Barrel Thief
31st October, 2014

While at my first wine media event at Oak Farm Vineyards in Lodi,CA I whipped out my Quini app to make sure I remembered each and every wine I tasted. A big thank you to the owners and staff at Oak Farm for hosting and giving myself and 15 other bloggers the scoop as to why you have a water tower, (to hide the tanks). If you’re not into reading tasting notes and wine reviews, back track to my post on the visit there HERE.

I just tasted a Chardonnay from Oak Farm Vineyards and scored it 96/100. Bright appearance, with present-full aromas of fruity, fresh and vegetal. A medium-bodied white with fruity, floral and citrus flavours. The finish is layered. An overall good-excellent Chardonnay from U.S.A. Check out my review.

I just tasted a Gewurztraminer from Oak Farm Vineyards and scored it 86/100. Bright appearance, with light-present aromas of fruity, floral and citrus. A medium-bodied white with fruity, floral and citrus flavours. The finish is layered-complex. An overall acceptable-good Gewurztraminer from U.S.A. Check out my review.

I just tasted a Verdelho from Oak Farm Vineyards and scored it 87/100. Dull-bright appearance, with present-full aromas of floral, fruity and white flowers. A medium-full-bodied white with floral, fruity and white flowers flavours. The finish is layered-complex. An overall acceptable-good Verdelho from U.S.A. Check out my review.


I just tasted a Tievoli from Oak Farm Vineyards and scored it 85/100. Bright-intense appearance, with present-full aromas of woody, savoury and earthy. A medium-full-bodied red with woody, savoury and earthy flavours. The finish is layered-complex. An overall excellent Tievoli from U.S.A. Check out my review.

I just tasted a Barbera from Oak Farm Vineyards and scored it 84/100. Intense appearance, with light-present aromas. A medium-full-bodied red with assertive sweetness, flat acidity and rich tannins flavours. The finish is simple-subtle. An overall good barbera from usa. Check out my review.

I’ve said it before, I do not like reviewing wines, writing tasting notes or bad mouthing hard working wineries. With that in mind I can’t seem to stop using my Quini app. For blogging purposes it’s very handy for me. I can save all my tasting notes, whip out a score and tweet out my Quini bloom to the world at the same pace I drink my wine.

Cheers Truly, The Barrel Thief

Do you use a wine app to rate wines?

What do you think my swipe and tap wine ratings?

Will you try Quini?

26th October, 2014

OF Vin

Let me tell you, the friendships I made at the wine bloggers conference 2014 in Santa Ynez have yet to loosen their bonds. It’s where I met Peter Nowack, author of wine blog Bung R. Cooper; Celebrating Family Wineries. Ya can’t help but befriend a guy with big cowboy hat who tells you you’re incredibly photogenic and keep snapping your photo. Peter heard I was a Sacramento native and invited me to visit Oak Farm Vineyards in Lodi, for a media sneak preview of their new wine making facilities and tasting room.

After 14 hours of traveling from Guatemala to Texas, then Texas to Sacramento on a Friday night, I woke up Saturday fueled by coffee and a bowl of Cherrios and headed off to Lodi. When I arrived, I jumped into an on going tour after throwing on my make up in the car and running to the courtyard.




Oak Farm Vineyard is a 70-acre estate , located on DeVries Rd., in the Mokelumne River AVA.  The new facility has been a few years in the making, first starting as a working vineyard and event venue. The Panella family has been hosting weddings and wine tasting in the renovated redwood barn for a few years now. I always reflect on the amazing opportunities I have to visit these beautiful estates and try my hardest to promote the stories of these small family wineries.



Sandwiches and canapes were provided by Lodi Airport Cafe.

Redwood Barn- Built in 1864

Myself and 15 other bloggers were treated to a luncheon and wine tasting in the historic redwood barn built in 1864. I even ran into Rebecca Gomez from @thegourmez and found we’d been re-tweeting each other while both at the wine bloggers conference in July. After our tour around the new facility, I sat down and got to work using my Quini App to start reviewing the wines. My favorite wound up being the the 2012 Chardonnay aged in steel and oak barrels. Not a surprise, I favor steel/oak blends. Review post coming soon.

All in all, if you’re looking for that grand “Napa” feel when you’re wine tasting, look no further then Oak Farm Vineyards in Lodi, CA. The tasting fee is a reasonable $5/person, so you can taste, then take a bottle of Dolce Blanc or zesty Zinfandel to the patio and sit by the fire this fall. BYOB (bring your own blanket) and enjoy the country vistas that Oak Farm has to offer. OFV Grand Opening is this weekend October 25th-26th. RSVP HERE

Cheers Truly, The Barrel Thief

Vino Selfie!

Here are a few other links covering the winery’s new facility. – “Oak Farm Vineyards opens it’s ambitious new wine and tasting room” @Lodi_Wine – “Grand Opening of Oak Farm Vineyards New Winery and Tasting Facility” @WineBusiness – “Oak Farm Vineyards & Winery Expansion” @thegourmez –  “Oak Farm Vineyards: State of the Art Wine making on a Historic Property” @MsPullThatCork


03rd September, 2014


Attending the Wine Bloggers Conference 2014 in Santa Ynez afforded me all kinds opportunities to meet new people and connect with like minded wine enthusiasts. Each one had colorful backgrounds and a unique approach to embracing wine. Below are profiles of the wine bloggers I spend the majority of my conference time with. We we’re noted as being “thick as thieves” and rarely seen apart from one another. My last profile is not of a conference attendee but of a blogger I’ve been reading since last year. We started our blogs about the same time and I enjoy learning more about Washington winery visits through her posts.  Let me introduce you to my wine blogging circle….

Valeria Stride Label

When I first met Valerie, I knew right away this lady was a treat to know. Most people don’t welcome random strangers approaching them with arms wide open in pursuit of a warm embrace. After hugging it out I would find that Valerie Stride was an ambitious oenophile who had quickly climbed the ranks in WSET certification while teaching in Vancouver Canada. In fact she had  just returned from a trip to Italy which you can read about on her blog Demystified Vine. Her knowledge on BC wines was really impressive and her passion for quality and character together makes for some very good reading. @demystifiedvine

Marie LabelMarie Helena- Boisvert- Marie was pleasantly surprised to see how friendly I was with her surprise hug. I thought Americans we’re know for being open and friendly, no? I noticed her scholarship recipient badge tag and set out right away to make her my new friend. Marie is from Montreal, Quebec and her blog is a melody of videos interviews, tasting notes and travel. You can read more about Marie on her blog Le Apprentice Sommolier.

Josh LabelJosh Decolongon- Don’t ask how to pronounce his name because he doesn’t know. Your guess is as good as mine. Josh has been writing for a few years now and thank goodness because this freakin industry needs someone who can talk about wine I the fresh and flirty way that he does. Yes I said flirty people, wine is sexy and writing sexy isn’t as easy as E.L James makes it look. Josh’s blog can keep you engaged from beginning to end and his photographs makes you feel part of the story. Check out my friend Josh at @joshlikeswine

Alex LabelAlex Down- I heard in a movie once, “No hugs my dear I’m English, we only show affection to dogs and horses”. I forgot this advice altogether when I threw my arms around unsuspecting author Alex Down of the Riesling Revolutionary for a welcome hug at the conference opening reception. Alex has a love for the high acid German grape and along side his European wine tasting adventures he writes educational bits gaining advocates for the complexities and unique diversity that Riesling has to offer. Follow Alex at @alexdownwine and read his posts at

Emily labelEmily Jackson- Emily and I started our blogs around the same time. I can’t even recall how I found her. Maybe a suggestion by WordPress on who to follow? Regardless, all her posts were very exploratory and new in nature like mine and I didn’t want to loose touch. Emily lives in Washington state, somewhere I really want to live or visit someday and I live for her posts about local wineries she visits. If you are new to wine or an experience wine writer, check her out because her perspective is very unbiased and unique. Follow Emily at @havewenowine and

31st August, 2014

paso pt 2

Writing this post exhausts me. After our visit to Niner Estates and guided tasting by the the winemakers we reluctantly got back on the bus and headed to Tablas Creek Vineyards. Hold on to you stemware people because this was the first winery I ever went wine tasting at. Way back in 2008 I was visiting my friend in San Luis Obispo and while he was in class his friend invited me to go wine tasting. Of course I was oblivious to the whole culture around wineries but free wine and learning something new sounded like a good idea at 21. At 26 it’s still a good idea.

I was pretty confused when I walked onto the grounds because Tablas had done a completed 160 and renovation. I remember when the bar was just 10 feet long and now there were 4 bars, three rooms and shopping! Greeted by Jason Hass, he gave is a brief history of the winery and walked us down into the experimental vineyard for a tour. We stopped at the alpaca pen and Jason quickly lost all of our attention as we turned to the baby alpaca who was prancing around his mother.

From there I think he was saying something about biodiversity and how llamas are protective against the dumb sheep who are smart enough to jump the fence but not smart enough to avoid bands of coyote.

Curse my adorable stature of barely 5 feet! Jason gave a great demonstration of grafting but I missed it because I just wasn’t about to elbow my way around all the tall people.

Here are a few links of other  blog posts that outline our visit to Tablas Creek as well.

The Wine Compass

#WBC 2014 Paso Robles Excursion- Tablas Creek Vineyard

The Tasting Pour

Passing Through Paso

Drink What You Like

View for the Punt- A conversation with Jason Hass of Tablas Creek, host of WBC14 Pre-Conference Excursion Stop

Our last stop was was at Daou Vineyards where we drove about a half a mile up this long drive way to a beautiful tuscan-esque tasting room. Waiting for all 50 of us at the top were representatives, mostly winemakers and owners available to pour through some of Paso Robles best wines. I was really impressed with the dedication these winemakers and owners had for the region. It was windy and the sun started to set quickly but each one stayed outside and talked through all their wines. After I tasted through maybe 7 wines I tapped out and headed inside for some light appetizers and waited for dinner. My meal ticket was mixed up and somehow I ended up with the pescatarian menu option. Didn’t bother me any because it was swordfish on top of pesto gnocchi! I sat around a large dining table and listened to the discussion around me about Virginian wines, the wine industry and media  and before long I was exhausted by my day of socializing and wine. Like I said in my last post, it was a death march.

Paso Collage 1Paso Collage 2

Paso Collage 3


Thank you to all the wineries present for tasting; Adelaidia, Ancient Peaks, Bon Niche, Calcareous, CASS,  Chateau Margene, DAOU, Hammer Sky, Hunt Cellars, J. Lohr, Jada, Justin, Le Vigne, Parrish Family, Red Soles, Sextatnt, VSJ, and Vina Robles. Thanks for reading!

Cheers Truly,

The Barrel Thief

16th August, 2014

While I attend the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference I participated in what was just supposed to be a contest for me and instead I ended up being a total spokesperson and brand champion for this awesome app I was test driving. In a matter of three days I managed to rate 50+ wines and caught the attention of CEO Roger Noujeim and was pulled aside to talk shop. We launched into details on how Quini could be used by wine professionals and he grilled me to find out how I was using the app to quickly and with what purpose. I just the first day I had learned some uses, tips and tricks that not even his team had picked up on. Before I knew I had an iphone pointed at me and I was bearing my testimony on how much I loved the app. Check out the videos here and let me know how you like the app by visiting

Is there a wine app or general app that has changed the way you blog?

Do you think you’ll try the Quini App?

Would you even consider ever using a wine app to rate wines?

Let me know in the comments below and I’ll respond right away, I want to hear your ideas.

Cheers Truly,

The Barrel Thief

%d bloggers like this: