VinoVerve in the News

The sword is mightier than…. well fill in the blank yourself.


Earlier this year, I visited a friend, Arlynn Lieber Presser who was undertaking a project to visit all of her Facebook friends in 2011. Since then she has gotten quite a bit of publicity and some of it has rubbed off…. on VinoVerve. I was on Good Morning America (albeit somewhat passively).

Until GMA decides that they want to know about local wine…. hint, hint.

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Southern Wine

Kevin and I are headed to NOLA this weekend to watch some football and sample the delights of the city. He asked me to see if we could stop at a winery on our way there. I checked my map. Each dot represents a winery.

It appears that we will have plenty of choices depending on what route we take.

Good thing we don’t live in a wine producing region, eh? It appears that we will have 20 options in the deep south.. and more as we head north.

Laissez les bontemps rollez.

What’s your favorite southern winery?

Gretchen Neuman, Editor, September 13, 2011

Regional American Wines Celebrated on Today

One of the advantages of “Back to School” time is that, I, your dear editor, regains access to my television (if not my sanity). This means that I get to watch my favorite part of the Today Show, the 4th Hour with Kathy Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb. One of the reasons that it is my favorite is because there is usually liquor involved and often wine. Yesterday Today had Alpana Singh on to pour Regional American wines. Go Alpena and thanks for your support for local American wines from up and coming areas!

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Congrats to the wineries and wines featured:

Blue Sky Vineyards 2010 Vignoles (we’ve been there!)
Red Newt Cellars 2010 Riesling
Keswick Vineyards 2009 Estate Reserve Viognier (coming soon!)
Saint Croix Vineyards 2009 La Crescent Dessert Wine
Prairie State Winery 2009 Cabernet Franc (we’ve been there but I can’t find my own link!)
Bedell Cellars 2007 Musée (we’ve been there!)
Hinterland Vineyard 2009 Marquette Reserve
Barboursville Vineyards 2008 Petit Verdot Reserve (we’ve had their wine!)


Gretchen Neuman, VinoVerve Editor, September 1, 2011

Show Me Some Goals….

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

The nice part of goals is missing them sometimes. Yes, it was your editor’s goal to complete podcasts for all four Missouri viticulture areas before leaving for the Show Me State… but that sadly hasn’t happened. Something about teenagers and their crazy schedules screwed that up. Oh, and randomly placed Spring Breaks. Ahhh.  Good times…

So, instead of showing you are about the Ozark Mountain and Ozark Highlands AVAs, I will postpone the publication of these videos so that I can gather some footage of my own…. and instead will talk about where I am planning to go on my Missouri adventures. While I am only going to be in Missouri for a long weekend and most of that time will be spent in St. Louis, I have found that I will be able to visit all four viticultural areas. Yeah!

As you can see, I have gotten lucky that all of these appellations are located at least in part near St. Louis. So naturally, given that I have no obligations to teens and/or volleyball (like last year or next week) I get to explore Missouri.

The conference location is the starting or ending point of the trip. At least from a planning perspective this is the raison d’être for my get away. Kevin is watching the teens, which earns him my pity as it is their spring break. He initially wished to join me along this journey but thought better of it as it is likely teens would have sucked all the joy out of me for this adventure, and I thank him profusely.

Why Ste. Genevieve? Simply, it is the oldest town in the state. Founded by the French along the Mississippi River before even the French and Indian Wars, the town has a collection of Creole-French buildings that were common among French settlers or habitants…  Obscure?  Perhaps.  But I love that kind of stuff.  Plus there are wineries there too which are located within the Ozark Mountain AVA. This AVA is the biggest in Missouri (especially since it extends into Arkansas and even Oklahoma) and the Ozark Highlands and Hermann appellations are located within its boundaries.

My next must see stop is the town of Kaskaskia, Illinois.  Crossing back over the Mississippi, you say?  Hardly.  Kaskaskia, also a French settlement, was located east of the Mississippi but as the river has changed course, so has the location of the town and it is currently located just a couple of miles south of Ste. Genevieve.  Actually, most of the original town has been lost to flooding and hardly anyone lives there anymore (the 2000 census indicated a population of 9).  The appeal of Kaskaskia is twofold.  It is the original capital of the state (or maybe territory) of Illinois.  Also?  It has a bell that was a given to the local parish church by Louis XV (Yes.  Louis XIV is dead, to answer my husband’s snappy response whenever hear hears the name of a monarch with a number attached to his name.. Thanks so much, dudes from Monty Python).

The next goals of the trip are to visit all three appellations that I haven’t been to before.  This means, stopping at wineries in Ozark Mountain (done… with stops in Ste. Genevieve), Ozark Highlands  (done with stops in and around Leasburg or Steelville, MO) and in Hermann.

As if this isn’t a busy enough weekend, I will then be attending the conference in St. Louis.  Whew.  I am going to be tired come Monday.  But I will have lots to talk about when I get back!

Hope you have as much fun this weekend!




Next stop

My Folks Went to Israel and Egypt and All I Got Was This Bottle of Wine

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

My folks just got back from their fantastic vacation to the Middle East. When they left I asked them to keep an eye out for interesting wine.

I was excited to hear that they managed to snag me a couple of bottles along with some other goodies.

Here they are:

Saffron and Cumin... Where is the Wine?

Where is the wine, you ask? Good question. It was confiscated.

Why? Well obviously it was over 4oz of liquid.

Never mind that it was bought at duty free after my folks cleared security. Which leads to this question: What is the earthly point of liquor in the duty free shop? So you can bring the people that you are visiting something that they can already lay their hands on? To swill cheaply in the airport during a particularly long layover?

I have to admit to being disappointed. One bottle was Israeli, the other, Egyptian. Egyptian wine would have been fascinating. I have read that there is a small number of wineries around Alexandria and would have loved to try some. But I got a other fun gifts as well.

Black cumin (which smells great) and the most saffron I have every personally owned. Dad found them in a suq in Cairo.

I don’t even want to know where they came from. But I have a couple of ideas and need to find something amazing to make with them. Ideas?

Things To Do This Weekend in Chicago

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Looking for something to do this weekend? Something where you can have good food and drinks? Want to have the added bonus of doing some good?

Well, I have the event for you!

Via Facebook:

Please join us at the James Hotel, on 11/22/09 from 4-7:30 to help show our love and support for our good friend Jeffrey Hemmings. As our dear friend continues his healing battle with Germ Cell Cancer, we want Jeff to know how much we all love him and that he only needs to focus on getting better. To that end, we are getting together to raise money for Jeff to cover his expenses until he can get back to the normal business of life.

We’ll gather for a late afternoon of joy to celebrate and laugh in his honor. There will be a cash bar and appetizers, as well as a raffle. We’re asking for a $20 donation to attend the event, and ask that you bring your hearts and your checkbooks! Our friend needs our help.

The specifics:
When: Sunday, November 22nd 4:30 – 7:00pm
Where: The James Hotel (Great Room) 55 E. Ontario, Chicago, IL 60611
Cost: Door Donation $20 includes buffet.

Purchase tickets and/or donate here:

You have the option of donating and/or buying tickets at the EventBrite page. If you would like to donate, you decide the amount you would like to contribute. The system will then tack on an EventBrite service fee to cover the cost of credit card processing.

If you’re buying tickets, you need to simply choose how many you want.

You do not need a paypal account to buy tickets or to donate. Please let us know if you have questions.

We’re also offering raffle tickets for purchase at the event as well as a cash bar. All proceeds will go directly to Jeff.

Please RSVP so that we know how many to expect!

Mark, Rachael, and Jeff

If you have dined with Kevin and I at David Burke’s Primehouse, chances are you have met Jeff.  He is a great guy and deserves our support.  Kevin, Rory and I will be there… Hope to see you too!

Wild Blossom Winery

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Bev ArtsMeadWineries in cities have become more popular over the last few years. But the Wild Blossom Winery has been in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood for years. The winery operates out of a storefront on the dry side of Western Avenue so you must go else where to purchase their products (There is a Foremost across the street, for instance) and they offer for sale beer and winemaking materials and offer classes as well.

The wineries most prominent product is mead. They offer traditional grape wines for those of you who want to complain that mead isn’t really wine, but the mead is their pride and joy. Greg Fischer, the wine maker keeps 80 hives loves to talk about how mead is the most sustainable of wine. Indeed, honey, water and yeast are your chief requirements, meaning that a well tended hive and winemaking skill is all that is need to produce the wine. The bees and wildflowers do all the rest.

The wineryRochelle is a home winemakerThe only wines that I tasted at Wild Blossom were the meads and I was surprised by the range of flavors. The first wine that I tasted was the Blanc de Fleur. This wine was floral and drier than I anticipated. It was more like a dry Riesling with a mellower, honeyed finish. The Prairie Passion is a more traditional mead with more distinct honey flavors and a finish of tropical fruits. The sweetest offering was the Sweet Desire which is fermented in Bourbon barrels. It is sold in bottles that seem to belong in a laboratory and seem to add to the sweet and mellow alchemy.

The use of fruit in the making of mead is a long established practice. The result is referred to generically as Melomel (with some cultures having more specific names depending on the fruit used). Wild Blossom produces a number of Melomels and I had an opportunity to taste some of them. I anticipated that the blueberry mead would be overwhelmingly fruity and was surprised to find that it was not. There was a good balance between the fruit and the honey. The raspberry peach variety was sweeter with the smooth finish of peach but the brighter nose of the raspberry. But, I have to admit that I was most surprised by the Wildberry Mead. It had a smokiness that surprised me.

In addition to the wine making, Wild Blossom is also a home brew center in Chicago. Operating as Bev Art, they sell materials for and teach the techniques for making beer, wine and mead in your own home. During the time, that I was at the winery, several customers came in to purchase materials. They were return customers to Bev Arts and were excited to talk about what their fermentation plans.

Wild Blossom Meadery & Winery
Bev Art Brewer and Winemaker Supplies
10033 S. Western Avenue
Chicago, IL 60643

More Chicago Wine News

More information on Binny’s takeover of Sam’s…..  Time will tell how the consumers of Illinois will fare …

We Listen And We Care

Many of you have written and called us in the few days since we acquired Sam’s asking about your unredeemed reward certificates and birthday coupons. In the spirit of our new beginning together, and out of respect for Sam’s old customers, Binny’s will honor Sam’s rewards certificates and birthday offers through Nov. 15, 2009. This limited time offer is valid at Sam’s former locations in Lincoln Park and Downers Grove, and all previously stated exclusions and expiration dates still apply. We’re also happy to announce that effective immediately we can now accept all valid Sam’s gift cards.

Binny's CardQuestions have been pouring in (no pun intended) on the Binny’s Card. Signing up is quick, easy and very rewarding and can be done at any of our 24 Chicagoland locations. Benefits include a two percent rebate on wine purchases, a five percent discount on mixed case purchases and special email discounts and offers (including our much-anticipated 15 percent off everything in stock coupons). Visit a Binny’s near you for details.

Is Wine An Appropriate Gift?

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Happy Birthday, Nanny!

Happy Birthday, Nanny!

Frankly, I always think that wine is an appropriate gift. But in this case the Birthday Girl (which is always capitalized at my house) will be 102.

Yes, I have decided at the last minute to visit my grandmother for her birthday this weekend (though her birthday is tomorrow. GO Nanny!) This is why today’s post is so late. I have been calculating cost benefit analyses about whether to fly or drive (15 hour drive/flexibility of having own vehicle to explore wineries and cheapness even if including rental car and gas v. trying to get a reasonably priced flight less than 48 hours out) – driving won.

So if you know of any good wineries along major highways from Chicago to Virginia through the states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland or Virginia please let me know..

I am reachable on Facebook and Twitter!

Oh, and Nanny will be getting wine…. and maybe I will be sharing with the cousins too….

American Wine Blog Awards

Getchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Well, despite our best efforts, Marguerite and I (along with Kevin and Rory) didn’t manage to score one of the coveted nominations for the American Wine Blog Awards for VinoVerve.

Having lived in Chicago for any amount of time, we have developed a Cubsian reflex that requires us to say, “There is always next year!” Which is true.

But fame, riches and recognition are not why we write VinoVerve. It is the ability to be able to share what we learn about wine with each other and whatever random readers cross our paths is more of our goal. If you like it? We hope you comment. We would love to have a conversation with you about it.

If you don’t? Well, you can tell us that too, though I can’t guarantee that we will change our opinions and how we present them.

That being said, you should definitely go and vote for your favorites. Honestly, I can’t see a bad choice in any category. Tom Wark, understanding how we Chicagoans work has created a system that is not prone to the Chicago way of voting early and often. I guess we Illinoisians have developed something of a reputation in that regard. C’est la vie ou la guerre (depending on your point of view).

In the meanwhile, we will continue to plug away. Look for a new VinoVerve to be coming soon!