I’m Glad I Waited…

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The amount of times I had planned to write about my visit to Great Frogs back in January, is almost embarrassing to talk about.

I’ve written about them previously in different settings (you can read about that here) with the hope that one day I would get to visit their winery.    And it finally happened.

Good things come to those who wait, and before I discuss this exquisite visit, here is their FAQ, more about this wonderful winery, visitor information, info on purchasing their wines/shipping info, and where you can find their wines near you.

If you don’t live or aren’t planning to visiting the Annapolis area, your only chance is to have their wines shipped to you.   These wines are on the pricier side, and are outside of my price range.  But every once in a while, I feel it’s right to treat myself.  It’s right to treat yourself, as much as you want, for as much as you want.

It’s my life, it’s your life, and we only get one of those, as who we are in this lifetime.

A few years back when I first about this winery, I had these images of exclusivity, and this place being a secret club that only the highest of society are welcome or dare try to visit.  There’s this thing about assuming that you shouldn’t always do.

However, on a random day I had dropped someone off not realizing their house was literally on the other side of this immaculate looking green and shrubbery, which was Great Frogs.  I was in awe.  I put this place on even more of a pedestal.  Sometimes assuming or presuming adds to the excitement and adds to the mystique.

Needless to say, the winery wasn’t open that day and I thought maybe someday.

After attending wine festivals and having a glass at various restaurants around town, I was enamored.  Maybe it’s an Annapolis thing (my increasing list of my affinity for Annapolis can be found here) but I love their wine and I love everything about this place.

Tastings are by reservation only, and on a limited time frame Fridays and Saturdays only.  At $35 a person that may put some people off.  You can get three bottles in most places for that much.  But this is not that kind of place.  I love this place.

When I drove up, I noticed the amazing vines, the greens, the farmland, and then the barn which hosts the tastings,  I was looking for the adorable pups (Scout & Bruno) who protect the crops and vines from the outside world (wildlife), but not on this day.  That just means I’ll have to be back.  And that’s a given.

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I won’t talk about every wine that was tried.  I don’t want to bore you.  This is not what this blog is about.  It’s about enjoying the wines, enjoying the company your worth, and enjoying your surroundings.

This was well worth the investment.  And in hindsight $35 is not that much for an experience that’s more than just a tasting.  You get 6 wines, you get snacks (which they will replenish for you), and the most incredible ambiance I can ever recall at a winery.  Being away from Downtown Annapolis and being in your own universe a few miles away added another element of wonder and fascination to this visit.  Man I loved all of this.

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I neglected to mention this tasting also includes a glass of your choice upon completion.  Does it get any better?  This tasting room decor is incredible.   I want to thank Ben who helped with the tasting, and could not have been friendlier.

This is family affair as I also got to meet the owners, Nathathanael & Andrea, who could not have been friendlier.

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The wines that stood out to me were the 2015 Estate Meritage, the 2015 Cold Blooded (their newest release at the time), and the Chardonnay.    I went with the former as my glass mainly because the spices, the cedar taste, the berries, and the chocolate made this perfect for the winter time.   Full bodied wines are what’s going to work here, and this worked alright.    This is a $50 bottle, and if you’re feeling ambitious, go for it.   This is a tremendous wine, as most of their wines are.

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The Cold Blooded is a blend with every grape under the sun, and at $55, this was heavily pushed for a celebration they had the day after Thanksgiving, that was originally to be my first visit.  That didn’t happen for reasons I can’t remember, other than it wasn’t meant to be.

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This visit was meant to be.   This was more than a wine tasting, this was art.  It’s Great Frogs, it’s Annapolis, it’s happiness, this is living.

I can’t wait to do it again.

Thank you so much.

Ideen

 

Stop The Clocks

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When you get spoiled and exposed to wines that are delightful, yet affordable, it’s easy to run into wines that are going to bring you down the earth.   Not everything is going to be highly rated.  Life doesn’t work out that way.  I wish it did.  I wish every wine would be four stars and up.

If that were the case, the vintages that are actually on that level lose so much of their shine and luster.

I purchased the 2016 Nonni Malbec with all the intentions of bringing it to someone, somewhere.  I honestly don’t recall.  Maybe I was going to bring it to a dinner party, maybe I was going to well, I don’t know.

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Without even opening the bottle, that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement.  However, at only $12 (technical info can be found here) and under retail price, and a charming label as well, what can go wrong? It’s a Malbec, and based on my experience those are usually the more reliable wines.

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Reliable is exactly the word you would use.  It’s there, it’s nothing special, and it’s about as average a wine you’re going to find.

My friends seemed to enjoy it a little more than I did, but more or less we were on the same page.  When a night spent hanging in involves lots of food, drink, and all kinds of other fun things, not everything is going to be perfect.

The perfect days or nights usually involve little to no planning, what usually stands out is something you would never expect.  This wine is good enough to talk about, but more in the lines of the entire night itself.   Which means this is going to be ongoing.  How ongoing? Well…

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I can’t describe this wine, other than there’s dark fruits and it’s easy to drink, along the lines of a Pinot Noir.  But taking out all the pseudo expert analysis, this was a fine that was simply, just there.

‘There’ isn’t always a bad thing, it’s just well, there.

It’s a talking point I look forward to, and can sometimes go into a passive aggressive direction, if framed a certain way.   Oh wait…

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This goes back to a night in May. where I got together with pals and some animal friends I don’t see enough.  There’s plenty of people in our lives we can say that about. How often have you said to the people you care about the most, ‘We need to see each other more often’, or ‘Let’s get together soon, it’s been too long’.  Then the next time you see them, that conversation may come up again.

It’s either because you don’t see them enough, or no matter how many good times you’ve had with them in succession, it’ll never be enough.

This applies to so many loved ones I think about on a regular basis.  And likely people are thinking that way about you.   That’s the good kind of being ‘there’.

This particular evening went hours on end.  A lot of laughs were shared, stories were recanted, and a lot of food and drink were imbibed.

What stood out wasn’t one thing in particular, but a collection of things.  Well maybe one or two things, but you get what I’m saying…

The other day the memories were a little more clear, but now it’s a it hazy.   And that’s the place I’m in.   Ask me tomorrow, I might have a few other things to say.

What matters is that there’s never enough great times to spend with the people you love and care about the most.

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This is to be continued…

Peace Be With You,

Ideen

 

I Love This Holiday Tradition So Much

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What makes this season so magical is the events you know to look forward to.  Now not every tradition will go on.  Not every tradition is going to last forever.  Things end, but things also begin.  Most importantly the new traditions that just came together effortlessly are the ones you look forward to the most.

With that being said, this is the fourth year of our dear friends’ tree decorating party.

Here’s the previous two years’ decorating parties (here and then over here).

It has gone from a spontaneous event to one that I look forward to every December.  And it’s gone from one house to a new location, yet the principle folks remained en tact.  While the group was smaller, it was still the perfect set of people to celebrate this spectacular time of year with equally spectacular company.

I brought two bottles to share, and I chose to splurge just a little more.  It’s part of what life and the holidays are all about.  And when i mean splurging, I mean around $14-$15 for these two wines.

One was for the dinner, the other was for everything else.  And actually both bottles were meant for the snacks, the meal, the decorating, and then the admiring.

With that being said, both bottles deliberately had fancy red labels to commemorate this wonderful time of year.

First was the 2015 Red Knot Shiraz from Shingleback Wine.

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The purpose of this was for the main course.  But you know how that goes.  Around this time of year, or even many other situations, wine just starts getting opened and before we even let it breathe for a few minutes, it’s almost done.

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The snack display was more than enough to help complement this bottle and please even the most discriminate of palates.  Fortunately, this group is pretty laid back that the wine snob factor is kept at bay, or in this instance, kept at umm.. Well I had something clever to say but I forgot, so I’ll just leave that one on hold.

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This wine is fairly dark and what else would you expect from a Shiraz?  It’s full bodies and loaded with dark fruits and maybe some cloves to add a little stimulation to our holiday feast.  Honestly, this wine was solid but it didn’t really wow me in any way.  Thankfully, it was shared, devoured, and decimated before I could get to having even a second glass.

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But it paired perfectly with this incredible dinner.  The plate of fish, potatoes, and other various vegetables was stellar enough that any halfway decent wine was going to work here.  Everyone was enjoying themselves.   Our hosts broke out the fancier plates so you know we were a part of something special.

Then came the tree decorating.  Actually we were intermittently decorating, snacking, eating, drinking, and singing along to our favorite Christmas Carols.  At times it seemed like we were making fun of some of these songs we’ve heard so many times.  But that’s how you know you’re having a good time.  The same joke, the same song, or the same anything can still resonate and give you a positive feeling and association after all this time.   This is where I really started to feel it.  But I felt it before I even got there.  More on that near the end.

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The 2014 Three Rivers Red from Three Rivers Winery was more along the lines of what I like to drink.  One of the descriptions I read noted Strawberry Pie.  That along with the color is what drew me to it.  I wish I tasted some of that strawberry, but I did taste a lot of berries, cherries, and what I assume may have been hints of black currant.  In some descriptions I’ve read cedar and tea.  Could it be?

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But this was the after dinner wine, which fits the any time of wine that this red blend perfectly represents.  I hope my friends finished off the rest as half the bottle was still there.

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Both wines are likely available in retailers near you.   Here’s Shingleback’s contact info and likewise here is Three Rivers’.

Three and a half hours of celebrating, decorating, and enjoying each others company felt like five minutes.  It went by so quickly, that I almost feel it wasn’t enough.  Maybe it was just right.  Our lives are getting busier, life goes on, things pile up, and our schedules continue to spread and stretch us too thin.  But I’m so grateful this party continues.

Not one year versus another is my favorite.  They’re all my favorites.  A different story is told each year and the joy of how we celebrate is the constant that keeps us coming back.

There’s a few traditions I’ve already attended that I wasn’t feeling as in previous years, and didn’t feel the inspiration to write about.  This one was a no brainer.  A small gathering of some of the best people is going to make this easier to write about, and all the other little details (which to me are the most important) are easier to remember.

I will always remember and cherish this event.    It’s so much fun when Christmas comes to town.

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Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

My Love of Ducks

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Any reason for me to use my love for wine and my love for animals in the same breath I’m going to do.  As a matter of fact any excuse for me to profess my love for our divine and endearing creatures, I’m going to come up with one.  For me its actually second nature and I’ll never shy away from that.

In past posts I’ve sung the praises of dogs, cats, horses, and quite a few other spiritually magnificent beings.   This week I’m professing my love for ducks.   And I love them so much.  They may be small in stature but their spirits are so big.

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With all this said this week I went with a familiar face.  I’ve had Decoy Wines in the past and loved every sip of every bottle I ever tried.   If I’m sounding biased because of you know what on the label then you’re exactly right.

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But what does stand out about these wines, aside from the gorgeous artwork, is the simplicity of the vintages and the tasting notes that accompany them.  For anyone new to wine or, even someone who is a seasoned veteran, it’s always comforting to know that many of us just want to enjoy wine without any of the analysis and then over-analysis that some wineries get into.  I’m all for expounding as long as it’s done in an inviting in approachable manner.

After the letdown from last week (which also featured an animal friend by the way), I promised to move on from the oak barrel Chardonnay’s to the stainless steel that I and many of my constituents prefer.

I had a few bottles in mind but at my local wine shoppe yesterday I scoured the aisles for any and all grapes, all varieties, and all charming labels.   It didn’t have to be Chardonnay but that was at the top of the list.

Without any panic or fear of finding nothing I spent a good amount of time canvasing and perusing the store until finally I found a familiar face, an old friend, and a trusty confidante.    This was the 2014 Sonoma County Chardonnay with that stunning artwork (more on the artist Michael Allard can be found here) of the most charming of waterfowl friends.

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At $20 this was on the higher end of what I would usually buy but trust me it’s worth every penny and even a little more.  And with those simplistic notes you can’t go wrong. For myself and many others you’ll taste a simple yet balanced and delightful (look at me using wino terms) vino that can be paired with all kinds of food or with nothing at all. The specs mention layers of apple, pear, and lemon which all work well for summer but for most of the year if you think about it.   Since those are mainly year round fruits you can equate this to being a year round wine.  Simple and effective.

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And even though the website lists this vintage as sold out, I’m convinced that their more recent varietals are just as relatable and heartwarming as this one.  And there’s a good chance you may find it at your local wine distributor.  Just a hunch.  This is a label I’ve seen all over the place.

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I enjoyed my wine with some pita chips and lemon flavored hummus, that I purchased without any idea that this wine would carry hints of lemon.  There’s one sign.  More on signs in a little bit…

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But I can’t get enough of the ducks.  If this wine had a standard label and was maybe in the $10 and under range I may be singing a different tune.  But I would still say this is a tremendous wine at this price.  It’s the power of suggestion, the power of art, and the pulling of mine (and many others) heartstrings.  Oh I love this creature.

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I love dogs and cats because they’re so affectionate.  I love ducks because they are those darlings, and they also seem so loyal to one another, like many animals are.   Usually I receive signs to try a wine or try anything.  Because the universe works like that.  I would’ve said earlier in the week I saw ducks in a pond or logos for ducks, or something to tell me in my subconscious get a wine that would match what is being presented to me.

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This time things were rearranged and reversed.  Just hours ago as I’m headed home, I take a more scenic route home and as I’m approaching this lovely farm that I was knew up the road, I see a family of ducks slowly walking across the street.  They took their time too and I wanted them to go on forever.  They’re pedestrians too, and deserve the courtesy of making it across the street as safely as possible.  I mean that sincerely.  I stopped to talk a picture and watched in awe and then said ‘aww’ as they walked by.

Ducks

I’d like to think it was their way of saying thank you.  Well I thank them and I love them so much.  I’m grateful to have made some new friends and hope to see them again soon.

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And this will not be the last time I explore Decoy Wines.  I had too much fun with this. This all came together in less than 24 hours, and those tend to be the best of experiences.

Here is their list of wines for sale online,  their history, and best of all, where you can find their wines near you.

I love Decoy Wines and I love ducks so much.  If and when I make it to Sonoma County I’m visiting this winery.  I’m visualizing how awesome it will be.  But for now I’m admiring the ducks.

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Did I mention I love them.

I love them.

Thanks so much.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

Dragonfly In

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I’d like to think I’m in tune with much of the universe, my surroundings, nature, animals, people, and everything in between.  Not even close. But if that were truly the case than I think the point and purpose of my life, your life, or anyone’s would be lost.

We’re not supposed to know everything.  Why would we want to either?

This is not so much a post about wine, but more about the symbolism and meaning in the things we do, how we live our lives, and how everything affects us.

I wasn’t aware of the dragonfly’s significance and meaning until events starting happening to close people in my life.   These events usually tend to lean towards sadness and hardship.  It’s our proclivity to seek meaning and information in times of difficulty, confusion, and heartache.  I do it too and know this far too well.

Something has happened again where events and energies are affecting me deeply.   But I can’t be egocentric or self-serving.  The world does not revolve around me, or you, or anyone in particular.  Actually in a positive sense it does revolve around me, you, and everyone else.  We are all one.  And events in our life, our dear friends and family’s life, and maybe with people we have yet to meet all affect us.   Whether we realize it or not.

The fact that I know this might mean I’m a bit ahead of the curve, but again what do I really know?

What does this have to do with wine?  I’ll get to that I promise.

As advanced as we are humans, we continue to feel things that on the surface may feel uncomfortable forever, but it’s all temporary.  Even if that temporary negative feeling lasts much longer than a temporary joyous one, it’s all short-term.   We want to feel good, in harmony, in touch with everyone ad everything.  We want to feel that everything will go right for us.  And it most instances it does.  But when it hurts.  It truly hurts.  And those feelings of sadness can feel like an abyss, like an eternity, with little to no end in sight. But it’s still temporary.

Animals, whether they’re dragonfly’s, dogs, cats, and all our other amazing friends have feelings to.  But they’re either mostly all loving, all knowing, and know what’s important in life to survive.  They know they don’t need much.  But a feeling of zen and/or love is the common theme.  Actually a feeling of peace, acceptance, appreciation of life, and knowing there’s something bigger than us is the main message.

The dragonfly is now something I like to research about whenever I can.   As the weather is improving they may across our paths a lot more frequently than we will acknowledge.

I noticed that when I was more aware and self-aware of my surroundings they were showing up in the most unlikely of all places (or was there something more).  They were telling me something.   They tell us all something whether we see them or not.  Whether we realize they’re there or just ignore them, they are sending us messages.

In my own way, I wish I wasn’t always aware of all this.  It can drive a person (i.e. me) crazy to know that in a way we’re being watched, warned, or being served messages on a regular basis from these highly advanced creatures.  Yes they’re smarter than us.

They might be sending us signals of love, hope, peace or maybe a warning of something that is to come.  Maybe it’s just a message to relax and appreciate what we have.  Because so many things we love will not be around forever.  And as we get older, grow up, and experience happiness and tragedies, we will ultimately know what’s important.  I would like to think I’m getting there.  I would like to think we’re all getting there.

I would like to think that many of us put things into perspective and to appreciate life when things are going great, not just when times are difficult and the patches are rough.

We’re all so vulnerable aren’t we?

Some of us might be stronger than teflon and carry ourselves like nothing can stop us. More power to you if that’s working out for you.

But for the rest of the world (at least in mine), something has been going on that I can’t describe.  It’s like a domino effect of events affecting so many people close to me, close to us, and I would like it to calm down.

Again, it’s temporary, it will resolve itself.  But I root for my friends, my family, and most of all our individual selves to become stronger because of this.  We will. It may take longer for some things to resolve over others.  But they will.  We have to believe that.

Our dragonfly friends are giving us signals of that.

After all that, again what does this have to do with wine?

I take it all the back back to last September and the Maryland Wine Festival.

There was a stranger energy in the air than previous festivals.  Again, we all see it differently, but this is how I saw it.

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From one booth to another, it just felt like something was more off than usual.  Than my initial visit to the Far Eastern Shore Winery tent felt a bit eerie.  For my first of what I would assume would be repeat visits to this and other booths, this one had an aura about it.   And I’ve sampled their wines before, at many an event or tasting.

Maybe it was the plants and flowers on display, maybe it was their famous swans on the labels, or maybe it was something bigger.  But this initial visit was all about a minute.  The lines were long all over the venue.

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After several hours of wandering, I didn’t realize it until after the fact, that my last visit of the day was back at their tent.  How about them dragonflies?

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And I only tried one  of their wines.  I only needed to try one.  It was this one pictured above.  I know right?

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It may not mean much but everything is a sign, everything is energy, everything is everything.  To say I’m freaking out in remembrance of this and writing about it now would be an understatement.  I’m slightly shaking.  That’s an energy bigger than me saying this.

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To complete this I will say that this wine does not fit my palate.  But it doesn’t matter.  In this or all instances it doesn’t really matter does it?  It’s a blush wine with a white Shiraz base that many will adore.  It contains raspberries and yummy dragonfruit (yes!), that works perfectly in the warm weather months.  And actually it can work whenever you want it too.

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It’s not a wine I would truly seek out but it now has huge meaning to me that I feel I need to have it stored at home in a safe (the fridge of course ha) place to remind me of things, to remind me of energies, messages, and all that is here and all that might be coming.

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I’m not a clairvoyant but I sense something bigger is going on in our universes that has always existed but is finally scratching the surface, and we will be up to the challenge.  Yes this is about all of us.

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But for those interested in contacting the winery (and I am one of them) to learn more, click here.   Info on their tasting room is here.

And here is where you can find their wine locally in Maryland and where you purchase it across the country.

I hope to chat with the winemakers about this remarkable experience I’ve had, because if it wasn’t for them I wasn’t sure how I would be able to share this with you.  There’s a huge meaning right there.

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There’s a deeper meaning in everything.  I believe that.  Many people close to me believe that.  There’s something bigger than us but our energies are also so big, full of life, full of potential, and full of amazing life experiences to come.

Thank you dragonflies.

Ideen