Sunday mornings are made for brunch, and if brunch is at a winery (with fabulous drag queens), all the better…
Anyone that really knows me understand that I live for both breakfast and queens! Bianchi Winery hosted a beautiful brunch of mimosas, fruit, eggs, bacon, and biscuits by Trumpet Vine Catering , and I was lucky enough to score a ticket at a VIP table (yasssss)! Thanks to Jamie, Camille, and the crew for including me (last minute) in drag shenanigans…
The performances and regalia were impeccable, bringing in a few famous name Queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race as well as local talent:
@missshugacain (RuPaul’s Drag Race 11)
@mercedesimandiamond (RuPaul’s Drag Race 11)
@joeyjayisgay (RuPaul’s Drag Race 13)
It was over 90° (with NO SHADE) in Paso Robles, and these dedicated queens were working HARD before noon! Groups of 8 to 10 guests were seated at banquet tables on the lawn in front of the stage. We were given tokens to trade in for bottles of wine, and all enjoyed a few of the brut sparkling wine, a lovely and very drinkable dry rosé, and a crispy Sauvignon Blanc…all winners with the heat.
After the show we were escorted to the back patio (for more wine), and to meet the queens…By this point I think everyone was dehydrated and happy to be in the shade. Three applications of sunscreen later, no one burned which was a miracle!!
Thank you to everyone at Bianchi Winery for your hard work and service, and to all of the incredibly talented queens, a beautiful time was had!! Happy Pride everyone!! NOW I’m inspired to host a drag show 🙂
A tattoo convention, in the heart of Santa Rosa wine country? YES PLEASE! Hot rod car culture, live rockabilly bands, and talented tattoo artists…that was the winning formula for (a newly revamped) The 27th Annual Santa Rosa Tattoos & Blues Festival, held February 23-25, 2018.
Located at the old-Hollywood-glam-style Flamingo Resort Santa Rosa, packs of pinup girls in full regalia meandered through rows and rows of classic cars outside, eyes stylishly shielded from the sun in retro cat-eye shades…
Once inside, tattoo artists from all over busily buzzed away, while groups of tattoo collectors mingled, perused, and added to their ever growing collection of tattoo work-be it a new tattoo, art hanging, or a hand painted, one of a kind sign for the studio. This is not a huge crowd convention, but has a big main room featuring the bulk of the artists, with a couple of smaller, more private satellite rooms. Hardly any vendors selling merch, but lots of cool tattoo work happening- and the lounge was often jumping with live music, long after the show had ended for the day. Musicians performing included local favorite rockabilly bands “The Rev Tones”, “The Vintage Vandals”, and “The Aces”.Heads up, when the convention floor is overwhelming….the Flamingo Resort has a pool area (featuring two Olympic sized pools, with lap lanes), a gym (including hot yoga classes), massage therapy, and is the perfect place to get your self-care, pamper-time on! Too bad it was chilly outdoors, the water was quite nice and warm…not lay by the pool weather, even in CA.
Tip for the pinup buffs, hanging on the wall by the lounge, there are some really cool vintage photos of Jayne Mansfield in a bikini, posed by the Flamingo Resort pool in ultra pinup glam fashion, circa 1960.
The updated Flamingo hotel lobby design also features wine displays from Ehret Family Winery in Santa Rosa, which focuses on sustainable growing practices, growing Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux grape varieties. Sonoma and Napa Counties were hit hard during the Thomas fire, and there was structure damage in Santa Rosa–but less than three percent of local wineries were impacted! The best way to support the winery trails are to get out there, and visit tasting rooms. The Santa Rosa wine community is ready to welcome wine tasters and tourists back, complete with open arms and full wine glasses…the least we can do is show up and enjoy the world class hospitality they have to offer.
Full sad disclosure, I was still getting over a sinus infection, so my tasting tour for Sunday was mostly as a photographer–the mustard cover was in full bloom, and it’s on my bucket list to see! We stopped at Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate and Gardens to explore the property and frolic through a bit of ground cover mustard greens (*plus, I wanted to report back to our winemaker friend Nathan Kendall in the Finger Lakes that I had finally visited and toured the notorious behemoth KJ winery that has all the rights to his last name…).
Even with the sniffles, husband took me for a quick taste (and of course to grab a couple of bottles) of the delicious new 2017 Pinot Noir Rosé at Balletto Vineyards. The tasting room was hopping with guests, and our tasting host was nice enough to give me a complimentary pour of the rosé…even though I was sick, and already sold. Gorgeous light pink blush color, partial whole cluster crush, and juicy ripe fruit on the nose is what I have to look forward to once I’m recovered–a perfect way to end the weekend–with a haul of rosé….
A quick detour to Bohemian Creamery in Sebastopol led to the discovery of a boutique goat cheese spot, crafting some of the most lovely, delicately nutty, funky cheeses I’ve tasted this side of Corsica. We bought a chunk of delight home with us, especially to pair with the Balletto Rosé. Don’t miss it! Super fun spot, and a cheese tasting is always worth stopping off for.
A big thank you goes out to the folks that worked hard to put on the new incarnation of Santa Rosa Tattoos & Blues, from the entertainers and artists, to the security and convention center crew. It was fantastic to attend a tattoo expo, right in the heart of California wine country, bringing my two loves together in a way I’ve never seen before! We will definitely be back…and just maybe, next year, there will be an official BoozyLife booth!
Things are happening on the BoozyLife front in California, and the shift has started!
I’m making the move from print blogging to live video streaming–you’ll be able to see FIRST HAND what I’m drinking, what tattoo convention we’re headed to next, our adventures on the road, and meet some VERY cool artists along the way!
So, now the important questions–what do YOU want to see? Wine, tattoo art, tiny houses? Otters? Well?
Comment here, on my FB, or any of the BoozyLife social media platforms…we’ll be getting a schedule plan worked out soon, and if you’d like to be featured? Drop me a line!
Driving Rte 46 from Paso Robles towards Cayucos, you will see several mountain vistas–stop and enjoy the view! Fog was rolling in from the ocean, creating a beautiful layer of clouds between the water and the sky…
These pockets of microclimates are incredibly important for growing grapes, and the temperature between inland and the coast often differs by twenty degrees–Paso might be at 101 degrees Fahrenheit, but Cayucos on the ocean might be in the mid 70’s range. Location is everything!
It’s rosé release season in the Finger Lakes! You would never know that from our spring weather, as we currently have very unseasonably frigid temperatures and five inches of snow on the ground for this first week of April. Despite the cold, spring has sprung, and the dry rosé events are kicking off all around the lakes in earnest. Finally!
Full disclosure–I love dry rosé. Last year, my husband and I attended an exclusive tattoo event in the heart of Aix-en-Provence, an area that lives for rosé, in France. By the time we left that summer for our trip, I had developed a love for several local Finger Lakes rosés as well. It took the Finger Lakes wineries a little while to catch on to the dry rosé craze, but once local winemakers realized the demand–they were off and running the bottling lines!
In just a year’s time, rosé release season in early spring has become a flurry of events and tastings in our area. This last weekend, the first Saturday in April, I attended a lovely seated blind tasting at Sheldrake Point Winery. Six of the new favorite FLX 2016 dry rosés were chosen and arranged from driest to sweetest (although all quite dry, happily), and all FLX lake wine trails were represented.
Sheldrake owner Chuck Tauk, head winemaker Dave Breeden, and assistant winemaker Julia Hoyle led us in the tasting. The wines were paired with a light, springy food plate to help enhance and distinguish the flavor differences in each glass.
Asparagus, fresh greens with strawberries, cheddar bacon scones, and a rosé peppercorn goat cheese from Lively Run Goat Dairy in Interlaken were served, not knowing which we wines were trying until the end! ANY ONE of these rosés were gorgeous, food friendly, and stunningly different. We all certainly had our favorites, but truly, the hard eliminations and decisions had already been made for us. It was a delightful representation of FLX rosés–and so, without further ado–the rosés we tasted, and my tasting impressions, from L-R…
1- McGregor Vineyard-100% Cabernet Franc–light acidity, pale salmon blush color, rose (flower) on the finish, 12.1% Alc., cold soak of 24 hours on skins
3-Red Newt Cellars for Kelby James Russell Wines-100% Cabernet Franc–beautiful deep color, definitely more heft and sharper tart, crispness with a light delicate pepper and floral flavor. A lot going on in this one, 11.8%Alc, cold soak on skins FOR 72 HOURS(!!) the longest time in this tasting
4-Damiani Wine Cellars-100% Pinot Noir–deep pinky berry blush color, fruity cherry, strawberry, light fruitiness, and very balanced despite the highest alcohol content, super food friendly, 13.3% Alc, cold soak on skins 14 hours
5-Sheldrake Point Winery-100% Cabernet Franc–very pale salmon color, well rounded flavors of berries and floral notes, nice light bite and very clean finish, 12.5% Alc., cold soak on skins 12-18 hours
6-Atwater Estate Vineyards-81% Cabernet Franc, 19%Pinot Noir–lightest salmon color, slightly higher sugar to balance alcohol and tart acidity, 12.5% Alc., cold soak on skins 4 hours
A big thank you to the entire crew at Sheldrake for putting on one of the most informative and enjoyable tastings I’ve attended so far–and to my tasting partner in crime Melissa B, for
stepping out of the comfort zone and agreeing to come with this blogger for the afternoon of rosé!
Start your own comparison tastings, and let me know which new releases are your favorites! Keep checking back, I’ll be covering as many Finger Lakes Rosés as we can…looking forward to the Rose Soiree in Geneva, June 4th!
Living in the Finger Lakes, I have the advantage of being close to the action. I’ve been around enough crews of our local FLX winemakers to understand what drives so many of them to work the crazy hours, blast through times of backbreaking labor, and essentially do whatever they have to do. Passion, and maybe a little bit of good crazy, seem to be common threads.
Winemakers and tattoo artists are similar animals; they are artists working with a living palette, creatives, and once they have mastered the foundation rules, they might just knowingly and happily bend them. Sometimes, that’s when fun things happen, and I get involved whenever and wherever I can!
Barry Family Cellars is a family affair, with winemakers (and brothers) Ian and Brian establishing as one of the first micro-wineries in New York State, according to their BFC website. The focus is on minimally invasive, small batch wines, sometimes unfiltered and unrefined-which are turning out to be some of my favorite styles!
While creeping the interwebs today, I saw that Ian was in the process of bottling what he was calling ‘weird wine’-a SPARKLING, light cherry colored Cabernet Franc blend! I was running around Ithaca getting husband ready for a tattoo trip, and happily Ian and his assistant kiddo Declan were also in our neck of the woods! They were nice enough to swing by Hand of Fate with a bottle of the goods for me to try out. WHOOP!!
A Sparkling Cabernet blend is what happens when two winemaker brothers are sitting, tasting their goods…and one says he’s “not sure what to do with it” (Ian talking about this lighter, almost fruity Cab Franc they had) and in response, (Brian) “This might sound crazy, but….sparkling?” And there we have it!
So, my preview bottle! Dry, tart, yet fruity for a Cabernet Franc-lighter, pretty cherry red color and of course, bubbles. Lots of cherry, pomegranate, strawberry-think jammy, but not weighty or heavy. I put a light chill on the bottle, and we had a very quaffable, different, fun and enjoyable style of red! Husband mused it almost reminded him of a dry hard cider from the long finish.
It would be a fantastic warm weather (think picnic) wine, easily pairing with pizza, appetizers, especially delicious with chocolate. Elegant but unassuming. When you want something with a little more ‘oomph’ and heft than a rosé, this would do the tric nicely!
I believe Ian said BFC will be releasing this bad boy in May, so keep checking their website link above for updates…small batch wineries are a jewel of the Finger Lakes, but you can’t sleep on it when new releases appear! Those in the know, know…and good wine in small batches sells fast.
Thank you for meeting up, Ian! The wine, and the visit, were a pleasure as always…stop by the tattoo shop, anytime. 🙂
Paris is a magical city. The lights, the people, the wine…the art. The energy is unlike anywhere else, a joy for life and an appreciation for the beautiful things that borders on hedonism. Quality tattoos and tattoo culture are revered and celebrated here, possibly more than any other location. One of the largest and best international tattoo conventions, Mondial du Tatouage, took place the first weekend in March.
Last year in 2015, I was lucky enough to attend with my husband as well, to really get a taste of the insanity and the crowds. The Paris tattoo convention was completely unlike anything I had ever seen–Fender Guitars and MTV sponsor, lines that wrap around the convention hall for several city blocks the entire weekend, a well orchestrated madness of entertainment and artwork.
This year, due to business and life not lining up the way we had hoped, Lefty and I had to miss Paris for March 2016 . It’s such an incredible event, that there was no way I wanted to skip a post– so I asked a couple of friends and fellow tattoo wives to send me some photos from this year. One of the things that I absolutely love about being in this tattoo community, is the sharing and support that we often find! Thank you, ladies!! You rock. Truly.
Dawn Danroth, wife to veteran tattoo artist Clint Danroth and owners of Craftsman Tattoo Parlour, BC, kept me updated on what stood out to her-for her first time at the show! Dawn’s highlights were GOOD red wine in food courts (!!), excellent red wine EVERYWHERE, a gift of Pinot Gris from Alsace and Steph at Octopus Tattoo, and reportedly some of the best French Onion soup she had ever tasted at a café on St. Denis!
The lovely Ellen Chaboya also ran a booth with her multi-talented tattoo artist husband Nick Chaboya ( Nick Chaboya private studio, San Fran Bay Area) and sent me some awesome photos of the crowd, the custom Mondial Nissan Juke by Tin Tin, as well as shots of the Fender guitar Nick customized especially for the show! We spent a bit of time together last year, and it’s always a blast.
Happy New Year, dear wine and tattoo aficionados! 2016 is starting off with a MUCH MORE local (for me) focus. My husband and I live and have a business in Ithaca, NY, home to Cornell University, Ithaca College, and centrally located in the heart of the Fingerlakes wine region. We did a LOT of international travel last year, and I ran into quite a bit of excitement and interest about our little nook of Upstate NY.
We live in the land of Finger Lakes bounty; this January I’ve decided to refocus and explore more wineries, vineyards, winemakers, distillers, and cider producers in the Finger Lakes area. Winter is a fantastic time to hit the trails and do some tasting, as long as the weather is cooperative– lots of one on one time at tasting bars, minimal crowds, and a beautiful change in the summer landscape. Wine trail events are plentiful, as winemakers get out of the cellars and enjoy time with their fans (yes, fans…winemakers are like rock stars to some of us).
Tomorrow, we’re headed up to Dano’s Heuriger on Seneca for a first of its kind in the FLX tasting! Austrian grape varietals grow quite well in our area, and some of our best winemakers are producing wines from them. Two of these grapes will be highlighted–Grüner Veltliner (white grape), and Blaufränkisch (red grape, also called Lemberger…which seems a less terrifying spelling, due to the lack of umlauts…). Check out the event breakdown flier–I’ll be live tweeting and spamming social media along the way, before the full wrap up post here! You can follow along on Twitter at @boozylife, on my FB BoozyLife page, or on Instagram as @missusmolina…..
This summer, I was a part of the Wine Blogger Conference –this year located in the Finger Lakes region, or my back yard. I felt like I needed to go because it was so close to home…however, I unexpectedly ran into some incredible local winemakers that were doing things their own way. I made a point of it to explore this back yard of mine in earnest! Arkport, NY just kept coming up, over and over. There are incredibly interesting things happening off the lakes, about an hour away from Corning, NY. I took the ride, and it was totally worth it.
The French were the first to use the term ‘Gagariste’ in terms of winemaking–these were the mavericks, making wines off the grid and outside of a very regulated system. Although they were not in the system, the French had to agree that the small batch, artisanal products coming from these tiny producers were interesting, and sometimes ground breaking. Justin Recktenwald and his startup, Wild Brute Winery in Arkport, NY, fit the definition of garagiste winemaking perfectly–right here in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate NY. Justin has the pedigree -Graduated Cornell Viticulture program, worked and learned under Dr. Constantine Frank sparkling masters, and has travelled extensively to learn, and apply the knowledge at home.
Wild Brute Winery (follow the link for their website) is a family affair. Justin Recktenwald is the owner and winemaker, along with a crew of many-fiancé Kyleigh, mom Wendy, dad Mark, and brother Cody all have a hand in the production process. This family knows farming, and Arkport, and Justin’s knowledge and winemaking skill has turned family farm property into a wine bar and production facility. Currently, aside from publicized weekend events and music shows, the Arkport tasting room is by appointment (although during the nicer weather there is an outside open tasting bar.)
I was invited up to do a tasting, and I really can’t say enough about the feeling I left with. I brought my husband, and we were met by Justin, his family, and a beautiful spread of artisanal chocolate bonbons from Angelica’s Sweet Shop-about fifteen minutes away! I was already a fan of Wild Brute’s 2013 Unfiltered Cabernet Franc…but this time, we got to sample the entire lot…and it was quite a showing of what’s happening beyond the wine trails on the lake shores!
*Wild Brute 2014 Chardonnay–Bright acidity and a balanced oak finish, vanilla, caramel, green apple, smooth mouthfeel. Grab it if you see it!
*Wild Brute 2013 Unfiltered Cabernet Franc–Dark plum color, red fruit, figs, warm oak, light warm acidity. One of my favorite Cabs in the FLX…seriously. It’s special because it’s so different from anything else.
*Wild Brute 2013 Unfiltered Single Barrel Reserve–Super Limited, dark jammy red fruit, a bit younger bite of acidity. Gorgeous dark plum color, lasting finish. Oak adds a warm rounded depth without overpowering the fruit.
*Wild Brute 2013 Off-Dry Riesling–Bright nose, floral, pear, peach, honey, green apple. Light acidity is balanced with hint of sweetness and a lasting honey finish
*Barrel tastings of WB Hard Apple Cider (YUM), wild ferment, heirloom apples.
If you see a bottle of Wild Brute, grab it. If you’re headed through Horse Heads/Corning and want a bottle, they have a limited stock in the general area. This coming spring, I forsee LOTS of events starting up through the he summer at the Wild Brute wine bar–here’s their FaceBook Wild Brute Business Page–Wild Brute Winery on FaceBook–go give them a Like, and know what events are coming up…music, wine, and local flavor, Finger Lakes style…off the lakes! Make an afternoon drive that you won’t regret! #goingrogue
Groceries are grabbed, baking is (mostly) finished, and our free range turkey from Autumn’s Harvest Farm is dry brining away. Now it’s time to focus on the booze–what to drink with a meal that includes a LOT of different flavors? So many booze choices, none of them wrong…..
Thanksgiving is a perfect occasion to serve a bunch of different beverages. They are so many foods and textures, there is no single right or wrong wine style to pair. Sparkling wines like Champagne or Prosecco are great for serving during appetizers and lighter nibbles, such as cold shrimp or cheese plates. Bubbles are also fabulous with dessert.
I am a big wine drinker, and I love my dry, bold reds, so I will have a selection of bottles Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir to serve during the main event. One of my favorites is from Wild Brute Winery, who readers will hear more about VERY soon. But wait, isn’t turkey a bird, so you need to drink a white wine with it? Nope! Rules are made to be broken in this case. The richness will hold up against bolder flavors-go ahead and try that NY State, cool climate Pinot Noir with your turkey. Delicious! As for white wines, local Finger Lakes Rieslings are world-famous–and heavily publicized at the moment. Fox Run just made the Wine Enthusiast 100 for 2015 for their Fox Run 2011 Reserve Riesling–but at number 47, Herman J. Wiemer shows up on the SAME LIST for their 2012 Magdalena Vineyard Cabernet Franc (at 94 points, TELL ME AGAIN HOW NY STATE CAN’T MAKE QUALITY, INCREDIBLE RED WINES). Sorry, back from the rant–not all Riesling is sweet, which is a common misconception….but if you’re looking to try something different, go for a Gewurtztraminer. This German grape has a floral, almost hoppy fragrance, and the taste is spicy, fruity, and different than any other. It pairs well with lots of different flavors, without overpowering lighter foods. Give your guests a chance to try something they might not be brave enough to sip on their own!
Lastly, Hard Cider is one of my favorite drinks to have with large, family style meals….especially during the fall, and harvest season. Hard apple and even pear ciders are currently enjoying a popularity swing, and several local New York State producers are making high-end artisanal, traditional styles of sparkling and still ciders (with or without bubbles). Some of my favorite local cider products are from Eve’s Cider, Bellwether Hard Cider, Redbyrd Orchard Cider, and Naked Flock Cider out of the Hudson Valley.
I’ll be posting cooking and pairing updates throughout the day tomorrow–post YOUR FAVORITE BOOZE pairings in my comments, on BoozyLife FB, or follow along live on Twitter @boozylife 🙂