Summer of Rosé: 2014 Renegade Wine Co. Rosé

“Summer of what?” You ask. Rosé. Duh. My goal is to provide you, my dear readers, with a new rosé to seek out and try. Hence, the title…Summer of Rosé.

Before I start, I have to apologize for my absence with this series.  Prepping to head out to the Wine Bloggers Conference was not conducive to getting blog posts ready!

2014 Renegade Wine Co. Rosé
2014 Renegade Wine Co. Rosé

“Glasses?  We don’t need no stinking glasses!”

That is the first line you read on the back of the 2014 Renegade Wine Co. Rosé.  Renegade Wine Co. is the value label of Walla Walla’s acclaimed Sleight of Hand Cellars.  Yes, I said that dreaded “v” word.  This is not your typical bottom shelf rosé.  In fact, it’s nowhere near it.

The 2014 Renegade Wine Co. Rosé is a Rhône-style rosé that is full of strawberries, pomegranate and citrus.  Composed of 50% Syrah, 21% Cinsault, 18% Grenache, 6% Counoise and 5% Mourvèdre, this blend is a refreshing, crisp wine.  Recommended pairings are grilled salmon or a beet salad with crumbled goat cheese.  My recommendation, though?  Drink this on the beach, out of the vessel of your choosing. 

#WBC15: Hotel California Remix

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
“Relax, ” said the night man,
“We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!”   

~Hotel California; written by Don Henley, Glenn Lewis Frey and Don Felder

Travel woes plagued many of us who attended this years Wine Bloggers Conference.  Whether they were problems on our way there or our way home, many of us have stories about our travels to and from this years conference.

Marcy Gordon of Come for the Wine summed it up perfectly on Twitter:  “The Conference You Can Attend But Can Never Leave”.  In all honesty, that’s what it felt like.  A group flying out of Elmira-Corning had a delay that ended with some of them having either a late night/early morning arrival into PDX, crazy routings or having to stay the night upon arrival in Chicago.  I experienced a 3 and a half hour delay in Washington-Dulles because my ride home had a bird hit the engine.

…and that’s not including the fact that there were many of us who faced baggage issues as well!

Our adventures aside, there was a lot of great content that came from the conference this year.  From answering criticism about wine bloggers to learning about what makes the Finger Lakes region unique, there was not a lack of information to share.

The scenery in the Finger Lakes is amazing.  I have pictures on my Instagram feed, and there will be pictures coming to my Facebook page as well.  I will give you a sneak peek:

The view from Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery
The view from Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery

What did I learn? I actually learned the most from the session that I missed due to me having to leave in order to catch my flight home. The two presenters, though, posted their advice on their blogs as well. Meg Maker of Makers Table shared her fabulous remarks in her post titled The Story Only You Can Tell: Advice to Wine Bloggers. In reading back through, this advice isn’t only for wine bloggers. It can be applied to any field of blogging. What resonates the most with me is this:

Good wine writing demands more than just a palate and a vocabulary. It demands curiosity, creativity, insight, and diligence—and that’s true whether you approach your work journalistically or view your blog as a strictly artistic endeavor.

The other presenter from the session I missed was the one and only W. Blake Gray of The Gray Report. While his post wasn’t a word for word of what he had to share, he did write a brilliant piece on Why People Like to Bash the Wine Bloggers Conference. He also had a great quote about the conference itself:

It’s summer camp. For grownups. With wine. It’s lurching down the hallways of the Radisson at 1 a.m. listening for loud voices behind doors to find the next party.

More than that, it’s meeting friends who also love wine and love to talk about it. It’s a reunion and a beginning. It’s like Comic Con or a Star Trek fan convention or the Juggalo meetup or any gathering of people who share a hobby.

…and that’s exactly what the Wine Bloggers Conference is. It’s about stalking the hallways, listening for loud voices or propped open doors to find an impromptu party. It’s about meeting friends who have a common interest. It’s about playing cards against humanity with 20 people in a hotel room and a desk full of wine.

In summation, WBC is a family reunion…with really good wine.

Other posts I’ve enjoyed thus far?

Wine Bloggers Conference: It’s more than a conference. It’s a community. by the fabulous Leeann Froese of Town Hall Communications

Come for the Wine, Stay for the Camaraderie: Wine Bloggers Conference #WBC15 by the one and only Marcy Gordon. The wine writer…not the AP Finance writer. I’m sure that the Finance writer Marcy Gordon is a delightful person, but I love our Marcy Gordon even more.

Why I am a Bad Blogger and Wine Writer by the amazing Mykh’ael Wilson.

Disclaimer: As a participant of the Wine Bloggers Conference, I was given a discounted rate for being a citizen blogger with the understanding that I will produce at least 3 blog posts about the conference.

An Open Letter to the Newbies of #IFBC15

Dear IFBC Virgin…umm…I mean Newbie:

Last year, I was in your shoes. I was new to the International Food Bloggers Conference and didn’t know what to expect. Yes, I had attended other conferences put on by Zephyr, but this was my first time at the IFBC. Here’s some advice to help you look like you’ve been through this rodeo a time or two.

  1. Bring your portable devices.  And don’t forget the chargers and cables for your electronic devices!  If you have a portable power brick, bring that too.  Seriously.  You don’t want to be in an awesome session and not have the ability to share tidbits from those sessions because your technology is dead.

    Tools of the trade. With a side of wine.
    Tools of the trade. With a side of wine.
  2. Wine.  This year, there are a fair number of events involving wine.  The opening night reception on Friday night is sponsored by Maryhill Winery.  On Saturday, there is a session on the pairing the sparkling wines of the Franciacorta DOCG region of Italy with food, a wine education session from Concannon Vineyard *AND* a Grand Tasting Wine Reception.  My advice on the wine portion is this. 
    • Spit.  That’s why dump buckets *should* be at every table.
    • If you decide to not spit, know your limit.
    • Don’t feel obliged to drink the whole sample.  Again, this why the dump buckets are there.
    • PLEASE!  Do NOT pull a Miles from “Sideways” and drink from the dump bucket (this specific reference starts at 0:36 in the linked clip).
    • Do ask questions! There’s no such thing as a stupid wine question.
    • Learn the basics of wine, such as what a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Chardonnay should smell like. Wine Folly is a great, easy-to-understand guide to wine.

      The lineup of Kudos wines
      The lineup of Kudos wines (to my knowledge, they won’t be at the conference, but I like the picture).
  3. Don’t discount the whole conference if you have a problem with the keynote speech.  No one is ever going to agree with *everything* that a keynote speaker has to say.  
  4. Business cards.  I know.  It sounds insane and old school.  How else are you going to be able to get the word out about your site, though?  They don’t have to be fancy. 

    My business card. It's simple, yet effective.
    My business card. It’s simple, yet effective.
  5. Social media handles.  If you haven’t set these up yet, then what are you waiting for?  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the bare essentials that you should have.If you already have your SM handles set up, then I recommend a management software suite such as Hootsuite.  That way, you’re not flipping back and forth between your SM channels.
  6. Most importantly, have fun!  These conferences are all about making new connections, learning something new and, most importantly, stepping outside of our comfort zones.


An experienced Zephyr Conference attendee

Disclosure:  This is one of many posts that will be coming about IFBC.  In exchange for a reduced conference rate, a citizen blogger, such as myself, is asked to produce a minimum number of posts.

#TravelTuesday: Dealing with Airlines

This post could easily be subtitled “United Breaks Wine” in honor of the video “United Breaks Guitars“:

So, I just flew home from the Wine Bloggers Conference and my wine bag looked like this:

How my wine shipper boxed looked upon arrival at PDX.
How my wine shipper boxed looked upon arrival at PDX.

Sad, right? Especially since it reeked of semi-dry Riesling thanks to this:

Sad Panda.  A delicious bottle ruined.
Sad Panda. A delicious bottle ruined.

And a glass, given to me for my support of the Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship Fund, was ruined as well.

The ruined glass.
The ruined glass.

But it wasn’t just the inside:

The gash in the bottom of my bag.
The gash in the bottom of my bag.

Yup, that’s a gash in the bottom of my bag. I was not happy to discover this.

Not only was my luggage and some contents destroyed, I also experienced a 3.5 hour flight delay to get home. Don’t get me started on that. I just wanted to get home!

My advice on this Travel Tuesday? When dealing with the airlines about things like this, be persistent. Use your voice on Twitter or Facebook to get their attention. In my case, I was tweeting up a storm to United Airlines about this. Yes, they responded, but the link they sent me didn’t work when I went to submit. When I advised them of this and requested the email, they sent me the link again. I pointed out that I had tried that and it didn’t work. I advised that I wanted the email to their customer care. They were kind enough to message it to me. Persistence, and the expression of frustration without really losing my temper (at least on SM…I apologize to whoever gets the voice mail I left after I completed a survey) is what worked.

I do have recaps of the conference coming. Unfortunately, the day after my arrival home, I had to let my sweet, silly, curious furbaby cross the rainbow bridge. All the work I planned on doing suddenly hit the backburner.

Disclaimer: As a participant of the Wine Bloggers Conference, I was given a discounted rate for being a citizen blogger with the understanding that I will produce at least 3 blog posts about the conference.

#TravelTuesday: Travel Advice

Through my years of traveling, I’ve learned a few things. Some, I’ve learned through a great website called FlyerTalk, others have been through my own trials and tribulations.

Tip #1: Packing

We all know that packing is…well…a nightmare at times. I’m notorious for overpacking. One way I avoid overpacking is by taking the advice of flight attendants, such as Heather Poole. In this NY Times slideshow, Ms. Poole demonstrates how to pack for ten days using only a carry-on. I’ve yet to try this feat, but it is something worth trying. I am making this resolution: I *WILL* try this method one day!

Tip #2: Food/Snacks

If you’ve been in an airport or flown recently, you know that prices for snacks are outrageous! One thing I love is Graze: Snacks By Mail. I stumbled upon Graze one night on Facebook and wow! You can customize your snack boxes and be adventuresome in your snacking. I love these because they are individually packaged, so you can easily tuck them into your carry on.  I am personally bringing a few of these little snack packs on my way to WBC15 in order to keep from eating unhealthy options while on my layovers.

Note: if you click this link, you can try your first Graze box for FREE!

Top layer of an 8 item Graze box
Top layer of an 8 item Graze box
Bottom layer of an 8 item Graze Box
Bottom layer of an 8 item Graze Box

Disclaimer: I was not requested to endorse Graze for this post. I am sharing the link I was provided with when I signed up for the service, which I pay for.

Tip #3: An Oasis in the Airport

If you are so inclined, most airlines have their own lounges. These lounges provide an oasis for travelers. Personally, I have utilized them to break up the monotony of a longer-than-expected layover, catch up with friends, get work done and just relax before taking off. To find out details on the airline lounges, check your preferred airlines’ website. Please note that not all airlines have these lovely respites from the gate area.

Tip #4: Blogs

If you’re here, you read blogs. There are some great travel blogs out there. I’ve provided links to some of my favorite blogs on my “Who I Read” tab. My tastes may not be the same as yours, but these recommendations are a starting point.

Tip #5: Dealing with the TSA

Ah. The Transportation Security Administration. The bane of our existence in this post-9/11 world. Here are some tips for making your experience a breeze!

  1. Don’t be an asshole.  Seriously.  There is a time and place for everything, but the security line is not that time.
  2. Refresh yourself on what is needed to get through security effortlessly.  The TSA has a whole section of Traveler Information on their website.
  3. If you’re not familiar with the site FlyerTalk, then I recommend that you familiarize yourself with it.  You can learn a lot from these folks.  These are the real life Ryan Bingham’s from the movie “Up In the Air“. If you haven’t watched this movie, I highly recommend it!
  4. If you travel frequently, I would recommend looking into one of two programs that reduce your time spent in the security line. 
    1. TSA Pre Check  is expedited screening for those who travel domestically.  With Pre Check, you do not have to remove your shoes, belt, laptop or “approved liquids” baggie.
    2. US Customs & Border Patrol Trusted Traveler Programs are designed for international travelers, the Trusted Traveler Programs, such as Global Entry and NEXUS, allow for expedited border crossing *AND* provide you with TSA PreCheck.

All in all, make your travel experiences worth your while and don’t stress! 

#TravelTuesday: Ride report on 2015 Chrysler 200

A new idea popped into my head. I talk about my travels to wine country a lot…why not chronicle things like how I get there, where I stay, tips I’ve learned over my years of having a permanent case of wanderlust, etc.? I will try post my ramblings on Tuesday. Enjoy my first post…a ride report on a recent rental car!

So I’ve written about where I’ve gone, but I’ve never written about *HOW* I got there. Quite often, I use my car, a 2005 Chevrolet Classic. But every so often, the need arises for me to rent a car. As of late, I’m averaging about one rental a month. For some, that average may seem insane being that we’re barely into August and I have at least three more rentals scheduled for the year. For a frequent traveler, though, I’m sure you’re scoffing at me because my average doesn’t hold a candle to yours.

I usually go through Hertz for my rentals. Why? Two reasons. One, I’m in their loyalty program and they have great redemption rates for free rentals. Two, I have a membership with AAA and thus, I get a discount through Hertz. Combined with all the other great benefits that my AAA Premier membership gives me, I’m spoiled. Yes, I’m *that* person…the one who has all the bells and whistles with her AAA membership. I have a reason for having all the bells and whistles, tough. When you get hit with a $500 towing bill, we can chat about those benefits.

This time, though, I chose to go through National. I had just signed up for their loyalty program and wanted to try their Emerald Aisle service. With the Emerald Aisle service, you can rent a midsize (which they deem to be a Toyota Corolla or similar) but drive off the lot in something a bit bigger if necessary, while only paying the midsize rate.

I arrived at Portland International Airport, which is my nearest National location, and made my way from the drop-off area to the rental car center. In the Emerald Aisle, I was provided with the option of two cars, a Volkswagen Jetta or a Chrysler 200. Both of these cars are considered “standard” rentals in National’s classification system. I got in the Jetta and started it up, but it didn’t feel right. It was too cramped for what I knew we would be doing, and putting in the car, the next day. So I went to the next space over. The space which held a beautiful, cherry red Chrysler 200.

Front end of the 2015 Chrysler 200
Front end of the 2015 Chrysler 200
Rear end of the Chrysler 200
Rear end of the Chrysler 200

I only have one word to describe the exterior of this car. Sexy.

I love a car that is responsive. I do have a bit of a lead foot, but if you’ve ever ridden with me, you know that I’m not a stupid lead foot driver. I keep up with the flow of traffic. This beauty definitely had the responsiveness that I love while satisfying my lead foot…and it’s only a 4 cylinder engine! I usually aim for a full-size car or larger for the reason that I know my chances of getting a car with a V6 under the hood is a very good possibility.

The interior of this car is comfortable and has many amenities that make a road trip that much more likely. The seats are supportive, the sound system is good and it’s surprisingly spacious. This specific model was upgraded from the standard sound system to the UConnect 5.0 with the steering wheel controls. This car also had one of my favorite safety features…a backup camera.

The back seat
The back seat
The stereo system
The stereo system
Backup Camera
Backup Camera

One thing I love about this car was the readout for speed and RPM’s. The combination of digital and analog made me happy. While I enjoy technology and utilize it to my advantage, my inner gearhead goes nuts when I can’t see what the RPM’s are!

Digital and analog readouts on the dashboard
Digital and analog readouts on the dashboard

My only complaints about this car? The funky way you shift and the lack of active Sirius/XM. I can live without Sirius/XM, though, since I have an iPod with 1500+ songs on it, along with the Pandora and iHeartRadio apps on my phone.

The silver knob is the shifter
The silver knob is the shifter

I’m used to an actual shifter. Not a knob that you rotate.

I drove this car up to Woodinville Wine Country and to an event at Portland’s Urban Crush winery. All in all, I highly recommend this car if you find yourself in need of a rental and are offered this vehicle.

Summer of Rosé: 2013 Hyatt Vineyards Black Muscat

“Summer of what?” You ask. Rosé. Duh. My goal is to provide you, my dear readers, with a new rosé to seek out and try. Hence, the title…Summer of Rosé.

I will forewarn you, some of the wines are only available through the tasting rooms. I will do my best to provide you with the information necessary to order these wines.

2013 Hyatt Black Muscat
2013 Hyatt Black Muscat

I have a sentimental connection to this wine. This wine is what started my love affair with Washington Wine when I was a rookie wine drinker…hell, a rookie drinker period. I was barely 21 when I was introduced to this wine.

Hyatt Vineyards is located in the town of Zillah, which is in the heart of the Rattlesnake Hills AVA. The Rattlesnake Hills were granted AVA status in 2006. The Rattlesnake Hills AVA is known for being higher elevation and enjoy more heat units, which assist in the ripening, than the rest of the Yakima Valley.

Oh, and the view from the property doesn’t suck either!

The view from Hyatt Vineyards Tasting Room
The view from Hyatt Vineyards Tasting Room

The nose on the 2013 Hyatt Vineyards Black Muscat is intriguing. Notes of red fruit and grapefruit draw you in. The palate introduces hints of sweet strawberry on the tip of your tongue and hints of tart grapefruit on the back. This makes for such a delightful experience that you would never guess that the residual sugar on this is 4%! So yes, this is off-dry, but the hints of grapefruit bring a tart, acidic bite to this wine.

For food pairings, I would stay in line with the recommendations from the winery, which is soft cheeses and crackers. Personally, I’d do a comparative pairing with goat cheese drizzled with honey and a triple cream Brie with neutral crackers.

The winery suggests a price of $10 for this wine, so it won’t break the bank. If you’re not familiar with Washington Wine, or you want to learn

Summer of Rosé: 2014 Anew Rosé

“Summer of what?” You ask. Rosé. Duh. My goal is to provide you, my dear readers, with a new rosé to seek out and try. Hence, the title…Summer of Rosé.

I will forewarn you, some of the wines are only available through the tasting rooms. I will do my best to provide you with the information necessary to order these wines.

2014 Anew Rosé
2014 Anew Rosé

Anew Wines is produced by Washington’s powerhouse Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, which is best known through their Chateau Ste. Michelle label. Anew launched in 2013 with a Riesling, but quickly expanded to include a Pinot Grigio and Rosé. (source). These wines are marketed towards the female market and, in all honesty, I can see why.

Maybe it’s because my palate is accustomed a different definition of dry, but the “dry” Rosé that is marketed by Anew is not up my alley. This surprises me, as the Rosé is constructed from two of my favorite grapes for Rosé: Syrah and Sangiovese. The nose is very welcoming, greeting you with strawberries and watermelon. The palate has sweet peach and the strawberries carry through. There is a nice acidic note to the wine, but there’s a lingering sweetness that struck me in an odd manner. While I wouldn’t classify this as “off-dry”, I certainly would say it was bone dry, either.

Personally, if offered this as an option, I would seek out something else. While it would most likely be acceptable for most, it doesn’t hold a candle to what else I know is available at around this same price point ($12 MSRP). If you feel as though this is up your alley, I would recommend pairing a summer pasta primavera or a grilled, lighter fish with this. My opinion is if you were pair something heartier, like salmon, with this, it would be a battle for supremacy instead of complementing the meal.

I purchased this at my local grocery store, but you can also purchase online if you can’t find it.

Summer of Rosé: 2014 Rodney Strong Rosé of Pinot Noir

“Summer of what?” You ask. Rosé. Duh. My goal is to provide you, my dear readers, with a new rosé to seek out and try. Hence, the title…Summer of Rosé.

I will forewarn you, some of the wines are only available through the tasting rooms. I will do my best to provide you with the information necessary to order these wines.

2014 Rodney Strong Rosé of Pinot Noir
2014 Rodney Strong Rosé of Pinot Noir

For over fifty years, Rodney Strong Vineyards has been associated with world-class wines. After retiring from dancing in 1959, founder Rod Strong said, “I knew I couldn’t be an old dancer, but I could be an old winemaker,” (Source) when asked about his second career. It was also in that year that he married his dancing partner, Charlotte Winson. They moved to Northern California, bought an old boarding house and began making wine. Rod made the wine, which was purchased in bulk, then blended and bottled it to his liking in the cellar, while Charlotte ran the tasting room on the ground floor. After growing Rodney Strong Vineyards for 30 years, Rod Strong sold the winery to the Klein family. The purchase by the Klein family brought new innovations and techniques. The continued growth under the control of the Klein family has made Rodney Strong not only a known name in the wine market, but a respected one at that.

For anyone who is from Clark County, WA and is reading this, I have a tidbit of knowledge for you. Did you know that Rod Strong was born here in our beautiful county? He was born in Camas! At least for me, this is a reason to drink even more Rodney Strong wines. You may ask, “Is Alina’s thought process on this completely twisted?” Most likely, but here’s my reasoning: even though this is a California wine, there are still roots connecting the winery to Clark County, so I still consider them to be “local” because their founder is one of us. And admit it…we all have a soft spot for our locals who have done something amazing, even if they haven’t lived here in decades. This area will forever be known as their hometown. In Rod Strong’s case, his hometown was Camas, therefore, he was a local. While he didn’t grow his empire here in the county, the roots of his legacy still lead back to the SW Washington region. And that is what matters…where do the roots lead you to?

…okay…now back to the wine…

When I saw that Rodney Strong Vineyards had released their rosé via a Facebook post, I immediately made a mental note to snag a bottle. Why? Every once in a while, I need to step outside of my comfort zone. I know, I know…I sing the praises of Oregon and Washington wines. I’m from the Portland area. I kinda have to. I consider it my duty. But we all have those moments where we have to deviate from our paths.

This was a definite step outside of what’s familiar to me with regards to Pinot Noir, but it’s also very reminiscent to what I’m used to. On the nose, there’s a bountiful amount of cherries (familiar), but there are also faint hints of peaches (unfamiliar). The palate brings a bright acidity and tart strawberries. The acidity is offset on the finish with sweetness from rose petals. The balance of acidity and sweetness makes this a great food wine. I’d honestly pair this Sonoma County Rosé of Pinot Noir with anything that I’d pair an Oregon Rosé of Pinot Noir with. Salmon. BBQ fare. Heck, I’d even toss it in as a ringer in a blind tasting, just to see if anyone could detect a difference!

Add this to your collection. I know that I will be purchasing more before the summer is over.

To purchase, click here.

Summer of Rosé: M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes-du-Rhône Rosé

“Summer of what?” You ask. Rosé. Duh. My goal is to provide you, my dear readers, with a new rosé to seek out and try. Hence, the title…Summer of Rosé.

I will forewarn you, some of the wines are only available through the tasting rooms. I will do my best to provide you with the information necessary to order these wines.

M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes-du-Rhône Rosé
M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes-du-Rhône Rosé

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. It looks as though our flight to Lyon is going to be smooth sailing. The flight attendants tell me that there are some wonderful wines from the Rhône region, so sit back and enjoy.”

If you’re looking for the perfect wine to pair with the heavenly-being-of-your-choice-awful hot day, then this is it. The M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes-du-Rhône Rosé is one that should be in your summer repertoire. This wine is widely available but it drinks as if it was a small production wine. I picked this wine up for $11.99 at my local Target. Seriously. If you are of the mindset that mass retailers such as Target only have critter wines, please, do me a favor…take five minutes and peruse the wine aisle the next time you’re there to pick up frickin’ toilet paper (because honestly, who hasn’t gone to Target for a TP run????). You will be pleasantly surprised that there are a few gems in those big box stores. The M. Chapoutier is one of those gems.

A blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, this is a visually pleasing wine. It’s pale salmon hue intrigues, while the elegant label makes you think you’re getting something at a much higher price point. On the nose, there are notes of currant, raspberries and tart cherries. The notes from the nose carry through to the palate and there is a pleasing, puckering acidity on the back palate that leaves you wanting more.

The food recommendations for this wine are endless. From roast chicken with herbs to barbecue…this wine is versatile, won’t break the bank and well worth seeking out.