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GrapeStone Concepts
Wine and Travel Writer,WSET® Advanced Level 3 Certified, C.W.P.
Recent Activity
Dr. Liz Thach is a shining example of the achievements of Women in Wine in the last two decades. Liz is a professor at Sonoma State University. She is an author of wine non-fiction business books, children’s fiction, and wine travel mysteries fiction (Pseudonym, Kathleen Tosh). Liz is also a researcher, a wine judge, and mother. She was the first woman in California to become an MW, Master of Wine. I hesitate to ask Liz what she does in her spare time. Chardonnay Chalice: A Lia Jordan Wine Travel Mystery This spring, Liz and I met at the “Women of... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2016 at GrapeStone Concepts
Image - a Luxury Travel Magazine just published my article on "La Reserve" by Oceania, and experience we loved on two separate transAtlantic cruises on their ship, Riviera. Each table has a SOMM who explains the food and wine pairing. Check it out! Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2015 at GrapeStone Concepts
Athens has long been known for its history and gastronomic expertise, but the emerging importance of the local wine industry adds an exciting new dimension. Vintners are rediscovering indigenous grapes (Assyritiko, Moschofilero, Savatiano and Xinomavro), meaning that discerning wine connoisseurs are getting a whole lot more to sip than the unusual international staples of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. See My entire Article on in the LuxeEpicure Section. Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2015 at GrapeStone Concepts
Check out my article: Dry Rosé Resurgence – Top 8 Recommendations - at PRiME Magazine featuring Brad and Angelina's Chateau Miraval (see Estate pictured below). Noteworthy that Kathie Lee Gifford just launched her Dry Rosé as a house wine for Carnival Cruise Lines. Love the variety of colors, flavors, and grape blends that make up this "Summer in a Glass" wine. Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2015 at GrapeStone Concepts
You have to be at the top of your game to be the first woman Master Sommelier in Texas and one of only 23 female MS’s in North America. Barbara Werley MS, Wine Director for Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Dallas, oversees one of Wine Spectator’s Grand Award winning wine programs. Pappas Bros. has consistently won this award for several years both at their Dallas and Houston Restaurants. Barbara oversees an inventory of more than 33,000 bottles of wine and 3000 selections. I met with Barbara Werley, MS this summer for a lively Q&A session. See the entire article in PRiME Magazine... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2015 at GrapeStone Concepts
Greek wines have grabbed the imagination of wine drinkers worldwide. The indigenous Greece grapes can make spectacular wines that have bracing liveliness and interesting spicy aromas. The legendary island of Paros offers both a unique travel experience, and some truly exotic wines. Visit this island paradise and discover the wine, food, and sporting adventures that drew the original settlers to Paros. I am privileged to travel with other International wine and travel writers IWFTWA this fall to Paros (and Milos, Ios, and Alonissos) to sample first-hand the Greek wine and travel renaissance. I intend to give our PRiME Magazine readers... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2015 at GrapeStone Concepts
The Wine Cellar at the historic Mansion on Turtle Creek Hotel and Restaurant, Dallas, Texas, was originally part of the private mansion's fur and silver storage room. Tennessee Williams and Franklin Roosevelt stayed at the Mansion during its private home days. I had the privilege of interviewing Jennifer Eby, Wine Director, who took over the reins of the Mansion's wine program this past year. The full article can be found in PRiME Magazine Jennifer talks about her journey as a Sommelier, her time at the Biltmore in Phoenix and at the Wynn in Las Vegas. She discusses the current... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2015 at GrapeStone Concepts
As Steve and I, Mark and Becky Perrings, and many of us know, the Venetian in Las Vegas has a wonderful indoor area called the Majestic Grand Canal where visitors can wander either on foot or by gondola (complete with a singing gondolier), but the sensation of being in Venice isn’t complete until you’ve enjoyed the culinary delights of Zeffirino’s. Enter through the little side entrance to this family owned restaurant, the longest running in the Venetian, to be escorted by a delightful hostess to the second floor where the restaurant boasts views of the canal. There is an elevator... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2015 at GrapeStone Concepts
This is a beautiful view of the Andes from Catena Zapata taken by Courtney Quinn, co-author of our new article in PRiME Magazine: "South America Wines at Great Prices" South America is a place to find great quality wines at lower prices. With less labor and land expenses, Chile and Argentina are the main wine-making countries in South America. In the world they rank as two of the top 10 countries for wine production. Those of us adventurous wine drinkers in United States and the UK can also find wines from Uruguay and Brazil. When we think of South America,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2015 at GrapeStone Concepts
I had more fun creating this article for PRiME Magazine, "Valentines Day Aphrodisiac Food and Wine Pairings: Ultimate Menu." Searching for ideas through A Diary of Aphrodisiacs, finding Grilled Oyster recipes from Emeril Lagasse, and sourcing wines that match some of this luxurious, stimulating food. The Chocolate Decadence cake recipe is worth the read. Hope you enjoy my tongue-in-cheek approach! Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2015 at GrapeStone Concepts
New from the Women in Wine Series, I interviewed Celia Welch, celebrated consulting winemaker for Scarecrow wines as well as her own Corra Wines. At the Napa Premiere Auction last February, the Scarecrow set a new record for highest price at auction $4333/bottle. Her journey as a winemaker to this point is documented in my article in PRiME Magazine. In 2008 she won Food & Wine Magazine's, WineMaker of the Year and many other awards. See entire article: Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2015 at GrapeStone Concepts
Holiday parties are upon us. Nothing sets the stage more perfectly than walking in a party, pulling a glass of bubbles from an ornate silver tray, and drinking the heady sparkler. I receive more emails requesting sparkler and Champagne suggestions in December more than at any other time of the year. People are confused about how to select a type or style of a sparkling wine. Special occasions also call for a personal Champagne toast. A few guidelines. Spontaneous toasts only look that way. Select the right words and practice them. A touch of humor is rarely out of place.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2014 at GrapeStone Concepts
Is Merlot Live and Kicking? 10 Year anniversary of "Sideways" movie See my article in PRIME Magazine: October marked the 10-year anniversary of the premiere of Sideways, the movie that belittled Merlot and starred Pinot Noir. This Oscar-nominated movie–a pre-wedding buddy trip gone wrong—features Miles, the main character starring Paul Giamatti. Miles, who utters a notorious line, “No, if anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any [expletive] Merlot.” During the next year Merlot sales dropped and Pinot Noir sales soared...... And the beautiful Fess Parker Winery in Santa Ynez/Santa Barbara wine country....or the infamous "Frass... Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2014 at GrapeStone Concepts
See my interview with George Miliotes and the entire article in PRIME Magazine. Today's post-recession restaurant customer demands a significant Wines-by-the Glass (WBTG) program. A truly inspired wine list drives curiosity, welcomes exploration, and invites sampling. Properly priced WBTG programs can motivate guests to sample specialized selections within affordable ranges. Finding such an inspired wine program in fine dining and casual chain restaurants can be challenging, but examples of excellence exist. Below are details of several multi-location, specialty restaurant, and Locavore restaurants that offer distinct wine-by-the-glass programs. Master Sommelier, George Miliotes is the Wine and Beverage director of the 42-location... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2014 at GrapeStone Concepts
Join me for my interview in PRiME Magazine and YouTube Videos with Carissa Mondavi, granddaughter of Robert Mondavi, daughter of Tim Mondavi as she and her family continue Robert's dream of making world class wines. This Pritchard Hill, Napa Valley, location is optimal for making truly complex fine wines. Carissa discusses the unique terroir of the vineyards, winemaking techniques, and the changing environment of women in the wine industry. Enjoy! Youtube: Mondavi history and dream Youtube: Tour of Continuum Estates. Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2014 at GrapeStone Concepts
Our special trip to Barcelona and the Priorat region demanded that I scope out the best wine bars. Here are four of my favorite in a story for PRiME Magazine. Enjoy reading about the Four Best Wine Bars and learn the origin of Tapas. Tapas at Tickets Restaurant: Considered the Hardest Restaurant Reservation in Europe Monvinic Wine Bar's Cellar: Considered "one of the best wine bars in the world", Jay McInerney, Wall Street Journal Steve and I at Tickets, San Jordi Day, red rose in hand: Barcelona's San Jordi, or St. George's Day, is a tradition equivalent of Valentines... Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2014 at GrapeStone Concepts
When it was announced in February that the 2013 Chateau Miraval, a dry rosé wine, was sold out in an impressive 5 hours, I knew that the dry rosé revolution was in full swing. Chateau Miraval is a joint venture of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and the Famille Perrin in France’s Provence region. Their 2012 vintage was ranked #84 in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of the Year, making it the 2012’s “Best Rosé in the World.” Some of my wine industry fellow sommeliers have been noticing this dry rose trend for the last 3 years. See entire article... Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2014 at GrapeStone Concepts
I've started a new series of articles on dominant women in the Wine Industry. One of the most powerful and prolific examples of women wine leaders is Jean Arnold Sessions, Board Director and former President, of historic Hanzell Vineyards, Sonoma, California. Jean is a 'Thriver" in a male-dominated industry, both personally and professionally. She has dealt with the recent death of her husband, winemaker Bob Session, a Stage 3 breast cancer bout, running a wine consulting firm, and several winery-related business challenges. My article also links to her interview this year in the Wall Street Journal and her TEDx presentation... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2014 at GrapeStone Concepts
During our stay in Barcelona, we took the train southwest to the magnificent Priorat wine region. The Priorat region is named for its monestary, which is an area chosen in the 12th century as a quiet place with mountains that seemed "closer to God". And, the wines and view? To Die For. Check out the winery tour at Clos Mogodor on Youtube and the entire article in PRiME Magazine. Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2014 at GrapeStone Concepts
One of my wine writer colleagues, Katie Kelly Bell who writes the wine column for, wrote an article for us in PRiME, a Magzine for Women in Their Prime. She talks about the advantages of wine clubs. But which one should you join? 11 of the best are profiled. Choose the right one for you. Katie's advice: "The list is by no means comprehensive, but it offers a few places to begin.....One more thing, once you do join, give your new wines wines at least a week to recover from bottle shock due to shipping. Otherwise they’ll just taste... Continue reading
Posted May 22, 2014 at GrapeStone Concepts
At a class in late September (an now offered monthly) I attended the CIA - Culinary Institute of America - my alma mater for Wine Studies - called "Tasting Wine Like a Pro". Traci Dutton, Manager, Public Wine and Beverage Studies, and a sommelier, taught the class. What a good start to a weekend of wine tasting in Napa Valley. How to taste, what to taste, even how to spit! See my article in PRiME, a Magazine for women in their Prime: Napa Valley Wine Country Travel Tips. Remember: Wine tasting is a "practice sport" - so hit the playing... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2014 at GrapeStone Concepts
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
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
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
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