Tuesday, December 15, 2015

More random thoughts at the end of the year...

It's that time of year when we examine the year-gone-by. It would be easy to talk about the obvious changes and accomplishments of the year, but I need to talk about grief; that comes with both loss of loved ones and with change.

We lost a lot of family this year. My sister, who was strong and active and the ultimate caregiver, had given so much of herself that there was nothing left of her. Over the last few years, she had slowly starved herself to the point of physical breakdown, and not enough of us had realized how lost she was. Her birthday is coming up on Christmas day, and I really don't know how to celebrate her life at this moment. Our relationship was complicated, what with 15 years between us. We had become very close during the years our mom needed assistance, but when Phyl herself was in trouble, she pushed me away. She died February 16th, in hospice, at home.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

More random thinking...

Change is hard. I'm missing some familiar faces and places. I found a manicurist; so far, so good - and yet, she's not Kim, who took care of me for 25 years. I watched her children grow up and have their own children. I made life-long friends of her other clients. Every other Saturday morning for over 20 years. It's a long time.

I miss the Mistress of Pain, Pilates instructor Debbie, who pushed me to physical strengths that I never imagined.

I miss my Wineaux - Shawn, Xochitl, Rico, Debra, Michelle, Barbara, Marya. It's strange to not just run out to meet Shawn for dinner.

I miss my Friday morning meetings at WW; hope Sandy and Sally find a good person to take my seat. Group therapy once a week in a safe, non-judgmental place is a good thing. Great leaders, too - Christy, Casey, Donna, et al.

Grateful for social media and email. And telephones.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Random thoughts and some wining from the Central Coast...

First try at the living room
It's still kind of odd to be here in Los Osos. Not odd in a bad way. Just odd. After 26 years of living in our "starter" house in Burbank, we uprooted ourselves just in time to miss a hellacious heat wave, for which we are hugely grateful. We're still dealing with the death of John's dad the day after our arrival, but with the love and support of our cousins here in town, and the knowledge that Jim made his own decisions right up to the end, we're moving forward. We're still unpacking, and that will continue for a while, as we still need to have our POD delivered. We miss our books and art! And the other 80% of our belongings.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Wining during the first days in Los Osos...

It's been a heckuva month! The Goddess of Wine and JD have successfully moved to the Central Coast! For those of you who have been following the hashtag #movingtotheCentralCoastsoon, it's been quite a ride.

We packed and packed and packed, with help from dear friends Xochitl and Mari, who packed up my kitchen and linen cabinet, respectively, as well as taking "treasures" to a local veterans' charity. And Mari, thanks again for the lovely bubbly and pizza break in the middle of the day. It helped. Big time. In fact, I think I'll never pack sober again.

The cake
Because we wanted to make sure to see all the folks who decided they needed to see us off, we threw a going-away party 2 days before the move, with the caveat that "If you want to eat, bring something to share, if you want to drink, bring something to share". We have the BEST friends! Everyone brought great stuff to share. Lots of lovely wines and snacks. Around 50 folks showed up and partied. Thanks again to Joe and Delia for the table and chairs, and to Shawn and Debra for staying late and helping to clean up. What a great send off!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Wining during the last days in Burbank...

The old house in Burbank
Yikes. The Goddess of Wine just realized it's August 1st, and we haven't written anything other than Facebook posts and Tweets since June. It's been an interesting, odd, and tremendously stressful couple of months, with at least another month to go. So here's what's happening with the Goddess and JD:

We're moving! It's really happening. This whole year has been leading up to the move. As previously reported, we started #decluttering in February, even hiring an expert to help us remove the accumulated detritus from our lives. So much stuff gone - so much still to go. But we are traveling MUCH lighter than we have been.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wining at Urban Exposure...Coming on 7/11...

‘Rare and Reserve’ Tasting Raises the Curtain on Garagiste Wine Festival: ‘Urban Exposure’ at LA’s The Wiltern July 11th

Garagiste winemakers share special, tiny case-lot, library, and reserve wines, rarely available to the public, as well as pre-release and barrel tastings at exclusive festival pre-event; Grand Tasting features over 50 winemakers from across CA, including 12 from Napa/Sonoma

Paso Robles, CA –June 17, 2015 – Garagiste Events, producers of The Garagiste Festivals, today announced the addition of a new tasting, ‘The Rare and Reserve Hour’ to kick off this year’s Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure, which returns to Los Angeles on July 11th. Rare and Reserve raises the curtain on special library and reserve wines that are rarely available to the public, as well as on some pre-release and barrel tastings, from over 45 of the participating wineries. The tasting is available to VIP ticketholders only and takes place at 1pm at the stunning art deco masterpiece, The Wiltern, which has never hosted a wine festival like this before. Tickets available at www.garagistefestival.com.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Wining...and packing...and whining...

The Goddess of Wine and JD have been busy, busy, busy lately. So busy, we haven't done any writing. That's 'cause we're busy packing up the house so that we can move to the Central Coast.

It's been pretty crazy here at Chez Lowe/Dickey. In order to get the house ready for sale, we've had to go through 25 years' worth of...stuff. Mostly JD's stuff. Sigh...

When we moved in together back in 1989, I was traveling pretty light. I had moved six times in five years, so all I had with me was my bedroom furniture, a dining room set that had been in storage for quite a while, my books, and my clothes. JD, just this side of being a hoarder, had lived alone for WAY too long, and even though we had made a noble effort of cleaning out his cave, I mean, house, still had WAY too much stuff.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Wining with Arnaud Debons at San Antonio Winery...

JD and the Goddess of Wine had last been at the historic San Antonio Winery in the heart of downtown Los Angeles back in 2009. That visit had turned out to be quite serendipitous when we met Santo Riboli, who took us on a personal tour of the winery, tasted us through the current releases, and sent us home with some lovely wines. Over the following few years, we had the opportunity to work with family scion Michael Riboli at various events and wine festivals in the greater Los Angeles area.

This time, we were invited to join winemaker Arnaud Debons for a private barrel tasting. We were joined by Public Relations Manager, Melissa Gonzalo, and the charming Augustín Durán of Hoy Los Angeles, the Spanish language version of the Los Angeles Times.

A bit of California history: Winemaking in California began with the Franciscan monks who used native grapes as well as some Spanish varieties to make wines used in the Missions, hence the rise of the "Mission" grape, which made a foxy (not a good thing) and not very tasty wine. In 1833, French winemaker Jean-Louis Vignes brought the first European vines (vitis vinifera) from his native Bordeaux, planted them in downtown Los Angeles and built a winery. The aptly named Vignes, considered to be the father of California’s wine industry, has a street named after him. The wine industry grew to become an economically significant industry in Southern California. By the 1880s, Los Angeles was the top California region for grape growing and winemaking, and within another decade vineyards were planted and producing in Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Wine in the Pines 2015...

Wine in the Pines 2015:
Sipping, Sampling, Listening and Perusing In The Woods

PINE MOUNTAIN CLUB, CA - Can you imagine leisurely sipping wine and sampling gourmet food while listening to live music and perusing an art show – in the woods? And that scene will unfold just an hour or so north of Los Angeles in Pine Mountain Village at the top of the 5-freeway known as the grapevine. The festivity takes place on June 13 from noon to 4:00 p.m. Many of the guests that have come to Wine in the Pines for over a decade have discovered an oasis of fresh air, cabins, pine trees and wine lovers. Come see what all of the talk is about and join us for this year’s event.

“Seeing the wineries participating this year promises it to be one of the best wine events ever,” Mark Bailey, owner of the local Madd Bailey’s Pub and the Wine Room Gallery said. “I’m especially excited to see a special section of the village devoted to the fabulous Lompoc Wine Ghetto Trail.”

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wining out of your comfort zone...

Aspiring acolytes and wine aficionados often ask the Goddess of Wine this question: "What is your favorite wine?" I reply, "Why limit yourself?" There are so many wonderful wines in the world, from myriad regions, thousands of winemakers - and just a limited amount of time to taste as much as you can! So today, we're going to talk about some wines that you might not know, and we'll see where it leads us.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Wining by Proxy...First meeting of the L.A.Wine Writers...

Hotel Angeleno
The First Acolyte to the Goddess of Wine reports on the first meeting of the L.A. Wine Writers at the Hotel Angeleno, 1/29/15, featuring Artisan Uprising wines.

As the name indicates, L.A. Wine Writers is a group of writers mostly based in the Los Angeles area who are primarily concerned with wine. The Hotel Angeleno is a familiar landmark alongside the 405 freeway that has been through several incarnations over the years. I don’t know what it is like to stay there but the food currently being served is delicious. We got to sample several dishes paired with wines from Artisan Uprising, a new-ish winery inspired by a family tradition. These dishes were all from the restaurant’s menu, no specials just for this tasting. Anyone could order these enjoyable treats.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Wining away the day in the Santa Ynez Valley...

Wes Hagen, pruning
The Goddess of Wine and JD headed for the wilds of Lompoc recently, ostensibly to pick up wine at Clos Pepe, but also to spend a bit of time in the vineyard with that Renaissance man, Wes Hagen and his trusty assistant, Andrew Turner. It was a beautiful day, sunny and breezy, and Wes and Andrew walked us through winter vineyard management and a demonstration of how to prune a grapevine, during which we learned a new word: phloem. In vascular plants like grapevines, phloem is the living tissue that carries organic nutrients, especially, sucrose, to all parts of the plant where needed. So when you prune a vine, you are looking for the center of the cane to be green and alive; this is the phloem, which ensures that the vine continues to live through the winter.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Wining by proxy with the STARS of Santa Barbara...

STARS of Santa Barbara
The Goddess of Wine can't always report on events, so First Acolyte, JD, steps up to taste his way through and report to you. This edition of Ian Blackburn’s LearnAboutWine/WineLA Santa Barbara STARS event again supported the T.J. Martell Foundation and this time was presented by RBC Wealth Management. These events offer a nice sampling of wineries of a region and include small and/or new wineries.

The Goddess of Wine was helping pour for one of these small excellent wineries (Shai Cellars) for both the trade and consumer portions and could not get out to taste too much. I attended the evening consumer portion. It is impossible to taste everything and then do any justice to all the wines, so I mainly concentrated on wineries new to STARS. And some friends' wines as well (wink, wink).

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Wining with Beekeeper Zinfandel...

The Goddess of Wine and JD attended the annual release of Beekeeper Cellars Zinfandel, this being the release of the 2012 vintage. Proprietor Ian Blackburn of LearnAboutWine and the new wineLA, teamed up several years ago with old friend and brother in wine, Clay Mauritson, to make the very best Zinfandel possible. Ian thinks of Zinfandel as California's grape, an intrinsic part of the history of winemaking in California, and he brings his passion to fruition.

The event at Josie in Santa Monica featured a vertical tasting of all the Beekeeper vintages, from 2009 to 2012, during which Ian recounted his education in winemaking, vintage by vintage. Four of the five wines we tasted came from the Madrone Spring Vineyard in the appellation known as Rockpile, owned by the Mauritson family, situated at the Northwest edge of Dry Creek Valley. All of the vineyards within the Rockpile AVA range from between 800 – 2000 ft. in elevation. Although Rockpile is located just 13 miles from the coast, Lake Sonoma provides an inversion layer that prevents the heavier fog that typically blankets other Northern California appellations, allowing for longer, more consistent sun exposure. Moisture and daytime temperatures are regulated by coastal breezes, and in many cases, steep slopes and rocky terrain require manual vine management.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Wining into the New Year...

After a spectacular case of the flu, the Goddess of Wine and JD are creeping back to health. 2015 started so badly, I have every expectation that things will improve! In the meantime, life - and wine - goes on. This year the plan is to start/finish clearing out the house, sell it, move to the Central Coast, and fully enjoy the wine-y life.

Towards the end of 2014, I was hired by Fab's to assist with choosing wines for their somewhat depleted list. This has been a good learning experience about how to determine what wines will sell for 'happy hour' as well as what will pair best with the standard and special menu fare. It has also provided a great opportunity to taste some wines that don't usually cross my path.