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July 12th, 2011 | in Wine & Wine Tasting | Leave a comment

We had a week to kill (sort of) before heading over to Detroit, MI, so we stayed close to Lake Michigan where there is some decent Michigan wine to be found. We came up to this area from Elkhart, IN a few years ago when we were having the RV worked on, so decided to give it another shot. We stayed out in the boonies at a small RV park that we barely got our satellite to lock on. The important thing is that Jim had internet access for work, so all was good.

 

We tried wines along the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail. We went to my previous favorites and added one new one, but we also attended the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival along a beach of Lake Michigan. It was a potentially wonderful day, but the weather had other ideas, it wanted to t-storm. We stayed for a little while, tried a few of the wines at some of the wineries we hadn’t already visited, but nothing worthy. We stuck our toes (again) into Lake Michigan and then decide to try to find a brewery that wasn’t that far away for a little beer tasting and some food.

 

The wineries that we visited are:

 

Here are a few pictures, you know I like to take pictures 😀

 

Busy day at Round Barn w/live music

Busy day at Round Barn w/live music

 

Tabor Hill grounds

Tabor Hill grounds

 

Jim enjoying a glass of bubbly on the deck at Tabor Hill

Jim enjoying a glass of bubbly on the deck at Tabor Hill

 

Watching the yellow finches from the deck

Watching the yellow finches from the deck

 

Appeziter at Tabor Hill

Appeziter at Tabor Hill

 

Decks at Contessa Wine Cellars

Decks at Contessa Wine Cellars

 

Chocolate is this way!

Chocolate is this way!

 

Entering the shop to the glorious scent of chocolate

Entering the shop to the glorious scent of chocolate

 

Looking out the door of the Chocolate Garden

Looking out the door of the Chocolate Garden

 

Entering Karma Vista

Entering Karma Vista

 

Lots of Karma Vista wine

Lots of Karma Vista wine

 

Stepping into St. Julian

Stepping into St. Julian

 

Heading into the rainy wine festival

Heading into the rainy wine festival

 

Checking out the beach & watching the storm come in

Checking out the beach & watching the storm come in

 

I bought wine at Tabor Hill (both still and their wonderful sparkling that just happened to be on sale), Contessa and Karma Vista. We had dinner at Tabor Hill, it was wonderful as usual; the previous time we had lunch which was just a wonderful. This trip we got to stop at The Chocolate Garden, just a 1/2 mile down the road from Contessa. I was a really good girl and we bought 2 Raspberry/Dark Chocolate truffles and 2 all Dark Chocolate truffles. Jim and I would split one in half and that would be our treat for the day. Not so many calories (don’t the calories fall out when you cut them?) and they last longer too!

June 28th, 2011 | in Wine & Wine Tasting | Leave a comment

If you remember, we have been wine tasting in Ohio before, the same area each time because it is really close to where my husbands’ brother Phil & his wife Terri live. It works out so great, they love wine, we love wine, we wine together 😉

 

This trip, we invited additional friends, Grant & Betsy (friends of Phil & Terri via sailing and Terri works with Betsy). They were not sure what they were getting into, but they decided to join us. We met up with them at Harpersfield Winery, but that was after we had already enjoyed two wineries.

 

The list of wineries that we visited on this trip (some previously visited, some new) are:

 

They make a lot of sweet wines in Ohio, but all of these wineries have some decent dry whites & reds to enjoy (which is what we like). Many of them serve some type of food, from cheese plates to full menu restaurants. They all have fun tasting rooms, with great outdoor seating. We took advantage of all of the above; wine, food, & outdoor seating.

 

I was bummed when I got to Cellar Rats Brewery, I wanted to talk with the brewmaster, but he was already gone for the day. They do tours during the week and I wanted to talk “shop” now that I am getting ready to brew my own beer (back in Livingston). Oh well, next trip. They had great beer though, I was surprised and impressed.

 

I think we all had fun, some more than others (you know who you are 😉 ). It was a great day spent with Phil, Terri, Grant, Betsy & of course, my lovely husband Jim. Thanks everyone!

 

When trying to figure out what to do while in Ohio (other than visit, eat & drink), Put-in-Bay came up from a friend at dinner. So the plans were made, the drive seemed long (because we had to get up so early to catch a certain boat), but it was all worth it. We were just a tad early for the season, a couple of days before Memorial Day, so not everything was open. That was ok, we still had fun!

 

The biggest bummer was that the Perry Monument was closed for renovations (200 year anniversary next year for the War of 1812). We couldn’t go to the top, but the video was interesting in the visitors center.

 

 

After visiting the memorial, we did some shopping and then decided it was time for lunch. We had heard about this marvelous lobster bisque at the Boardwalk, but the Boardwalk was closed. We ran into someone that worked there (they were getting it ready to open over Memorial Weekend) and he said that the Hooligan Pub was also owned by them and they had some that day, it was in the process of heating up.

 

So, off to Hooligans it was. We ordered lunch but they said the bisque wasn’t ready yet, it had to be re-heated very slowly. We said we would come back for it after awhile. Once we were done with what we did order, we headed over to the Put-in-Bay Brewing Co. so that I could try their beers (and get a souvenir glass :) ) We did go back, but they were closing from between lunch & dinner. They never told us that, so we asked for our bisque to go and ate it out on the porch. We were definitely disappointed in the bisque, it was too thick and kinda lumpy.

Here’s there line-up that we tasted:

  • Watermelon Wheat
  • Captain Barclays’s IPA *
  • Summer Brew
  • South Bass Oatmeal Stout *
  • Pass Out Bourbon Stout *

 

I liked the IPA and the two stouts, the oatmeal was the better of the two. I was pleasantly surprised that I even liked one, let alone three of them. I would go back if I ever had the chance.

 

After the brewery, we headed out to do a little wine tasting. There are two wineries on the island, Heineman’s Winery and Put-in-Bay Winery. We didn’t taste at Heineman’s, all they had was sweet wine, but we did make some purchases in the gift store. We did try a few wines at Put-in-Bay, they had a few dry reds and whites. Not bad, but no purchases made here.

 

After wine tasting, we drove around some more in our little golf cart along the waterfront to see how the other half lives. There are some really nice homes and a lot of summer cottages. It was fun to see what was basically a “gosling nursery”. There were 3 or 4 mama geese keeping all their goslings together and herding them from one spot to another. There were all different ages (sizes) of goslings, so it was really interesting to watch. Those mama’s were very careful too, if you got too close, they started spitting at you and would make like they were going to bite. I stayed a little further back to get my pictures 😉

 

We didn’t want to get home too late, so we headed back, but we also wanted to try another winery on the way home. We stopped at Firelands Winery in Sandusky. It was really nice inside (they were renovating the outside), the people very nice and you got to choose 5 wines to taste. They had a little of everything. I bought a cool bottle (blue fish) that has riesling in it (didn’t taste the wine, just wanted the bottle) and a bottle of sparkling brut (didn’t get to taste it either). We did open the bottle a few days later and I found it really enjoyable and was surprised at the quality (not so much for the price though). Terri bought a couple of bottles of Italian styled wines.

 

We were ready to be home, it was a long day, but really enjoyable. How can you go wrong after wine & beer tasting? You can’t 😀

May 12th, 2011 | in Wine & Wine Tasting | Leave a comment

We are so close to the border of Kentucky & Indiana, and when we mentioned we were out wine tasting, we kept hearing about Huber’s Farm & Winery. I checked out how close it was and if there were more wineries close by; low-and-behold, there were quite a few! All just over the border from Louisville. I quickly put a list together and we were off on our next wine adventure.

 

Indiana seems to make more dry wine than Kentucky, for us, that is a good thing. Once again though, they use varietals that you know and don’t know (but I mostly do 😉 .  They even use a few German varietals that are fun to try. Indiana even has a “state” grape, that is Traminette (hybrid from Gewurtztraminer). It is a white grape and can make really good wine, both dry or sweet. I keep trying to find a bottle that I really like, but just haven’t found it around here yet.

 

Here are the wineries that we checked out on this adventure in Indiana:

 

Turtle Run was not on the original list, but I heard it was a good place to try, so we headed over there after Huber. We met Charla who was working the tasting room and Jim P. came in to visit. He is the owner/wine maker for Turtle Run. What passion, what verve! We had an excellent time chatting with him. The other outstanding stop was River City Winery. Again, I knew they had food, I just thought it was appetizers plates, but we got a surprise in the small menu. Since it was Wednesday night, we also got 20% of bottles of wine if you ordered and drank in the tasting room & live music. The food was excellent, the goat cheese was locally made and the pizza was to die for. I would go back in a heart-beat on this one too, the wine was probably the best we had tasted in Indiana. A couple of the wineries are also part of a wine trail: Indiana Uplands Wine Trail.

 

Here are some pictures from this wine tour 😉

 

 

here are a couple of other pictures of “critters” from the farm :)

 

blue heron fishing

blue heron fishing

 

swan out of water

swan out of water

 

Jim really gets tired of me asking him (or is it speaking rather loudly?) to STOP, I need to take a picture.

 

Chat with ya’ll soon!

 

May 12th, 2011 | in Wine & Wine Tasting | Leave a comment

We (I) truly enjoyed the Bourbon tasting, but wine is still our most favoritist thing to go taste. Kentucky is the 25th state that we have tasted wine in, we are half way through all the states :) Jim is never enamoured of wine outside of the NW or California, but he still gives it the old college try. I on the other hand, enjoy trying new things, especially when it comes to wine.

 

They can grow some of the varietals that you know and love (cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay), but the also grow hybrids that do well in this region (chambourcin, seyval blanc). We have met these grapes before in previous tastings, so we are not strangers, but they are not Jim’s favorites.

 

You also have to take into account where you are tasting the wine. Wine in Kentucky is different than wine in Texas or Oregon. The soil is different, grapes are different, the weather is different. The south LOVES sweet wines, 80% of the population that drinks wine, drinks sweeter types of wines. It’s hard to find dry wines around here, but I did :)

 

We did buy a couple of bottles, mostly white (for me, for some reason, I am into whites right now). We ended at River Bend, downtown Louisville which also happens to have a restaurant. It was an excellent choice, the wines were pretty good, but the atmosphere was fun and the food was excellent! For whatever reason, we were the only ones there, but it just made it that much more fun, we got all of the attention. I would go back in a heart-beat!

 

Here is the list of wineries that we visited in Kentucky:

 

 

25 more states to go 😉

 

We made it safe & sound to Pigeon Forge, TN from Memphis. We haven’t been in this neck of the woods since 2000. It sure has changed! We are parked down the road from the main drag of Pigeon Forge, nice park, no road noise. Once we got here after 6 hours of driving, we just parked and settled. Yesterday was all about laundry, dishes, and other pink items that needed doing. Now that I am mostly caught up, we took the afternoon to start our adventures.

 

This adventure was about 3 local wineries (all owned by the same group) and the local brewery. We did a little shopping in between :)

 

Rocky Top Wine Trail:

 

They had a gamut of wines to try, all the tastings were free. Each winery has at least 4 dry wines, then they go into the semi-sweet and then sweet. The south loves their sweet wines, that is what they sell the most of. The Merlot at Hillside is made from grapes from Oregon and wasn’t that bad (but I didn’t buy any). I did buy a dry white at Mountain Valley and a brut sparkling at Hillside. There was a LOT of wine walking out the doors. All three wineries had huge gift shops and had some of the same stuff, but quite a bit that was different. I could have stayed a long time just to look through it all. I did buy some of my favorite wine stoppers.

 

Mountain Valley Winery

Mountain Valley Winery

 

Apple Barn Winery

Apple Barn Winery

 

Hillside Winery

Hillside Winery

 

Gift shop & tasting room in Hillside

Gift shop & tasting room in Hillside

 

The Apple Barn Winery is part of a huge complex that included a restaurant, Cider Mill, and a Creamery. It was very busy, the parking lot was pretty full and there were several buses.

 

We headed over to the Tanger Mall so that I could look for a few clothing items that I needed (always need something) and then finally decided it was time to try the brewery.

 

Smokey Mountain Brewery is pretty big, they have several restaurants in Knoxville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. We tried the Pigeon Forge brewery and restaurant, it is where all the beer is actually made.  We got a taster of 6 of the beers, 2 seasonals: Bock & Stout, then 4 of the regulars: a red, porter, brown and pale ale. We really liked the stout, bock & pale ale. I would go back again. Besides, the food was really good!

 

Outside Smokey Mountain Brewery & Restaurant

Outside Smokey Mountain Brewery & Restaurant

 

the beers that we tasted

the beers that we tasted

 

happy beer tester :)

happy beer tester :)

 

In fact, I liked the pale ale so much, I would really love to get the recipe. It had just the right hops! I had a reuben sandwich for dinner w/fries (bad, bad, me) and Jim had their signature sirloin steak. They were both wonderful and would recommend anyone to try them out.

 

Now, I am really full and have this post done. Time to get ready to see who gets kicked off of DWTS! Until later…

December 14th, 2010 | in Friends, Wine & Wine Tasting | Leave a comment

We left Portland at the beginning of October, our first stop for a short break would be Walla Walla. Gosh, how did I manage that? It wasn’t that far out of the way heading to Yellowstone from Portland, so it made sense to stop someplace we enjoyed :) besides, I needed more wine to drink & share as we traveled to Utah, Arizona and then on to Texas.

We spent only a couple of days, but I made the most of them. We tried some new wineries and visited with some that we didn’t make it to the last trip in the spring. Since we were there during crush, we had to take a back seat to some grapes once in awhile, but not a bad thing. I got to sample some great grapes!



Here is the list for this trip:



There are no pictures of Balboa/Beresan this time, we were too busy enjoying ourselves inside the great new tasting room! Tom was there, along with his side-kick (and fellow winemaker) Mark, along with a couple of gentlemen from SW Washington. They were out doing the same thing we were, tasting great wine. They just also happen to represent another winery, I believe it was Bethany Vineyards (my sincerest apologies if that is incorrect!). We all shared some of our wines from each of our wineries. It was spontaneous and fun!

You just never know what you will find when wine tasting in the NEXT BEST DESTINATION Wine spot in the U.S.

November 12th, 2010 | in Wine & Wine Tasting | Leave a comment

You know how much we love, love, love Walla Walla and their wine… we stopped there for a week on our way to visit family & friends in Idaho. I can never say enough about W2, we have made so many friends and enjoy so much great wine that we keep going back.

Here is a few pictures from each of the wineries that we tasted at during this trip. We went to some old favorites and tried a few new ones too! The new wineries are coming up faster than we can taste at them :)


here is the list of wineries visited this trip:


On the last full day of our visit to W2, we finally made it out to the Whitman Mission National Historic Site. It was very interesting to read about the massacre and to visit a few of the graves. History is so very interesting!

We left the GPNW the 2nd week of January, the latest we have after left the area. It was wonderful to spend time with the family over the holidays. As you saw before, we stopped at Yosemite along the way, so it has it’s own page, look for it in the previous posts if you haven’t already seen it.

 

From there, we headed over to Tucson to spend a week to warm up and hopefully thaw out after the cold of the north. We spent the time close to Jim & Allison at their winter hideaway. We traveled to one of our favorite AZ wineries, Callaghans (needed some wine that is LONG GONE), did some hiking and of course, relaxing.

 

Here are a few pictures, more coming in the next post :)

 

January 21st, 2010 | in Wine & Wine Tasting | Leave a comment

 I blackmailed Jim into taking me to Walla Walla for the Holiday Barrel (Dec ’09) tasting for our 19th anniversary. It was definitely worth it. We had a great time, visiting with "old" friends and hopefully making new ones. I put the list of wineries together that we wanted/needed to taste at and it was long; too long to do in 2 days, so I had to pare it down. It was hard, I tell you! Those that we did get the chance to visit, thank you for such a great time. For those of you that we didn’t make the visit on this trip, sorry, no reflection on you, just a reflection of not enough time!

 

 

Here is the itinerary that we were able to fit in :)

 

Saturday:

 

Sunday:

 

So much wine, so little time. When we tasted wine in Walla Walla in May of 2005, there were about 80 bonded wineries (licenses), today, that number has doubled. I will keep coming back as long as there is wine to be tried :)