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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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

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!

Bob of Chicago

Below is a a bio I have seen floating around the web for Robert Bansberg. I have only met him but a few times, yet even in those modest encounters I sensed a genuine warmth and depth of character.
(copied from

Robert (Bob) Bansberg is an award winning sommelier and wine educator, formerly at Chicago’s four star restaurant Ambria for its full twenty-five year run, and currently a faculty member at the School of Culinary Arts at Kendall College in Chicago. Since 1992, Bansberg has taught a Wine and Beverage Management Class at Kendall College’s School of the Culinary Arts and for five years has hosted the The Wine Series, a wine appreciation and food-pairing course for the community. Since 2000, he has lectured at the Alliance Français and The Calphalon Culinary also based in Chicago. He is an active board member of the “Toast to Humanity” charity and has donated his time to the National Charity “Share our Strength”.

In 2004, Bansberg was one of five nominated for “Best Sommelier” in the Jean Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence. In their July 2000 issue, Food & Wine magazine Bansberg selected in a national poll of their readership as “The Best Sommelier in Chicago”, Chicago Magazine also listed Bansberg as the cities best in their August 2000 issue. In 1999, Bansberg was nominated for the highly coveted James Beard Award. He has won regional French sommelier competitions. He is a senior wine judge at the Beverage Testing Institute and has judged for the National Restaurant Association’s Wine Classic, and has served on numerous panels for the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times.

He has written for Wine & Spirits and The Wine Enthusiast, and has lectured at the Midwest International Wine Exposition as well as Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. He has been writing wine tasting notes for Santé Magazine in 2004. Bansberg is a graduate of Northwestern University and studied in the Neurophysiology Graduate Program at the University of Illinois Medical Center. He resides in Evanston with his wife and their two children. He continues to be a leader and educator in his community. A gifted and gracious man in many respects, he is truly the “Sommelier’s Sommelier.”