Grateful for Good Gifts, Good Stories with Wineries from Napa #WinePW

Joy to the World– Grateful for the Gift of Good Wine and Good Stories: From one fire to another

If you ask me, it’s stories that make us humans, stories that help us make meaning, stories that help us connect and care for each other. And so if you are looking for a wine for a gift this holiday season, I would choose one with a good story. Here’s one of mine.

When I was a little girl, there was a fire in Ondulando, a neighborhood above ours on the east end of Ventura. I’m not too sure how big it was but that fire had a huge impact on me. We all stood in the street in awe watching it burn.  Seeing the orange glow on the hillsides seemed more threatening to me and my home and my family than it actually was.

Following the fire, at certain times of the year when the light would hit windows on the hillsides just right, they would glow red and it would strike terror in my heart — I was sure there was another fire and I was surprised that no one was alarmed.

wearing my N95 Particulate Respirator on Day 2 of the #ThomasFire

A few days ago, that fire I feared as a child hit for real.

The Thomas Fire started at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula and fueled forward by fierce winds, flames raced toward Ventura at times gobbling an acre a second until it reached Ondulando and beyond.  I heard the dispatch call out addresses and I pictured the streets where my friends grew up– and where friends live today.

I could imagine only too well what it looked like from my childhood home because I could see that fire as it spread to the hillside where my grandfather built his house– and his wine cellar not far from where I live today, a block away from the mandatory evacuation zone which was just lifted and two blocks from where it still is.,

The wind was and continues to be terrible, with hurricane force winds of 80 to 100 miles an hour driving the fire to consume almost 50k acres that first night, and now, while less intense, the winds are erratic, less predictable, ever dangerous. Until the wind dies down, it will be impossible for them to contain this fire. With no rain in sight, they are saying it may burn until Christmas or even the New Year.

Screen shot from an ArcGIS map showing the Thomas Fire burn area Dec. 7 2017

As of this writing, nearly 150k acres have burned with 500 structures destroyed including homes belonging to a dozen or more friends as well as former students who met in my creative writing class over 15 years ago.

the house of a childhood friend of mine, Suzanne Henthorn; here’s her GoFundMe page if you can help: https://www.gofundme.com/suzannes-fire-relief-fund

In my county, over 100k people have been evacuated from their homes in the previous few days. I know more people who have been evacuated than I know who have not been evacuated.

And this fire as well as a spate of fires in Southern California will be part of a Federal Disaster area. Already the resources are driving and flying in.

We are the lucky ones, able to stay in our homes, power flickering, non-potable water flowing, our VW van ready for us to escape into, a comfortable home away from home. We are safe save from the smoky air… and cabin fever. Minor inconveniences really in the big picture.

Sue also was lucky: she lives in a voluntary evacuation zone so she was also able to stay home even though at times all of the roads around us were closed due to fire. Above are a few of the photos Sue’s partner John Walsh shared; these were taken from their house in Meiners Oaks which is in the Ojai Valley — the inlet of green in the sea of browned lands in the map above.

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#MerlotMe with 3 from Sonoma and Colorful Fall Squash Pasta #WinePW

#MerlotMe love with wine from Sonoma paired with a simple squash and sausage pasta dish and a chard with apple and pomegranate salad

“I’ve got this one squash I’d like to use for our pasta,” says Sue on the drive from my house on the coast to hers in Ojai, “and I need help getting it cut out of the fence.”

It actually took three of us because I was busy taking photos, but Sue and Barry wrestled that squash out of the fence and Sue got it roasting because squash and merlot are a match made in heaven, and October is #MerlotMe time! Continue reading

A Preview of Portugal: Wine, Cuisine, and Travel With #WinePW

a few of the Portuguese wines and foods we enjoyed for September’s #WinePW ‘s focus on Portugal

There is so much more to PORTUGAL than PORT Wine!
Discover our stories about Portugal this Saturday, September 9th when, by 8am PST, the Wine Pairing Weekend crew will publish posts about Portuguese wine and then head to twitter to share our choices and tell the stories behind them (hashtag = #WinePW).

Food and travel are always a part of the chat, so join us for all the doors that Portuguese  wine can open. And we’d love to have participation from people who live in Portugal too!

This month, the Wine Pairing Weekend crew includes:

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Hooray for Central Coast Rose for #WinePW

Have you caught the rose’ train yet?

With the current wild proliferation and profusion of rose wine on today’s market, many people have discovered that the rose you find today is not at all like the sweet characterless wine you found in grandma’s glass a few years ago.

Even Brangelina and Drew Barrymore are on the rose train. In the video below, Drew explains how to taste wine and then…

well and then she puts her foot in her mouth and makes a number of ridiculous and false statements while holding her glass by the bowl which warms the wine (and smudges the glass!). Read about everything that’s wrong in the video here.    

Scroll down for a much better video about how to make rose– from someone who is a winemaker first and not an actor.

So if you don’t have rose in your glass yet, you will soon: according to data from Nielsen Co., “rosé has been one of the fastest-growing segments of the market for two years running.”  And Bloomberg reports that  rosé outsells red  wine AND white wine in France while in Australia rosé is the fastest growing wine style.

But it’s not white zin that’s caught our fancy because white zin’s market share is dropping rapidly: instead we are in the pink with ones more similar to the rosé wines of Provence: while more expensive, these pink wines are sophisticated, dry, and crisp, they cut the heat to leave us refreshed, and they pair well with food.

To help you sort through the proliferation, we’ve tasted four from the Central Coast  and paired them with SHRIMP CORN FRITTERS (OMG so good!) and have some ideas for you when this month the #WinePW crew once again say HOORAY for Rose with our theme for August Wine Pairing Weekend Chat is Rosé and… because there are so many ways to pair food with a Rosé.  And because there is so much to say on the subject, we have two  from Chile that I will be publishing about on Monday which is International Rose Day! (Not to be confused with NATIONAL Rose Day which is in June and we wrote about here and more about rose from France and Lodi  here.)

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May There Be Bubbles for Brunch! Plus Negronis, Strata for #WinePW

Let’s Do Brunch! So said Sue and I in suggesting this month’s Wine Pairing Weekend prompt.  We had no idea that this is actually #BrunchWeek for food bloggers who are also writing about Brunch this week!

But how many bloggers are writing about BRUNCH and WINE? Well, I’ll bet quite a few because for many a defining feature and interest in brunch is that they probably invented brunch so we could have wine with breakfast!

And for many, wine at brunch means BUBBLES! And while this was indeed true for many of us participating in Wine Pairing Weekend (scroll down and you’ll see!), Sue and I fell in love with a special Brunch Negroni! Continue reading

Let’s Do Brunch! RSVPs for Sat May 13 #WinePW

So who’s joining the Wine Pairing Weekend Gang for Brunch on Saturday May 13? And what are we bringing to the table?

Lots of bubbles! And a lot more! Read all about it in the invite; read on to see who’s doing what! Continue reading

Let’s Do Brunch! #WinePW May 13

Brunch = sparkling wine!

Instead of England’s early Sunday dinner, a postchurch ordeal of heavy meats and savory pies, why not a new meal, served around noon, that starts with tea or coffee, marmalade and other breakfast fixtures before moving along to the heavier fare?

By eliminating the need to get up early on Sunday, brunch would make life brighter for Saturday-night carousers. It would promote human happiness in other ways as well.

“Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting.” Beringer wrote. “It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”

— William Grimes, “At Brunch, The More Bizarre The Better” New York Times, 1998[7] (from Wikipedia’s Brunch entry)

Whether you stay up late carousing or you’re trying to figure out what to do for Mother’s Day, let’s do brunch this month for Wine Pairing Weekend! Continue reading