Bicycle Built for Wine: What I want for Mom’s Day & Burning Man!

bikebarIn case you don’t have this leather wine rack for your bike, here’s the way to picnic in style on this bicycle built for two–to have a picnic! Complete with safe storage and travel options for your adult beverages of choice!

Wouldn’t this bicycle be perfect for Burning Man? Or for wheeling around the scenic country roads of wine country? Continue reading

WordFest Writing Workshop: Haiku & Sushi with a Ojai Vineyards Chaser!

Bowl of Sushi (Painting by Hiroshige)

Bowl of Sushi (Painting by Hiroshige) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s National Poetry Month! Celebrate with me this Friday, April 12, 2013, when I will be leading a haiku writing workshop at a sushi bar in Ojai–which means I’ll be stopping by Ojai Vineyards while I’m in town!

That’s right, you can get your haiku and eat it too!

Well, maybe not, but that sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Either way, it will be a fun time for 12 on 4/12 at 12 when we gather in Ojai during WordFest’s “Foodie Friday” for a sushi lunch with a side of haiku. Or maybe that’s haiku with a side of sushi?

So if you don’t mind the soy sauce on your writing notebook, Continue reading

What wine pairs with Thanksgiving?

This is the time of year where everyone wants to know which wine they should have with Thanksgiving dinner. Since most people don’t want to break the bank, what follows are a numbe rof recommendations that land squarely on the less expensive side of a $20 bill.

Personally, my go to wine for turkey OR ham is zinfandel. There is alchemical magic in that combination!

How do I know? Many years ago, I worked the tasting room at Ridge and so of course I brought a bottle of zin to that Thanksgiving table.

Last year, during the weekend before Thanksgiving, I convinced my husband to make a turkey AND then a ham so I could try a bunch of wines with these classic holiday meals.  I came up with these three blog posts:

white and rose wines with Turkey

red wines with Turkey

wines for Ham

Since holiday meals usually gather many people, it’s a great excuse to splurge and have different wines to enjoy with each course. In general, I would recommend Continue reading

The Perfect Clock for Wine Bloggers: Cheers, it’s time for an adult beverage!

I’m a seasoned writer and wine blogger, about to hit 300 blog posts over here on Wine Predator (and 1300 on Art Predator!), but even if you’re a beginning wine blogger, with only a few blog posts and wine samples under your belt, you can probably relate to this Writers Clock!

I do have two revisions: instead of “Toss,” it should be delete or trash, then undo!  And instead of “Submit,” it should be “Preview”!

I love that every hour it’s time for an adult beverage! And I think it’s about time for one for me–an Ojai Vineyard Rose in fact, nice and crisp for this warm spring day! This rose is mostly Roll Ranch Syrah from the upper Ojai Valley (read more about Ojai Vineyard’s Roll Ranch Viognier and Syrah) with 5% grenache and 5% riesling. I opened yesterday to have with our Easter ham, mashed potatoes with castella blue cheese and asparagus. Awesome pairing and a super pretty salmon color–or like the pale pink blush on an apricot or a peach…

Ojai Vineyard Rose crab oysters

The Ojai Vineyard rose is also interesting with oysters, which is what I’m enjoying right now: they bring out the minerality in each other, more complexity in both the Pacific and the kumamoto oysters and the rose. Not a sweet but a tangy tangerine, rose flower and dried petals, dried apricot on the long finish.  Barrel fermented in older oak, it’s got a real cork closure, it clocks in at 13% alcohol, and less than 600 cases were made. join the club like I did and you won’t miss out! With my club discount I think it was about $15.

The Ojai Vineyard Rose is NOT your grandmother or aunt’s pink wine or white zinfandel–it is NOT sweet, fruity or anything that they would probably like, except the color. This is a wine that can hold its own with spicey ham, blue cheese potatoes, oysters and crab drenched in butter…

Happy writing!

PS If you’re experiencing some writer’s block and  you just don’t know what to write about, check out this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday prompt–and when the clock strikes “Adult Beverage”–open a bottle of Barossa! Blog posts are due Weds. April 25.

Wine Blogging Weds News: A “Sparkling” Round Up & “Singles Night” Announced

Tim Elliott of Winecast hosted last month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday #74 and posted his round-up earlier this week. In it, he notes that 19 bloggers participated tasting 39 wines in 8 countries. The least expensive wine was Albero’s Brut Cava ($8 at Trader Joes and at that price a favorite for me too that I almost tasted for this prompt!) and the most expensive sparkler was $22.50 – 8th Generation “Confidence” 2010. So go check it out!

Wine Blogging Wednesday #75 host Joe Roberts aka 1 Wine Dude and Playboy’s new wine dude suggests we have a “Singles Night”: “One of the most special aspects of wine is that I can connect you with a particular time (a vintage) and a particular place on earth (a vineyard). Few other foodstuffs can offer such magic.”

If you want to join us, here’s how to play according to Joe’s prompt on 1 Wine Dude:

  • Your mission is to procure a wine produced from grapes grown in a single vineyard, and tell the world about it on March 21st.
  • You can pick any wine style, made from any grape(s), hailing from any region of the world – go nuts, go obscure, go fun and wow us all with your smarties.
  • The only catch is that the wine’s grapes should come from a single vineyard. And look, we’re not nazis on this… so if you come close and get a wine made from two or three vineyard parcels, we’ll let it slide – the point is to get as close to a wine coming from one single plot of land as you can, to emphasize how what’s special about that place on Earth gets transmitted to you through that wine (yes… we’re talking terroirhere, people).On March 21st, leave a comment on 1WineDude.comor on the Wine Blogging Wednesday website, or on Facebook  or on  twitter using the hashtag #WBW75

As for me, right now I’m inclined to go local and do a single vineyard that’s in Ventura County. I’ve got a bottle of Ojai Vineyard’s Roll Ranch Syrah and I want to see if I can make a road trip up the hill to the vineyard for some spring photos. We haven’t had much rain this year around here but I am sure it will be beautiful.

In the meantime, this March I’m going to be discovering more about Lake County wines including the up and coming and very consciously “green” Shannon Ridge (speaking of which, they have a number of single vineyard varietals that might be fun for WBW #75!)

Then in April, I’ll be writing about Santa Barbara’s Zaca Mesa and wines you might to pair with your Easter dinner. I might even find time to get up there myself–it’s only about an hour drive from where I live.

So Happy Wine Wednesday! What will you be drinking tonight? We’re having one of my favorite dinners –seared tuna on a bed of fresh greens –which I love with silky Washington Merlot.

For tonight I have a 2008 Merlot from Buried Cane (part of Middleton Family Wines) which I found on sale for $3.50. The name refers to the Washington State wine country practice to protect grape vines from damaging cold by covering the low-growing vine canes with a mound of soil. “These buried canes can be unearthed after winter freezes pass, assuring a grape harvest in the following season,” they say. “The winery name Buried Cane is a tip-of-the-hat to our unique winegrowing home.”

This 90% merlot and 10% syrah blend is considered a value wine that usually retails for around $15; at $3.50 it’s a steal and I’m going back for more.  The wine is sealed with a easy opening screw cap and an easy mid-week wine alcohol % of 13.3. It has a nice rosy red color with a faint tinge of coral,  cherry and plum on the nose and palate plus some vanilla and cigar box. It’s mild with a nice finish and a hint of caramel.

12/3: Rock Wall Wine Wonderland, Ventura Winter Wine Walk; 12/4 Cave Bubbles!

Next weekend winter wine wonders abound! 

If you’re in southern California, the first weekend in December is a good one to come to Ventura County for a wine and art adventure! Bay Area folks should buy tickets now to the Wine Wonderland at Rock Wall Winery in Alameda.

OJAI CA: If you’re an Ojai Vineyards Wine Club member, get started on Friday afternoon Dec. 3. From 2-6pm members can pick up their club shipment and enjoy an exclusive tasting event at the tasting room 109 S. Montgomery Street near the Ojai Arts Center. Ojai staff including winemakers and cellar rats will be on hand to answer questions and pour two special wines in addition to the regular tasting menu. This event will repeat Sunday December 11th from 2 to 6 pm. Please RSVP Tel. (805) 649 1674. Here’s Ojai’s Home page where you can Buy Their Wines.

VENTURA CA: FIRST FRIDAY Then head to Ventura where you can roam the streets during the monthly First Friday and check out the art. You might even join a SantaCon on bikes–meet at 530p on your bike in your Santa Suit at the Artists Union Gallery where California Street hits the sea; ride leaves about 6pm. Bring your own wine glass!

VENTURA: HOLIDAY STREET FAIR Saturday’s street fair starts at 11am. During this popular event, downtown Main Street is filled with vendors and music.

VENTURA: WINTER WINE WALK Saturday night at 6pm Ventura will light its holiday tree by the San Buenaventura Mission and celebrate with the second Ventura Winter Wine Walk. Holiday festivities include caroling by local church groups, Santa Claus ride into Downtown Ventura on a fire engine, and snow falling from about 645-8pm! The event is free and open to the public.  For more information, call 805.641.1090 or visit

Participants in the self-guided Winter Wine Walk from 4-8pm can sample fine wines and delicious appetizers: $42 gets 12 sample tickets. Learn more or by calling (805) 765-4294. NOTE: You have to check in before 6:30pm.

I was downtown last year for the Ventura Winter Wine Walk; you can read my impressions of it here. While I was personally disappointed in it overall, I am willing to give it another try this year.

Unless you like tasting wine in a plastic cup, I strongly recommend that you bring your own wine glasses to the Ventura Winter Wine Walk. Reidel has a fabulous stemless glass in a round cardboard carton or go for GOVINO–ergonomic, well shaped, high quality plastic wine glasses. You can buy them at Palermo the night of the event–$3 for one or $13 for 4.

Next year event organizers should give people event branded govino glasses.

VENTURA CA:  CAVE CHAMPAGNE TASTING On Sunday 12/4, from 1-4pm, for $35, 100 lucky people will taste various kinds of Champagne in the Cave in Ventura. The retail store will be open from 12-5pm and you may come in to purchase Champagne and any other wines during that time and enjoy special reduced prices even if you are not attending the Champagne Tasting!!!

ALAMEDA CA: ROCK WALL WINE WONDERLAND If you’re in the Bay Area the first weekend in December, you’ll want to head to Rock Wall Wine Company for the Wine Wonderland Open House Saturday December 3rd , 2011 1:00-5:00pm.

The entire Rock Wall Wine Company portfolio will be available to taste, including 7 new releases. I had a chance to meet the head of Rock Wall, Kent Rosenblum (yes THAT Rosenblum!) and his winemaker, daughter Shauna, at the PS I Love You Symposium July 2011. I look forward to writing more about them–as I learned sitting with them at lunch, they have a beautiful story and excellent wines!

This event also features a variety of wonderful selections from the very talented resident producers: Blacksmith Cellars, Carica Wines, Ehrenberg Cellars, John Robert Eppler Wines, Joseph Gary Cellars, Mercy and R&B Cellars–over 65 wines to taste!

In addition to the wine tasting, admission includes tasty bites, sweet treats, tours, live music and plenty of holiday cheer! The party goes from 1:00 to 5:00 pm and tickets are $30 per person through the Rock Wall tasting room, $35 per person presale online and $45 per person at the door the day of the event. This event is only open to those over 21 years of age. Age will be verified at admissions. For ticket and/or more information go to