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GrapeStone Concepts
Wine and Travel Writer,WSET® Advanced Level 3 Certified, C.W.P.
Recent Activity
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Featured in PRiME, a Magazine for Women in Their Prime, is my latest article on Hosting a Blind Wine Tasting at Home. You can find it at: 8 Tips for Hosting . Basically, this will give you tips for how to set up such a tasting. You can make the event entertaining for novices and experienced wine drinkers alike. Here is an example on a wine tasting onboard the Oceania Riviera cruise ship - which is known for their specialty theme tastings. We're onboard this week on our way to Barcelona, Spain. Some of the suggested "themes" for your event... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2014 at GrapeStone Concepts
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I am so pleased to be part of PRiME, a Magazine for Women in Their Prime. I am serving as the Contributing Wine Editor, but I'm also excited about the articles my fellow editors have written on fashion, finance, travel, lifestyles, health. How exciting to reach out to such an under-served demographic, the 50+ fashionable, astute, brilliant woman! My first article titled: The ABC's of Anything But Chardonnay details 9 Intriguing White Wine Alternatives, Highly Rated, Great Value. Today we are fortunate to have many expressions of chardonnay, not just the over-ripe, over-oaked choices. New-age chardonnays range from the tart,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2014 at GrapeStone Concepts
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I just returned from the 2014 Syposium for Professional Wine Writers held in Napa Valley last week. Robert Parker was our keynote speaker. See Video This conference is sponsored each year by the Culimany Institute of America, The Napa Valley Vintners, and Meadowood Resort. Attendees included editors from Wine Enthusiast, New York Times, Sunset Magazine, Food & Wine, Worth Magazine, Wines & Vines and wine writers from Wall Street Jounal, San Francisco Chronicle, and Huffington Post among others. The Symposium featured sessions on wine analysis and flaws as well as writing styles, photography, video skill enhancement. There was also a... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2014 at GrapeStone Concepts
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Want to make the most of your trip to Napa and Sonoma Valleys? Start out your tasting adventure with a two-hour class, “Tasting Like a Professional” at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Greystone. The setting for the class is an impressive amphitheater in the Rudd Center for Wine Studies, an old stone structure overlooking the vineyards of Charles Krug winery. This semi-circular room is complete with individual stations equipped with tasting sinks, viewing lights, and rows of stemware. At the class on this Saturday in late September, we had couples and singles from Iowa, Texas, California, New York,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 4, 2013 at GrapeStone Concepts
Twitter Chat's have to feature the most up-to-date information available. Are you joining #SOMMCHAT every Wednesday at 11 Central? Today featured the first female MS in Canada who is now at Cleff Lede wines, Jennifer Huether. She discussed what's old is new in wine drinking...classic varietal as well as her journey to becoming an MS. Join us next Wednesday...always a good speaker. Continue reading
Posted Dec 4, 2013 at GrapeStone Concepts
TEXSOM 2013 has concluded with a BANG. The Grand Tasting was packed with wine professionals, media, winemakers, and wine industry executives. Over 50 wineries were featured, and the Best Texas Sommelier Competition winner was announced (Scott Ota of the Driskill Hotel, Austin, Texas- Congratulations!) This event was just the conclusion of several days of focused wine education. Where can you find 26 Master Sommeliers under one roof...not to mention all the Masters of Wine, Wine Educators, and Certified Wine Professionals? Top notch sessions were held on new topics, updates on news and experiments in the world wine regions, and research... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2013 at GrapeStone Concepts
I gathered this week with several colleagues from our software firm for a wine tasting of Italian varietals. I wondered if the American palettes would be biased toward the California-grown Italian varietals. I was surprised by the “favorites” rating results. Our tasting menu included Italian appetizer pairing with appetizers catered by Cavalli's/Dallas/McKinney. Here is the wine progression with ratings: Wine Appetizer Pairing 2011 Gattavecchi Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG Salmon Puffs 2011 Costamolino/Argiolas Vermentino di SardegnaDOCG (WA 90 Pts.) 2006 Canneto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG (WA 91 Pts.) Stuffed mushrooms (Vegetable herb stuffing) 2004 Casisano- Colombaio Brunello di Montalcino,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2013 at GrapeStone Concepts
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Taste of the Seacoast Magazine by Tricia H.Conover, C.W.P. Initially, Chanticleer’s founder George Grodahl and his wife Caddy were just going to grow grapes to supply other vineyards. “Then we got serious and partnered with Chris Dearden, a veteran winemaker and consultant,” he says. Grodahl successfully made the transition from investment banker to boutique winemaker, recovering his start-up costs following his first vintage, a tribute to his business acumen in a valley where profitability is hard won. “Chanticleer was the proud rooster who used wit and cunning to succeed in the story ‘The Nun’s Priest Tale’ from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales,”... Continue reading
Posted Jun 7, 2012 at GrapeStone Concepts
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While the wine news is reporting a record Premiere Napa Valley auction event, where 10 cases of Dana Estates sold for $70,000 or $1167/bottle, it is important to note the incredible contribution of women winemakers among the Napa Valley vintners. One of the 10 top wines to be sold at this auction was from Amuse Bouche, Heidi Peterson Barrett's Pomerol-style Merlot. Heidi's successes are legendary including early clients like Screaming Eagle. Prior to the auction I attended a preview event exclusive to some of the more well-known women winemakers. There were some spectacular wines featured in-preview including: Meander's "Conspire" Sauvignon... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2012 at GrapeStone Concepts
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Many of my associated wine professionals have been raving about the quality and value of Cameron Hughes wines. So, I thought I would do some sampling on my own. I purchased the 2009 Lot 303 Stags Leap District, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2009 Lot 271 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. The Cab had wonderful scents of blackberry and plum, and had a good minerality with overtones of dark chocolate. It had very fine tannins. For $34 where are you going to find this quality of wine? Not any other place in Stags Leap appellation. Perfect for that rib... Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2011 at GrapeStone Concepts
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In the latest issue of The Tuscan Magazine, you will find my detailed Top 10 tips on "Hosting a Tuscan Wine Competition at Home". Wine professionals recommend having tasting exercises often and recording your handwritten observations immediately. Can you image a wine judge tasting over 100 wines at a competition and not taking notes? Our recommendations for a Tasting Competition at Home can apply to any vertical or horizontal tasting exercise. Expose your guests to some new as well as some familiar wines. Broadening the palate and "sensory rolodex" is important for improving sensory detection for any level of wine-drinker.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2011 at GrapeStone Concepts
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I was asked to put together a snack-friendly wine list for my editor at Tuscan Magazine. It's soccer/footie season in Italy. Italians have the same desire as we do in the States to find wine that is a complement to their snacks. Go Fiorentina! Check out the Tuscan Magazine Blog at: Tuscan Magazine Blog Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2011 at GrapeStone Concepts
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I'ts April Fools Day. You don't want to be the fool caught drinking a poor value wine. The most commonly asked question I get is: Are there any good value wines out there? The answer is "yes", literally there are hundreds of them. Be discerning, do a little research, and you should be able to find some wonderful wines. Here is my "No Fools" list of some great finds: 2009 Cameron Hughes Sauvignon Blank (Leyda Valley) $12 2008 Castle Rock Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley) $12 2009 Sand Rita Reserva Malbec (Colchagua Valley) $12 2009 Tangley Oaks Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast)... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2011 at GrapeStone Concepts
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I just returned from the Premiere Napa Valley Wine Auction and the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers. A new star has emerged from the Auction - Scarecrow - by winemaker Celia Welch. A Japanese importer paid $125,000 for a 5 cases, or $2083 per bottle. Two years ago that same lot went for $80,000. The Auction took place at the Culinary Institute of America, Napa Valley, where the crowd of 1,000 consisted of vintners, retailers, restaurateurs, distributors, brokers and media from across the country and around the world. The PNV Wine Auction began in 1997 as a "bake sale" by... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2011 at GrapeStone Concepts
Since the SuperBowl is in Dallas next week, the partying in our hometown has started early. Last night I was at a wine event – Côte du Coeur Wine Society of the American Heart Association - and this wine/snack pairing discussion came up frequently. Beer is terrific with snacks, but some of us just want a great value wine with our nachos, sliders, and chili. Here are my best rating-for-the-dollar recommendations (under $20/bottle in most places) for the best wine that will hold up to unusual and spicy tastes of snack foods. (RATINGS NOTE: WS-Wine Spectator, RP Robert Parker, W&S... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2011 at GrapeStone Concepts
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During my month-long trip to Italy in October, I had the pleasure of meeting with Sarah Frasier, editor of the Tuscan Magazine. I join British, Canadian, Irish, German, and Italian writers as their sole American journalist. It's a privilege. Sara and her husband, Richard are Brits who have relocated to Lucca, Toscana, Italy and are the authors of Tuscan Living: From the Yorkshire Moors to the Tuscan Hills. I have featured their book in my Amazon.com "I Recommend" section. To get a glimpse of this wonderful English-speaking publication of Tuscany, go to: http://tuscanlivingmagazine.com/\ My article appears on Page 40 of... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2010 at GrapeStone Concepts
This is a webzine that you'll want to visit often if you love chocolate, and need advice on all things and places "Chocolate Covered". I have a new article: Wine Roads and the Chocolate Valley of Italy: Take the A-11 Autostrada to Health. http://www.chocolateatlas.com/index.htm Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2010 at GrapeStone Concepts
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And go to Chocolate Atlas for the remainder of the Article: http://www.chocolateatlas.com/L2Europe/6BConover_Italy/Wine_Roads_and_Chocolate.html Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2010 at GrapeStone Concepts
I was asked in September to participate as a Certified Wine Professional to help promote a wine and chocolate pairing on Dallas’ KDAF TV 33 segment, “The RC Project”. This pairing of chocolates from Steve Smith’s company, Nib Chocolates, and Waterbrook Winery, Columbia Valley, WA, will be served at the after-party of the AT&T Dallas Symphony gala, September 11. The Côtes du Coeur of the American Heart Association, of which I am a Society member, is providing the wine. This appearance made me contemplate the healthy pairing of wine and chocolate as part of our GrapeStone Concepts “point of view”... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2010 at GrapeStone Concepts
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Mar 16, 2010
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I just returned from the Professional Wine Writers Symposium in Napa Valley, www.winewriterssymposium.org. Our keynote speaker was the eloquent Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun, and her new book: Every Day in Tuscany, Seasons of an Italian Life. I was encouraged by Frances and several well-know wine editors to really consider documenting the positive health effects of great wine with delicious, local food ingredients, and inspiring travel adventures….”una bella vita”. Gary Walther, one of our distinguished lecturers and former editor of the luxury lifestyle magazine, ForbesLife, specifically discussed the trend of pressure-strained folks to seek a healthy, stress-reducing... Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2010 at GrapeStone Concepts
A valid look at the 2009 Top Wines of the year should include a combination of the results from both the Wine Spectator (WS) and Wine Enthusiast’s (WE)” Top 100 Wines of the Year”. What are the trends? What are the top countries and producers? Is one of the publications more biased towards Italy? Is one of the publications more focused on Pinot noirs? Is the USA representation appropriate? To make this analysis statistically more significant, the two lists are pooled, and some interesting facts are revealed. What are the most inexpensive wines of the 2009 selected? What are the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2010 at GrapeStone Concepts
Happy New Year to all the new followers of GrapeStone Concepts! I'll be posting a retrospective analysis on everyone's Top 100 Wines of 2009 very soon. Combined, there are some interesting trends to observe. In the meantime, be safe and have a wonderful evening. Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2009 at GrapeStone Concepts
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I am a follower of the wonderful “Wall Street Journal“ writers, Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher. Normally every weekend in the Personal Journal section they have extensive wine articles, wine reviews, and interviews. On November 21 they stated: “At the beginning of this year, we printed a checklist of 20 things to do in 2009 to make wine more fun—easy, doable things. Put very simply, some of the items on the list were to open a sparkler for no reason; try a Sauternes; have a blind tasting; organize your labels; finally replace that old corkscrew; and attend a winemaker's dinner.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 11, 2009 at GrapeStone Concepts