to 20 people. By now the line had grown, but now by 20 more people? About 10 minutes later, another busload of 20 people pulled in and filed out… Forty more people, besides ALL of the families already waiting in line?

HINT TO GOTT’S: There’s a reason why wineries are turning away buses. Bus loads of people need their party planners to call a restaurant ahead and make a reservation. It’s just common courtesy. By accepting them, you are straining all of your resources: staff, not only your ability to deliver food, but also “good” food as well, and to also serve and continue to have the appreciation of the people in your community, with generations of people who have come to love your roadside attraction.

Once Chloe arrived, we left the Rutherford and St. Helena areas that Saturday, and drove north to Calistoga. It has now become our go-to place, because it’s still a treasure. The old cowboy town is funky nostalgic and fun. Chloe loved being there. We had lunch at Checkers. Still plenty of room, a sane environment, and some favorite dishes. After lunch we discovered Mad Mod, a great little store, with a charming store owner, and an adorable “birthday” shirt for Chloe. (Should I even give away my favorite haunts, lest they, too, become over crowed and unbearable?)

Look, I know some people love crowds. Some of us don’t. If I want to go to Disneyland, that’s where I go. If I want a few hours in Napa, I don’t want it to be getting a burger, right after a couple of tour buses drop off 40 people. The L-shaped line that Jose encountered? It had become a long “u” shape. I pity the young parents with children in the car who are all hungry.

So, here’s to managing Calistoga’s growth. May you please do it in such a way that visitors will still have that down-home, country experience.

PHOTO: Iakov Filimonov

Napa County Fair Association restructures for new role in 2019

CALISTOGA, CA – November 6, 2018 – After managing the Napa County Fairgrounds for nearly 83 years, the Napa County Fair Association (NCFA) has restructured their organization to adapt to changing times and to continue to remain viable and relevant in serving the community.

This new chapter will include a new board, new vision, and exciting opportunities that support the county fairgrounds as a sacred, public gathering place for future generations. There are several positive changes to this restructure. As of this week, the board has amended the Articles of Incorporation to open up opportunities for any adult resident of Napa County or areas serviced by a Napa County zip code to support, donate, or serve as a board member.

By becoming more accessible, NCFA hopes to recruit influencers interested in preserving their 80+ year tradition of celebrating Napa’s agricultural heritage. These changes will also allow for a newly appointed board of directors focused on fundraising and program development. With the right resources in place, NCFA is optimistic that it will be able to continue to host year round community events and activities that bring families together for years to come.

While the newly restructured NCFA plans to heavily focus on preserving the Napa County Fair and community events, much consideration has also been made to finding a long-term, sustaining solution to the infrastructure needs of the fairgrounds in Calistoga. For the past eight years, NCFA has worked diligently on strategic planning to preserve this beloved public asset. In 2016, this led to steering negotiations between the County and City to form a new governance structure that would have the capacity to care for the 70-acre property. As of December 31, 2018, the property and facilities will no longer be NCFA’s responsibility.

And while NCFA has not been formally invited to do so, the future vision of the nonprofit charitable organization is to continue to support their successors. The association is hopeful that the new governing agency will invite them to continue to raise funds and resources to renovate and upgrade the facilities for the community’s benefit. It has been through the fair board’s determination, staff loyalty, and volunteer commitment that NCFA has been able to not only preserve, but enhance programs that include the County Fair & Fiesta, ENGAGE Art Fair, Star-Spangled Social, and Christmas Faire.

To date, what began as an endeavor to find sustainable solutions has resulted in a state of limbo for the organization and its employees. One difficult step in the restructure process was the recent issue of layoff notices. It was always the board’s plan to keep existing staff in place during the transition of governance. However, with the contract expiring in just weeks they felt it was important to give NCFA staff enough notice to secure new employment.

Despite the challenges, the board is just as committed today as they have been for the past 80+ years. The fairgrounds will host several holiday events and parties this season, resulting in a very busy RV Park. In fact, the RV Park is so popular that management has opened overflow dry camping to accommodate the demand for the Holiday Village & Christmas Faire weekend.

Currently, NCFA staff is in the throes of producing the 49th Annual Christmas Faire to be held the first Saturday in December. This treasured community event is free to the public and takes hundreds of volunteer hours to put on. Please consider signing up today at www.CelebrateNapaValley.org/ChristmasFaireVolunteer.

Earlier this year, the Fair Board made a promise to the community to deliver a quality golf course through the end of October. Not only did the course remain open, but the course conditions were significantly improved.

“We’re proud of the course conditions and are pleased to announce that we’ll be continuing operations through the end of the year with a modified schedule for the off-season,” says board chair Karan Schlegel. “We sincerely hope that the community continues to support the golf course while NCFA continues to manage it to the end of this year.”

The course will continue to operate through the end of the year with its new schedule, open Friday through Sunday, weather permitting, as “walking only,” and closed Monday through Thursday.

Schlegel shares, “Throughout our work, we have sought to create a stable, prudent, and fiscally responsible Association that can continue to serve well into the future. While we’re unsure what the new governance will entail, we’re still committed to our beloved county fair and fairgrounds.”

For more information about volunteering, upcoming events, or the Napa County Fair Association, dba: Celebrate! Napa Valley, please visit celebratenapavalley.org.






Benedictine Monks,Chianti Classico,Food & Wine,Food and Wine,Imports,Italy,Sangiovese,Tuscany,Wine,Wine Country,Wine Philology,Wine Travel,Winery,Wines

The Benedictine Monks Are Smiling ~ Their Abby is Now Chianti’s Castello di Meleto… a Wine Company

Wine Philology: Wine History

I was the guest of Castello di Meleto in Gaiole ~ In the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany.

  • Hosted by Antonia Caserta (sales manager)

[PHOTO: Historical image from the Castello di Meleto website]

Forget your daddy’s straw basket candle holder, dripping with memories. Castello di Meleto in the Chianti region of Tuscany has gone way upscale sophisticated and delicious, with their Super Tuscan Sangiovese wines, and for good reasons.

Service to the saints is held each time another cork is pulled at Castello di Meleto. I found myself in their chapel room, one morning, before anyone else arrived, just quietly meditating. I stopped when the flurry of breakfast preparations began in the castle, whirling through the little room, as I sat in darkened silence. I was reflecting on how fortunate I was to be in a fortification, built in the 1200’s for Benedictine Monks. What must have it been like then?

Why did I feel like Rapunzel, when looking out of my bedroom window? In modern times, there’s no prince below. Been there, done that, and now he’s a king. And, I’ve cut off most of my hair in the process. There is no hair to climb, no need for anyone to come to my room and rescue me. That fairy tale wasn’t going be played out this time; however, in my current circumstance, I could still imagine what it would have been like, given the place where I had landed. Because, there I was, in a Benedictine castle, opening my window, looking below, where the stage was set for a new fairy tail.

It Began With a Benedictine Monk

[PHOTO:  Sarah Holmlund]

From the Conception Abbey Website:

First off, a Benedictine monk is a man of the Catholic religion who follows the rule of Saint Benedict of Nursia [birthplace of St. Benedict, founder of Western monasticism], a Christian saint and a patron saint of Europe. St. Benedict founded multiple monasteries in Italy. Recognized for his wisdom and leadership, men seeking to live out the monastic life sought him out to be their abbot. There is no evidence that he ever contemplated the spread of his Rule to any monasteries besides those which he had himself established.

The word “monk” comes from the Greek word “monachos” meaning “single” or “solitary”. It means to practice asceticism by living alone or with any number of other monks. Dedicating one’s life to serving others, or voluntarily choosing to leave mainstream society to live life in prayer and contemplation. In Greek the word can apply to women, but in modern English it is for men, as the word “nun” would be used for female monks.

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz, my bedroom where Benedictine Monks once lived.]

And, I was sleeping in my room, enjoying Tuscan foods in their dining rooms, and moving through their gardens, as they once had… where they had to deal with the people of Siena, who were trying to take away their monastic lifestyle at their Abby, now the Castello di Meleto.

How did I get there?

How did I become so fortunate? I really was there. This was not a fairy tale, and yet it felt like I was in one. I was in Gaiole, Italy, in the heart of Chianti county, in Tuscany, as a guest of Castello di Meleto. My wine blog began the process… all the years of writing, all the time spent in full disclosure. I received an Email from Michael Yurch of Bluest Sky Group, who was organizing a group of wine professionals.

Ms. Diaz. I really like your policy, as stated on your home page.  No nonsense and no one’s time wasted! I’m leading a small group of wine professionals on a short trip to Tuscany and Le Marche…

I accepted, and now the tales are being written. I took copious images, and this story is more of a photo journal. You, too, can imagine yourself in Gaiole, Italy… Or, maybe even (better) get yourself there, and live the dream. Delicious Chianti wines are waiting for you, too. (The Straw baskets are a thing of the past, sophistication is the new norm.)

Dine at the castle, with delicious, authentic Tuscan foods prepared by their excellent chef team. Each dish is paired perfectly with their wines.

Roam their gardens, swim in their infinity pool (the monks in heaven as smiling down on this one… something their lives couldn’t have even imagined).

Castello di Meleto is now a paradise of quiet splendor… a far reach from the days of  the Benedictine monks, who also lived there, in their days of solitude.

[Vestments worn by the monks, during holy days.]

Castello di Meleto Documents its Historical Background

The first accounts relating to Meleto date back to the eleventh century, at which time it was a property of the Benedictine monks. Subsequently it became the property of a certain “Guardellotto,” a member of a local feudal family, whom Frederick I Barbarossa dispossessed of his properties, giving them to the Ricasoli-Firidolfi family.

[When the monastery had to become fortified during the wars.]

FROM Igers Toscana

This is the Castello di Meleto in Gaiole in Chianti. Its origins date back to the 11th century when it was the property of Benedictine monks. Ownership the[n] passed to a feudal family called Guardelloto. [Emperor] Federick I Barbarossa dispossesed him and the castle passed to the Ricasoli-Firidolfi family in 1256. Its strategic location between Siena and Florence meant the castle was the background for many wars between the Guelphs and Ghibellines.

The [noble] family branch of Firidolfi da Meleto originated here. The name “Meleto in Chianti” was first included in the “Libro degli Estimi” (Book of surveying) of the Florentine Guelphs as property of Firidolfi family in 1256.

Its location, set between the Republics of Siena and Florence, ensured that the Castle was the background of many wars between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, one of which was the second Aragonese invasion of Chianti in 1478 when it was occupied by enemy troops, and during the Medici War, in 1529, when it was besieged by the Senesi militia.

More of the castle, according to Chiantishire:

The Castello di Meleto was a possession of the monks of the nearby Coltibuono Abbe. The name Coltibuono is Latin (cultus boni) meaning good harvest.

I cannot help but wonder: Could this suggest that this Castello was a sacred place for the Monk’s viticulture? I believe we’re all left to wondering, about this fairy tale Castello di Meleto. A little mystery does the soul good, destra?


Italy,Tuscany,Vineyards,Viticulture,Wine,Wine & Food,Wine Appreciation,Wine Country,Wine Country Inn,Wine Culture,Wine HIstory,Wine Hospitality,Wine Travel,Winery,Wines

Colonnara Viticultori in Cupramontana ~ In the Castelli di Jesi region of Le Marche

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz – Cupramontana Headquarters]

To understand wine, first we need understand its culture and people. The first time I wrote that was in 2009, just prior to a trip to Portugal. This thought was just reaffirmed, as I’m newly returned from an Italian adventure, in the epicenter of the Renaissance.

This story is about my beginning adventures in the Marche wine region in Italy.

DISCLOSURE: I was a guest of the following:

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz]

I was part of a wine and food professionals’ collective, assembled by Michael (Mick) Yurch of the Bluest Sky Group, Michael Apstein (Boston-based wine writer), a pop-in at Castello di Meleto by wine educator Kevin Zraly (on tour with his publisher, for his  Fourteenth Edition release of Windows on the World). On this leg of the journey, we were all  guests of Colonnara Viticultori in Cupramontana ~ located in the Castelli di Jesi region of Le Marche.

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz]

An Italian Adventure to Last a Lifetime

I just experienced a seven-day, cross-country van tour in Central Italy. I first crossed the Atlantic Ocean, landed in Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport, traveled to Gaiole in Chianti, to Cupramontana in Marche, then to the Adriatic Sea. This map is of Route E-78, which we picked up in Siena, to finish crossing Italy to it’s eastern seaboard.

What a fabulous experience. If you love adventure, just get on that plane or boat and do it. A whole new world of wine is waiting for you! And, the center of Italy, like all other regions in Italy, is jam packed with history that dates back to the early beginnings of time, and incredible, reflective wines of each region.

[Map by Friedrichstrasse, via Wikimedia Commons]

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz – Headed toward the Apennini Mountain Range.]

It did help to have Emiliano Bernardi, the Italian sales manager for Colonnara Viticultori, driving us from Castello di Meleto in Chianti to Cupramontana, starting in Siena on Route E-78 (to the right), as we drove through the Apennini Mountain Range. Also, on this leg of our journey, was export manager Cora Tabarrini, from Colonnara. They – throughout the trip – provided a lot of hospitality, history, culture, and many backstories.

Just before we boarded the van, I had told Mick Yurch, “I pity whomever is going to be sitting next to me, because I had just had two espressos.” I was totally buzzed on really excellent coffee. He said, “Sit up front with Emiliano, he’ll answer all of your questions.” (Great plan.)

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz ~ I was really struck by the enormity of the Apennini Mountains and the thick, looming fog.]

This entire belt of Italy is an amazing trip for anyone wanting to learn and experience this area of Italian culture, life, foods, and wines. The latitude is filled with Romanic history, the ravages of the Middle Ages, castles and Medieval tales of knights in shining armor, Benedictine Monks protecting their Castello di Meleto (for instance), the Siena Roman Catholic Cathedral with it’s historic, mosaic marble floor, to the adventures of Fabriano’s Museo della Carta, a paper making tradition. Then off to the spectacular Grotte di Frasassi with its into-the-mountains-we-go world famous stalactites and stalagmites, followed by a trip to the Adriatic Sea at Marche’s Ristorante La Pagaia, Next off to one of Marche’s most famous beach locations. When it was explained by my host Cora that Croatia was just across the waterway as we looked to the east over the Adriatic, it was then that I really understood the enormity of what we had all just experienced. What a gift we were given by Colonnara Viticultori (and Castello di Meleto in Chianti).

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz ~ Emiliano Bernardi (left), and Cora Tabarrini (right) are preparing our tasting and Colonnara.]

Before I jump into the wines we tasted at Colonnara Viticultori, I feel compelled to share my primary experience… what my eyes saw, for this is where I began to taste the fruits of their labor… from the landscape, the mountain ranges always in the distance, the olive trees, the Roman Pines, and the tunnels through massive mountain ranges. There was so much to take in, think about, and wonder in amazement. I was transfixed in this new wine region and its terroir. And, I learned enough to fill a dedicated notebook.

Colonnara is in the province of Ancona, the capital of Marche. This is a land of rich harmony and tradition. Our group was given first-hand opportunities to experience so many aspects of Marche. Friends were made, bonds were created, we tasted the flavors of the regional wines with regional cuisine, and we visited many cultural centers as we learned about their ancient, Italian history… Marvelous memories that we now cherish.

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz. Note the enormous fog bank that was to eventually welcome us, on the other side of the Apennini Mountains, through a succession of tunnels.]

And the flavors of the wines? They were all delicious, well balanced, and precisely reflecting their terroir and culture. Much on the main tasting, later. For now, I’ve begun a bit of Colonnara’s geography as we witnessed it, which is reflective of the Cupramontana region.

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz.]

Today, this region is considered the world’s capital of Verdicchio, the white Italian wine grape variety, which is primarily grown in the Marche region of central Italy. A major role of their terroir are the Apennini Range that consists of parallel smaller chains extending for 750 miles. These ranges run along the length of Italy’s peninsular structure. So, as we traveled from Gaiole (in Chianti) to Cupramontana (in Marche), it was along a roadway running west to east, which goes through a succession of tunnels (still being constructed, after 40 years).

I mention all of this, because it’s the major influence that I could find and define between the terroir of Gaiole and Cupramontana. It’s similar – on a much larger scale – to the terroir differences between Sonoma and Napa in California, for instance. There, it’s the Mayacamas Mountains that create one area: Napa Valley, to be defined by Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, and Sonoma County to be defined by Pinot and Chardonnays. In the instance of Gaiole, Chianti in Tuscany, it’s Sangiovese; in Cupramontana, it’s Verdicchio. As we drove eastward through the tunnels of the Apennini Range, we eventually arrived on the eastern side of Italy’s Adriatic Sea. Much like the Pacific has influence over California’s wine growing regions, the Adriatic has a powerful, cooling influence over the wines grown in the central/eastern shores of Italy. This is why the Marche region of Italy is defined by the white (and slightly green tinged) wine, with stone fruit flavors (and a slight oiliness) variety called Verdicchio…

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz ~ This is my view from Casa Blu, my country B&B home for three days. The fog haze never lifted, during my stay. The influence from the Adriatic Sea is powerful.]

This is not the first place in history to have Verdicchio to be as part of its history. It does now, however, through the passage of time and  generations of experimentation with the Verdicchio grape, come to be known world-wide as the home to this varietal wine. Cupramontana has become known as one of the best places in the world to grow and experience Verdicchio’s best expression of its character. And, in my next story about this area, I’ll discuss the wines we tasted, gratis of Colonnara Viticultori in Cupramontana.

Welcome to Verdicchio Central

From: Google Maps

Le Marche, an eastern Italian region, sits between the Apennini Mountains and the Adriatic Sea. Ancona, its capital, is a port city on the Riviera del Conero, an area with sandy coves, limestone cliffs and medieval villages. Pesaro is the birthplace of renowned opera composer [Gioachino] Rossini. The interior has countryside dotted with fortified hilltop settlements and the glaciated valleys of the Monti Sibillini National Park.

PHOTO CREDIT: Iryna Markova of the Apennini Mountains.


Cabernet Sauvignon,Chile,Sample,Syrah,Wine

Casillero del Diablo is Singularly Worthy of Halloween with a Trick AND a Treat

Sample: Creative Palate ~ for 2017 Casillero del Diablo Red Blend ~ Chile


  2. SCIENCE ~ WINEMAKING ~ From the winery
  3. SOUL ~ Jo’s notes


[PHOTO in cave: Jo Diaz, at Castello di Meleto, Gaiole in Chianti, Italy ~ PHOTO of old bottles: Jo Diaz at Adega Coop de Borba, in the Alentejo Region of Portugal]

For years, Casillero del Diablo in Central Chile, has been my go-to wine for Halloween; since 2014, actually. And, with great marketing, the fun continues, because they have a great “scary” story. It was Don Melchor who made lemonade from lemons. And now a tradition has been set, continuing into 2018.

Past stories from Wine-blog:

Today’s drill…

In the 19th century, the founder of Concha y Toro, Don Melchor, discovered that his vineyard workers were sampling his greatest wines. To discourage this action, Melchor spread the rumor that his deepest, darkest cellar was the Casillero del Diablo (Cellar of the Devil), so that no one would dare go in there. It worked, and a legend was born. Today this mysterious and legendary cellar continues to hold the finest wines of Casillero del Diablo.

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz]

The Brew – ha-ha…

2017 Casillero del Diablo Red Blend ~ Chile


Today, the original Concha y Toro family estate, complete with its Devil’s Cellar, is Chile’s leading tourist destination! According to their Website: “This wine was created for those with a rebellious spirit, those who want the impossible and are inspired to try new things… Their spirit is a mix of the best of this life, because the rebels of today will be the legends of tomorrow…”

[PHOTO: Purchased]

Grown in the Central Valley of Chile, the soils for the grapevines that have made this wine are mainly alluvial. This means that it’s a fine-grained, fertile soil, which has been deposited by water flowing over flood plains or in river beds. Moreover, clay, silt, or gravel has been carried by rushing streams, and then deposited where the stream slows down.  There is also some colluvial soils, which are loose, unconsolidated sediments that have deposited at the base of hills, carried down by rain water. In wine grape growing, the chemistry of the soil is best without enriching nitrogen, which causes the vines to grow with tremendous abundance. This takes away from the rich flavors of the grapes. I was just reminded of this recently, when I tasted some mongo table grapes. They were so huge there was no flavor, and will shortly be moved to our compost bin.

This 2017 Casillero del Diablo red blend is 70% Syrah and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. The alcohol is the perfect amount (13.5%) to make this a food friendly wine. Casillero is recommending different kind of grilled meat. Lamb stews with herbs and other preparations based on this meat or game meat.


This red blend was made to have ripe and densely packed flavors of black fruit, with some earthy spices. The tannins are firm and have flavors of dark, rich chocolate. With a hint of sweetness from the wine – just a hint, and ever so captivating – this Red wine is very seductive. I imagine it with hot, steamy stews that warm the spirit’s soul. Splashy summer is gone and once vibrant autumn is turning into much cooler, damper nights. This wine with something crafted to perfection, with a few added, tantalizing spices, will create excitement your Halloween treat, as you go into the mysterious night. Waaaahahahahahahahahaaaaa…

[PHOTO: Saso Tusar]



Oleo ~ Relieving the Strain and Burning ~ My CBD Experiment for Glaucoma

I had been diagnosed with glaucoma about four years ago. I found it to be unimaginable, because no one in my family ever had glaucoma, and it’s hereditary. So, I pretty much ignored it, not worrying. I had had my eyes dilated for a while, when I started with a new optometrist. When I returned again, it had progressed. So, I looked up what causes glaucoma. One of the causes was a rare form that can be caused by having one’s eyes dilated. “A variety of drugs can also cause dilation of the pupil and lead to an attack of glaucoma.”

Having just delved deeper into glaucoma; white females, blonde at birth, green eyes, are the most susceptible to glaucoma. Oh, great… The story of my life. I was the only (white female) blonde in my family, and the only one with green eyes… Why didn’t my male optometrist tell me that? Why, why in heaven’s name, did he even put any chemicals into my susceptible eyes?

My last dilation caused me to have snow blindness for an entire week… For an entire week my eyes were in crisis. Too much light was driving me mad.

Snow blindness is a painful, temporary loss of vision due to overexposure to the sun’s UV rays. The medical term for snow blindness is photokeratitis (“photo” = light; “keratitis” = inflammation of the cornea). Essentially, snow blindness is caused by a sunburned eye — or more specifically, a sunburned cornea.

Oh, great, I thought. That’s the end of that practice! Besides, it’s a practice supposed to be only used by ophthalmologists, but has been increasingly used by optometrists.

So, here I am. I’ve been taking nutrition in the hopes of reversing the damage. I know that CBD products are supposed to help glaucoma, and that’s the direction I prefer to take, rather than having more drug intervention possibly causing more damage to my eye(s).

As a wine writer, I’m occasionally queried by a companies with CBD products, since the segue is part of the natural world. This latest company is called OleoLife. Why not? I thought. I’ve been thinking about CDB to get me out of this mess I’m in with my eyesight.

The following is my journey with OleaLife. It’s worth sharing as just my own private experiment. Everyone is on his or her own journey. This is mine, just for an unscientific point of reference. Let’s see where this goes, I was thinking…

My Personal Journey and Experiment 

with Oleo Passion Fruit Rooibos Tea (Cafeine free)

It began with seeing a blue light, in my right eye, when I would newly focus on something. I looked it up… Pre-retina tear. I kept quiet about it, and upped my nutrition prescribed to me by my sister for other symptoms of other nagging this and that…. (She’s an RN and nutritionist with several, nationally credited certifications in nutrition.)

Then, for the last six months, I noticed a dotted concentric circle, broken in many places, but a couple of rings existed of those rights, most especially in my right eye, but to a lesser degree in my left. I finally told my sister about it and she got me onto some Iplex. It kept my eyes from further deterioration… They began to stabilize and then my left eye lost the one circle, the right eye lost its second ring. My right eye was healing ever so slowly. I finally got myself to my eye doctor… A new one and a female. She was very concerned and wanted me to go to an ophthalmologist. She was going to have him call me, but he never did. (I really don’t have good luck with male doctors… my whole life. Women? Just fine. Men? I have stories.)

I was aware of CBD oil; and, of course, I wondered. What if?

I was queried by Oleo to sample their products, and I had nothing to lose at this point. I accepted. The following is my journal of starting Oleo. Let’s see what happens. Let’s see if I even publish this for others with diagnosed Glaucoma.

October 19 ~ One scoop to start, even though two is recommended. I find anything I take needs to be cut into half. What’s a recommended dosage is intended for all sizes of people… from my 125 pounds to someone who could be 300 pounds. I usually end up shaking. So, lately, I’m just going to be cutting back, until I see  how I feel. I’m now almost through my cup of tea with Oleo added, and my eyes have stopped burning.

This morning, when I opened my eyes, the circular orbit of segmented white light that I pick up over the night, was only slightly visible… taking another herbal product, which does get me shaking a bit to take, even though I’ve cut that one back to half.  Let’s see where this experiment goes…

October 19 – Later in the day, the second recommended scoop.

October 20 – When I awoke in the morning, the concentric circles had diminished by a half. Could it actually be? And this swiftly? Two scoops, spaced out, again.

October 21 – When I awoke, I could only see a pinprick. I added 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric to my morning tea. Two scoops, spaced out, again.

October 22 -23 – Only a slight sliver of light was there, and faded really quickly throughout the day.

October 24 – Just a bit longer line, than the two days before, but something else quite notable was happening. I awoke this morning with my eyes tearing. Eye don’t tear with glaucoma. That’s what’s causing the pressure in one’s eyes… the fact that tears aren’t able to happen, keeping out eyes moist.

October 25 – Tears again this morning… Thanks the God of Sight in heaven. The light image? Nothing, absolutely nothing.  nothing.

  • To go from having these circles present at 11:00 a.m. in my eyes
  • Follow the journey of beginning with my RN | nutritionist, and to have the light circles fade away earlier each day
  • To have the circle in my right eye disappear completely
  • Beginning Oleo on October 19, and seeing the light slivers in my left eye beginning to fade as of October 20
  • And today being October 25 and this morning to have nothing, and natural tears…
    • My lacrimal glands are also functioning again!… Oh my Thea! The Titan Eye God in Heaven!
    • As I brush away the natural tears from my eyes, I want to force myself to cry and just cry buckets.

My one step at a time approach for the past six months has slowly been repairing my eyes. CBD powder just put it through the roof. My next step is to get a medical marijuana license. CBD just became my new best friend.

After a month, I’ll come back with how it has been going. For now, I’m aghast… with naturally tearing eyes again!

About the Company

OLEO, Inc. is a biotechnology company thoughtfully designing fast-acting, water-soluble CBD products with purpose and intention for the active lifestyle community. OLEO offers a collection of powdered beverages infused with their active ingredient OleoCBD™, including an all-natural Coconut Water Mix, an antioxidant Rooibos Tea Mix, and a flavorless CBD powder called Original Mix.  OleoCBD™ is created with a patent-pending micro-encapsulation technology that masks any bitter aftertaste and showcases its effects within 20 minutes. With a provisional patent for the powdered cannabinoid formulation method filed in 2014, OLEO, Inc. was founded quickly thereafter in 2015 and began mass-producing micro-encapsulated cannabinoids for the hemp & cannabis markets by 2017. OLEO plays a tremendous role in the advancement of cannabinoid technology, testing standards, and consumer product offerings, helping to make the cannabinoid and plant medicine industry more trusted, beneficial and approachable for all.  Further clinical study results regarding micro-encapsulation to be released in 2018 as per the OLEO team’s research influence and efforts.



Food and Wine,Wine,Wine & Food,Wine Country

Sonoma County has a Culinary and Wine Paradigm Shift in Windsor, California

There are many winery principals, wine writers, and residents of Sonoma County, California, who have been wondering… When will Chinois Asian Bistro re-open? Chef and proprietor Debbie Shu shares the past and the future…

Chinos Asian Bistro, 186 Windsor River Road, debuted October 2008, as a contemporary Pacific Rim dining concept, by owner and restaurateur Debbie Shu. Chinois (pronounced as “Shin-wah,” French for Chinese) focused on traditional Chinese and South East Asian cuisine; namely from Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Thailand. Debbie’s culinary background: she graduated from San Francisco State University, having earned a Bachelor of Science degree. She went on to attend the California Culinary Academy (CCA), an affiliate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in San Francisco.

On June 24, 2018, Debbie Shu’s Chinois Asian Bistro experienced a catastrophic flood. This unexpected happening, while waiting for renovation to begin, created un-thought-of opportunities for not one, but two famed chefs, including Debbie’s own story:

  • During down time from Chinois, with 10 successive Michelin star recommendations and 10 similar Zagat ratings,” Debbie began to reflect on her true passion of cooking with a more varied menu. As her catering side continued to expand, she also found herself really enjoying being more free to travel, cooking her own creations (versus traditional family recipes), loving the independence, and thriving on a more personal level with new groups of people.

Because Debbie is well-known, word of mouth traveled regarding the flood and reconstruction.

Important to note: Debbie Shu has admired Sunee Sopant’s culinary successes, since Sunee has operated Thai restaurants in the Sonoma Valley, beginning in 1989. It’s both the flavors of Sunee’s Thai cuisine and her positive background that Debbie has enjoyed over the years.

  • Sunee Sopant ~ Culinary background of operating successful for the last 24 years.
    • Opened her first restaurant in Sonoma Valley, in 1994 to high acclaim.
    • Then she opened 599 Thai Cafe.
    • Most recently she owned Bangkok 9, also in Sonoma Valley.

With a desire for a new challenge in the Windsor area, and given that Chinois is in the beginning process of being completely rebuilt, perhaps Debbie would consider an opportunity for both of them? If one doesn’t ask, one will never know, and so Sunee asked Debbie. After careful consideration and much soul searching, Debbie Shu agreed to allow Sunee Sopant to be the new restaurateur at the Chinois Asian Bistro location. Meanwhile, Debbie plans to help Sunee settle into her new location as an ambassador for a few months, travel more as a personal chef and caterer, and enjoy all that life will bring to her in her new life’s chapter.

Sunee Sopant: “I’m very excited to be part of the reconstruction for Debbie’s Shu’s restaurant location. It will be reflecting my own design and cuisine. It’s just a great opportunity for me to introduce the flavors of Khum Koon Thai Cafe to the Windsor area.”

Debbie will also be helping Sunee in the reconstruction for what Sunee envisions, as Debbie is also the owner of this building. “Both of us want each other’s business ventures to be very successful. I not only look forward to a refreshing, new start, but I also want to see Sunee continue to keep this restaurant location as one held in high esteem.


Italy,Jo's World,Sangiovese,Tuscany,Wine,Wine Book,Wine Business,Wine Making,Winemaker,Winemaking,Winery,Wines,Wne and Food

Castello di Meleto: Gaiole in Chianti – Tuscany, The Adventure Begins with a View From the Bluest Sky

[PHOTO: Antonia Caserta of Castello di Meleto. All other images in this story were taken by Jo Diaz]

Day 1 – Flew into Rome as a guest of both

…as part of a wine and food professional group, assembled by Michael (Mick) Yurch of the Bluest Sky Group.

Day 2 – After settling into the Golden Tulip Hotel in Rome at the airport, and now needing some real food [versus airline], I was greeted by Marco in the hotel’s restaurant. Their cucina is outstanding. I ordered just enough to satisfy my curiosity and hunger. Because Mick wasn’t there yet, I was continuing to read my Tasting The Past book, by Kevin Begos. It was sent to me for review by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill in New York. I had skipped ahead to Part 2, Chapter 11. “Italy, Leonardo, and Natural Wine.”  It couldn’t have been more timely. And, it couldn’t have been more helpful. This book I’ll be reviewing in more depth shortly. Meanwhile, if you would like to get down to some really ancient history of winemaking, like 8,000 years ago, anyone who loves history and wine – you’ve just got to get this book into your library. No library is complete without Tasting The Past, seriously.

Great job, Kevin Begos! One of the best books I’ve read on the history of wine, ever; and I have a pretty impressive library for my 26 years of reading, writing, and educating about wine… Tasting The Past: The Science of Flavor & The Search For The Origins of Wine is so complete and told in such a charming, easy to enjoy manner, you won’t be able to put the book down, until you tuck it onto your “history” section of your wine book library.

I was about to begin an eight-day adventure with experiences to last a lifetime. Boston’s celebrated wine writer Dr. Michael Apstein was also part of this merry band of visitors.

Our first dinner [pictured below], at Castello di Meleto, also included the famed wine educator and author Kevin Zraly, who was on tour in Italy, promoting the latest edition of Windows on the World Complete Wine Course: Revised, Updated & Expanded Edition. [This is another book I’m going to be reviewing.] Amazon

From Kevin’s Website: In 2018 Kevin Zraly begins his 42nd year of teaching the Advanced & Master Wine Classes.

With over 20,000 graduates, Kevin Zraly’s Wine School was named “The Best Wine School” in New York City by New York Magazine.

It was Michael Apstein who said to me, and I nodded in agreement, “Do you realize there are people attending the Napa Valley Wine Auction, who will spend a small fortune to do what we’re doing right now, as guests of these wine companies? The entire staff will all come out to meet and greet them, and here we are, just being.” At the time we were having a five course dinner, all presented to us as if we were royalty, each course with it’s appropriate matching wine. Our hosts from Castello di Meleto:

  • Winemaker Matteo Menicacci
  • Agronomo/enologist Giovanni Maria Farina
  • Sales Manager Michele Contartese
  • Our guide for this experience Antonia Caserta, the international sales manager for Castello di Meleto

All were joining us at our private dinner in a this large [pictured] dining room at the castle.

Day 2 – off to Castello di Meleto in Gaiole, Chianti, in the region of Tuscan. I had the honor to stay at this Castello, so I could learn all about it, and then tell my own story. Such an amazing experience. The YouTube video below brings goose bumps, memories, and insights for me, and perhaps for you, as I recreate my own still photography, too. There will be many more stores about Castello di Meleto wines… I was there to learn about the wines they’re growing and making, but it’s impossible not to first talk about their history, culture, and terroir.

In this video, I was a guest on the second floor; and, in this video I not only see my bedroom window, but I also – and so are you – able to see all that spread before me. What a view, what a lovely experience, and what fabulous wines from this terroir.

As for the history of Castello di Meleto, it was built in 1200s for Benedictine Monks. I slept where they slept, I looked out of the portals where guns were placed to fight off the invasion of crusaders from Siena, wanting to overtake the castle, I meditated in their tiny chapel, finding peace and enlightenment. Really, it was an opportunity of a lifetime to tell amazing stories, with plenty of wine to bless each moment.

Day 2 will continue. This was just the begging of my Tuscan adventure… Next, I’ll pair the dishes with the wines. Sincerely, Signed Rapunzel (who had already let down and cut off her own hair)

YouTube video by Avvenice.


Cupramontano,Italy,Tuscany,Wine,Wine Ed,Wine Education,Wine Gift,Wine Samples

When a Wine Lover and Electronic Geek Collide, it’s got to be a Kelvin

As a wine writer, I’m occasionally queried about trying samples of new products that hit the marketplace. This is one of those stories.

[Both the Kelvin K2 and and the delicious Barrel Road Red Blend are samples in this story.]

It all began in early September:

Hi Jo:

I’m hoping that I can send you a Kelvin K2 to review.  The Kelvin K2 is a smart wine thermometer with Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity.  It combines the recent advances in aerial technology to send the temperature information to a smartphone (often from the inside of a refrigerator).  The free iOS or Android app then monitors the wine as it chills and provides as much or as little information needed to get the best from every bottle of wine.  Ask any wine expert, and they will tell you that wine taste is made up of a combination of numerous key elements, each of which is dramatically (and uniquely) affected by temperatures – so it makes sense that any wine is only at its best at the correct, recommended serving temperature.  mykelvin.co.uk

Hum… I’m not an Android geek, barely turning my phone on – for emergencies only – but I’m living with one. And I’m a bit of a wine geek; perhaps I could combine the two and come up with a new adventure?

Hi, Robin,

Sure, you can send one to me. With the holidays coming up, gadgets are always a fun blog story, especially when they’re this unique and techno…

When the Kelvin arrived, Jose saw me open the package:

He: Whatcha got?

She: A Kelvin Smart Wine Thermometer

He: Can I see?

She: Sure

He took over, faster than a Puerto Rican Second

A Puerto Rican second is faster than the speed of light, making a New York minute look like a millennial of time… Jose was born in Puerto Rico, brought to the US, and raised in both the Bronx and Manhattan. So, I’ve seen it all for the last 40+ years, and feel confident that I can define a Puerto Rican Second. This new gadget instantly became his new best friend.

Jose followed the directions, after choosing the wine he was going to open. It was room temp, so it was easy to begin:

  1. Turned on the Kelvin Band and clipped it to the bottle.
  2. He downloaded “Kelvin K2 from an app store. (The Ks connected to his app automatically and then showed up on his Dick Tracey watch.)
    • Anticipation and excitement followed.
    • I was also fascinated.
  3. He selected the wine style, as it read room temp of 81 degrees – quite warm, late summer day.
  4. He put the bottle in the refrigerator [above photo], as described. Kelvin calibrated it in just five minutes, as the instructions claimed.
    • Then he just monitored it until it was the perfect temperature. [Image to the right with 64 degrees.]
    • Yes, we totally “got it.”


He did just what Kelvin claimed would happen… He completely “unlocked the full flavors of the wine.” It was delicious and smooth, as if we had pulled it from a wine cellar, with the caveat that the Kelvin will function even better than a wine cellar before the opening of a bottle. Why? Because each wine has its own optimal wine temperature preferences… Most whites are slightly more chilled, to be really enjoyed at their best; versus a red wine, better performing at a wine cave temp of 55F to 60F degrees.

Your app gives you so much more than just the signaling that your bottle is at it’s optimal best, too.

  • Tasting notes
  • Food pairings
  • Glassware guide
  • Wine facts to impress
  • Common label terms
  • And you’ll dare to expand your palate with new wine varieties


So, I was just in Italy, gratis of Mick Yurch of Bluest Sky Group. I now have many stories to share of being at Castello di Meleto in Chianti  and Colonarra Viticultori in Cupramontana… This one relates to a Kelvin conversation, and is worth sharing, because it relates to New York retailer Daniel Posner of Grapes The Wine Company, located in White Plains, New York… another wine  and techno geek.

I asked Daniel if he has any items in his store, besides wine. (Just curious.) No, he doesn’t, but I still explained why I had asked. I told him about Kelvin K2 and I saw his heart skip a beat, as his eyes opened wide. “It does what?” he asked.

I’ve already ordered one for him as a thank you, because he was looking out for me as I dropped behind on all tours, while taking copious images. I know I’m spreading more joy in the wine gadget department, and now Kelvin is going to be really fun for him, too. (It’s now my go-to gift for When a Wine Lover and Electronic Geek Collide.)

If you’ve got a wine lover, who’s also very techno geeky, this is better than giving diamonds to him or her, seriously.

Image: Jose and friend Sue Straight, The Wine Wench. This made Sue’s visit with us pretty memorable, just as it claims to do. Although, instead of “wine facts to impress,” it was “wine gadgets to impress a fellow wine geek” this time.

Either way, it’s win-win… Or, in this case, wine-wine… Ciao!




Rare Rant,Wine,Winery,Wines

I’m so old that… Boutique Winery Just Doesn’t Cut It

I remember poodle skirts, bouffant hair, cotton candy, putrid pink, heavy perfume, and it all came under the word “boutique.”

That word – boutique – is now fingernails screeching down a blackboard, so when you call your winery a “boutique” winery…

Artisan, it’s so sophisticated… It lets the listener know that you take yourself craft seriously, there’s a great deal of worldly experience, knowledge of the process, with a cultured mind creating the end result.

Please no more “boutiques wineries,” please, please, please.

When a winery’s called “artisan,” that makes it crystal clear that there’s an artist on board; someone who’s devoted to his or her craft, and only the best will do. He or she is not focused on pleasing the entire universe with flavors, aromas and/or oddities that are over the top. Artisan wineries have devoted, cult followers. Quality over quantity reigns. When you read this, does ’boutique’ make any sense at all in this equation?

Maybe I just have PTSD?

Maybe it’s because I grew up in a time when my mother bathed herself in Faberge before going out with my dad. It was a time when beehive hairdos and poodle skirts were in… (We even had a poodle named “Pepe.”) Patent leather pocketbooks and mink stoles… All images of a time when someone went to a boutique salon to buy all those kitschy things.

You can do your own thing. It’s America, after all… Just know that you won’t find that adjective in anything I write, except for this story. Unless, of course… someone really does have one…

In that case, I’d have to tell the truth. Better yet, I just won’t write about a “boutique,” including yours as so described, even if you use and love the word.


Clarksburg,PR Advice,PS I Love You,Public Relations,Wine

Honoring Each and Every Person Within a Wine Company ~ Great Public Relations

This is worth sharing, because it’s exemplary. It demonstrates that there are those within the wine business who care deeply for the people who are also caring for their businesses.

This story celebrates Lizz Castillo, a young woman who’s worked very hard in the wine business to get where she is, and is going to be working even harder in the next chapter of her professional growth. Our vineyard directors (of one position or another) are unsung heroes. In my mind, it’s a time to honor women who have gone after what they’ve wanted and have succeeded. I admire this young woman, as much as I admire Steve and Mike Heringer.


Heringer Estates ~ Vineyard and Winery

It came in an email, and I stashed it for this very moment. It was shared by my friends at Heringer Estates ,located in Clarksburg. When I began PS I Love You, the advocacy group for Petite Sirah, Steve Heringer was one of the very first growers to join. He didn’t even had a wine brand, yet. That was to come in the future. He did, however, understand the importance of supporting an advocacy group, which would ultimately help him to grow. Steve Heringer wanted to support the effort. He was even president of our board of directors in the early years. I watched his company grow to where he also created his own brand and then brought in his son Steve to help his family grow. I’ve been able to watch his family business grow, and it’s heartwarming. I’ve come into his database for sharing. This was such good news. I’m going to share it, too, because this young lady deserves the spotlight for so many reasons, I can’t even list them all.

What’s important is her voice, through her content.

It’s great public relations and it’s heartwarming


It is with mixed emotions that I inform you all of my departure from the role of Vineyard & Winery Relations Coordinator with Heringer Estates. As some of you may already know, I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the Master’s program of Viticulture and Enology with UC Davis, which requires me to shift my focus to my academic career. I will still be with the Heringer family but in a much more behind-the-scenes role. While I am excited for this new chapter, I am also saddened by the idea of leaving this position behind. You are all such amazing people who have shown me nothing but kindness, and for that, I am grateful. I hope that our paths cross again in the future.

Please rest assured that you are all still in great hands. Winemaker Mike Heringer and Cellar Assistant Brittany Leininger will both be stepping in to assist you with harvest logistics, grape sales, and bulk wine needs. Your contact email and phone number will remain the same. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this transition, please feel free to call or email us, so we may help you to the best of our ability.

Many thanks,

Lizz Castillo

From the Heringer Website ~ Who They Are

Family farming together since 1868 in Clarksburg, CA

A sense of place is embodied in every Heringer Estates wine. The family honors its agricultural legacy through sustainable stewardship of the land, while embracing the excitement of today and the promise of the future with over 24 different grape varieties that are grown and created for you. From our family to yours we toast to your celebrations, your small get-togethers, and even your quiet times.  We toast to you!