Friday, November 14, 2014

Breaking in the Tasting Room

On Veteran’s Day, Dan and I got to help our friends at Cardamon Family Vineyards break in their new tasting room! We are so excited for Chuck and Ana and very blessed to have them in our lives.

Chuck toasting the opening

Walking up to the tasting room, you will find little groups of tables and chairs where you can look out at the tree covered mountains. (or, as we were there in the evening, look up at the brilliant stars)

The new tasting room is warm and welcoming and has lots of natural beauty, which you can see in the colorful wood used in the floor, bar, and ceiling beams. Small, black metal tables and chairs are tucked into the corners of the room, and two leather love seats rest in the center of the room near a big TV that cycles through pictures of the vineyard, as well as Chuck and Ana’s travel adventures.

There were lots of delicious wines being served for the party. I had glasses of Cardamon’s Rkatz and Myshells from the whites, and I got to try Breaux’s Silk and a Spanish Crianza from the reds. Chuck had also saved Dan and I a bottle of his Cuvee Blanc as an anniversary gift. Mmm! Going with the spirit of the evening, we decided to have a glass right then and share some with the others in attendance.

Jax chilling with dad at the bar

Everyone enjoying the new tasting room!

Overall, it was a successful opening, and a very enjoyable evening. When you are out on Harper’s Ferry Road, be sure to stop at the Cardamon’s and relax in the new tasting room with some of their delicious wine. :)

All the wine was finished, but not quite all the milk. LOL

Thursday, November 13, 2014

My Top 5’s of Pregnancy

In case any of my readers have never been pregnant or been around many people who are pregnant, here are a few highlights of my experience.

- Enhanced sense of smell
- Feeling the baby move
- People are more eager to help me (even when I don’t need it)
- Baby shopping
- Seeing my baby on the sonograms

- Decreased energy
- Sore hips
- Calf cramps
- Food aversions (beef and bacon - which are things I normally love)
- Extra Bathroom Trips

Pregnancy Things That Made Me Laugh:
- Forgetting that I can’t fit in smaller spaces
- Feeling the baby have hiccups
- Watching the baby kick the dog or Dan when they would rest their faces on my belly
- Crazy hormones (suddenly being protective, the “oh I love everything” feeling, etc…)
- Random food cravings

Pregnancy Things I didn’t know, that I know now:
- Baby car seats expire, and they have to be replaced after a crash
- It is common to get nose bleeds during pregnancy
- Your skin gets super itchy as it expands
- The majority of women do not have their water break before going to the hospital
- All the aches and pains that come because of pregnancy

What I was looking forward to most post-pregnancy:
- Seeing baby Jax (duh)
- Sleeping without hip pain/calf cramps
- Doing an actual work out again
- No more food aversions
- Being able to travel again (once Jax is up for it)

Things have been great since Jax arrived. I did have crazy days when he would not stop crying, and I did break down in tears in the Kohl’s parking lot because I couldn’t find the PJs I wanted for Jax. However, overall, being a parent has been great.

The hip pain/calf cramps did go away, and I love bacon cheeseburgers again. Mmm! The work outs still haven’t happened yet, but I have learned that breast feeding (if you are able to do it) is a fantastic way to drop your baby weight quickly. :)

I am not someone who wishes they could always be pregnant, but I am glad that I had this experience. I learned a lot, had some laughs along the way, and got a cool little boy in the end.


Jax and I after he was born

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Room for Baby Jax

Way before we were even pregnant, Dan and I knew that we wanted to have a pirate-themed baby room – whether we had a boy or a girl. There were lots of reasons why we wanted this theme, but the most prevalent one was that pirate stuff is just down right cool.

As with most first-time parents, we went a wee bit overboard with decorations – it didn’t help that we are both creative, artistic people.

We started by painting the walls. One wall has a big mural, and the other three are a sprawling pirate map (complete with an “X marks the spot” and a compass). Then, we added furniture, pirate-themed mobile and curtains, and stuffed animals. Luckily, we had some help with the stuffed animals and other wall hangings, as our family is just as excited to buy things for our little munchkin as we are.

Here are some pictures of the final product!

PS: Did you spot the Batman signal? :)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

2014 Election Day

Election Day was always a sort of holiday in my family. We did not decorate or cook anything unique, but if my brother and I were lucky, we would get to go to the polling stations with our parents. I have many memories of getting to push a button or fill in a circle for one of my parents.

Voting day reminds me of the men and women (especially women) who fought for my right to vote. Rather than being a piece of property, I have a say in the administration of the country, state, town that I live in. It is an opportunity that I never want to squander and feel very strongly about.

This year was my first opportunity to include a child of my own in the voting process. Jax did not make it to the actual polling station with me (because I did not have time to pick him up before). However, I did tell him all about it when I got home, and I picked up an “I voted” sticker for him.

Here we are together, rocking our stickers.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Virginia Wine and Cider Under One Roof

Cobbler Mountain Cellars is a growing, family-owned vineyard that has a lot to offer its guests. While it started in the family’s basement, the vineyard now has large tasting room, with space for wine making, and room to keep growing.

Cobbler Mountain is set on the rolling hills of Virginia. It has lots of open fields where fire pits and Adirondack chairs rest in view of the grape vines, and the nearby woods and brook are used for special camping events in the fall.

Enjoying the beautiful grounds

Cobbler Mountain offers white, red, and dessert wines. Dan and I enjoy many of their red wines, especially their award-winning 2011 Meritage and 2010 Cab Sav. You will also experience something new with their dessert wines, which have a maple syrup flavor.

One of the unique things about Cobbler Mountain is that they also make varieties of hard cider. On this most recent trip, Dan and I got to sample the hops, honey, cinnamon, and pumpkin varieties. Our favorite was the cinnamon cider, and we bought bottles of the hops, cinnamon, and pumpkin.

If you are ever on the Route 66 wine trail, be sure to stop by Cobbler Mountain Cellars. :)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Jax’s First Winery – Stone Tower Winery

Even before I was pregnant, I looked forward to the day when I would be able to start taking my kid(s) to vineyards with me. When Jax turned one month old, Dan and I thought it was time to take him on his first winery visit. Because he was so young, we decided to stay close to home. There are numerous vineyards close to our house, but we decided to try Stone Tower Winery, since we had never been there yet.

Stone Tower Winery has a variety of red and white wines, and Dan and I chose to do the reserve tasting so we could try more of them. Our tasting started with some very bubbly sparkling wine, which seemed fitting as a way to toast Jax’s first wine trip. Another white that I enjoyed was the estate chardonnay, which we ended up getting a bottle of. Among the reds, I liked the 2012 Sanglier Noble’s fruity scent and spicy taste.

After our tasting, we went to the patio where we shared wine and snacks with some of the VA Wine Mafia who were able to join us for the afternoon. The food and drinks were delicious, and Jax enjoyed meeting some of his Wine Mafia aunts and uncle.

Unfortunately, it was a hot hot day out, and as there was no AC running in the tasting room, we had to cut our trip short when Jax started to get too warm. It was still a fun visit, and we look forward to taking Jax to more vineyards in the future. :)


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Jax Says "Hello World"

I want to take a moment to introduce my son, Jax.

Jax arrived with lots of fanfare at the end of July. He was one big baby (9 pounds 7 ounces) and continues to be in the 90th percentile for his age. How did little old me end up with such a big kid? I get to blame my husband’s side of the family for that. LOL

Jax looks a LOT like his daddy:


Though, he does have my eyes and many of my expressions:


You will see and hear stories about this kiddo pretty often because he is kind of a big deal in our family (as he is our first born, as well as the first grandbaby on both sides of our family).

We have already introduced him to Virginia wine (just visiting, not drinking yet), and pictures of him will definitely pop up in my winery reviews. Don’t worry though, we will not let him be one of those annoying kids at the vineyard. We are already teaching Jax vineyard etiquette, to make sure he grows up with a love and respect for the land and the vines.

Time for a nap until my next post. :)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Back from Maternity Leave

I knew being pregnant and having a baby would keep me busy, but I didn’t realize how busy until I was in the middle of everything. :) My pregnancy has now come and gone, and my sweet, adorable boy is here. My two months of maternity leave are also over, and with that, things are starting to take on a regular schedule again.

There are many good things about having a more normal schedule. One of them is that I am finding a few moments here and there to actually write blog posts again. Huzzah!

Over the next few weeks, I will try to catch up on events that happened during and just after my pregnancy, as well as writing about some of the fun vineyards that I am visiting, now that I am back on the VA wine trails.

Just a heads up, I will have pictures of the vineyards and other locations for my posts. However, you can also expect to see quite a few baby pictures – because taking pictures of my son is quite addicting. I will try not to overdo it, but I make no promises. Haha

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.