Thursday, September 28, 2017

This Weekend's Escapade - Week 38 2017

Friday night Jenni and I visited the local Greek Festival. We enjoyed some good Greek food,  such as Dolmades which are wrapped in grape leaves and I enjoyed a Greek beer called Mythos. Our plan for Saturday was Cypress Bend Vineyards and Little River Vineyards. Due to some traffic issues we didn't make it to Little River, so they'll be seeing us in the near future.

First allow me to say that in our travels this weekend, we came upon two different very bad wrecks. Please be careful out there, and please drink responsibly.  Cypress Bend Vineyards in Wagram is a good 3+ hour drive for us, though we certainly enjoyed the drive. 

Dan and Tina Smith officially opened the Winery in 2005. Lisa graciously poured our tasting. She explained that the vineyard property has been in Dan's family since the early 1800's. originally over one thousand acres, still eight hundred or so remain in the family. The Lumber River runs along the property, which has been passed down through generations of descendants. Growing Carlos, Noble, and Magnolia on site, only pure cane sugar is used to sweeten their wines. Winemaker, Nadia Hetzel, studied the craft in Germany.  Their new River Series of wines are named for John Charles White, poet and ancestor of the matriarch White family.  The winery has a patio for sitting outside and host events throughout the year. We took a bottle of the Reminiscence home with us. 

Utilizing the VinoWine app,  was obvious we'd never make it Little River before they closed, so we regrouped and headed to nearby LockLear Vineyard and Winery. This is one of those "hobby" wineries. Don't let that prevent you from stopping in and visiting with Charlie Locklear.  The vineyard has been planted since 2006 and the winery open about seven years. The winery serves Carlos and Noble in both semi-dry and semi-sweet along with a few fruit wines. The highlight though, was the Christmas in a Bottle. This is a mulled spice wine, already bottled. This ten dollar bottle of wine was quiet good, and certainly unique, so we took a bottle home with us. 

Leaving Locklear and after a bite to eat at some local diner, we made the decision to head to Concord as we knew Cabo Winery was open until 8pm on Friday and Saturday nights. Cabo is downtown Concord, and makes some really good and unique fruit forward wines. We sat at a table looking out onto Main Street and enjoyed a bottle of Bless Your Heart. Bless Your Heart is a Sauv Blanc with a zesty lime note and strong hints of coconut. Some of our other favorites are Hissy Fit, a strawberry Riesling, Honey Hush, a coffee port style, and Adams Apple, a Gewurtraminer with intense flavor note of green apple. 

Sunday I was on a mission. We headed over to one of our favorites, Baker Buffalo Creek Vineyard and Winery, just outside of Shelby, in Fallston,  N.C.  We have come to know C.D. and Anne at Baker Buffalo Creek pretty good over the past few years, and it is always great to catch up. I was there for one reason though, to get a bottle of the newly released Cab Sauv aged in bourbon barrels for 4 months. I'll have a review of this wine in the near future.  C.D. had on a previous visit, before the wine was bottled, allowed us to taste it right out of the barrel. It has just the right note of bourbon on the finish.  Each bottle sells for $24, though with supply limited, I highly recommend picking up a bottle as quickly as possible. 

Couldn't help picture a bottle once I got home. 

C.D. Baker "Aged in Bourbon Barrels"  Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Have always loved this old gas pump on the property at Baker Buffalo Creek. A reminder that this was once a working dairy farm. 

Love sitting outside relaxing with a bottle of wine. During the cooler months the fire pit is always lit and quite warm and cozy. 

Can you tell in the picture that we were enjoying life? Yet, once again we finished off another weekend escapade.
Happy Weekend Wining!

Don't forget to check Groupon for winery tasting and tour deals.


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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Think Local: Discover Local Wineries and Purchase Their Wines in the VinoWine App

As the creators of VinoWine, we’re honored and thrilled to have been asked to write as guest bloggers on Winery Escapades! Dennis recently reached out to us asking if we could outline some of VinoWine’s app features and share how we got started on this venture. We were very humbled to learn that Dennis and his wife Jenni use the VinoWine app to discover and track nearby wineries and we hope that, as you learn more about us, you will as well!

When it comes to VinoWine there's really something for everybody. You can discover nearby wineries, keep track of the ones you've visited, see which wineries are having events around you, and track the upcoming wine festivals that will be in your area.
In addition to being a winery finder, we're proud to announce that we just launched our newest feature; the VinoWine Marketplace. VinoWine now gives small to medium sized wineries the ability to advertise and sell their wine directly to our users. We created the marketplace so wine lovers can discover and purchase those hard to find wines which are made from wineries who don’t distribute them. Many of you will be happy to hear that as of last week, we just started shipping wines to fifteen different states which include North Carolina, one of Dennis and Jenni's frequented areas! With every passing month, we add more wineries and their wines for sale, allowing us to build a diverse marketplace capable of meeting any wine lover’s needs.

So here’s a little about us. Our names are Mike Barefoot (no relation to the wine) and Mike Lawler. We’re commonly known as “the Mikes.” Both of us are military veterans (Marine Corps and Army infantrymen) who decided to switch career paths from defense contracting to being our own bosses. In late 2009, we met each other while working for a tech company in Northern Virginia doing geo-spatial work (mapping out people and places). Within a few years of us meeting there was a need for both of us to regularly fly over to London, England to conduct business alongside our two bosses. At the end of each day we felt it necessary to explore and soak up the local history and culture that surrounded us. We found all those things at the local pubs. When word of the upcoming 2012 London Olympics reached us, an idea dawned on VinoWine's CEO, Mike Lawler. Being the head of technology for our company, specifically focusing on geo-spatial mapping, it was a no-brainer for him; we were going to create an app that located every London pub that surrounded the Olympic stadiums. Within a short amount of time, we created an app that allowed people from any country to “check in” to any pub within the app, showing other users which countries were represented at these pubs. We lovingly gave the app the name, BRU. Following the Olympics, we were then asked by friends to create a similar app that provided locational information on all wineries in the commonwealth of Virginia. We both liked the idea so we sat down and planned out how we wanted the app to look and function. Over time, that idea spawned the beginnings of the VinoWine app and today we now cover the entire U.S. We loved the idea of getting out of the confines of our brick-and-mortar office and working with folks who, like us, are passionate about wine and getting their wines into the homes of consumers. Needless to say, it’s thirty work.
What originally started as a hobby for us in our spare time quickly became a fulltime job. Since our founding, we’ve been tirelessly working on partnering with wineries across the U.S. getting them to add their upcoming events and wine lists into our app for our users to view and rate. We developed interactive tasting menus that allow our users to rate the wines as they taste them at the wineries. That way you’ll always remember where you were and what you liked. As our partnerships with wineries grew we then decided to have our app and website also feature a direct-to-consumer marketplace so we could sell wines that are hard to locate and purchase. With VinoWine, every winery and vineyard that can ship to consumers can now advertise and sell their wines directly to our users like never before.

You might be amazed at this fact because we sure were: 60% of U.S. wineries don’t distribute their wine! The reason; they just can’t afford it. So this means you won’t find their wines sold in grocery stores or readily available online. Knowing that, we decided to partner with local wineries and create a marketplace that allows them to sell their wine to people like all of us. In the end, we not only wanted to create an awesome app and website that helps everyone enjoy the sophistication of wine tasting, we also wanted to give our users a customer service experience that feels more like a friendship than a business.

We gotta say, the best part of our job (other than tasting a LOT of great wines) is meeting or emailing back and forth with the people who use VinoWine. We receive emails every day from our users that inform us of wineries that have either opened or closed, helping us keep our interactive winery map up-to-date. We love to email everyone back to thank them and from there a dialogue or two will begin. We feel very strongly that every one of our users or social media followers is also a part of our company and we strive to make everyone as happy as we can by providing the best service possible.

The VinoWine app is available for download on iOS and Android devices (Wine sales coming soon to Android devices). We invite you to learn more about what we do by checking out our website, or even better, downloading the VinoWine app and trying it for yourself! We’re selling some really great wines from wineries across Virginia and in the month of October we’ll be opening up our marketplace to the rest of the country’s wineries. Feel free to shoot us an email with any questions or just to say hello!

Mike and Mike
Co-founders of VinoWine

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

This Weekend's Escapade (Week 37 of 2017)

We started our weekend with a Friday night visit to Spartoberfest celebration in Spartanburg, S.C. I enjoyed a beer and Jenni a glass of white wine. Saturday we first stopped at Windy Hill Orchard and Cidery in York, S.C. This place was hopping. Singer/guitarist Chris Holder was performing. Families were enjoying picnics. Children were playing in the Orchard. Apple cider donuts were being freshly made. Best of all, The barkeeps were serving the hard cider. 

Windy Hill Orchard, licensed as a Cidery since 1996, has expanded their selection and production to keep up with a growing demand. We both enjoyed the Gala Peach, though the Hopping Johnny was my favorite. Jenni also enjoyed the Spicy Peach, a seasonal, and the Rusty Gold, an apple cinnamon blend. I mentioned the donuts, these were so good, freshly made on site. The cider bar is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday so check their website. 

We left and headed towards Lincolnton. The town was hosting its annual Apple festival. We proposed this an excellent reason to venture back to Southern Charm Winery. We really enjoy their Peach wine, aptly named Southern Charm. Jenni and I each enjoyed a glass of the Southern Charm Peach as we perused the gift selection. Just couldn't leave without taking a bottle home. Fiddler's Vineyard and Woodmill Winery also had booths set up for the festival. We browsed the craft vendors up and down Main Street until the heat just got too overwhelming.

Several months earlier we had purchased a Groupon for a distillery tour in Charlotte. Click the Groupon link and search for Doc Porters DistilleryI had earlier in the week made us a 5:30 appointment for the guided tour, so we headed towards Charlotte. Andrew Porter, owner/ founder, conducted our tour. He explained the distilling process and shared with us the different grains used in each spirit. The Distillery is making a Vodka, a Gin, and a Bourbon, with a Rye about ready to release. We enjoyed all, my favorite being the Gin which was very floral and smooth.  They are also in a collaboration with Sospreso Coffee Roasters of Waxhaw, offering bourbon roasted coffee beans. Gourmet coffee beans roasted in their used bourbon barrels. This is an excellent way for a quick evening outing and is certainly interesting to learn more about the distilling process. Of course tasting the distilled spirits isn't bad either. We give Doc Potters a strong recommendation.  Check out their website. 

As Jenni and I left, we realized we weren't but 40 or so minutes from Monroe. We knew that Hilton Vineyards in Monroe was open late and we had yet to visit this winery. Glad we made this decision, and glad we visited at night. A DJ was spinning tunes and the natives were dancing in the streets. Thomas, one of the owners, graciously poured our tasting. He explained that his father had always grown his own grapes and fruits and used what he grew to home crafted wine. After spending several years living on the coast, his father decided to retire back home to Union County, and make a living by making wine. The vineyard was planted in what was then a dry county, so the winery was opened in neighboring Monroe allowing the sell of their wines. The winery is open until 11pm on Friday and Saturday, and has the feel of a local wine bar. They are growing the larger majority of grapes and fruits used in their wines and all wine sold is made on site. The Malbec was really good, though it is dryer than some others of the region. We also liked the Chardonel Peach and the Apple Riesling.  The Mango is their best seller and it is certainly flavorful.  We also tasted the "ice wine," and this one is somewhat unique, just got to try for yourself. I appreciate Hilton staying open late, wish we had planned to spend the night. It would have been nice to sit outside and listen to the music while sipping on a glass of wine. Next time right?

Sunday afternoon we headed over to CityScape Winery in Pelzer, South Carolina, in lower Greenville County.  CityScape is long one our favorites and I'll try to write an updated review soon. Our friends and owners, Josh and Deb Jones, weren't there, but the staff took good care of us. We sat under the portico outside and enjoyed a bottle of Müller Two-Goats (Müller Thurgau). We also had a taste of their new release of Chocolate Red and it did not disappoint. They posted on Facebook Saturday that their wines are now sold in two local Fresh Markets. Congratulation are in order for this huge accomplishment.  We know Josh, Deb, and their staff work extremely hard to make this small winery a big success. Jenni and I certainly missed seeing both and  of course Pinot the Pig, but are thrilled to see them grow and look forward to seeing them all next time.

Happy Weekend Wining!

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Finding Common Ground Over A Glass

The differences between our members at our small Episcopal church has me thinking a lot lately. Our small church is extremely active in our ...