Target+Neiman Marcus in Stores Tomorrow!

Target+Neiman Marcus in Stores Tomorrow!.

Grove Winery for the Holidays

Bragging Rights:  The annual North Carolina State Wine Competition was held on October 3-4, in Raleigh, featuring a record 471 wines. Guilford County’s Grove Winery once again came up big in this year’s competition by taking 15 medals, the most medals awarded to any small winery.

Gold medals were awarded to the Grove 2011 Estate Tempranillo and the Red Clay Red made from the Carménère grape. Silver medals were awarded to the Roanoke River Red and the 2011 Viognier. Eleven additional Grove wines were awarded medals. These wines are available at the Grove Haw River Valley tasting room which is open daily noon until 6pm. To see a complete listing of awards won by Grove wines click here.


Grove is offering a couple of GREAT specials reserved strictly for people who receive their newsletter so I would encourage you to sign up:
  • Knock out your entertaining and gift buying the easy way. Make any purchase of wine or wine accessories online by Tuesday December 18 and use discount code TakeTwenty to receive 20% off your entire purchase.
  • Buy at least one bottle of Grove wine at either TotalWine or The Fresh Market in November, December and/or January, send us a copy of the receipt, and you’ll receive a coupon for a free tasting or glass of wine at Grove. Additionally, each receipt sent to us also enters you in a drawing for other prizes including wine hardware, concert tickets and more. Receipts can be emailed to or faxed to 864-752-4882.

Wine accessories like decanters, quality corkscrews, related foods, puzzles, etc. make great holiday gifts. And wine is one of the best and easiest ways to quickly shop for many people on your gift list. has some of the best prices in the country on wine accessories and you can, of course, buy Grove wines there as well. We have relationships accessory manufacturers like Oenophilia and VacuVin, so if there’s something you don’t see on our website, let us know and we might be able to get it.

As the holiday party season begins, keep local wine in mind for serving at parties and as hostess gifts.

In the interest of full disclosure, Grove Winery is a sponsor of this blog.

Tempranillo Day – Castillo Catadau

I am not sure if this is considered a media sample or not but I did purchase it from Naked Wines with a gift card they gave me.

What better night to open up this Tempranillo than for the 2nd annual #tempranilloday?  And what better wine to taste for #tempranilloday than this 2005 Gran Reserva Castillo Catadau.  I received this wine in a shipment from Naked Wines shortly after Wine Blogger’s Conference 2012.  Naked Wines had graciously put a gift card for free wine in all the swag bags given out at the conference.  Far be it from me to turn down free wine!!!

The story goes much deeper though, Naked Wines is a company that helps winemakers get started on their own allowing Naked Wines to then have exclusive access to those wines.  They are able to buy them at huge discounts that are passed on to the customer – people like you and me.  And if you want even deeper discounts, they offer an “Angel” program where you can put aside a monthly allotment of $40 (much less than the typical wine lover would spend in a week much less a month on wine) to save toward your next purchase.  Look at it as if you are putting your money in an escrow account.  It keeps accumulating as you keep putting in and then it is all sitting there when you are ready to purchase wine.

This is not a wine club!  You don’t receive automatic shipments.  You are not obligated to purchase wines on a certain schedule.  You buy wine when you want to buy wine – it is just prepaid so it always feels like you are getting away with something.  The wines you buy will always save you at least 40% off retail – sometimes more.  The wines can be sold at these deep discounts because the winemaker doesn’t have to spend money on marketing and wholesalers.  They focus on the wine and let Naked Wines do the rest.

When Naked Wines has enough Angels, they invest in winemakers.  The list of winemakers and the list of Angels keeps growing so the wine list grows as well.  What a great concept!  I am very impressed with this whole process – I think I feel wings growing!!!

My first Naked Wine: 2005 Gran Reserva Castillo Catadau, Tempranillo          Alcohol:  14.2%          Regular Price: $11.99          Angel Price: $6.99

Read other posts about Tempranillo and #TempranilloDay:

Twin City Cooks!

There is more than one area in the US known as “the Twin Cities,” but in this case, I am referring to my hometown of Winston Salem, North Carolina.  Winston and Salem used to be 2 different towns but merged to create one larger city in 1913, creating a city of diversity filled with history, art, culture and some of the country’s best restaurants!  Winston Salem is also home to Texas Pete, a culinary delight in and of itself and also the secret ingredient in the dishes prepared for Twin City Cooks!

Twin City Cooks was a cooking demonstration featuring four of Winston Salem’s top chefs and then winding up with a demonstration from Jon Ashton, chef for Parade Magazine and Dash Recipes.  (I attended the event as a guest blogger for the Winston Salem Journal.)

The first chef up was Christian Froelich from WS Prime preparing seared scallops served with fried onion straws served over a bed of radicchio.  Texas Pete was used in the batter for the onion straws.  It was really interesting to see how little oil was needed to deep fry the onion straws.  They were prepared in a dutch oven with just enough oil to cover the onions.

Next up was Chef Will Kingery from King’s Crab Shack and Willow’s Bistro.  Not only did Chef Kingery give awesome kitchen/cooking tips, he prepared a luscious Mahi Mahi and crab cakes seasoned with Texas Pete.  (Side bar:  Willow’s Bistro has a really NICE wine menu!)

Chef Mark Grohman from Meridian threw together a fish stew in just a matter of minutes and made it look so easy.  To spice it up and add some real kick, he seasoned the stew with Texas Pete Chipotle sauce.  One girl was so impressed that she asked to try some.  Of course Chef Grohman gladly obliged – after all, what greater compliment can you give a chef except to eat the food he has skillfully prepared.

The last local chef up was Tim Grandinetti from The Spring House.  Chef Grandinetti prepared a succulent duck breast wrapped in bacon by searing it until it was almost done then putting it in the oven to finish cooking while he prepared the rest of the entrée, a sweet potato bisque.  The sweet potatoes were diced for cooking and then covered with a good dose of the Chipotle Texas Pete.  Just think about this, sweet potatoes seasoned with brown sugar and cinnamon then blended with Chipotle Texas Pete!  Hopefully your mouth is watering now!

The cooking demonstrations wrapped up with Chef Jon Ashton cooking and entertaining us for two full hours.  The guy is hilarious and so full of cooking tips and little tricks for the kitchen.  He prepared everything from bread, to homemade pizza crust, to butternut squash bisque.  All of his recipes can be found at Dash Recipes.  Chef Ashton was so accommodating with the crowd.  He opened the session up to questions so he could help people figure out their own personal dilemmas in the kitchen.  He pulled people from the audience to help him with each dish he prepared and to taste the food afterward; and when he caught one lady texting during his demonstration, he stopped and went to sit beside her then made her come up on stage with him.  The crowd loved him!

This was a fun event and the first of its kind in Winston Salem but hopefully it won’t be the last!  All the recipes demonstrated for the show are available on the Winston Salem Journal’s website.

Pepi Chardonnay

This wine was a media sample from Balzac Communications.

Ever wonder where the name, “Red Wine Diva” came from.  Well, first and foremost, I had to have a Twitter handle, and actually this wasn’t my first choice but thankfully, it was easy to change when I finally had this epiphany!  Second, red wine was the only wine I drank – seriously!

I started out like most wine people with a white zinfandel or a blush wine – and thought I was SO sophisticated.  The wine palate is an ever-evolving thing so shortly into this wine lifestyle, I was ready to move to the next level of wines.  I don’t know why, but for some reason I thought the next logical step in tasting wine was to go to Chardonnay.  I thought white wines were a lighter fruitier wine than reds.  (Boy, was that a misconception!) I tried and I tried and I tried.  I just couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t find a Chardonnay I liked.  I found them all too dry, too bitter.  This was years ago so I don’t remember the names of any of them, but I do know I just couldn’t drink them.  Then one day I decided to try a red wine – I think it was a Cabernet Sauvignon but again don’t remember which one.  What I do remember is how good it was.  It was simply scrumptous!  And I was hooked on red wine truly believing I would never look back at Chardonnay.  I just couldn’t figure out what all the fuss was about.

So Red Wine Diva dove head first into the wine life style and started learning to appreciate wine for what it truly is, complex, beguiling, and wonderful all at the same time.  I still had friends who were big into white wines though and occasionally I would imbibe.  I eventually was able to drink a white wine and actually enjoy it.  Then in the summer of 2010, North Carolina experienced an incredible heat wave and draught that brought us all to our knees.  It was great for the vineyards! North Carolina produced some great wines that year!!!  And it brought me full circle in my wine lifestyle – back to the crisp, clean refreshing taste of a good chilled white wine.  It was way too hot to be sipping a heavy red wine.

Today I actually enjoy white wines, especially Chardonnay – and I am so glad, otherwise, I would have missed out on this wonderful Pepi Chardonnay.  Bursting with flavors of pear and crème brulee, this wine is a real bargain and a true interpretation of what Chardonnay is all about.  All the Pepi wines sell for around $10 making them the perfect house wine for everyone, the wine you keep on hand just in case.  I know I will!

Varietal: Chardonnay          Alcohol:  13.33%          Price: $10

Vinolocity Blanc – Sheldon Wines

This wine was a media sample from Sheldon Wines.

I love trying new wines!  There are only a few things I can think of that bring me more pleasure than sipping a great new wine; so what better way to spend an hour of my Sunday than trying some of Sonoma’s finest.  That’s exactly what I did this past Sunday.  I spent an hour tasting a couple of wines from Sheldon Wines and Krutz Family Cellars along with the great folks at Taste Live .  Along with that tasting was this VERY impressive “2011 Vinolocity Blanc.”

Vinolocity Blanc is a blend of some of my favorite wines – Grenache Blanc (50%), Viognier (25%), and Roussanne (25%).  I was surprised by the tartness of this wine on the first sip, but that’s what Roussanne does.  It is a tart wine used mostly for blending and to add character to other white wines.  I don’t care for it as a stand alone wine, but when blended correctly, it draws you in and creates a wine that you won’t soon forget.  But you will notice that it was only 25% of the Vinolocity Blanc.  The dominant profile of this wine comes from the Grenache Blanc.

I’ve actually only had Grenache Blanc one time before and was very impressed.  (But then, there are a lot of wines I haven’t tried yet, hence my love for trying new wines!)  The Grenache Blanc adds hints of pineapple, while the Viognier added herbaceous notes all of which evened out the tartness of the Roussanne.  I have heard that you have to take at least 3 sips of a wine to truly know if you like it or not – for the full flavor profile to be appreciated, so by the third sip of this wine, I was hooked.  I opted to pair it with pasta in a basil cream sauce and sun-dried tomatoes.

Variety: White Blend (Grenache Blanc, Viognier, and Roussanne)     Alcohol:  13.5%     Price:  $30

As this wine is produced in such small lots, it isn’t sold at retail.  But you are still in luck as they do have a wine club.

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