One Of The Better Pairings…

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A great wine paired with a great dinner is something that never gets old.  As a matter of fact it can always feel new, can feel fresh, and can feel inspired if you well, feel it.

Easy said and easy done…

It doesn’t get more authentic than a great pasta dish paired with a great Italian wine.  An added  bonus is when the wine is affordable yet so great for the price, that you almost might feel guilty.  Don’t.  It’s good to find the best deals in anything without having to look too hard.

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The 2015 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Masciarelli is one of those wines that you’re going to find in a lot of places, and hopefully you’ve had the good fortune of trying it.  Sadly for me, it’s one of those wines (like many others) that I always see and unintentionally would take for granted.  It’s not deliberate.  There’s just so many great wines to try that while we have all the time in the world, it’s important to make the most of it.  And that goes for everything.

You’re going to taste your berries, cherries, and various spices but for a wine like this, like many others, that’s just one part of the story.  What’s most important is this a wine you’re going to enjoy?  Both things, among others, are connected.  I can safely say the answer yes.  Yes this is a wine that’s accessible, approachable, and affordable.  Those are some great things that start with the letter ‘a’.

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It’s also your typical wine you’ll find served at Italian restaurants, which in turn means great Italian meals and dinners, and could easily be served at an all around amazing feast near you.  I can imagine that it’s being served at a dinner near you, near me, and all around the world, as I write this, and as you read this.  It’s that versatile and that awesome of a wine.  There’s another ‘a” for you!

As it gets colder, the medium and fuller bodied wines are going to take shape.  Thankfully this is right in the middle of what could also feel like a light wine, depending on the meal, your mood, and the season.   Those are the fun details that can make a good wine into a great wine, and a good meal into an exceptional one.  This is so fun.

I mentioned affordable.  I’ve seen this wine sold for anywhere from $9-$12, and that’s a steal.   This tastes like a $15+ wine to me.  It may be for the aura it carries, the aura I sense, or just my gut reaction to it.  Your gut will always be your guide and never steer you wrong.

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What a great pairing of wine and food this was.  My meal was just as beautiful as it looks.  This was comfort at it’s most comfortable and beautiful.

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As we head towards the holidays, these are the kind of meals you’re going to encounter more if you haven’t already.  These are the wines that go with them, and hopefully you surround yourself with the best company as well.

I’m grateful to have shared this with a friend, and look forward to many more exciting times to come, before, during, and after the holidays.  It’s still early November, so one glass, and one meal at a time…

Peace Be With You.

Love,

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

 

The Source of All Things…

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I’m feeling abundant, and you want to know why?  Because what make me happy, what makes me feel good, and what currently brings me the most joy is the most simplest of things.

Some time ago I’ve come to terms and at peace with many things.  While many things remain unresolved, what I’ve become most comfortable and at peace with are the most simple and peaceful of gatherings.   I still can find enjoyment in big parties with lots of commotion, lots of people, and lots of stimulation.

But a simple meal, a simple glass (or bottle) of vino, and a little conversation, where we can hear one another talk and listen intently, is what I’m all for.  It’s what I yearn for and prefer.  And when not looking for it, the opportunities tend to be presented to me with regularity.

I was grateful to be awarded another opportunity last week with a friend I don’t see enough.  It tends to go that way.  There’s those friends you talk to constantly yet don’t see as much as you would like.  My friend would fit that category.

What also makes me happy is getting together with friends for no reason whatsoever.  You know, someone is always having a birthday, a sports gathering, a milestone in life, and who knows what else.  But sometimes the rest reasons to hang out are no reasons at all.  If you love your friends and family, you never need a specific reason.

Well it helps when my friends have pets.  That’s a bonus.   I could relax with a cat, dog, or other animal friend all day, but I digress once again.

This planned yet impromptu gathering got all that more unpredictable, when my friend, who was all set to good, realized there were enough leftovers to be shared.   The cooking can be left for another day.  I’ve been spoiled and feeling grateful that I have such quality friends who like to cook, and invite their friends over to share in their love of food and wine.  I’m eternally grateful to be surrounded with great people.

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The food was wonderful, and the wine (which I’ll talk about shortly) paired serendipitously with some delicious chicken parmesan and pasta.  Oh my goodness this was great.

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The wine is the 2015 Mas Donis Old Vines, which is a red blend of Grenache, Merlot, and Syrah.  And with such a medium to full bodied wine to go with such a hearty and hefty meal, it’s a match that was meant to be and the universe came together on this night to make all the elements of food, wine, and simplicity work out magically.   That makes me feel good.

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I’ll freely admit that the label had much to do with the purchase. But something about this wine grabbed me.  At one of my local wine shoppes I was drawn to it immediately.  I grabbed it, held onto it, and with no resistance whatsoever, I knew this was the wine I was meant to buy, and share with you my thoughts today.  It was the first and only bottle I saw. Sounds about right.

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There’s so much to this wine. It’s got your standard berries and cherries.  But what might taste earthy to you at me, might be herbs and spices to someone else.  What stands out is how this wine ends.  You may have heard the term lingering finish before.  This wine epitomizes that.  What lingers is the flavors and the tannins after each sip.   Yet there’s so much structure and life to this wine, that you don’t need to put into words.  A little oak always helps too, but I think you know what I’m saying.  This is a wine that warms my heart, and may do the same for you.

And at a price tag of $10-$15, it’ll warm your pocketbook too.   Do people still have pocketbooks?  For more on this wine, and the distributor click here.

I think the elements of the the evening also made this wine that much better.  I think my friend enjoyed it a little more than me.  I think I had a glass and a half at most, which is fine by me.  That means more to share with good people.

I’ll also add that not every conversation is meant to be deep and meaningful.  It might drive you crazy.  It gets me cuckoo at times.

A good friendship also means a little surface level, a little nothing, and sometimes a little silence goes a long way.

Let’s do this again sometime.

Peace be with you.

Ideen

 

 

I’m Feeling Thankful

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I tell you, life can be so good if you allow it to be.    Yesterday, I allowed that to be.

I grew up in Montgomery County, Maryland and I’m here at least several times a month visiting friends and family.  There may have been a time or two where I visited Sugarloaf Mountain, went on a trail, and that was it.  And it’s sadly possible I never did that.  This goes back to grade school.   Otherwise I haven’t been in this vicinity in over two decades.

But something told me yesterday it was time to make a return.  Maybe not necessarily the mountain, but a serendipitous situation led me to Sugarloaf  Mountain Vineyard.

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There are situations that have come up in my life that have motivated to actually stop and smell the roses, or in this instance, taste the wine.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve not stopped to relax, do something new, and experience something that well, maybe at the time wasn’t meant to be.  Now those situations may come up again but life is all about doing the most with what you have, and doing the most that makes you feel good.

As we approach Thanksgiving, those feeling are amplified.

The holidays are a beautiful time for us, a rough time for many others, and a mix of emotions for everyone in between.  I would say I’m a combination of all of the above.

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One of many blessings is the fact that the vineyard is open seven days a week from 12-6 daily.  Many vineyards have limited hours, some that are restricted to weekends.  When I looked up the hours my day was made.  And subconsciously I may have been trying to talk myself out of visiting, and just decide to back to the comforts of my own home, or my home town.  No, none of that today…

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I got there literally at opening, and was greeted by Michelle and Charlie immediately.  They were my wine pourers for the day.  And what I thought would be a few minutes tuned into a beautiful afternoon…

Of course I came for the tasting, but what really caught my eye is the Melisseus.  More on that in a little while.

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There were eight for sampling, and I want to thank Michelle for holding the wines for me so I could grab as many pictures as I could.  I did inform them of my blog and what I was hoping to do for the day.  They kindly obliged.  And I’m so thankful.  It made the tasting and the rest of my visit, that much better.

While I had all eight wines, and instead of reviewing and dissecting every wine that’s listed, I will just share my thoughts on my favorites.SugarloafSiren

I really liked the 2016 Siren.  The synopsis even mentions flavors and scents of childhood candies.  It reminds me of my Middle Eastern candies I’ve shared with family and friends, not only growing up, but even in present time.   And while it’s not a wine I’ll actively seek out, when it’s around, I’m happy to sip.

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The 2016 Rosé is perfect for Thanksgiving.  And I especially mean this Rosé.  Some are perfect for warmer climates, but the tint and body on this one goes well with a lavish holiday meal, or two, or three, ha.  This blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon is first class all the way. The tannins are low so you can truly appreciate  anything and everything about this one.  The aromas of cinnamon, spices, and everything nice under the sun will win even non wine lovers over. I tasted strawberry.  And while I would have purchased this wine (In hindsight I wish I did), I went with the my old reliable.

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And old reliable, is meant with the highest praise.  As much as my palate has evolved and expanded to appreciate different grapes, scents, tastes, and all the other intricacies of fine wines such as these, I went with the 2015 Cabernet Franc.  This was $26 (most of their wines are in the $20+ range), and I wanted to treat myself.

As a dear friend told me, this is my kind of wine.  The taste of peppers and cranberries is what makes this medium bodied wine an absolute gem.  I’ve had many Cabernet Francs and they’re all somewhat similar in taste, but this just a little more pep (ha) in its step.  I can’t say it’s the best Cab Franc I’ve ever had, because that’s not a fair comparison to all the others, and to this.   The notes mention black cherries and grape tannins.  This is everything I want in a wine.  There’s so many things that we discover in wine, that makes the combinations of flavors and scents unlimited.  But this is is unpretentious, welcoming, and makes me want to open this bottle now, then saving for later.

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But I’ll save it for later.

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However, the Melissius is for now.  This is what I came for.  And while they only usually serve it on weekends (I hope I don’t get anyone in trouble for this), Charlie made me up of this warm holiday tasting masterpiece, and my day just got made.

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This is the hot, honey spiced wine made with an Unoaked Chardonnay and all the spices that make this time of year so great, and makes this life so fun sometimes.

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The Melissius will be served every weekend from now until April, so there’s plenty of time for you to have a glass.  It’s worth the drive alone.

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Even if you’re not a wine drinker, you’re going to love this one.  My new friends in the tasting room suggested the most perfect snacks to go with my drink.   I don’t need to explain them, the pictures speak for themselves.

And this is where I officially found peace for the next hour or so.  I took my pictures and then just sat and admired these views of fall and the scenery that I’ve come to love once again these past couple of months.  But when it’s right in your face the feelings were different this time.

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While time just flies by and it’ll be 2018 before you know it, it was important to be where I was and understand time, feelings, and emotions can be fleeting, fickle, and yet so wonderful.

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I forgot where I was at times, while I sipped my Melissius.  Maybe I  was transported to a place in time of Greek Mythology, like its namesake.  But like I say, I think I was somewhere bigger than I even realize, or can fully explain.

I felt like I was the only person on Earth.  And what a feeling that is.

When I came down from that euphoria, I met a friendly couple outside, and I explained to them what I was doing, even though they had already figured it out.   They had a lovely dog with them too.    I can’t help but be overly sentimental and nostalgic of an event that took place less than 24 hours ago.

I need to come back, and I won’t ever take this long again.

As I grow up, (and I have much growing up to), the yearning for genuine peace, genuine conversation, with some great food and wine to boot, is all I need in this lifetime.  Oh and some great company too.

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This was something, and I wish I could go on forever, but I can’t.   All I can do is be thankful for the time I had here, and let everyone know that I look forward to the next time.   The next story of this chapter will be written, and I look forward to that day.

For more on Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard click here for their story, their wine list, where to find their wines in Maryland, info on the tasting room and visiting, their calendar of events, to join their wine club, and contact info.

P.S. I’m so grateful for the industry discount Sugarloaf  Mountain Vineyard bestowed upon me.  It was an early Thanksgiving and Christmas present I will never forget and it’s one of many things I shall be thankful for, not just this holiday season, but forever.

I’ll leave you with plenty of pictures from my stay.   I look forward to next time.

Happy Early Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Princesse By The Pool

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This, like most posts, is not just about the wine.  But it’s about the experience that revolves around the wine.  Because with out that, it’s just a glass and nothing more.  And not that there is anything right or wrong about that.  But I like to think that with every bottle, every sip, and then every sip after that can tell a story that adds meaning to your life and maybe someone elses.

If that sounded a bit more dramatic than intended, I don’t apologize.  Its been an interesting summer, at least for me.  It’s been a transition.  Things are happening that remind me of what is important in life.   And I’ve always known this, but sometimes you need a reminder, no matter how simple or harsh it might be.   However, a nice bottle of wine and some great company will always make the transition of the next aspects of life the next season, or the next anything, at least a little easier to navigate through.

We had a Summer in Maryland that gave us many beautiful days, but maybe not enough pool days.  It could be a scheduling thing, some off timing, or the universe resetting itself, but I hardly felt like I got to take advantage of pool season.   Where it used to be double digits became barely past a count on one hand.

Fortunately, late September provided one more day.   So because of that I’m happy to talk about at least one more Rosé.

The 2016 Rosé from Cellier des Princes may not be a blow away wine.  But it’s a solid, light, and approachable Rosé that will do its job when applied to any occasion.   This happened to fall on one of the last days of pool season.  And I don’t mean official, I mean the last time my friend may have hosted a pool day.   It’s all subjective.  We could get some glorious days in October that remind us that fall and pumpkin season arrived just a bit too soon.  But I’m not holding my breath, and that’s just fine.

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This Rosé with the majority being Grenache, with a little Syrah thrown it to keep it honest, tastes light and refreshing as any Rosé  should.  The lighter salmon pink color would also be a strong indicator of a lighter Rosé.

I couldn’t find much information on this wine otherwise.   The website is not the most organized, and I see no mention of the aforementioned bottle anywhere.  To tell you the truth, it doesn’t matter.  The wine was fun and that’s what matters.

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And since it was hot, a little more ice was needed.  You might think this may water things down a bit, but I think the ice only enhanced our sipping experience.  I say our because we had a great group of friends, but we also had their animal friend soak in some rays.

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She is the princess by the pool.    Thanks to my friend for the inspiration on this title.

For me, the wine started a bit slow, but after a few seconds that all went away.  I don’t think the bottle needed time to breathe or open up.  I just think my first couple sips started off awkward but just got better with time.    This is where the bottle never had a chance.

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And what a glorious bottle it was.  As fun as this wine was, I was even more enamored with the positive notes of celebration and friendship that adorned the label itself.  I was fortunate that at my local retailer, I grabbed one of the last one out of the cooler.  And at $10-$12, you really can’t go wrong and won’t be taking that much of a hit if its a wine that doesn’t win you over.

But those notes of positvity translated into the wine, the day, the experience, and all the other good stuff that should never fall by the wayside.

An animal friend always helps too.

This hopefully doensn’t conclude the Rosé and white wine portion for the year.  But this is traditionally where more reds will be appearing in the coming weeks, with a few whites thrown in for measure.  It’s only uphill from here but that’s been the intent of this blog from the onset.

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We had fun with this one and that’s the point of this thing.  I look forward to this continuing, and I look forward to maintaining this ongoing dialogue, conversation, and story with you.

Thank you so much and peace be with you.

And dogs are the best!

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.

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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