Update

Where has VinoVerve been the last year?

Well, the answer is long. After posting about a road trip to Arkansas last year, we were getting ready to send my daughter, Sophie off to college. Some of you may recognize her as the girl who can sabre a bottle of champagne, make and bottle wine, identify floral elements when she smells a glass and generally has acted as my personal sommelier for a good portion of her 18 years.

Our plan was to get her off to college (University of Oregon) and then I would get back into the swing of writing.

Well, as Robert Burns stated, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray”.

And astray would be an understatement.

Just a few weeks from our drive out to the Willamette Valley, we discovered there was a mass on Sophie’s spine. And that mass was cancer. Brain cancer. (the spine is made of the same stuff as the brain… this is how that is possible).

We spent the better part of the last year fighting this cancer. But it won.

My Sophie died.

**************

Me and Sophie

A picture of my Sophie

She had a love/hate relationship with this blog. She was proud of what she knew about wine. More than most adults. But she sometimes hated the time I devoted to it. This is pretty typical for adolescents.

But the last get together that she hosted here at the house, she tapped into my wine collection. She used the good Reidel wine glasses though she needed to use a straw. For her friends she opened a Provençal rosé, a Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio and an Oregon Pinot Noir. I should, I guess be appalled that she was drinking my wine, but really? Why bother.

She packed as much as she could into her 18 years and that included wine.

So, if you please, next time you have a glass, raise a toast to my Sophie. She would appreciate it. And I would as well.

 

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Know Your Local Wine Shop ~ Arkansas Edition

The Arkansas state flag was designed by Willie Kavanaugh Hocker.

The Arkansas state flag was designed by Willie Kavanaugh Hocker.

I love to visit wineries when I am traveling. But sometimes, you can’t get away when you are away. How do I solve the problem? Check out the local wine shop or liquor store.

But, first a word about Arkansas liquor laws.

Confusing is too simple a word. As is arcane.

First off, you can’t buy wine over the internet and have it shipped to you in Arkansas. Well, technically you probably could but because Arkansas won’t ship its liquor to you the other states won’t allow the reverse. You can go into a winery or store buy your liquor and have it shipped to your residence only. You have to have a special label from the ABC (alcoholic beverage control) agency or the special label from Fed Ex or UPS. But the winery has to pay all the taxes to Arkansas and pay for a permit. So naturally most places won’t do it. oh. And you can only have a single case.

Whew. Complicated. But it gets worse. Like if you live there worse.

Some counties are wet. Some are dry. Some are wet and have dry towns. Some are dry and have wet towns. In wet places you can get beer and wine in a grocery store. And in most wet places you can’t buy on Sunday. Because God.

You will find team spirit everywhere! Photo by Gretchen Neuman for VinoVerve

You will find team spirit everywhere! Photo by Gretchen Neuman for VinoVerve

The best way to figure out what is going on in your area is to drive around on Sunday and find out which stores have full parking lots. That’s how my dad figured it out. Luckily as a retiree, he could pick where they could move. Which is why they don’t live in Conway, Arkansas. They originally were really set on the place. And then they went to dinner at nice steak house and found out that their beverage options were Coca-Cola and sweet tea. Ugh.

So they opted for a place in Benton County.

And while they found a place that is open on Sundays (after 11am of course so the baby Jesus doesn’t weep) that wasn’t the place that they took us to during our inaugural trip to Arkansas. We went to Guess Who?.  An odd name, I agree, but a great shop, super friendly and busy too.

Organized into four sections, the store has a separated entrance for those buying liquor by the case.  And I mean a case of Tito’s Vodka.  I think this spot is mostly for the restaurants or clubs, but the lady running it was super friendly.  The other entrance is for the regular customers.  Broken down into beer, wine and liquor sections.  The beer section includes a cooler with a large section of craft brews.  Much to Kevin’s excitement it also sells Boulevard Brewing Company beers.  Technically not a craft brew anymore after being sold to the folks at Duval, it hasn’t become as accessible as Sam Adams or Budweiser, but we can’t get it at home.  As as extra special plus for Kevin, this store carries the special brews usually only available in the tasting room.  The liquor section is probably the smallest part of the store. Found in front of the registers found by type on short black metal shelves.. Liquors are organized by type.  Pretty standard stuff.

Duck Dynasty wine.  Fake as the Show... which is probably also a product of California...Photo by Gretchen Neuman for VinoVerve.

Duck Dynasty wine. Fake as the Show… which is probably also a product of California…Photo by Gretchen Neuman for VinoVerve.

The last part of the store is the wine section.  This is probably the largest section and is bright and airy with wines organized in wooden cases by location or varietal.  There is a good mixture of options with popular and bulk wines being found in the front.  Guess Who?  Offers a variety of classes for customers, private wine lockers and wine tasting opportunities.  Oh, and a section for local wines of which I took advantage (and will be discussed later).  The one downside?  Finding this obnoxious Duck Dynasty wine. The wines are being produced in California and have no other connection with the family other than the labeling.  The press release from Trinchero Family Wines says that the family “Share(s) the same values,” with the Robertsons. Not all of them I hope.  But as my mother has always said, “If it looks like a duck, talks like a duck and acts like a duck…. Well, it’s a duck.”

Over all, I was impressed with impressed with Guess Who and expect that I will be shopping there  occasionally while visiting the folks.  If you are in the Bentonville area and need some wine, I suggest you visit them too.

 

 

Guess Who?
214 SE Walton Blvd.
Bentonville AR, 72712
Phone:479-268-4169
Fax:479-268-4648
Email:office@guesswhobentonville.com

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Alexandria Lakes

Do you think that wine is only made in California?  Well Skippy, you would be wrong about that.  American’s don’t live by those kinds of rules.  We make wine where we want.  For instance?  Minnesota.  Land ‘o 10,000 lakes.  And this viticultural area is surrounded by several.

Fast facts for the wino set?

  • Located in Douglas County, Minnesota
  • Established July 1, 2005
  • 10,800 Acres
  • There is only one winery in the appellation:  Carlos Creek (visited by your VinoVerve!)
  • Soil Type is Nebish-Beltrami
  • Elevation 1404 feet above sea level
  • Grapes produced:  Brianna, Frontenac, Frontenac Gris, King of the North,   Marquette, Petit Pearl, Prairie Star, Sabrevois, Valiant
  • Weirdest nearby attraction:  Kensington Runestone – a 200lb slab of greywacke covered in alleged 14th century runes that is generally considered to be a hoax.  Wine lovers please note that greywacke is generally thought of as a soil base for wines in Germany, New Zealand and South Africa.

Map of the Alexandria Lakes AVA

by: Gretchen Miller Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

It’s All About Wine – Alexander Valley Edition

I admit it has been a while since I have posted here.

But that is because I have been learning. About one of my favorite things. Besides wine.

Maps.

Naturally, I have made maps about wine too. (It is almost like you can hear one of my teens complaining)

So over the next couple of weeks expect to see maps of the American Viticultural Areas made with ArcMap.

I am starting today with the Alexander Valley. First some quick facts:

  • Settled: 1840 by Cyrus Alexander. Property was part of Henry D. Fitch and Josefa Carrillo Fitch’s Rancho Sotoyome. Alexander was granted two leagues of property as a reward for managing the Rancho for the Fitch Family
  • Established: October 24, 1984
  • Location: Sonoma County, California
  • Size: 32,536 acres; 15,000 acres under vine
  • Wineries: 45 – including Clos du Bois, Francis Ford Coppola, Geyser Peak, Jordan (a friend of the blog!), Kendall-Jackson, Murphy Goode, Silver Oak and many more!
  • Elevation: 128-2573 feet above sea level.
  • Grape Varieties Produced: Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignane, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, Muscat Canelli, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon Syrah, Tempranillo, Viognier, Zinfandel

Map of Alexander Valley AVA

 

by Gretchen Miller Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

What To Drink During a Winter Storm

I saw a Facebook post from Maple River Winery.

They got an inch of snow today and are expection snow, sleet and freezing rain tomorrow.  Along with 50 mph winds.

They are suggesting Rhubarb or Raspberry wines to get them through a nasty North Dakota storm.

What do you drink when you are hunkered down?

(btw, I suggested one bottle per type of precipitation… )

 

 Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

The Big Woods

Little House on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere....Where are the big woods? Well, they really aren’t there anymore. Heck, the Little House isn’t really there anymore. Just a wayside on a hill near where the house used to be. In all fairness? It hasn’t been there in over 100 years.

What happened to the woods?  I blame bears.So I went to look at the site. It took a bit longer to find than I anticipated. Sigh. Typical. The cabin was tiny. A loft, a big hearth, a table. But it reminded me of being a girl and imagining what it was like. And the it was the sounds. Wind through the trees and the grass. Birds and insects chirping away….The description of what sounds surrounded the Ingalls family was always pretty descriptive in the Little House books. So I listened. and recorded. I ate lunch at a table on the grounds and watched people come and go.. Mostly people my age or older. In Jazzy’s and wheel chairs, some wandering around the site, others just in and out of the cabin. We all acknowledged each other sheepishly, but didn’t speak to each other…

That's a lake? well, maybe if you are 6Then I went down and took a look at Lake Pepin. I remember reading about Laura taking a trip into the town of Pepin. In the book it is seven miles drive to town and the horses periodically get bogged down in the spring mud. The going is easier now. The roads are paved… It still is seven miles (or so). Laura experienced awe when she saw the lake and the town. For me, Pepin isn’t the biggest place I have seen. Even at age five. Lake Pepin is less a lake and more of wide spot in the Mississippi River. But the lake glistened in the sun and I tried to imagine what it must have been like for Laura and Mary to run along the beach. I imagined that the location of the local Laura Museum was the the store.

That is Holly Hobbie, amirite?By the way? Museum people? Your Laura looks like Holly Hobbie…. imma just saying…

Villa BellezzaNow the original plan was to stop at wineries along the way, This is part of the Upper Mississippi River Valley AVA after all, but… I killed too much time dealing with construction and getting lost and I still needed to make my way to Minnesota. So, I wandered along the town and noticed that there was a winery there. Villa Bellezza is a bit grand a space for Pepin, Wisconsin and very Italian looking but they were growing Foch, Frontenac, Frontenac Blanc, Frontenac Gris, LaCrescent, Marquette, Prairie Star and St. Pepin on twelve acres of vineyard located in and around the region. Interesting…. It was Saturday afternoon though and late at that. Ugh. Same deal with the Maiden Rock Cidery that I had looked up. So I resolved to avoid the tasting room crowds and stock at an area liquor store.

Wisconsin is the leading producer of cranberries in the United States!!!  You know what happened. Nothing from those places were being sold. But there was Wisconsin wine there. Cranberry wine from Spurgeon Vineyards which is in Western Wisconsin but more than 150 miles away. sigh again. Not about the wine being made from Wisconsin. That makes sense as Wisconsin produces more cranberries than any other state in the U.S. (The More You Know!!!). Still. I was expecting something a little more local. Perhaps tomorrow.

Little Volcano on the Wino Prairie – Day 5 – Oh! Canada!

Little Wine on the Prairie Logo

Where am I now? Seems like I did a lot of driving but am still in Montana. Which in fact, I am. But not for long.

Today Now I will be  off. To La Canada. Not La Cañada, that is in California.  We (royally speaking) are heading to visit our neighbor to the north. Think maple leaves instead of surf boards.

I have been on the road so long at this poing that I have no idea what day it is or what I am supposed to look at. Oh, that is right. I am a wino. Is there wine along this route?

Well, totes (I say ‘totes’ instead of ‘totally’ just to irritate my teenagers). At the end of the road today I will be in Penticton home of the Wine Blogger’s Conference for 2013. So that means I will be driving through the rest of Montana, Idaho, Washington State and then British Columbia.

Day 5 Itinerary

This is probably the winiest portion of my trip. With nearly 30 wineries along my route including:

Lolo Peak Winery
Tenspoon Vineyard
Rock Creek Winery
Missoula Winery
Beauty Bay Winery
Coeur d’Alene Cellars
Green Horse Wines
Timber Rock Winery
Hierophant Meadery
Townshend Cellar
Latah Creek Wine CellarsKnipprath Cellars
Arbor Crest Wine Cellars
Fenwyr Cellars
Vin du Van
Marketplace Wineries
Overbluff Cellars
Robert Karl Cellars
Grande Ronde Cellars
Cannon Hill Vintners
Corbeaux Ciderworks
Barili Cellars
Barrister Winery
Seven Bays Winery
Whitestone Winery
Rock Wall Cellars
Esther Bricques Winery
Copper Mountain Vineyards
Okanogan Estate

Amazing. And these are just the wineries on the United States side of the border.

Little Wine on the Volcano – Day 4

Little Wine on the Prairie Logo

I have left the Prairie and Laura Ingalls behind. I am in Montana. Or Wyoming. Or back and forth.

The point is that I am going to Yellowstone. National Park.

Not the Hamm’s Beer Brewery. That music was used in the 1936 film, Yellowstone, a 63 minute epic about murdering conmen looking for buried loot in Yellowstone National Park. The movie starred (had in it anyway) Alan Hale (Not the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island but rather his father who he looked an awful lot like), Jim Thorpe (yeah. THAT Jim Thorpe but in a bit part) and a dude named Paul Harvey who was sadly not the one who provided, “The rest of the story,” for so many years on what I call Old Man Radio which usually has news on the (pick your own number)s. Jeez. Not a single millenial is going to understand any of that rant. crud. I am super old.

But anywho. Back to Yellowstone.

Why?

Volcano.
Geyser – now pronounced Geezer (Oh, Dr. Brian Cox why did you let me hear you say that word. Now, I shall never say it another way again and I will be ridiculed.
Mud Volcano
Grand Prismatic Spring
Mammoth Hot Springs
Lake Yellowstone
Yellowstone Caldera
Resurgent Domes.

NERD ALERT!!! I know what all those things are.

SCIENCE!

The downside? No wine along the trail. BOOO. At the beginning and end of the trail? Much better. They include:

Yellowstone Cellars
The Old Hatchery Winery
Lockhorn Hard Cider
Wine Bozo’s

Little Wine on the Prairie – Day 3

Little Wine on the Prairie Logo

Day three!!! They Holy Grail on Ingalls! The Wilder side of Little House! De Smet, SD is the motherlode of Laura. By the Shores of Silver Lake, Little Town on the Prairie, The Long Winter, These Happy Golden Years and The First Four Years all happen here. Houses that the family lived in are here. Ma, Pa, Carrie, Grace, and Mary are all buried there. Whew. I am not sure where to go first. I am actually hoping to arrive the evening before so I can get my fill. Some of it will be odd. Silver Lake has dried up into a marsh. I think Big Slough is still there but I am not likely to go wandering into it. I learned that from Laura. No death trap dugouts just the ability to freeze to death in a winter with 32 blizzards and dwindling food supplies. And I am guessing no wine. Which would suck. Big time. Especially while you are grind wheat in a coffee grinder and twisting straw into logs until your hands bled. Bah. The town is largely laid out the way it was. The old General Store is still there and later in the summer they host a pageant. Not my thing but great for little girls I am guessing. And there is wine there now. Did I mention that before?

Wine?  Champagne on the Prairie!

After leaving DeSmet, it is on to Montana to get ready for my bonus trip into Yellowstone. Cross your fingers on that one. At least I have learned from my trips of the past and have made a hotel reservation. Trying to find a room on a summer night in Montana is a bitch. And I really don’t want to roll into Missoula that late again. VOLCANO! Geysers, which I will pronounce like GEEZERS in an homage to Dr. Brian Cox, the James Blunt of Astrophysics on the Science Channel and the BBC (or the Beeb, as it is referred to in my abode)!!! I might start mumbling about ME-thane too. I will think of more stuff, never fear.

Even along this route there WILL be wine. At least nine wineries are located within a few miles of my pathway so this should be fun. The wineries include:

Little Wine on the Prairie – Day 2

Little Wine on the Prairie Logo

On the road again….

Oops. Wrong song, wrong theme. So, by now I should be in Minnesota. We have said our sad goodbyes to the Big Woods and to poor Freddie and Ma’s dream of a more comfortable widowhood…We are on to Plum Creek, Walnut Grove and Mankato. I don’t remember what the deal was with Mankato, except that it was the big city nearest to Walnut Grove.

What do I remember about this book? The Ingalls family lived in a house dugout of a hill literally on the banks of Plum Creek. This seems unwise and dangerous seeing how creeks often flood. In fact, the dugout is gone. Washed away by Plum Creek. I would have told them so, if they asked, but they didn’t. While living in this underground death trap, the Ingalls lost pretty much every crop they grew because the area was over run with crickets (Rocky Mountain Locusts). Oh, and baby Freddie was born here. Hard to believe that a child living in a dark, dank pit didn’t thrive. Oh, Freddie.

Road Trip - Day 2

Oh, there might have been a couple issues with birthday parties, Nelly Olson and leeches. Hard to believe that I haven’t re-read the books, eh?

Walnut Grove has a museum and the folks that own the old Ingalls property let people come look at the spot where the dug out used to be. I know I sound negative about it, but don’t think for a minute that I will skip it.

Nearby wineries include:

Choices, choices….

And now? Off to the Little House motherlode, South Dakota!