All posts by Head BoozyWife In Charge

Tattoo wife, student of wine and distilled spirits, lover of artistry, viticulture, travel, and the finer things in life.

Found Lehigh Wine Trail Bubbles during Skindustry Tattoo Expo

Skindustry 2013, Allentown PA

Skindustry 2013, Allentown PA

Tattoo conventions mean different things to different people. For tattoo collectors, it’s an exciting weekend (or sometimes just a day) of new tattoos, entertainment, hot tattooed ladies, and tattoo contests. For tattoo artists and vendors, it’s stressful and work, time to see old friends, network new ones, and show their skills to potential new clients. And then, there is the tattoo spouse. We’re usually either walking circles into the convention floor after three hours of hanging out, siting glassy-eyed in the booth while folks stroll on by, or sitting in the hotel room. Let’s be honest, it’s mostly number three. Especially if the room has a hot tub. But, now that HIS work is YOUR time away, don’t waste it sitting in a room. Grapes grow damn near everywhere, and where there are grapes….there is wine.

Skindustry Tattoo Expo 2013 was held this weekend, and our shop had a great time. Busy show, lots of great artists, and close enough to home that I could commute without a stay over! I had a very busy Saturday in Canandaigua (more on that in another entry), so Sunday was tattoo wife day at the show for me. I promised to spend most of Sunday at the expo, so I left Ithaca early. I had to have a little time to explore the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, Pennsylvania’s fast growing wine region. They have even claimed Chambourcin as the official grape of the area…it’s a hearty hybrid red that makes delicious wines, from dry to sweet. I stopped at three wineries closest to the expo, all within fifteen miles of the show. Always have a DD with you, or in my case (this time), go alone, SPIT–NO SHAME, and buy bottles for home!

First stop, Pinnacle Ridge and Winery, housed in a renovated bank barn structure and I was happily shocked to see sparkling wine made, in the traditional method, on site! They use locally sourced and estate grapes, vinifera and hybrids, and make more styles of wine than I could list (click on them to check out their website. They ship, I’m just letting you know!). I brought home a bottle of the Brut Rose, and another of the Blanc de Blanc. Don’t judge me, I’m a sucker for bubbles.

Next, I swung by Clover Hill Vineyards & Winery, a few miles closer to the show. More bubbles! Traditional dry reds, a few fruity sweets for the kids…a blackberry sparkler wine sounds right up some of y’all’s alley!! I don’t judge, the best wine is the wine you like the best. Life is short, try them all!

Last winery I had time for, and closest to the show, Vynecrest Vineyards & Winery had a beautiful view of the vineyard and deck for warmer weather. The tasting room was busy, but everyone was accommodating. It’s a small vineyard, so vintages run out and change depending on sales. The selections were slightly limited, but I tried more whites than reds. They do have a beautiful wine bar in the tasting room to take advantage of, if you have time to linger. I could have! But….

Show time! Made it to Skindustry by 2pm, not too shabby and with bubbles in a back seat cooler (hot trunk is bad for wine…don’t do that!!) I met Eddie at the front entrance. Great show, tattooers, caricature artists that could turn you into a cartoon zombie for a small fee, Eddie even won a trophy for 1st place BLACK & GREY TATTOO! It was a successful weekend for our entire clan. BIG Thank You to Steve Lemak and The Quillian Tattoo crew for putting on another great tattoo weekend in Allentown, PA!

**Follow highlighted links for websites and info 🙂

Earth Day in the Finger Lakes

Cayuga Lake from Goose Watch Winery

Cayuga Lake from Goose Watch Winery

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My husband, proudly digging!

The start of our raised beds

It’s ALWAYS Earth Day in Ithaca, NY. We live surrounded by vineyards and waterfalls, have the ability and space to garden our own soil, and live much more sustainably. Last year was our first as official home owning gardeners, and my husband’s tomatoes were monsters. There were a few make it yourself experiments with bat guano tea fertilizer, and  jokes about plants crawling out of the garden and vines extending to the road! Rather than tell you all about why it’s such a great place, how wonderful the waterfalls, the hiking, the summers, the vineyards are…enjoy the views!! (The last pic is from our wedding…seriously.)

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Lower Enfield Falls, our wedding by a waterfall spot

A group of our friends at Fall Creek, day after our vows

A group of our friends at Fall Creek, day after our vows

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Vines at Six Mile Creek Winery

Our Fairytale Bridge pic- Photo Credit: Alex Solla Photography

Our Fairytale Bridge pic- Photo Credit: Alex Solla Photography

 

 

My 38th trip around the sun :)

So, today is my thirty-eighth birthday. I am blessed with an amazing husband and best friend, a great start to a killer tattoo collection, four of the cutest dogs on the planet, and a slot to pursue a wine degree! Not too shabby for a tiny town gal…
Thank you to everyone that has supported me through it all…especially my mom, who I was lucky enough to have with me for thirty two of those years. She gave me the backbone to do what I do, no matter WHAT that is. She hated my tattoos, loved me unconditionally, and always spoke her mind. When she was very ill, she liked to rest on the enclosed porch of her house. There was a robin & her nest, set up in the bushes right off of the deck. She told me every time i saw a robin when she was gone, that I should think of her. I had one bounce around on the window sill first thing this morning, a happy spring hello for mom’s little pixie!
I’m a lucky woman all around…See you on the road!!!

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A Tattoo Wife’s boozy journey to a Wine Diploma

On April 27th, I will be taking the Wine & Spirit Education Trust Level 1 class and certification exam at the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua, NY! The WSET is an international training program specifically geared to those in the wine and spirit industry. This is the first level of certification, and I hope to continue. Finally, higher education that I will enjoy!  The program is a one day, eight-hour class, followed by a written test. I already have my study guide thanks to iBook and email, so the studying (and tasting) has begun in earnest.  A HUGE Thank You to my dad, almost always my supporter, and patron of this latest venture in honor of my thirty-eighth birthday!

My husband and I relocated to the Finger Lakes area in 2007, and I started my winery career soon thereafter. I have spent several grape harvests in the field, shears in hand, lug at my feet. It is tiring labor, and you are at the mercy of the elements. There is a romantic element to the vines for the first hour, which then gives way to an ache in your lower back and a crick in your neck. The accomplishment is in completing the tasks at hand, which are often time sensitive and on a strict deadline. Getting dirty in the fields also gives you an invaluable certainty and comfort behind the tasting bar. You develop a relationship with the wine from grape through bottling, something that can only be experienced. The knowledge is not learned, but gained through memory. My first harvest is something I will never forget. I even have a tattoo to mark the occasion! Grapes, of course…from my husband.

The WSET will be my first formal certification in wines. I can’t wait to build on the knowledge that I’ve acquired, mostly by working closely with local wine makers. It’s sure to be an adventurous path, learning and drinking wine as I go!

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Six Mile Creek Vineyard creates a locally distilled, Gold Medal Gin!

20130406-143235.jpgSix Mile Creek Vineyard is an often overlooked boutique winery & distillery, located close to downtown Ithaca on Route 79. Beautiful grounds reveal over six acres of white grapes on gently sloping fields, backed up to the Six Mile Creek Gorge. I will say, first off, that I worked at SMC for years, and it is a place close to my heart. The Spirits by Battistella line of production expanded in my time there, and I admit my (now) husband had to retrieve me after a few nights of Gin sample tests. Celler Master and all around awesome wine maker Paul King was most often the caralyst for my blind tastings, and I thoroughly enjoyed the process of highlight and elimination.

Gin by Battistella is made with finished Chardonnay wine as the distillate base. The wine is processed through a small copper pot still, creating a small yield of a very high alcohol product. The pot still method is historical, laborious, and allows for complete quality control by the distiller. A little mini-still is displayed in the tasting room below.
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This high proof base is then infused with a carefully selected recipe of ingredients, ranging from traditional juniper berries to Italian herbs and botanicals. I have had afternoons of working in the winery, with the scent of that Gin wafting up from the cellar below. It’s a clean nose, with hint of citrus, a touch of violet. I miss those afternoons….

Recently, The Fifty Best held a blind tasting of 36 International gins. Battistella was in one of the three flights, of seven gins, each round. I attached the link below so you can investigate as you would like…Six Mile Creek Gin by Battistella was awarded a Gold Medal! Congrats to our local Ithaca boutique distillery!

Gin by Battistella was reviewed by the site as having a palate of “lemongrass, citrus, orange blossom” but also “butterscotch and creamy vanilla.” The use of a finished Chardonnay creates this buttery vanilla character with citrus notes. It is a rare and elegant gin.

Does it sound like you need to try this delicious treat? It’s only sold out of the SMC tasting room, with very little distribution locally. These small batches of gin are produced in a very labor intensive and time consuming process, creating a small amount of product each run. Local distilleries are springing up all over, and even more wineries are starting to invest in running a tandem distillery. Have you tried any locally produced spirits? What are YOUR favorites?

Check out the full Gin Tasting HERE: The Fifty Best-gin

Home Base

Taughannock Falls Overlook

Taughannock Falls Overlook

The southern tip of Cayuga Lake is the place we call home. We drive past part of the inlet each and every day, often my husband’s favorite part of his commute. (We own The Hand of Fate Tattoo Parlor in downtown Ithaca, NY. *Shameless Plug* The Hand Of Fate Tattoo Parlor – About.) Ithaca is also the home to Cornell University, Ithaca College, and more restaurants per capita than New York City. There is a lot to eat in our little town, and a lot of choices. (…as long as you don’t want Mexican food. So far, we are severely lacking in that department, imho… L.A. made me painfully aware of that.)

The lake provides us with the real REASON people live in this area. We live on its shores, watching the leaves change from fresh new buds, to reds and yellows, a hot flash before white gorges and piercing blue skies. We flock to the water during the summer months, celebrating the sunshine and swimming every chance we get, in every possible waterfall and swimming hole we can find. We were married outside, in front of a waterfall at the beginning of fall. There is a diving board on the “altar” in the summer months, and we go swimming in our “weddin’ hole” every year.The Finger Lakes are a special place, and Ithaca is our Bat Cave….

During the last ice age, glaciers carved out all eleven Finger Lakes, eventually leaving us with a few sweet spots to grow grapes on their shores. The climate around the larger lakes is much more temperate during the harsh winters and warm summer months, due to the depths of the water. This lake effect helps to maintain a climate that is prime for cool climate viticulture. The slopes are steep enough to provide water drainage during the rainy spring, and protect the vines from the elements when the weather looks more like Upstate NY. I won’t get into all of the hot and heavy grape logistics yet, but viticulture (the study of grape growing) is my latest obsession.

There are now just under twenty wineries on the Cayuga Lake Wine trail, not including farm distilleries. The wines that are produced in this area are starting to garner international industry recognition, with wine makers taking risks and breaking new ground in production. There are hybrid grapes grown next to varietals, blends created by horticulturists and science, bred specifically for our climate and geography. It’s an exciting time to live in the Finger Lakes region, especially if you love wine adventures.

True Romance Tour

 

Most of the time in this blog, you’ll hear about wine. I’ll track where I travelled to taste it, which ones were amazing, which ones weren’t in my humble opinion. My husband travels a lot, and I plan on taking more trips with him soon…so you’ll read about our travels, our extended tattoo family, artists and tattoo conventions intermittently as well…

This post though, is about my obsession with the film True Romance, and the trip we recently took to Los Angeles.

True Romance is my favorite love story, and my version of a ‘chick-flick’. Two outcasts that end up perfectly fitting together, adventure, danger, and happily never after on a beach in Mexico. I always said I would get married if I found my Clarence. I never thought it would actually happen, let alone that I would marry a tattooer that actually knew the artist that played the tattooer in the film. Luckily for me, husband doesn’t talk to an Elvis figure…as far as I know…

January 2013, we were in L.A. for a little over a week. We put over 1,000 miles on our rental car, before we went on our drive up the Pacific Coast Highway!!! We went everywhere, and I drank quite a bit of wine…but this is about True Romance.

Rae's Restaurant in Santa Monica

Rae’s Restaurant in Santa Monica

We woke up early(ish) one of our first mornings in Cali, and found Rae’s Restaurant in Santa Monica.  It’s a real dive diner, classic 1950’s design, probably a lot of the same regulars as the day it opened. Clarence and Alabama went there for pie after their first date at the movies. (Rae’s is actually a breakfast and lunch place, so don’t go looking for coffee & pie after 4pm.) I had a simple bowl of sausage gravy with biscuits, cup of coffee to wash it down…my Clarence had cherry pie (swear to God).

My Clarence with a gratuitous menu shot

My Clarence with a gratuitous menu shot

Food was very hearty, simple greasy spoon fare, easy to eat for under five dollars each. I, however, felt like I was in a fucking dream. I ran around like a tourist of the worst type *fangirl*, taking pictures of light fixtures, the menu, different angles….because I was at Rae’s!

Rae's grill from the door

Rae’s …the real deal view from Clarence & Alabama’s booth

Stuffed to the gills, we took off headed for my next mandatory (and last) True Romance location, concluding my pilgrimage. The Beverly Ambassador Hotel (location for the final shootout) had been demolished in the recent past, so that was a no-go. I had to see the Safari Motor Inn, where Clarence and Alabama took Dick to see the stolen suitcase….and where Alabama would face off with a terrifying hitman, played by James Gandolfini.

Safari Inn cool ass sign

Safari Inn’s cool ass sign

The Safari Motor Inn is a 1950’s themed hotel, located in Burbank, CA. The desk attendant was extremely pleasant, and more than happy to open the pool gates so I could frolic and shoot pictures. *Fangirl* shows no shame, and we had a very memorable visit! The rooms are not decorated in jungle theme or leopard print kitsch, so I skipped the room tour. The sign over the driveway in the movie was also just for filming …so I focused by the pool and that awesome neon sign 🙂

Poolside at the Safari Motor Inn

Poolside at the Safari Motor Inn

aaaaand another one, with my badass new bag scored on Olvera Street

aaaaand another one, with my badass new bag scored on Olvera Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tattoos, booze, and shoes.

I love wine. I love booze of all types, actually. I love tattoos. I love my husband…and, like many women, I love shoes.

The infamous shoes my tattoo artist boyfriend scored for me in San Francisco.

My husband bought me a pair of patent leather platforms, back when he was my constantly traveling tattoo artist boyfriend. We met in NYC, he tattooed me for six months, and then the fun really began. I had my own personal tour guide, taking me to unmarked sake bars, hidden cocktail lounges, and spots only known to the seasoned underground local. I was ready for an adventure…and what I found was more. I found love, I found community, and I found an appreciation for the finer things in life…

I fell in love with my tattoo artist boyfriend, and we soon moved out of the big city to greener pastures. Not a retirement, but a rejuvenation. We needed a change. Somewhere we could be inspired, a place that we could call our own for a bit.

Ithaca, Ny was where we landed in 2007. There are waterfalls, trees, farms, and vineyards here. It is a beautiful place. My husband and I opened The Hand of Fate Tattoo Parlor on October 13, 2007. Once the business was up and running, I fell ass first into what would soon become my newest foray, and my new passion; I was hired at a local winery.