Just Pondering

The wine bar is quiet tonight.  It is raining and nobody comes out in the rain to wander from bar to bar, much more comforting to sit at home with your wine in the dry.  So I have time too much time to think.  Three months in – what have I learned, what would I do differently?

  • My first mistake was several months ago when I initially leased the space for the wine bar.  I had no way of knowing it would take 10+ months to get the build-out completed and the doors opened but that is irrelevant; I still should have negotiated that the rent payments didn’t start until construction was complete.
  • I have come to realize that it doesn’t matter how great your wine selection is or how great your tapas menu is, people want a festive atmosphere.  They may tell you that they want to be able to sit and talk while they enjoy their glass of wine, but they will still leave your bar and head to the party bar if they are not entertained.
  • There is a steep learning curve to running a bar or a restaurant and you have to run hard just to keep up and even harder to get ahead of the curve.
  • There are more restaurant consultants (probably in most towns) than there are restaurants.  Even though you are a new business and you have to watch every penny you spend, these consultants won’t hesitate to ask thousands of dollars to show you how to succeed.
  • Advertising dollars are scarce, but once again, sales people come out of the woodwork to try to convince you to use their advertising medium to reach the masses.  Knowing the right source for your advertising so that you actually reach your target market isn’t easy.
  • Sleep is overrated!  If you get all of these things (listed above) spinning around in your head, sleep is elusive; but you keep going because of that learning curve and because success is the only option.
  • Eating, while not overrated, isn’t quite as important as you once thought.  If are looking for a weight loss program, open a bar – guaranteed 20 pounds.
  • Your wine list does matter.  It is nice to be able to brag about how extensive your list is and even more uplifting to have a master sommelier brag about your wine list.
  • Building a group of regulars is important.  It is nice to see that smiling face come through the door.  It is like having family come visit and it is important to your customers to be recognized and treated like family.
  • I have learned that you actually drink less if you own the bar – you can’t drink at work and you are way too tired by the time you get off!

I don’t want to write about the bar very often.  I still want to write about wine and the experiences that go along with it.  So the wine bar is open.  I have survived thus far – a little thinner, a little more knowledgeable about the industry, but still going strong.  Good days are really good, slow days are just slow days, not the end of the world.


Cheers, All!!!  Thank you so much for all your support while I have chased this dream. If you are ever in the Bluffton/Hilton Head area, pleas come me.  You are all like family!


My 15 Minutes of Fame (almost!)

The wine bar has been open for 3 months now.  I keep thinking I am at a point where I can slow down long enough to post on my blog again, but something always comes up that keeps me hopping.  But I am not so stressed anymore so I do see the light at the end of the tunnel and unless it is a train, I will be back soon!  🙂

For now, please enjoy this video from my appearance on a local TV station for their Restaurant Show.

Latitude Wine Bar on the Restaurant Show




Mollie and a couple of her friends dropped by Latitude Wine Bar the other night. It was fun meeting them. This is the first blog/review post about the bar. I promise to post this weekend about us actually being open. Our Grand Opening is this Saturday, March 8. If you are in the area, please drop by! Cheers!!! Jean


A new wine bar just opened up here in the low country and we were absolutely thrilled to make a visit!!! We have visited a lot of wine venues, and we particularly enjoyed our experience at Lattitude. We loved a couple of things about Lattitude, not only was the atmosphere perfect for a girls night out or a romantic date but, the attention to detail was impeccable.

We decided to try out a few things on their menu… By the way this is one of their menus:


How cute is this idea?? Loved the fact that they did a menu on the wall! They also have an extensive wine list along with a truffle menu (favorite part of the evening).



We had to share the truffles with you first because they were amazing and home made! This is the most exciting part for us, most of the smaller wine bars…

View original post 61 more words

Wine Shipping Map

Source: Wine Enthusiast Magazine


Does wine ship to your state?  I can remember when North Carolina had restrictions so we weren’t even able to join any wine clubs. Most states have lifted the restrictions, but as you can see from the map above (courtesy of Wine Enthusiast), not all states allow wines to be shipped in.

The “Red” states don’t allow wine shipments at all and the “Yellow” states still have some restrictions making it difficult to have wine shipped in.

Wine shipping regulations are complex and confusing, and penalties for breaking the rules can be harsh. While consumer-to-consumer shipping is prohibited nationwide, most licensed wineries and retailers allow you to send wine to yourself as well as to others as a gift. Whether you’re shipping wine from California to New York, or from Michigan to Missouri, this resource tells you everything you need to know to get your wine from A to B.

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 23,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Wine Give Away – REALLY!!!

As promised, a Red Wine Diva exclusive!  An opportunity for reader’s of my blog to score free wine from Underground Cellar.   Underground Cellar is giving away a $50  gift certificate toward your first wine purchase.  Hop over to Rafflecopter by clicking this link to register.  ( a Rafflecopter giveaway )  The winner will be chosen randomly in two weeks and notified by Underground Cellar as well as announced here.  Once you register, you will have other opportunities to earn more entries in the raffle increasing your chances of being the lucky winner.

Underground Cellar is the hot new online wine startup which allows buyers to score amazing deals on fine wine. Every bottle you buy could be upgraded for free to a high-end bottle plucked from the winemakers private stash. To check out today’s wine deals, click on over to Underground Cellar.


At Underground Cellar, there is no wine club to join, no commitments or obligations on your part.  Just shop at your leisure and buy the wines you like.  And what better way to do this than with a $50 gift certificate.  I just made my first purchase from them and can’t wait for my wines to arrive so I can see if I end up with any of the high-end wines from the winemaker’s stash!!!

CHEERS!!!  And Happy Thanksgiving!

UPDATE – Underground Cellar has some cool stuff planned for Black Friday!  The good thing is, you don’t have to leave your house or fight the crowds to get it.  Everyone who is a member by Thursday at Midnight will receive a special surprise gift from us by email.  Use the link above and register – great wine deals all year long and surprises on Black Friday – what more can you ask for???

Cookie Week – 2013

Announcing Cookie Week – 2013!  We invite your participation.  Let me know if you post a cookie recipe and I will link back to it through my blog.  If you don’t have a blog, I will be happy to post the recipe for you, giving you full credit.

The week kicked off with this recipe:  Ginger Sugar Cookies .


Day #2:  Wedding Cookies

Day #3:  Carmel & Chocolate Pecan Bars

7 Days, 7 Cities – 1 Great Wine

Aquaoir – from aqua,(“water”) is the interaction between a submerged container of wine and the set of special characteristics that a body of water and its environment hold – temperature, pressure, light (or darkness) and motion.

And so the experiment began in the Spring of 2013.  Mira Winery dropped four cases of their 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon into the Atlantic Ocean just off the Charleston Harbor.  The wine stayed for three months.  Four cases of the same wine were left to age naturally in the bottle at the winery.  The wine was retrieved from the ocean and the tastings, along with the media frenzy, began.

I was fortunate enough to be invited as Mira’s guest to attend a blind tasting of the two wines side by side November 6.  The tasting event kicked off a 7 day tour where Mira was hosting a tasting event in 7 cities.  The tour lineup was:

  • Charleston SC – Nov 6
  • Washington, DC – Nov 7
  • New York, NY – Nov 8
  • Palm Beach, FL  Nov 9
  • Little Rock, AR – Nov 10
  • San Francisco, CA – Nov 11
  • Los Angeles, CA – Nov 12

The setting for the Charleston tasting was at Harborside East and you couldn’t have asked for a more picturesque backdrop for tasting wine

  • Charleston Harbor

    Charleston Harbor

The wine was initially aged in the ocean in an effort to discover a better process for aging wine.  The three-month experiment, by all accounts, was hugely successful.  The experiment was limited to three months to test equipment.  The bottles came out of the water covered with barnacles, but the corks were still securely in place.  Mira has now submerged eight cases in the water and plans to leave them eight months.  The difference in this group of wines is that they were submerged immediately after bottling with no bottle aging prior to submersion.  The labels were etched on the bottles for the new group of wines to avoid having to scrape barnacles off and attach labels after the fact.

Jim "Bear" Dyke

Jim “Bear” Dyke

So what was the result of the three-month aging as compared to regular bottle aging?  Answer: Significant and Amazing!

I have been following this Aquaoir experiment from the beginning.  I had already heard how significantly different the wines tasted.  With the blind tasting, I had no way of knowing which wine was in which glass.  Glass “A” appeared to be a young wine and was very tannic.   It had a great nose with hints of leather and spice.  I picked up licorice on the palate.  I felt like it needed quite a bit more time in the bottle.  Glass “B” didn’t have near as much on the nose, but the flavors were intense dark cherry, plum, and vanilla.  It was more evolved, silky with smooth tannins.  One would never guess that these were the same wine.  Glass “B” had been ocean-aged.  The difference was remarkable.

SIDE NOTE: The last case of the ocean-aged wine goes on sale TODAY.  The first case sold out to wine club members in a few hours.  Word of warning, this wine won’t last long.

So what created the differences in these wines.  As of right now, the science behind testing these wines hasn’t really given any clues.  The chemical analysis consisted primarily of  testing pH, alcohol, volatile acidity and turbidity and comparing the results of the land aged versus the water aged.  There was no significant difference in any of this.  When the wine was submerged, the bottles were at 57°.  The wine was set ay 60′ deep and stayed for three months.  When the wine came up, it was at 72°.  This was completely unexpected and they are not sure why it was so warm.  The warmth could have sped up the aging process, but the results are not conclusive.

The eight cases that have just been submerged will age through the winter months.  Will this make a difference?  Only time will tell.

Could ocean-aging be the answer to the global wine shortage that is being talked about lately in the news?  It is definitely something that should be looked at closely.  Mira is the first US winery to try ocean-aging, but several wineries around the globe have experimented with ocean-aging.


Wine Bar Update 11-11-2013

The wine bar is coming along great!  I have been shopping (one of my favorite pastimes) for everything from bar stools, to mirrors to lights to wine.  The mirrors for the bathrooms have already arrived and the bar stools have shipped.  They should be here this week.

I have also been working.  As most of you know, the overall look for the wine bar is vintage using repurposed items where possible.  I purchased tables and chairs from a restaurant that had closed its doors a few years ago.  They have been in storage all this time so we are now tasked with cleaning them up and making them presentable.  My son-in-law is working on the tables.  He is stripping them down and sanding them lightly so we can refinish them but still maintain the vintage look.  Hubby and I have been doing the chairs.  They are just getting an intense scrubbing with a rejuvenating product called WATCO.

Before "Rejuvenating"

Before “Rejuvenation”

After "Rejuvenation"

After “Rejuvenation”

I am going to save pictures of the tables until we are ready to open as the finish on them is such an integral part of our overall look and besides, we need to have some surprises.  😉

We have also been working on the menu and playing around with prepping some of the items.  I plan to offer a “Red Wine Lover’s Trio” consisting of strawberries or cherries, chocolate and pecans.  I would like to do a “White Wine Lover’s Trio” as well but am having trouble coming up with just the right combination of foods.  I would really appreciate your input and suggestions.  I am thinking of apples drizzled with caramel syrup or a dried fruit such as apricots, cheese, and almonds.  Thoughts???

Before 1 Menu1

Poles drizzled with Caramel, cheese, and Almonds

Apples drizzled with Caramel, cheese, and Almonds

We have also met a distributor who specializes in organic and sustainable farmed vineyards.  Everything they have available is estate grown and from small family run wineries with small production.

We anticipate opening by the first of the year so please join us on Facebook for your personal invitation to our soft opening for Facebook followers only.  www.facebook.com/latitudewinebar

Finger Lakes Wine Region

I have been very fortunate over the last few yeas and have been offered media samples of wine from various wineries and their public relations firms.  This past summer I received samples of four different Rieslings and an ice wine through the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance.  As I have received wines from them before (some of these same wines actually) I decided to write about the Finger Lakes Region instead of the specific wines.  This decision made for some interesting research.  Enjoy!


  • 1829 – first grapes planted in Finger Lakes (Isabella & Catawba), cuttings from the Hudson River Valley
  • 1850 – a “vinedresser” from Germany, Andrew Reisinger, plants the first vineyard and introduces pruning & training
  • 1860 – Hammondsport & Pleasant Valley Wine Company, first bonded winery was created.  This later changed to the Great Western Winery.
  • 1865 – The second winery for the Finger Lakes was started, Urbana Wine Co., but history was created because Hammondsport & Pleasant Valley Wine Co. bottled the first sparkling wines from the area, Great Western Champagne.
Picture borrowed from The Democrat and Chronicle

Picture borrowed from The Democrat and Chronicle

  • 1873 – Great Western Champagne takes a gold medal in Vienna
  • 1919-33 – Prohibition shuts down most of the wine industry, but some wineries survive by producing sacramental wines and growing grapes for home winemakers.
  • 1934 – Charles Fournier joins Urbana Wine Co. as winemaker from Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin
  • 1945 – The origins for Constellation brands began
  • 1950 – Charles Fournier wins the only gold medal at the California State Fair.  His entry was New York State Champagne Brut.  Fair officials subsequently barred non-California wines from competing.
  • 1960 – (ca. 1960) Urbana Wine Co. (now known as Gold Seal) releases its first Riesling

And the history continues today!

The Finger Lakes AVA was established in 1982.  It is the largest wine region in New York and home to more than 115 wineries.  Out of the 9,200 acres of grapes planted each year, there are 848 acres of Riesling.  Each Riesling producer has 2-3 styles of Riesling ranging in taste profile from bone dry to sweet.  Riesling is the fastest growing white wine in the US.

But what makes the Finger Lakes so perfect for growing Riesling?  Answer:  The Lakes!

We all know that great wine starts in the vineyard.  The vineyards of the Finger Lakes are cut from centuries-old glaciers with beds of shale running deep into the soils.  This shale helps produce wines with a natural acidity.  These glaciers have created large, deep, fresh-water lakes.  The Finger Lakes area runs North/South providing optimal grape growing sites on both the eastern and western slopes.  During the winter, cold air is pulled naturally from the sloping vineyards to the lakes.  This same cool air delays the start of growing season in the spring and helps the vines avoid exposure to late frosts.  Then in the fall, the warmth provided by theses same sun-drenched waters prevent early frosts and allow for an extended growing season.

FLX map

Great Rieslings from Alsace and Germany are produced with the intent of aging.  Typically white wines from the US, especially sweeter ones, are meant to be consumed  within a couple of years.  But the Rieslings coming out of the Finger Lakes today can be aged for a few years.  Exactly how long is yet to be determined.  Two ice wines I received for review back in 2012 are a 2010 Gewurztraminer Ice Wine from Standing Stone Vineyards and a 2010 Vidal Ice Wine from Knapp Winery.  My plan is to open one of these in 2014 and the other in 2015 to see how gracefully they have aged.  I also am holding onto a Swedish Hill 2012 Dry Riesling and a 2012 Red Newt Cellars Medium Sweet Riesling.  I will hold each of these for at least 3 years (2015) and will attempt to taste them side-by-side with their then current vintage counterparts.

The other wines I received and tasted during the virtual event were:

  • 2012 Riesling Ice Wine from Fulkerson Winery.  This wine had 19.7% residual sugar and is definitely a dessert wine.  We paired it with a really moist cream cake.  The sweetness from the wine melted away as the flavors blended on the palate.  Each sip and each bite left you wanting more.
  • 2012 Standing Stone Old West Block Riesling (a vineyard started by Charles Fournier in 1972 – see above).  Nice acidity and well balance with 1.4% residual sugar.
  • 2012 Riesling Select from Wagner Vineyards.  This is their sweetest Riesling with 4.2% residual sugar and comes from a vineyard more than 30 years old.

Previous articles about Fine Lakes Wines:

A Celebration of New York Wines

Virtual Riesling Tasting: Finger Lakes Wines

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries

Blog Stats

  • 51,709 hits