There was more than one Goddess braving the SCV cold in nothing but a toga and a ceremonial grapevine headdress on one recent Friday night. Me, as the temporary Goddess for Circle of Hope’s Vine 2 Wine event in June, and the Goddess of Wine, a fellow-wine blogger, wine educator, WSET Level Two Certified, lucky-for-me-she-lives-in-Burbank-and-can’t-take-my-peeps-home-with-her, buddy Denise Lowe.
I’ve interviewed Denise before for the Beacon. While we both have blogging and the WSET certification in common, she does much more wine education and traveling than I do while I do more writing and marketing than she does. We learn a lot from each other, and we keep each other motivated. She also drives up, with her affable husband John Dickey, “JD”, every month to attend our Grape of the Night meetings.
This time, instead of an interview, I invited my pal to visit some of the wine bars in our fair city.
As we had taken our WSET classes at The Cellar together, and we attend Grape of the Night at Valencia Wine Company, I tried to squeeze in visits to some the wine bars she hadn’t been to.
So, with that in mind, I asked her to come to my house by 4:30 p.m. to get started. (I think she MAY have been motivated to see the new kitchen too!) From my place we drove over to Vino 100 Valencia for a tasting from Toolbox Wine Company that was set to start at 5 pm. And, as I had advertised the event on Facebook, and rsvp’d to a meet-up of “Wine-y Women”, I was sure to run into a few peeps to introduce Denise to.
Kathy Lockhart, the organizer for Wine-y Women had written this in her invite:
Toolbox Wine Company was created by three Napa Valley girlfriends who share passion and expertise in all facets of the wine industry. Their vision is to offer excellent (and fun) wines while raising awareness and money for Habitat for Humanity. With their catchy label, they prove that you cannot “judge a book by its cover”. They have successfully produced some wonderful, fun wines that are high quality and affordable. Meet Katie Hamilton Shaffer, co-founder of Toolbox Wine Co., who is looking forward to sharing their story and passion for wine. Enjoy tasting several of their newest releases. Light, tasty appetizers will also be served. HOPE YOU WILL JOIN US!
By 5:05 pm, we were well into the tasting and Denise had met both Lil LePore and Shari Frazier, the owners of Vino 100, some of the Wine-y Women (Kathy Lockhart, Rhona Jukes, Denise Van Arsdale-West, Kat Kombrinck, Pam Ingram…) and some pals of my own (Shipwreck Bob Schwemmer, Beth Greenwald, Kym Pease Cappi, Ray Tippet, Judy Penman, Shawneen Rubay…)
Of the line-up that was poured, the 09 Clarksburg Pinot Grigio, with .2% Muscat, was my favorite. The nose was a lovely mix of pineapple, apricot, lemons and lime. The taste, bringing some of that fruit forward, had high acidity with a nice mouth-coating viscosity. Short finish that just made me want more. We also enjoyed:
07 Oak Knoll District Napa Valley Chardonnay – Pale honeyed-yellow color, aroma of oak and green apple, with medium acid and a medium finish.
07 Napa Valley Merlot – 10% Cab and 90% Merlot, “Chianti-style” per co-founder Katie Hamilton Shaffer. Very dark edge on the color and opaque throughout, the aroma had tons of black fruit with a surprising blueberry-sweet nose. And the taste was dry, medium tannins with blackberry jam and a medium finish.
07 Cabernet Sauvignon – Plum color, fresh berries and pine on the nose, ripe berry flavors, dry with a medium length.
From there we moved onto Lee’s Wine Bistro for dinner. Denise selected a wine that is meant to be savored with a meal: 2006 Villamedoro Montepulciano D’Abruzzo. Owner Lee Yoon was able to come over to say hello and chat, but not for long, as it was soon growing into a busy Friday night. Denise seemed to enjoy the place, as our laughter grew louder and louder to be heard over the music and other guests.
From there I drove across the street to Wine 661 to introduce Denise to Tanya Green, the owner, and to computer whiz Tony Wire, her boyfriend that is always at her side. Now it was time to order a wine by the glass, as we needed to slow down. We both had a blend by Trinitas Cellars in Mendocino. And, true to form, Tanya swirled the wine she poured into our glasses, making sure that our wine was ready for tasting. I also requested Tanya’s spa water – iced water infused with fresh cucumber – to cleanse our palates, and, eventually, move us Goddesses over from wine to water.
As we sipped and listened to the band, four last peeps made their entrance and met Denise. Tim and Erin Dixon, and, Mark and Ann Drexler, had stopped by to purchase a bottle to take home with them.
Funny, Denise lives in Burbank, as I mentioned earlier, and we have more wine bars in one small area that she does in her big city. It’s a wonder. Or, is it just our growing infrastructure, or demographics, meeting our needs? It doesn’t matter. When it comes to wine, it’s all good for Goddesses.