Thursday, June 19, 2014

Great Happenings on Harper’s Ferry Road

Good wine has been found on Harper’s Ferry Rd for many years now, but the last two years have seen multiple new vineyards added to this already fun-to-visit road. Dan and I recently did another day tour of three of the newer wineries: Cardamon Family Vineyards, Maggie Malick Wine Caves, and Two Twisted Posts.

Our day started with a picnic lunch at Cardamon. Dan and our friend Katie did a tasting, while chatting with Chuck (the winery owner) about the latest happenings at the winery. Getting a bottle of Myshells to enjoy with our lunch, we settled down at one of the picnic tables nestled between the vines. It was the perfect day for a picnic, and we got a few pictures of us near the vines (including some of my baby bump!)

One driveway north of Cardamon is Maggie Malick Wine Caves. Dan and I have visited this spot multiple times, but it was a first visit for Katie. We enjoyed a nice leisurely tasting with two other visitors who turned out to be from Two Twisted Posts, the last winery stop of our day. We had a great time talking with them about Maggie’s wines, and both Dan and Katie found some favorites among Maggie’s delicious wines. After purchasing a couple bottles, we wandered the grounds for a little while before heading out for Two Twisted Posts.

For those who follow Virginia wine, you will have probably heard of the yearly Governor’s Cup awards. Usually, it is only the larger wineries that are able to participate in this contest, because of the strict requirements that must be met to compete. However, every so often, a smaller winery is able to enter and win a coveted medal – and Two Twisted Posts is one such winery.

Two Twisted Posts is a small family-run winery that has only recently opened to the public. While their barn-style tasting room is being finished, the family offers tastings every other weekend under their white tent.

Dan, Katie, and I were greeted warmly when we arrived, and the couple we had met at Maggie’s introduced us to their mother, the winery maker and owner. Everyone was very friendly and eager to share about the experience of winning a Governor’s cup gold medal and all the excitement and business that has come to them after.

Their tasting consisted of six different wines. It started with a 2011 Chardonnay which had been aged in medium charred barrels that had never been used before. This was very unique, as most wine barrels have been used for something else beforehand. The wine had a fresh, light scent with a slightly woody taste. Next was the 2012 Chardonnay, which was their Governor's cup gold medal winner. We all found it to have a delicious scent, and even I had to have a sip of the delicious citrusy wine, which had almost a creamy finish.

Moving into the reds, we tried the 2011 Cab Franc, which had a medium-level of pepper taste and a cherry scent, and the 2011 Sweet Life wine, which smelled like Granny Smith apples and had a nice, lingering flavor. One wine that surprised me was the 2011 Don’t Call Me a Cab. This wine was made from Cab Franc grapes but had a surprisingly dry, tangy fruit flavor with a smooth, quick finish. I was also a fan of the creative name. :) The final wine in the tasting is their 2011 Vidal Blanc. It has less than 1% residual sugar and is a fresh, sweet summertime wine.

All three of us enjoyed our short tour of Harper’s Ferry Road. The weather was gorgeous, the wine and food delicious, and the company fun and entertaining.

Yes, rice crispy treats go great with wine!

We also got permission to hide a geocache at Two Twisted Posts when their tasting room is finish, and a new acquaintance will be setting one up soon at Maggie Malick Wine Caves – so keep your eyes open for the new additions!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Bunnies, Tea, and Board Games

I love to travel and visit new places! So, because my soon-to-arrive son will be keeping me close to home later this year, I decided to take a couple small trips to places I have never been before.

First on my list was Pittsburgh, PA.

My decision to visit Pittsburgh was easy because I want to visit my wonderful cousin Hannah and see her favorite haunts around the city. Hannah and I have always shared a great love for books, and in the same way that many relatives share clothes, we share books. :) The best ones are always passed back and forth until the true owner is pretty much forgotten.

Dan and I met up with Hannah in the Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh on a very sunny Saturday. We began our adventures by visiting a delicious pizza place that had a little ice cream parlor right next door. (You can definitely tell that Hannah and I are related when you see how much we love ice cream. Haha)

To give our stomachs time to digest, our next stop was an overflowing game shop that had just about every kind of game or puzzle you could want. Dan discovered a 32,000 piece puzzle, and I found some cool new expansions for Munchkin.

Mid-afternoon found the three of us entering one of the most unique tea shops that I have seen, called Dobra Tea. While most of the tea shops in Northern Virginia have a great variety of loose-leaf teas, they are more stores than restaurants. Dobra Tea, however, was a quaint restaurant with a scattering of little cubby holes filled with low tables and cushioned benches. One of the cubby holes even had a raised floor so you could sit on floor cushions around a table that only came off the ground a foot or two.

It was at this tea shop that we settled in to play board games with some of Hannah’s friends and two more of my cousins. Everyone ordered tea and snacks. Dan and I got Vanilla tea and Indian Chai tea with a platter of hummus, pita slices, and veggies. The snacks were wonderful, and the company even better. The games we played were: Guillotine, Tsuro, and Masquerade. None of which Dan or I had ever played. I think our favorite one for the day was Guillotine.

For dinner, we went to a little Chinese bistro that sold Hannah’s favorite bubble tea. If you have never tried bubble tea, you must! It is an unusual first time experience, and everyone has a similar first reaction to it. (A mix of confusion and surprise, and then you either love it or hate it.) Here are a couple shots of Dan’s first time trying it. :)

Our trip to Pittsburgh included to other memorable stops. First was a trip up the Duquesne Incline in one of their 100-year-old cable cars, which gave us a beautiful view of the city.

The second was a visit to the Cathedral of Learning on the University of Pittsburgh campus. The building architecture was something straight out of Harry Potter!

After meandering around the building, we relaxed out in a common area and played with Hannah’s adorable bunny, Mr. Mustache.

I loved our little trip to Pittsburgh. The shops in Squirrel Hill were enchanting, and the food delectable. The best part, though, was the company, and I am very glad I got the chance to visit my cousins and meet some new friends.

If you ever stop by Pittsburgh, be sure to visit Dobra Tea!

(Here’s me and my baby bump with the Pittsburgh University mascot.)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Drink in the Aroma

I am very happy to announce that I am expecting my first little one! Whenever I say this to a wine-drinking friend, their first words are congratulatory, and their second words are sympathetic because I will not be drinking wine for a number of months.

To these people, and other women who are or will be expecting, do not let these sympathetic words bring you down! You can still be very much involved in the wine experience! How you ask? Let me tell you:

1) Drink through your nose
No, I am not saying to snort your wine. (Though that would look hilarious) When a woman is pregnant, her sense of smell is extremely heightened, so smelling a wine can be almost like tasting it. For myself, I have found this to be especially true! I could walk around just smelling wine all day and be the happiest person at the vineyard.

2) Finger Tasting
Everyone knows that alcohol is not good for a developing baby, and thus a mom-to-be. However, many physicians today will admit that a small amount of wine or beer is ok. (Just like a small amount of caffeine is ok) I’m sure there are gasps of horror from some of my readers and cheers from others. To make sure I am not misunderstood, let me explain.

My husband and I have been on numerous wine tours since I found out I was pregnant. At each winery we visted, only my husband purchased a tasting. We both get to hear about how each wine is made, and he lets me swirl and smell each wine that is poured. After that, Dan usually gets to enjoy the wine on his own. However, if I find one or two wines that smelled particularly delicious to me, I will put a drop or two of wine on my finger to taste.

Do I feel bad about doing this? Not at all. Do I think it will have any effect on my baby? Nope.

This is my personal choice though, and I will not look down on anyone who chooses to do, or not to do, the same.

3) Sip, swirl, and spit
One other option that pregnant women have is to take a sip of the wine, swirl it around their mouth, and spit it out. This is very similar to the second option I mentioned. If you choose to try this option, just be careful how big a sip you take, because some of the wine will linger in your mouth and inevitably be swallowed.

So, when you decide to start having children, do not think that your wine experiences have to end. You can still enjoy the atmosphere, aroma, and (to a degree) taste of wine. I guarantee that your friends will still love having you go with them to the wineries, especially since it means they will have a DD for the next few months. :)

For those who are curious, my little munchkin is a boy! The pregnancy is going well, and both parents and all grandparents/aunts/uncles are eagerly anticipating his arrival.