Women’s History Month: Winemaker Susan Tipton of Acquiesce in Lodi, CA

June 2017 photo at Acquiesce, Lodi by Gwendolyn Alley

When you think of wines from the Lodi area, what comes to mind for most people is ZINFANDEL — and plenty of it!

But in the past few years, particularly thanks to tasting wines from Cantara Cellars as well as participating in twitter tastings and from attending the 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi plus a press trip to Lodi last June, I’ve come to appreciate and advocate the range of wines coming from this region of California.

Today I want to introduce you to a winery in Lodi that specializes in white wines from the Rhone: Acquiesce. Continue reading

Experience Central Coast Wines on #CCWineDay Friday May 31, 2013

select central coast wines

select central coast wines

You’re invited to the Second Annual  Central Coast Wine Day, Friday May 31, 2013!

#CCWineDay follows in the footsteps of various #VarietalDays that have been going on for a few years. These include  Cabernet Day, Albarino Day, Tempranillo Day, Pinot Noir Day, Zinfandel Day, and even Wine Tourism Day! (As you can see, I enjoy participating in these varietal days!)

Personally, I say the Central Coast begins with Ventura County, Continue reading

Wine Predator to Do Steven Kent Tasting at The Rafters, Mammoth!

Feeling Witchy? Get Twitchy! Marc Mondavi’s Divining Rod Chard or Cab!

If you listen carefully, these witches seem to say that Winemaker and Water Witch Marc Mondavi’s Divining Rod draws you in to drink! Yes, that’s right–how many wines do you know that were crafted by a bona fide witch??

If you’re looking for a great wine for your favorite witch or warlock for Halloween or other fall festivities, you can’t go wrong with either the Chardonnay or the Cabernet Sauvignon for under $20 (both on sale right now at Vons for under $15!)

After a long day at work, I opened the 2010 Divining Rod Chardonnay from the Santa Lucia Highlands to pair with my pasta and shrimp. It was room temperature but I opened it anyway to have a glass while I was getting dinner together. I wasn’t expecting a lot, but I got a lot! I was surprised and impressed at how delicious it was and looked forward to tasting it with dinner after it had some chill time in the refrigerator. It was the perfect accompaniment with dinner–refreshing, citrusy, nice body, not too heavy but enough to stand up to the butter and garlic and shrimp.

With a fresh, clean, bright, nose, the 2010 Divining Rod Chardonnay certainly put a spell on me from beginning to end, making me very happy! Continue reading

4 Grenaches for #GrenacheDay To Lift Your Spirits

Picture of Grenache noir grapes from a vineyar...

Picture of Grenache noir grapes from a vineyard in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Please join me in celebrating Grenache Day, today, Friday September 21, 2012 by enjoying a glass of this delightful varietal! You can share what you’re drinking on twitter by using the hashtag #grenacheday.

What is there to say about Grenache?

How about it’s one of the most widely grown varietals on the planet!  However, since grenache is used primarily in blends, many people don’t know they’ve had it or that they like it!

I am one of those people who definitely enjoys grenache –with or without its traditional Rhone blending partners, mourvedre and syrah. In case you’ve  heard the term GSM –the g is for grenache, the m is mourvedre and the s is syrah. I prefer my GSMs to be heavier on the grenache and light on the syrah.

On its own, Grenache can be a bit light for some people, and too fruity. Personally, I like its fruit forward freshness with roast chicken and salads and various cheeses;  tonight we’re going to try it with some chicken legs and thighs that are marinating in fresh squeezed orange juice, fresh rosemary, raw garlic, and a prepared teriyaki sauce. Grenache is nice on the cool side (cellar temperature or colder), great with picnics, or when you want something more hefty than a rose.

Grenache is a red wine that won’t bog you down but instead lift your spirits.

Grenache Day 2012 wines from Ojai Vineyards and Cantara CellarsIn honor of Grenache Day 2012, we tasted four: one from Horse Heaven Hills AVA by Alexandria Nichole, two from Lodi California made by Mike Brown at Cantara Cellars in Camarillo, and one from Thompson Vineyards in Santa Barbara made by Adam Tolmach at Ojai Vineyards.

They were all very different and we loved them all in their own ways. All of them are gorgeous in the glass, which is typical of grenache: super pretty pink and clear, vibrant with a violet tinge on the edge. Continue reading

2011 Big House Birdman at the Beach with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy 2012

If it’s the first week of August, it’s time for the Ventura County Fair.

And that means Fair food and Fair entertainment including fireworks every night and music too! Last night we were on the Ferris Wheel when the fireworks went off; another highlight was a deep fried hot dog with a spiral of potato chips which my son and I were going to share but he polished off by himself!

This year, like most,

don’t tell anyone but

my family, friends and I ride our bikes down to the beach to enjoy the fair’s concert from the “cheap seats” –our bike seats or a bench on the beach!

That’s what I did on Saturday to see Joan Jett and that’s what a bunch of us did tonight for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

Out there by the beach the sound isn’t too loud–a bonus as we’re not blowing out our eardrums and we can visit with each other. There’s also plenty of room to dance with views of the seashore!

Another bonus is we can bring our own food and drink. This year a group of us gathered for an informal light dinner along the bike path featuring local fresh olive bread, cheeses, humous, vegies, an arugula portabella feta salad, a couscous salad, and, the star of the show, raw oysters from the Jolly Oyster. Continue reading

Shannon Ridge Wines & Lamb Recipe –for your Easter dinner or spring gathering!

According to an article in today’s LA Times, Easter and Passover is when most people eat lamb. But in the US, nearly 40% of the population has never even tried it! At the peak in the 1940s, Americans consumed 6.6 pounds of lamb per person; these days, it’s less than one pound. Experts say it is because it is expensive (a rack of lamb will set you back between $12-18 or more) and because it is relatively unknown in the US so people don’t know how to prepare it.

I never appreciated lamb until I met my husband, and yes it was love at first bite! (In fact, today was our 9th wedding anniversary–we were married on Good Friday 2003!) We have lamb regularly and I have found it pairs well with many wines making for a special dinner.

So how should you prepare your lamb this Easter? And what wine should you drink with it? In this post, I’ll share Audrey Shannon’s Lamb Shoulder Recipe with some preparation tips and ideas for Shannon Ridge wines to pair with your holiday meal.

Shannon Ridge

Shannon Ridge is up in Lake County, an area that I’ve been hearing lots of good news about as an up-and-coming wine region. The portfolio of award winning Shannon Ridge wine includes the Single Vineyard Collection and Ranch Collection: the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon won DOUBLE GOLD at the recent San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc won the GOLD MEDAL at the 2011 Dallas Morning News and TexSom Wine Competition, the Riverside International Wine Competition, and the Critics Challenge Wine Competition. Shannon Ridge Vineyards and Winery was named by Jon Fredrikson as one of ten “Hot California Wineries in 2011.” Annual case sales have increased more than 300% over the past four years, from 25K in 2008 to 104K in 2011 –which means you can now find this sustainable, affordable brand in a big box store near you!

One reason I really like Shannon Ridge is their authentic commitment to sustainability and the land. The Shannons truly are farmers first. Continue reading