Posts Tagged ‘wineries’

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

As some of you know, I live in wine country. El Dorado County is becoming quite famous for it’s area wines. Because I’m a big supporter of buying local, supporting small business (hey, it’s a good argument), and because eighty percent of the area wineries still pour without charging a fee, I do a lot of wine tasting. I’d like to think I’m becoming quite the aficionado, but I think it’s more correct to say, I’m becoming quite the wine-o.

Photo courtesy Google Images

White wine grapes.
Photo courtesy Google Images

Let’s face it, with so many wineries to visit, each one having a different line-up, it’s hard not to become familiar with the product and the associated lingo. Remember when wine drinkers had two choices – Chablis and Burgandy? That’s right, you had your red (Burgandy) or your white (Chablis). In my house, Ernest and Julio Gallo started the whole red/white choice thing. Unless of course, you count the Blue Nun Gewürztraminer or the Boone’s Farm Tickle Pink as red or white.

Then along comes a product known as Vin Rose. Remember this hip new trend? Everyone was wanting the rose. My parents were big on the new rose wine. But then, someone bottled a new-fangled white wine called Chardonnay. Not to be outdone, the red wine makers soon offered Merlot and Zinfandel. Wow, the choices!

Nowadays, it would take you a full month to try every wine available at the wineries in my area. The whites include Viognier, Pinot Grigio,  Sauvignon Blanc, Moscato, Riesling, and Semillon, among others.

Red wine drinkers can still enjoy the Merlots and Zinfancels but are now also offered such wonders as Pinot Noir, Barbara, Primitivo, Syrah, Petite Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Alicante Bouuschet, Nebbiolo, Gamay and Mourvedre.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Red wine grapes.
Photo courtesy Google Images

Let’s not forget the folks still stuck on the rose bandwagon. Today they can enjoy Grenache, White Zinfandel or some kind of red/white blend. Of course, if you’re my dad, you still order the Vin Rose. Yes, every waitress in town gives him the same quizzical look, and yes, I still clue them in that he wants a “pink,” wine.

In addition to the abundant varitals, there are dozens of blends, each winery famous for a specific one. In my neck of the woods, its blends like “Rocket Dog,” “Rattler Red,” “Foreplay,” “Pammy’s Couve,” and the like.  On top of that, in a lot of places you can taste multiple years of the same varitals and blends. And, in case that’s not enough, there’s also the sparkling wines, the dessert wines and the ports. You can taste from the bottle. You can taste from the barrel. I’m telling you, a person needs weeks to try them all. And, because I’m no quitter, I plan on sampling them. All of them. Like I said, I’m a big supporter of local businesses. And I’ll probably have to do it more than once because, by the time I get done with the first round, the new releases will be out and it’ll be time to do it all over again.

And let’s take a minute to talk about those cute little flavor descriptions they type up for each wine. You know the ones. They tell you what you’re supposed to experience before, during and after you sip. They usually say something like, “a crisp, full-bodied wine with notes of licorice and smoke. Finishes with hints of aged oak and vanilla.” You know what those descriptions NEVER say? They never say the wine will taste like grapes. My description for every single one of those bad boys would be, “it tastes like squashed purple grapes with faint notes of stem and vine.” I mean, I’m no expert, but let’s call a spade a spade here folks. You’re drinking grape juice, it should taste like grapes. Sheesh.

But it’s not just the wines themselves I’m becoming familiar with, it’s the jargon, too. Terms like “full-bodied,” and “oaky” (not to be confused with Okies, who have their own distinct flavor), are easily understood even by novice samplers. Some terms make perfect sense, like “up front,” or “notes of,” but others are just silly. Like, “it has a nice round taste.” Round? Can a person taste a shape? Could it be said that a sandwich has a nice square flavor? That’s like saying, “it smells pink,” or “it feels like yellow.”  I suppose I’ll have to keep tasting until I figure that one out. Like I said, I’m no quitter.

How about you? Are you a wine-0 aficionado? Do you like red or white? Or are you like my dad and still enjoy the once-trendy “pink” wines? If you’re not a wine drinker, do you support local small business? Inquiring minds want to know.

Word of the day:  Plimsoll

Fun face about me: I like to drink milk. (That’s right. I don’t always drink wine.)

Original post by Jansen Schmidt. Photos courtesy Google Images.

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It’s May first and spring is in full bloom in my neck of the woods! There was much complaining from the natives about all of the rain in March and April. But, let me say, there are no complaints now! May is shaping up to be one of the most beautiful months ever. So, in honor of Earth Day, I’m blogging this month about all of the beautiful things surrounding us in nature. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, take a look around you. You might be surprised.

Everywhere I’ve gone these past couple of weeks there are wild flowers and luscious green grass and shiny new leaves on the trees. I notice these gifts. I notice because – like sparkly things – I love flowers. I love to look at them, smell them, touch them and . . .  apparently, from pursuing my travel photos for last month’s blog, photographing them. Everywhere I’ve gone I’ve taken pictures of flowers.

I didn’t really notice that I do this until last month when I was drafting my April blog. But it makes sense because I am always drawn to a vibrant display of color. And a perfect bud or bloom has on occasion actually taken my breath away.

Susie Lindau (http://susielindau.com/2012/04/25/a-heatwave-cometh-early-a-photo-essay/) and Serena Dracis (http://serenadracis.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/welcome-to-wild-wednesday/) both recently posted pictures on their blogs of their back yards and gardening attempts, among other things. Karen McFarland has also posted awesome flower pictures on her blog recently. (http://www.karenmcfarland.com/perform-in-a-springtime-melody) All three of these blogs have amped up my spring fever. If you want some instant spring time, I highly recommend checking out these fabulous blogs.

Those were memorable blogs for me because I’m a flower-holic. I love them, plain and simple. I can’t resist snapping a photo every time I am awestruck by a beautiful bloom.

You’ll have to bear with me again this month as we take a little walk down memory lane and enjoy some of my flower-taking exerpiences.

Rain forest - Hilo, Hawaii

And it’s not just flowers that call me like a siren from the sea. Oh no, it’s unique plants and trees as well. A serene meadow or fern-blanketed forest have also been worthy of my photo snapping skills. I especially like finding a growing green plant in an most unexpected place.

Like this hearty little plant pushing up through a bed of hardened lava.

Lava beds - Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Or these interesting specimens.

Annaberg Sugar Mill - Virgin Islands National Park - St. John, US Virgin Islands

Interesting beauty in the desert - Cabo San Lucas

Or this Banyan Tree. If you don’t know about Banyan Trees, I suggest you do some research, they’re fascinating things. They remind of of things you’d read about in Gene Lempp’s blogs. (www.genelempp.wordpress.com)

Banyon Tree - Oahu Hawaii

And here’s a very unique and beautiful tree.

Paradise Point - St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

But mostly, it’s the flowers that captivate me. Here are some of my flower photos with a brief description of where I took them. Enjoy!

The Big Island of Hawaii

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Cinnamon Bay - St. John, US Virgin Islands

Annaberg Sugar Mill - St. John, US Virgin Islands

Playa Mazatlan - Mazatlan, Mexico

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

St. Thomas - US Virgin Islands

Lahaina, Maui

Maui, Hawaii

Downtown Honolulu, Hawaii

Downtown Honolulu, Hawaii

And what blog post about my travels would be complete without some photos of my favorite places – Disneyland and Disney World!

Epcot - Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom - Walt Disney World

I don’t have to be stationary to photograph these colorful living organisms either. Nope, I can shoot right through the glass window of my transport vehicle. Like these three I couldn’t resist while on my bus ride through Honolulu.

The hillsides along the freeways were bursting with color. I know now what Rachel Funk Heller experiences every day where she lives in paradise! You’re a lucky girl, Rachel! I hope you appreciate this living landscape beauty.

Here’s one I took from a moving boat.

St. John - US Virgin Islands

I captured some shoreline treasures . . .

Asilomar - Pacific Grove, California

And these mountain beauties.

Yosemite - May 2011

And as much as I love finding the natural beauty in plants and flowers, don’t even get me started on the the man-made topiaries. I can photograph these things all day. And apparently I have, judging by my vacation albums. Who came up this this idea anyway? It’s genius!

Sorcerer Mickey - Back Stage Tour - Walt Disney World 2009

It's A Small World - Disneyland

It's A Small World - Disneyland

 And I don’t just capture these amazing gems during the day time. No sirree, I photograph at night too.

It's A Small World - Disneyland - Christmas 2010

 Here’s a unique palm tree that captured my attention in Honolulu, whist on my ghost hunting expedition one night last year. That’s right, I went in search of ghosts.

Date palms - Honolulu, Hawaii

I not only shoot day or night, I shoot outside or in. Makes no difference to me and my snap happy finger.

St. Andrew's Cathedral

And a little rain won’t impede my desire to capture that perfect work of beauty.

My affinity for photographing flowers evidently also extends beyond the realm of the living. Here are some floral arrangements that, while natural, would not appear in this form in the wild.

Grand food creations buffet - Carnival Victory - 2006

Grand food creations buffet - Carnival Victory - 2006

Not only are flowers lovely to look at and delightful to smell, flowers can be functional as well. For instance did you know that rose bushes are often planted on the perimeters of vineyards?

They not only attract bees and other pollinators, but they help predict sudden changes in the weather. Roses are very susceptible to mold and are hyper-sensitive to temperature changes. Vintners can watch their roses to know whether or not they need to take action to protect their grape crop. You see, it’s an educational blog too.

So there you have it. My crazy flower obsession.

What’s your passion, or perhaps what thing do you find yourself photographing over and over again, besides your kids and pets?

Word of the day: Fuliginous

Fun fact about me: I once used cocoa powder as stage make-up.

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