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Only one thing in the world could’ve dragged me away from the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window…….. no, not my first message from Little Orphan Annie after receiving my decoder ring…  Wine!

The week between Christmas and New Year always seems to be a blur. Maybe its the fact that I am not required to wake up and go to work everyday or it could be that there is so much hustle and bustle that the days seem to blend together. But more than likely its the amount of wine that is consumed. 

So sit back and enjoy the ride read. This has been one week of exceptional wine! It’s the holiday edition of Exploring the Wine Glass and it includes so much spectacular wine that it needed to be broken up on into two posts.

Christmas Eve Eve

My parents came out to celebrate the holidays with us this year. In fact, they came out on Wednesday and I didn’t get to California until very late on Friday evening. Mike did a great job of entertaining them while I was still in NJ. He took them down to Paso to see the winery, and to Arroyo Grande to see our property that we will eventually build our home on. So this was our first dinner together for the holidays. Mike made pulled pork in the slow cooker and we enjoyed the first meal that all four of us have sat down to the same table in over two years. 

Flora Springs Shoot Out

I thought this was an appropriate wine to open in honor of 24 hours of “A Christmas Story” and the best line ever- “You’ll shoot your eye out!” We found this wine when we were visiting our friends John and Karen in Napa. It was near Halloween and I adore how Flora Springs always decorates for the holiday. They decorate for Christmas also, but something about a giant spider over their entrance calls out to my kindred self. They know how to have fun while producing exceptional wines. They produce spook-inspired wines (and Christmas ones too!) 

The wine we chose tonight is not holiday themed, but of course has a cool story behind it. Shoot Out, which is technically a Petite Fleur wine, or “little Flora!”  Harvested from just 15 blocks of Petite Verdot (96 cases) on the valley floor next to Bale Slough Creek at the northern end of the Rutherford Appellation, I feel lucky to have had a couple of bottles. The wine is 100% Petite Verdot and the Western steer head stands out as an awesome label. 

Christmas Eve

We began our holiday celebration at a local restaurant. Mike would be cooking a large meal for Christmas, so we figured we would go out for Christmas Eve. One thing that is hard to get use to is a corkage fee. Back in Jersey, liquor licenses are so expensive and are extremely limited, that the majority of restaurants are BYOB and don’t charge you to open a bottle. Being charged to pop a cork seems outrageous to me. I know many people are used to it and don’t blink an eye, but when you have spent twenty years in the lap of luxury of no corkage fee, it hurts to dish out money to pull a cork.

One thing we have learned is that many of the restaurants have a BOGO option. Purchase one bottle from their list and they will open one of yours for free. What a deal! I mean, twist my arm to have two bottles with dinner! Opening two bottles is not an issue at all when you are having dinner with other people, but two bottles for just Mike and I is a bit much. I have gotten into the habit of bringing a bottle stopper with me so we can safely close the bottle for the ride home.

Lange Twins Sauvignon Blanc

I was introduced to Lange Twins during the 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi, California.  Their wines stood out to me and as soon as I saw their Sauvignon Blanc on the wine list at the restaurant, I told Mike we should order. He was not familiar with them, but agreed to my suggestion. 

As you can guess by the winery’s name, Randall and Brad are twins and are fourth generation farmers. Their family settled in Lodi in the 1870s and began farming watermelon. By 1916, they expanded their produce to grapes. As the business continued to grow, the Lange family acquired both the River and the DeVries Road Ranches and with another generation of winemakers grown up, they built the current winery in 2006. Lange Twins Family Winery and Vineyards have been recognized for their efforts on sustainability and habitat restoration and even won the 2006 Leopold Award and the 2014 International BRIT Award.

2011 Daou Reserve Seventeen Forty

If you ask anyone who knows Paso Robles where would you go for an exceptional view, I would bet a million dollars that Daou would be the first place recommended.  Another brother owned winery, Georges and Daniel Daou realized their childhood dream when they came to the Central Coast. A dream that began when their home in Lebanon was struck by an errant rocket at the start of the Lebanese civil war. This event forced them to emigrate to France where they were surrounded by vineyards. 

They came to America to study engineering at the University of California San Diego and after graduating they began their own networking technology company. Ten years after starting their successful company, they knew it was time to start turning their childhood dream into a reality. Producing exceptional, terroir driven Cabernet Sauvignon was their goal when they came across the property now known as Daou Mountain. Although they are known for their Cabernet Sauvignon, it is this wine, a Cabernet Franc blend that is our favorite! 


I was very nice to Mike this year. Even though I woke up at 5am, which is normal for me on Christmas, I let him sleep in. (which is not normal for me on Christmas)  Christmas is an all day affair, which means a multiple wine affair. It always begins with bubbles!  I was so excited to have an opportunity to saber, but alas, the bottle had a very thin neck and although it is a pretty bottle, it is not one I would saber. Visions of a bottle exploding in my hands made me pop the cork in the more traditional boring way.

Étiole Brut Sparkling

Étiole is a sparkling wine produced under the Chandon label. Chandon was founded in 1973 by Moet & Chandon.  Yep, I’m sure you have herd of them! The original winery was established in 1743 in Epernay, France. Charged with the job of expanding the Champagne business, Robert-Jean de Vogue established the first French-owned sparkling wine house outside of France, Domaine Chandon. Will Nord was hired to plant the winery’s first vineyard in 1973 on Mount Veeder, which was almost immediately followed by plantings in  Carneros. Ultimately, the decision to build a winery in Yountville was made. 

What do you pair with Sparkling wine? Well, pretty much anything! But we had some cheese and crackers along with pigs in the blanket. 


2016 Niner Estates Albariño

I fell in love with Albariño when I participated in a two month educational program on #winestudio two years ago. I became obsessed with the grape and the Rias Baixas region itself. I talk incessantly to Mike about how we need to get there on a vacation. So when we discovered that one-of our favorite Paso wineries produced an Albariño, we had to go try it.  I admittedly did not expect to like it. One of the “tell-tale” characteristics of Rias Baixas is the salinity and many of the other Albariños we have tried are not able to deliver in that realm. When I first tasted Niner’s I couldn’t believe my taste buds! The salinity was there, and it was a great wine for a value price! 

I’ve spoken quite a bit about Niner in past posts (click here for info on them) and several posts about Rias Baixas, so please feel free to check out those posts to find out more about them.  We sat and enjoyed the wine while finishing up the appetizers. 

Dracaena Wines2010 Calcareous Cabernet Sauvignon

My Christmas dinner is very different from most. If you read my post regularly, you know that I am a picky eater- to say the least. There is no meat on my holiday plate, however, with my parents in town, Mike had to put something cooked rare on the table. He made prime rib for them, and roasted herbed potatoes and brown sugar carrots for me. (and I didn’t take a single photo!)

Calcareous’ tag line is “Let the Soil Speak” and they strive to show the soil’s influence in every bottle.  Their farming practices along with the site specifics, provides for vines that produce small yields with fruit that has exceptional fruit expression. The view from their winery is also exceptional! In fact, it is the mirror image of Daou’s. 

December 26th

Today was the last full day that my parents were in town. We decided to take them gambling. You know the addage, “The family that gambles together, stays together.” I am pretty sure that is how it goes.  Anyway, we went to Tachi Casino, which is about a 40 minute drive from our house in Fresno. It was ok. It is tough to compare a small casino to what we are used to. Atlantic City and Las Vegas really blows any other casino away. But it was something to do and I only lost $80, so I consider it a positive experience.  Next time we will try Chukchansi casino, which I have learned is a bit bigger and apparently the casino of choice for Fresnites. (I’m not really sure they are called that) 

My parents wanted to take us out to dinner after gambling. They decided to go to PF Changs. Both Mike and I chose to order a beer with the meal and open a bottle of wine once we got home.  Our choice was a MacPhail Chardonnay. I love their tasting room in Sebastopol. Between the statue of the melted red wagons and the wall of dirt, it is one of my favorite places to visit. (plus the wine is great too!)

The little red wagon that graces our label symbolizes timeless design and exceptional quality. We like the idea that kids play in wagons, and share simple joys. No reason we can’t as well. So we try not to take ourselves too seriously, even as we’re very serious about our wines.

Dracaena WinesBe sure to come back next week to see the continuation of our holiday edition of Exploring the Wine Glass. In the meantime, share a comment of what were some of your favorite wines this holiday season. 




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    1. Thank you Michelle. It was really nice to be in CA for a longer period than just a weekend and to have my parents with me was awesome! Happy New Year to you also!

  1. Lori, great post about wine, food, and family. I also love Jean Shepherd. Sadly, our first choice for NYE, a Brunello, was spoiled. Luckily, we had a good backup, a Stag’s Leap Artemis Cab. Happy New Year to you and Mike!

    1. Sorry about the first wine. Hate it when that happens, but excellent back up plan! NYE will be next week’s post. There was so much wine this holiday season, had to break it up! LOL Happy New Year to you guys also!

  2. As a former restaurant Somm I am all for either high corkage fees $40 per 750 ml and $80 for a magnum. Or better yet just a straight out rule of no BYOB at all which many restaurants are leaning too. I don’t blame them one bit. There is very little profit on food. The better quality of food the higher the food cost. The only profit center in a restaurant is cocktails and mostly the wine list. We try to discourage as much as possible people bringing their own bottles as we put together a proper profit margin list and then people bring their own bottle ? With that said if a restaurant knows you are in the biz we not only allow those certain people to bring their own but we waive all corkage. In 35 years I have never paid a corkage fee in any state by introducing myself first to the manager. The fee is not for open cork it is to to discourage you from bringing the bottle

    1. hmm. interesting. I never have thought to introduce myself as a winery owner to a manager. I must admit, I would feel awkward doing that. We were at one place that serves our wine, with some friends and Mike did ask if we could bring in our own. They said yes- this was a wine bar though, not a true restaurant- and we were bringing in Dracaena Wines. I get why there are corkage fees, we are just use to not having them- in NJ (at least our region) most restaurants don’t have a liquor license- so no option to buy a bottle.

  3. So, I was on the UC Davis site which led me to graduates of the Wine certificate program, which led me to your website and onto your blog. How interesting I found your notes on the various bottles you enjoyed over Christmas. Your palette runs the gamut.

    My husband may begin the wine certification course soon and we are on the brink of purchasing land in Paso Robles. We’d love to meet you and Mike if there is a time in the future. Our next trip out that way will be in February for the Santa Barbara Wine Auction. We will take probably Sunday and come to PR. Let us know if you might be available Sunday, February 18th? Anyway, great to learn a bit more about PR wine lovers/makers?

    1. Yes, we are true winelovers. Definitely a New World palate, but winelovers. Where are you looking in Paso?! We actually own land for our retirement in Arroyo Grande. We source our fruit from the East side of Paso. We currently live in Fresno, (although I also spend time in NJ) Where are you actually from? I will be out in CA for that weekend, however, very good friends of ours are opening their tasting room in Napa that weekend, and I am thinking we will be there on Sunday.
      We would love to talk to you and help you in any way we can. That is one of the things that made us fall in love with Paso. The “pay it forward” atmosphere. If you send me an email through our website, I will give you my cell number so we can talk more!

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