Saturday, August 31, 2013

Birthday Wine Trip - A Preview

My birthday was last week and to celebrate, my Bear and I took a trip to the northeast part of Ohio for a two night stay at Buccia Vineyard, planned to visit wineries along the Ohio Vines and Wines trail, and ventured into the Pennsylvania wine country, just east of Erie.  What a FUN time we had!  We met some great people, drank some good (and some not-so-good) wine, and most importantly, spent a lot of relaxing quality time together.

A trip to this extent was a first for both of us so it not only gave us the opportunity to try new things together but also the ability to strengthen our relationship through strengthening our bond.  And, while it may not have been able to be wrapped in a beautiful purple package like the rest of my presents, the further deepening of the connection we share was far and away the greatest birthday gift I received.  I could not be more grateful.

Sorry Mom, I really do like the totally awesome, amazing vacuum cleaner you got me, but even it cannot top this.  You're the best mom in the world though, so I am sure you understand.

We started on Thursday, August 22nd, returned home on Saturday, August 24th, and ended up hitting 18 different wineries in three days.  I want to give each winery the attention it deserves, so more detailed posts will be coming this week.  As a preview though, here is a list of the wineries we visited as well as links to their websites.

1. Grand River Cellars - Madison, OH
2. Chalet Debonné Vineyards - Madison, OH
3. Virant Family Winery - Geneva, OH
4. M Cellars - Geneva, OH
5. South River Vineyard - Geneva, OH
6. Deer's Leap Winery - Geneva, OH
7. The Old Mill Winery - Geneva, OH
8. Old Firehouse Winery - Geneva-on-the-Lake, OH
9. Buccia Vineyard - Conneaut, OH
10. Mazza Vineyards - North East, PA
11. South Shore Wine Company - North East, PA
12. Courtyard Wineries - North East, PA
13. Presque Isle Wine Cellars - North East, PA
14. Markko Vineyard - Conneaut, OH
15. Biscotti's Family Winery - Conneaut, OH
16. The Lakehouse Inn & Winery - Geneva-on-the-Lake, OH
17. The Winery at Spring Hill - Geneva, OH
18. Harpersfield Vineyard - Geneva, OH

It looks like a lot, but in most cases, these wineries are an extremely short drive from one to the next.  We split the tasting trays instead of getting our own so neither of us consumed an overwhelming amount.  This was mainly for safety purposes but we also wanted to make sure we could still taste the wines. 

During the trip's initial planning stages, there were even more wineries on our list.  Due to some having limited hours of operation, we decided that these would make the final cut and the rest would be covered by another trip at a later date.  That "later date" came sooner than I had expected and that's where we will be spending rest of this afternoon!

As always, please remember to consume alcohol in any form responsibly.  Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!  Cheers, all!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Elf Introduction

Years ago, my best friend from college and I decided we would be fancy and try wine.  Being college students and wine novices, we had unflinchingly rigid selection criteria:

1. Is it wine?
2. Is it cheap?
3. Is it easy to drink?

If the answer to those questions was 'yes', we found a winner.  

Bonus points were awarded if it came in a pretty or unique bottle.

We have plenty of stories of our good and bad wine experiences and actually, our tastes grew somewhat.  We both started off with the sweet wines.  Then, she started to drink "dry reds," which I sadly had to shy away from since they triggered my migraine headaches, and I started to drink "dry whites."  I use the term dry loosely because very few of the wines we drank were legitimately dry wines.  We didn't care though, we were 21 year old musicians drinking wine when none of our friends cared about wine, so we were about as cool as could be.

Looking back, a more accurate description of the development of our wine tastes would be that we started by drinking glue-your-mouth-shut sweet wine and graduated to wines with the residual sugars of hard candy.

Then, in 2010, I started my very first big girl job and settled in with my work team, which consisted of people of all ages, education and experience levels, and personal backgrounds.  We all seemed to have two things in common though: looking out for each other and having a good time together.  Our team functioned more like a family than a workgroup and I am one of the fortunate few people out there who love the people I work with.  

We began to frequent a local bar or winery on Friday nights.  Since then, our Friday night meetings turned into wine-infused boat trips along the shores of Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River, which evolved into gatherings at each other's homes in which we celebrated the end of the week with, you guessed it, wine.  We often had new wines to try but quickly developed a short list of stand-by favorites.

We celebrate responsibly, of course.

I was also fortunate enough to convert one of those friendships into romance with my best friend, my soulmate, the love of my life, who also happens to be my very own personal sommelier.  He was significantly more experienced in the world of wine- especially Ohio wine- than I was and took on the challenge of expanding my palate.  We started by visiting wineries he liked that were new to me and grew from there.  Soon enough, something I once dabbled in not only became a hobby but it became our hobby.  Now, we enable and encourage each other to try wines and wineries that are new to both of us and we have so much fun sharing what has matured into our passion.

He is my Bear, my protector, my teacher, and my inspiration.  He is the driving force behind my writing, as he is the one who opened my eyes to a whole new world of wine from which I haven't looked back. 

I have learned so much about wine through our many adventures and stumbled upon so many excellent local wineries.  Never did I think that as a twenty-something, I would be talking about a wine's body, be able to identify it's notes, or creating an educated, informed opinion about a vintage.  We have gone so many places together and done so many interesting things, I wanted needed to start a blog to keep track of it all.  

After all, I can type a lot faster and more legibly than I can write.

So, why The Wine Elf?  The previously mentioned group of super fun work friends is the same group of people responsible for my blog's title.  I would bring cookies regularly for those near and dear to me, and one told me I was his favorite Keebler elf and asked me if I live in a tree.  Life is more fun if you play along, so I said "absolutely I do."

From that point on, I was referred to as: The Keebler Elf, Ms. Keebler, Keebie, and ultimately became just "The Elf."  I love it.  I'm sure I will sneak in a cookie post or two from time to time.  

I can't wait to begin to document the many adventures of The Bear and The Elf.  We recently returned from a winery trip to the northeast part of Ohio and I look forward to sharing our experience shortly!

As a reminder, please enjoy the grapes (and any other beverages) responsibly.  Cheers, all!