Wine Wednesday: Riverbench Winery Chardonnay

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This week I got a special treat with an impromptu wine tasting at Riverbench Winery’s tasting room in Santa Barbara. Downtown Santa Barbara has an area known as the Funk Zone where there are vintage shops and 16 tasting rooms….all within walking distance of my hotel! Yippee! I wanted to find a good Chardonnay to take back to my hotel and put my trust in Google to point me in the right direction. Riverbench Winery came up with a review of a Chardonnay that will make anyone fall in love with the variety. 

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I wasn’t alone when I ventured into the tasting room, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be welcome. My husband was with me, but so were Toddler D and Baby K. We were greeted warmly and told to bring the kids right on in. Another couple from Tucson were enjoying the Bubbly tasting menu with their adorable dog, Molly, who more than enjoyed having Toddler D as a playmate for a bit. I went for the Chardonnay tasting and each taste was better than the last. I started with the Rose of Pinot Noir and then had the Reserve Chardonnay, Chapel View Chardonnay, Estate Chardonnay, and the Bedrock Chardonnay. I ended up buying a bottle of the Chapel View which to me had the perfect slightly buttery taste and had me craving more. 

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The tasting room is beautiful with a long L-shaped couch and quarter wine barrels that have steel tops, which coincidentally make for perfect drums if you are a toddler. I can’t wait to go back and try their Pinot Noir and Sparkling Wines!

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Wine Wednesday: Livermore Wineries

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The weekend is upon us and if you’re in the Bay Area looking for something to do, I think it’ll be a perfect weekend for wine tasting! I know it’s not “Wine Wednesday”, but there should never just be one day dedicated to wine…it should be every day!

It’s hard to believe but one thing I haven’t done much of is go wine tasting. My husband and I are vowing to change that, especially since there are countless vineyards so close to us. A few weekends ago we ventured to Livermore and met up with our nephew and his family to try out 3 wineries; 3 Steves Winery, Garre Winery, and Wente Vineyards. We’ve tasted Wente wines before, but the other two were going to be brand new experiences. I reached out to the 3 wineries to let them know we would be visiting and they were all welcoming to us, our kids and the dogs!

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We packed a picnic, all the kids, the dog, the stroller and headed out for the quick 45 minute drive to Livermore. Our first stop was 3 Steves where we were greeted by Steve Burman…one of the “Steves”! He was extremely welcoming and ready for us to start tasting. We had a large round table outside where the breeze was perfectly blowing and the sun was shining. There was an area for the kids and dogs to play and the view was gorgeous. We tasted 8 different varieties and every single one was memorable and noteworthy. 

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We started with the Brut Sparkling Wine, fermented in the bottle and not in the tank, which is the traditional Methode Champenoise style. This was a perfect and welcoming start. Next up was the Sauvignon Blanc which won the Livermore gold medal. This was so delicious! I came home with a bottle and am hoarding it for the perfect warm afternoon to relax with. We tried their club Chardonnay which is currently sold out. It was buttery but with a distinct crispness. Next up and so impressive was the 2013 Interino Chilean Blend. An incredible blend of Chilean Cab, Carmenere, Malbec, and Syrah. Each grape is hand de-stemmed by women in the local village which not only provides a softness to your palette…you bet I now have a bottle of this at home! We enjoyed the Three Cabs Blend and Cienega Valley Younger Vine Zinfandel which comes from 45 year old vines. Next was the Cienega Valley Ancient Vine Zinfandel  whose vines were planted in 1906! I thoroughly enjoyed the Small Lot Cab and also came home with a bottle of that. If you are in the area, please stop by 3 Steves. We are looking forward to going back very shortly not just for the fabulous wine but also for the friendly and welcoming atmosphere. 

Garre Winery
Garre Winery

Our next stop was Garre Winery which unfortunately didn’t blow our minds like 3 Steves did. We were greeted and asked about outside seating for the kids and the dogs and were shown where the outdoor patio was. That was the extent of our interaction with anyone at the winery. We got our own tastings to bring back outside and the wines were ok. They started us with their Sangiovese Rose which they refer to as their “patio wine” followed by 5 other reds. All of their bottles are under $20.

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Our last stop was Wente Vineyards. Wente is a great wine which I’ve boasted about being able to find for really great prices at Costco. Their property is large with multiple areas to taste and have events. Their tasting menu offers two options so we went with the Winemaker’s Flight. As soon as you step onto the property you are offered a “welcome wine” which happened to be a Sauvignon Blanc and was a perfect welcome! We had two great tasting room employees who tag teamed our group. We tried the Small Lot Pinot Noir Rose, Nth Degree Chardonnay, Sonata, Duetto and Small Lot Petite Sirah. Every single wine was great. The Nth degree Chardonnay was crisp with a buttery aftertaste which I enjoyed. 

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Some fun facts for you…90% of the country’s wine is grown in California…only 4% of which is in Napa and the first Chardonnay grape was planted by Wente in 1912.

Wine Wednesday: Fruits and Wine

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It seems Rosés are becoming more and more popular and they definitely make for a refreshing spring or summertime wine (or anytime!). Fruits and Wine, France’s #1 aromatized wine has launched 3 unique blends of Rose Wine and real fruit juice.

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 Produced by Moncigale in France, Fruits and Wine is a line of refreshing wine beverages. Slightly alcoholic (7% alc./vol.) they combine the delicacy of real fruit juice with the freshness of wine. Fresh, fruity, delicious, tangy…something for everyone. Moncigale is situated in the heart of three emblematic wineries of southern France – Provence, Languedoc-Russillon and the Rhône Valle.

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GRAPEFRUIT ROSÉ WINE: A succulent blend of rosé wine and grapefruit juice that delivers its sweet and tart notes.

CHERRY ROSÉ WINE: A delicious blend of rosé wine and cherry juice that delivers natural and delicately sweet notes.

STRAWBERRY ROSÉ WINE: A luscious blend of rosé wine and strawberry juice that offers sweet and refreshing notes.

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Wine Wednesday: La Crema Pinot Noir Rosé

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This week I’m bringing you another Rosé with La Crema’s Pinot Noir Rosé from the Russian River Valley and again I promise you that it will make your palette very pleased! This Rosé has a more robust flavor than last week’s due to the Pinot Noir grapes that are used. I loved it. 

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From the winemaker, “the wine has aromas of cranberry, candy apple, pink grapefruit and violets, while the palate offers up crisp acidity and generous flavors of apricot, lemon zest, sweet spice and red plum.” It sounds like it’s extra fruity due to this description but I promise you it’s not and will not remind you of a wine cooler or spritzer. 

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If you try La Crema’s Pinot Noir Rosé, I know you will be hooked on Rosés for the summer and for a long time after. This bottle retails for $30 but is $24 if you’re a wine club member. I had been wanting to try this variety for over a year but didn’t get the chance until recently. It was well worth the wait but I know I would have gone through a number of bottles if I’d gotten to taste it earlier!

Mommyhood: Maternity vs Meternity Leave

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Quite a commotion has been caused by a book called “Meternity” and an interview with its author, Meghann Foye regarding her idea that she and other childless women (and some men) should be entitled to a leave of absence from their jobs just as women are granted maternity leave.

Hopefully your jaw has dropped already at the absurdity of this statement. Foye says “I want all the perks of maternity leave –  without having any kids.” Today is my 2nd day back at work after taking a 6 week maternity leave following the birth of my daughter who is my 2nd child. Let me be the first to tell you that the “perks” are being able to bond with your family and not having to worry about conference calls and emails, but the buck stops there. Foye claims that a parent leaving work to pick up their child should entitle her leaving work to go out for margaritas with a girlfriend. Not sure how those can even be comparisons, especially since one is a responsibility for a human life. 

I took 2 weeks vacation when my son was born last year. People thought I was crazy. I chalked it up to the fact that I worked from home (and thankfully still do) but I also had the pressures of a corporate job with a boss who still happened to call me while I was on leave. This time I decided to take 6 weeks off and luckily in the state of California you do still get some sort of salary via short term disability, unlike other states. I still have a corporate job but with a different company and a kickass boss.

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I’d like to give Miss Foye a glimpse into what these past 6 weeks have looked like. I have a one year old who is now adjusting to having a baby sibling who cries and wakes him during nap time and at night. God gave me two arms and now I carry a child in each one, up and down flights of stairs throughout the day…that’s lifting 30 lbs at once in case Miss Foye was hoping that I would be able to hit the gym during this easy off time. My husband and I had to figure out how to juggle two full-time jobs and two infants and what kind of childcare that would involve and then figuring out the logistics of it all.

I had my second c-section which means that not only did I come home to a toddler needing attention as well as a newborn, but I had major surgery that I needed to heal from while still taking care of my little humans. this also means doctors apps for myself and the baby while I can’t drive due to the surgery. Luckily I’m a planner and had made 2 weeks worth of dinners for our family to throw in the crockpot each night otherwise grocery store trips and cooking would have been additional worries. Foye may want to know about happy hours while on maternity leave since she feels she is so deserving of them. Let me tell you…when you are waking up every 2-3 hours for more than an hour at a time, happy hour is the farthest thing from your mind. A glass of wine sounds good, but anything more and you quickly remember you will have to feed your baby throughout the night and sleeping in is just not an option.

You and your new human are getting to know each other as well as the world, so time off from work is a necessity and shouldn’t be considered a perk. Granted, I now have the most incredible boss in the world and he was more than happy to ensure I had as much time off as I needed and I do consider that a perk…having a boss who cares!

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One point Foye makes is that her friends who take maternity leave come back with a stronger sense of self and some have opened up their own businesses, etc. She feels this is because they’ve had so much time off to reflect on themselves. I read one commentary that suggested those women did that because they were probably forced out of the corporate world, but I have to disagree. When you become a mom, you become some kind of badass. You feel like you have superpowers because you just carried and birthed a real person and you suddenly know how fierce love can be. You will do anything for this person and that also means you stop tolerating nonsense from others. My thought is these women decided to figure out what was best for them and their families and to achieve their goals with their newfound superpowers. So although this does come about while on maternity leave, it’s due to becoming a mom, not due to a 6 week “vacation of reflection.”

I’m all for people finding themselves and taking time to do that, but don’t compare it to maternity leave and don’t feel you’re entitled to time off to do so. Meghann, as much as I would love to read your book for myself, the quotes you’ve given in your interview tell me not to waste my money or time.