Senior Year (part 1)

Are we serious when we tell our kids, we want you to have fun and enjoy your last “carefree” days while you are in college?  Many of us who are reading this, will think yes and then, after contemplation, maybe not.  After all, our kids are “our” kids, college has changed so much.  Well truth be told, it really hasn’t changed that much.  Freshmen are still punished with 8am classes that are way too large to stay awake.  The food, despite claims of now offering salad, is still focused primarily on pizza, take-out and whatever has the most caffeine. Anyone remember Jolt Cola?  jolt-cola

But, I must admit there is an element of college that scares me. A little further digression and then, you may understand my dilemma.  When I went to school, photos were not digital. Polaroids were portable selfie booths and cameras were either SLR or a one-shoot with a disposable flash.  We took silly pictures that often had to be developed by some guy at a Fotomat but there still was some anonymity to it.abandoned-fotomat-1a-960x741

Now a days, it is all instant, digital and even if done as a prank, the perception is out there for all to view.  This can be an innocent picture of someone sleeping with a prank narrative or just kids being goofy in what should be safe. So, yes, I am a parent that loves social media and yet it scares me because of what it can do to the trusting new adults.  There I said it…I think you understand.  Now, everything is prefaced and I have become a nagging, worried parent who is freaking out about their child’s departure to expand and firm his own foundation for the rest of his life.

Bragging rights for this mom, he received an award in tennis, (yes, I blocked his name), he is participating in school activities and then his senior photo shoot looks really good. Don’t you agree?

 

Yet, senior year brings out the nag in every parent.  “Did you finish your applications?” “Do you know what school you want to go to?”  “I know you are 18, but you still live in this house, take out the garbage.”  “Did you do your homework?” “Yet?” Repeat all of the above and add a few more and I do feel a little sorry for him, then I think about it…no, I don’t.

But alas, the turmoil and the mixed emotions of the year do have me leading to weird pairings.  Like having a Maple and Things at Casey’s Craft Bar and Grill…a yummy delicious twist on an Old Fashioned cocktail. Then,  to have wine…now truth be told, there will be several bottles emptied throughout this year, but this one definitely helps us learn our coping skills.

Senior year is meant to be a bit wild, so why not have the wine be a special respite from it all. It can help ground you, give you spirit to take what is thrown at you and it will undoubtedly keep your taste buds excited, perhaps even as excited as an 18-year-old in his senior year eagerly anticipating the sense of independence.

The Rombauer Cabernet Sauvignon lives up to expectations.  Maybe that is a little too much pressure to be applied senior year, but I think this wine can handle it.  It is smooth, blends well with a variety of foods.  Besides it pays a little homage to one of the most successful cookbooks of all time “The Joy of Cooking”, by having the corks remind us of the Joy of Wine.

This is a rough year for a parent and yet it is one that has us swelling with pride.  Witnessing the sense of wonder come to life as the steps get bigger and they become more and more accountable and their own voice is formed and heard.  Wine will be needed but just as we do not choose favorites among our children, now is not the time to choose favorites among our choice of wine.  It is the quintessential time to drink what you like. Cheers!

 

Odd Pairings Can Be Simply The Best

A concert at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), pretty cool backdrop. Falcon Stadium is not huge, so I am thinking an up and comer or someone fading out but still loveable.  Nope, it was Tim McGraw. Now, that is pretty awesome and I told my husband go ahead try to get some tickets…but then, they announced who is also high on the bill…I think co-lead—Train! Yes, Train, Train…I said get those tickets now!

Now, on paper this may seem like an unlikely pairing. But, it has been proven and many times here I have written about the need to break from tradition, because it works.  Well, this worked and it worked really well. Both played to the audience that sang along note for note and word for word with both of them. It was unforgettable.

The music played was ageless as little kids were there and old fogies, even older than me. Yes, it is possible. (wink, wink). Pat Monahan , didn’t think anyone in the audience was old enough to remember Drops of Jupiter and Tim McGraw, thought he might be too old to remember Indian Outlaw.  The crowd had their backs and I lost my voice. You can hear the applause right from my kids…shuddup 😉 jk

The pure talent of Train really performed that night as they did a few tributes. Opening with Let’s Go Crazy from Prince and then later on Under Pressure, Queen and David Bowie and then Hotel California, for Glenn Frey.  Although, they didn’t do any of the songs from their cover album of Led Zeppelin, they played almost all of their big hits plus a few. It was amazing and for the first time in a long time, I and I think everyone else, really heard the lyrics.  If you think you know them, go back and give them a listen, it is amazing.

I have to say I am grateful to Tim McGraw.  I love my husband but after he was listening to women of all ages swoon, and comment about this man’s pecs, my husband decided to follow the paleo diet that Tim sort of follows and we joined a gym.  This man is no slouch and his songs all sound like he is singing to you or about you or something we all have experienced.  That takes talent and although already a fan, I am much more of one now.

Now, to the surprising part and what gets me my name, The Blonde Grape.  I was looking for something to drink at the stadium and they had beer. I can do that, but hello, this is Train, they have their own wine, I want to be on the wine Train.  Yes, I said it, not well, but you read it, so there.

Train has several respectable wines and the brand is called Save Me, San Francisco…one of my fave songs. They donate a large part to charity if not all of it and they have several varietals. Some are: California 37 a nice Cabernet Sauvignon, Drops of Jupiter, a California Red Blend, Marry Me Rose’ ( I have yet to try this one, looking forward to it) and Calling All Angels, a Chardonnay wine. I was having trouble with their website but I can tell you although it has been a while since I have had some of them, I did recently have Calling all Angels and their wine is really good. Not just a celebrity wanting to do good, but the wine is great and can and should be paired with whatever you like. A nice article on how Train is successful in wine by Richard James of BuzzFeed can be read here.  In fact, Train now has a Save Me, San Francisco chocolate through Ghirardelli, a great pairing.   I say pair it with food, but pair it with good music and turn it up. I am thinking you can pair it with any of the artists above or you can even try Sting‘s new song 50,000 which is a tribute to the above artists and I am certain Train would approve.

Here is a video or link to a video that I found with Jimmy Stafford, guitarist for Train
talking about Save Me, San Francisco wines and the development of the winery. He likes to have a glass or two of wine before a concert, that pleases me. Be daring, be bold and drink what you like. Cheers!

 

Pedal & Pour @SteamboatWineFestival 2016

 

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Good Morning Steamboat Springs

With a wake-up call like this, what better way to earn your wine than a bike ride through Steamboat Springs through rolling hills to an old school-house and then back for a wine tasting with Michael David Winery.

To say that I am excited about this event is an understatement.  I want to ride my bicycle–you can sing along with me – I want to ride my bike.   I mean I posed my bike like children in anticipation and right before the event because I proved wine gives you strength. At least that is the phrase I told myself going up the “low” rolling hills.

We gather in front of Cafe Diva near Gondola Square between Torian Plum and The Sheraton.   I will admit it, I am a bit nervous.  I have had two surgeries and only have done one ride outside since recovery.  I bought brand new shoes because I am a girl and that is what I do (don’t judge).  Will they clip into the bike? How many hills are there? [knowing full well this is Colorado and they lie when they say a flat course. I mean hello, Rocky Mountains…I am blonde but I can pull out knowledge when needed]. Before we start to roll, I over hear a conversation (okay eavesdrop, tell me the difference) and realize we have one of the owners of Michael David Winery trying to pedal chains with us on the adventure. As a lover of wine, a new blogger I am like a teenager at a Shawn Mendes concert.  So far, three people have thought he was his brother, well I won’t, his name is David. That is my brother’s name, I’m golden…or…

We turn the cranks under the balloon and past funky mailboxes.  The ride is going better than expected, I am refusing to admit that I am scared.  I mean, I have legitimate excuses, never mind that I have been medically cleared and teach spinning.(I said before, don’t judge) Spinning is an excellent workout, it is indoor cycling. Which means I will make you sweat going nowhere fast.  Now, we have just started and I am still trying to figure out how to shift my Bianchi (own one, and you’ll refer to it by its name…that is all), please remember I indoor cycle more due to injury.  I suddenly hear a welcome voice asking me all sorts of questions. How are you? What do you think? Now, I am blonde and now I am thinking and pedaling, this is dangerous territory.  So, I flip the tables between deep breaths…and find out that I am riding with a truly Epic cyclist that has now elevated my skills, status and anything else I can possibly tie to this event. I was riding alongside Sonya Looney.  She wins 24 hour races in places like Nepal and they are world races and she is awesome. Click on her name, Sonya Looney and you will see for yourself and do what she says, which is Do Epic Shit. Just go ahead and do it, reasons why will be another post.  She is awesome and as she distracted me, she reminded me how to shift and all of a sudden, I wasn’t a beginner driving a clutch, I was a pro and driving Fast and Furious.

So, if you haven’t figured this from my previous blogs, you should know that I love music. So, when I am pedaling up the last big hill and someone starts talking with an accent from the area that was my alma mater, I had to stay engaged.  My college degree is Recording Industry Management with a Business and Mass Communications Minor from MTSU. A slight digression but now that I am in civilian life, I rarely meet someone who understand the passion behind music. One you don’t have to like all kinds, but there is a respect and memories are made no matter your style, and this man owned several record stores.  In fact, I contributed to his 2nd home here in Steamboat because of how much I purchased. But, I am including him because he recognized my degree and he too can take any phrase, any quote and refer to the appropriate song.  It is a curse, but enjoy it.

The finish is at Saddles, in the Sheraton Hotel which is slopeside.  The inside is nice but in the middle of the lobby, but it opens up to the slopes and you can watch cyclists or skiers depending on season and it is almost perfection for location.  Go here when you visit, the food will not disappoint you and will keep you in vacation mode whether for a day or a week.

Now, we get to the reward of pedaling in the heat.  We rode up hill both ways – actually we did, they are rolling hills and that is how it works.  David Phillips, founder introduced us to the Michael David Winery Chardonnay.  It is the tamest of names for this vineyard but an enticing welcome as they raise your wine senses to a new level.  I was impressed, that the owner new(ish) to Colorado rode the race that he sponsored the tasting.  However, I was thrilled to find out that he sponsored many athletes, cyclists and Sonya Looney is one. So, no longer surprised, but you should witness, he still quality tests the wine before serving to our wine riding peloton. (See above).

David Phillips demonstrates that you should do what you love.  He loves the outdoors, he loves wines and he loves really good food.  The vineyard I am told, serves great food and I can tell you the winery will make you proud every pour.  Do you like zinfandel? I do, his winery produces the #1 selli20160812_130143_resizedng Zinfandel in the world and that is 7 Deadly Zins...but we were blessed to be able to try others. Now, David is quite the story-teller as he speaks about each wine being served. He told us about the vineyard but then he revealed to us the personality behind the fermented grapes he was pouring.
[I am often asked how do I choose wine..not scientifically as you might expect.  If I am going for a blind tasting, I factor in weather, occasion but I look for personality on the label.]  David, takes his grapes and process seriously but he and the vineyard have a great sense of humor. He was raised in Catholic schools and he loves wine.  Knowing the two mix but maybe not completely, they have chosen to name their wines reminding he and his brother Michael of their youth.  That or a Brad Pitt/Morgan Freeman movie, called Se7en about the Seven Deadly Sins.  Rest assured the wine is infinitely more delicious,fun and memorable than the movie and adds a laugh or two on the label. But, the movie was pretty good too but I choose the wines.  To name a few: Freakshow, 7 Deadly Zins, Earthquake, Rapture and Lust.

This is the second tasting and is the petite sirah. For a hot day, this is perfect and although they paired it with food, I pair it with sunshine, activity and such.  This is Sonya’s favorite wine and it was a very nice change of pace. Which, when you shift your gears properly , is a very nice change of pace as well.  Love Earthquake.

Next in line is Rapture. Now, David talked about how this was kind of rebellion against his youth and targeted at the evangelicals but it is a great wine and it is selling very well.  Embrace the humor in the label and know that this is a great Cabernet Sauvignon. It may not lift you like Revelations, but to think that you are drinking it and still going skyward, that is a good thing.  He may have made Biblical ties, but I linked it to Blondie and their song Rapture. More specifically, I linked it to the mashup of Blondie and The Doors and Rapture Rider. [I am betting you haven’t heard the mashup, so please give it a listen. It will surprise you]. For the record, I told him I made that leap…he liked it. I also discovered he likes Depeche Mode..if you listen and then read the labels, this does not come as a surprise. Try Just Can’t Get Enough. 

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I can’t begin to express how excited I am to be here. I have been a wine aficionado for half of my life but only began to blog about it recently.  I am not seeking accolades, so I am majorly geeking out that a sport that I love and wine can be blended together for an event and I get to meet people at the top of their fields, doing what they love.  It is beyond measurable. I apologize, because I can’t remember David’s wife’s name, (I am blonde, older and it wasn’t repeated as often) but I do know her contribution to the event and to be in a picture with her, David and Sonya is worth every sip of their wine.

Last but not least, I think you can tell that I try to stay positive in my posts but I would not say such stellar things if I didn’t believe them to be true.  You will find that often, the experience may overpower the wine and that sometimes happens.  In this case, Michael David Winery holds it own and this Pedal and Pour event, would not have been nearly as successful if it weren’t for a winery that had personality, character and understood the passion for pedaling. I think you will like this vineyard, and these wines make constant advice easy to follow – Drink What You Like.  Cheers!

The Blinking Cursor

There it stares at me, this blinking vertical line on my computer screen. This place keeper to mark what I have started but deleted and started again to finally end up here. Off, damned blinking cursor, off I say.  A slight reference to Lady Macbeth. Act 5, Scene 1.

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Can this be really happening to me? Do I have ‘gulp’ writer’s block? Okay, quick google search and I find “How to Overcome Writer’s Block”  by Jeff Goins. There are lots of great tips here and so I bookmarked the page but, not one of the suggestions is to drink wine. I know this could be dual edged sword, but this is a wine blog and it seems to me if you want to breakthrough the block, you pour yourself a glass, take a crazy picture of it and start from there.

I do as he suggests and turn on some music. Playing now, “HARD LOVE” by NEEDTOBREATHE. As the song plays, and the wine trickles down I come to reality that we make love so much harder a choice than hate. Since, I am trying to always stay on the positive side especially for this blog, the recent events have it hard to be positive. So, I sit comatose in front of the screen.

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Says it all, sort of…

When people start believing headlines before the story can even be written, that can be dangerous. It makes tragedies that much worse and incites people’s worst fears. Since negativity is being spread and we, humans want to be included we jump on the negative train. Yet, we should take the time to pause and realize that at our core, all of us regardless of sex, color, religion or any other difference are also part of one race and we are trying to learn how to be unique and the same.  Perhaps, we shouldn’t try for the same, just accept the unique and marvel at all the colors that bring into this world.

One of my favorite quotes and I use it often as I am in marketing. I apologize in advance, but, I think you will smile at its honesty.  It is a line Tommy Lee Jones says in Men In Black.  “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.”  Since beliefs are based off of the choice to believe, I believe we are better than our recent behavior and although I do not know the tipping point to make us all realize that, I pray it comes soon. We people everywhere still have much to learn.

So, how did I get around the writer’s block? Well, I took silly pictures of the bottle with the bard’s photo on it. I positioned it with several books of no particular style, because I read everything.

Noticing that I like what I read and it is all very different, I even read the labels from the wine. Now, something else different about this particular wine, by the name of Writer’s Block is that it is a Cabernet Franc.  Yes, again different but I was willing to give it a try hoping that it would be a little lighter in texture because of the warm weather we have been having lately.  It was light, and to a pleasant surprise not sweet but rather more on the peppery side. A very smooth drink that invites you back for more as you continue to sip.  I will be looking for other vineyards that produce a Cabernet Franc wine so I can expand the horizons of my taste buds.

Now, I leave you with the quote from one of the great poets of all time and was influenced by William Shakespeare: “Wine, one sip of this will bathe the drooping spirits in delight beyond the bliss of dreams. Be wise and taste.”
John Milton, English poet, (1608-1674)

So, I listened to music, I sipped some wine, I took silly photos and I celebrated the differences. I hope you take the time to celebrate you!