Barrel Thief
15th December, 2014


I am not what one would call a marathon drinker. I can drink exactly three pints of beer or two glasses of wine or two mixed drinks in one night without having a hangover. None of the above the should be mixed. Luckily I was able to acquire this knowledge with minimal social damages, I joined Facebook when I was 18 after all. You can do too much damage in three years. With that said, all my Vegas photos from when I turned 21 are now private except to those who were with me. Thank you Leon for driving me back to go get my ID.

So why would you find me at a “public tasting” tasting through dozens of wines? Four hours of tasting is definitely going to lead to intoxication! Stumbling out of the building and shoving my glass onto winery owners tables for another pour. No, the last thing I need is to be smashed on wine, so I would only go if I was there on business.

With a little luck I was granted a pass as a member of the Trade/Media to this years Fall San Francisco Vintners Market at Fort Mason. The last time I was here I was working for a winery and spent my whole weekend shouting over the crowds and trying to sell a message to passerby hoping they’d buy a bottle before they left. This year I came in an hour early before the crowds and weaved my way through specific brands to taste and hear a little about the wines.


A+ for being ballsy

The best part of public tastings is trying every wine on the grocery store shelf that you couldn’t buy because it didn’t fit in your six pack carrier! Plus, there are hundreds of wine brands that don’t have tasting rooms, they can’t turn a profit selling to stores or restaurants so the best way is to find themselves right in front of the end consumer. Let me walk you though some of the wines I tried…

This company had a good strategy, cute guys and pink wine! Er.. well even if it wasn’t their strategy it worked for me. I’d received a coupon in the mail for Uproot wines, met the owners, met a sales manager who followed me on Twitter, tasted the Grenache Blanc and still held out because I wanted the Rose. It was worth the wait because the Rose kicked @$$ and I loved it! Back story to the photo of the guy below, fellow Twitter friend @cstrieter from @drinkuproot and @senseswines wants a MT while I’m at the event. Well sure just take my pic and tag me… and I’ll tag you. Still have yet to see my tag.


Then I pass the cowboys! Whoa, just whoa! The boys from @rebelcoastwine are wild! Stached out with handmade signage and a megaphone coupled with a large bikini clad blonde made this an easy stop along the way. I remember Doug @vinocowboy from running into him at a country concert (no surprise there) at the Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg. He apparently remembered me too and came around the table for a polite side hug. HAHA! Their flagship wine Recklace Love is on my SF Vintners Market hit list. After all, who doesn’t want to buy wine from a cowboy drinking from a blue solo cup? Tip- The bottle glows in the dark, enjoy Recklace Love responsibly.

rebelcoastI have never been shy about the fact that I will fall super hard for a wine’s packaging before the wine itself. A few wines that caught my eye at the Sf Vintners Market were:

Hey Mambo – Dry Rose was a wine that I’d wanted to taste for awhile and just hadn’t sucked it up to buy at the grocery store. One doesn’t just buy ONE bottle of wine after all so it’s better if I just don’t start.

Vaso Di Marina- Everyone in Healdsburg had told me to go to Portalupi when I went back in June and I didn’t listen! What looked like an old school milk bottle was actually over a whole bottle wine, humm…. maybe 7 glasses or so for the great price of $24.00. I wanted to take it home but my shaky bus ride through SF prevented me from whipping out the plastic.


With a little restraint I walked out of there standing upright and had tweeted a few dozen comments on the whole event. I was glad to meet a few new people from wineries I wanted to visit, learned more about Lake County Wines and of course tasted dozens of great, great, great wines. My only hope is that wineries continue to attend this event to sell their wines.


08th December, 2014


Ok,  let me just address this outfit for one second. It was not my intention to look like an equestrian! While several kind people commented on how cute I looked, several others canceled them out by pointing out that I looked like I was ready jump on my stallion and jump the brick walls of the Culinary Institute. I don’t blame them, I really did just need a helmet. I’ll file that away for next years Halloween costume.

The week after the Napa Valley Film Festival, I was at Flavor! Napa Valley, a five day event with wine tasting, celebrity chef lead cooking demonstrations and more food then you could possibly consume. One could easily leave with gout or or at least a solid hang over.

Do you know what a smorgasbord is? It’s a variety or wide range of “something”. Flavor! Napa Valley offer the biggest smogasbord of amazing culinary bites from the best restaurants from up and down the valley. Mind you these are restaurants that I could not afford to eat at on a monthly basis let alone a weekly basis. (1.5 yrs until law school is over!) Dishes like “sugar pie pumpkin soups with tempura shrimp and nutmeg creme fraiche”, “braised oxtail with pitching flan and crispy shallots”, duck breast tostada on sweet potato puree with apple brown butter and blackberry! Bistro Jeanty brought their game face with a Boeuf Borguignon! With this many amazing foods to savor and taste I’m surprised I didn’t come out of the building with a few extra L-B’s!
Flavor1Oh.. I lost complete track of what I was talking about. Not just the food, but the event! I worked two shifts over the weekend. The first was at the Grand Appellation Tasting at the Culinary Institute at Greystone. Over 40 wineries and restaurants are available to taste through where you can visit with winemakers, chefs and restaurant owners. At $165 a ticket to get in the door, you better show up right when the doors open to make sure you sample everything! Again I checked badges, guided people into the correct rooms, snapped some photos on twitter and that was the extent of my responsibilities. The opportunity to taste all the great foods were by far the greater reward.


On Saturday morning I woke up early to set out menus and check in guests to the interactive lunch with Chef Rocco Dispirito. I picked to work this event because he’s such a hunk! Guests basicly sat in on a cooking show and were able to taste every dish and interact with Mr. Chef himself. Rocco had a lot to say on the topic of processed foods, high fructose corn syrup and eating healthy to live healthier, longer lives. We also went home with an issue of Health magazine! I love Health magazine! After the show, Rocco took the guests into the kitchen where each person donned a chef’s hat and were taught by Rocco how to make his dishes and all for the totally reasonable price of $135! Did I mention that all the proceeds of the event went to support the students at the Culinary Institute of America? Note to self… make friends with aspiring chefs.


I had a great time! You can follow #FlavorNapa and @FlavorNapa to see more photos and clips of the 5 day event. I wish I could have volunteered for more events but I needed some face time with my spouse and I had to fit work in there somewhere. I made some wonderful new friends, met new acquaintances and even met some fellow twitter friends!

For more information on how to volunteer next year visit

03rd December, 2014

November was an amazing month for me! It went by so fast, I stayed so busy and it was by far my best month since moving to Napa and starting my new job. Let me rewind and take you back to October ONE.

I spent the weekend moving into my new apartment in Napa and my roommate was going to be out of town. Imagine being a city with no friends, acquaintances and everyone you do know… is from work. Needless to day I spent quite a few nights surfing the web and wishing I was back in Sacramento having a glass of wine, deeply involved in a typical Sex in the City TV show “girls night” scene.

:::::Fastforward Two Weeks:::::

In one night of lonesome despair I had signed up for a group of Active 20/30 year olds and like !THAT! I have a dozen new acquaintances and soon to be new friends. I signed up to volunteer for several shifts at the Napa Valley Film Festival and to work a few cooking demonstrations for Flavor! Napa Valley. (more on Flavor! in another post-standby)


Volunteering is not everyone’s cup of tea. For some reason I have always been a “hand-raiser”, I ALWAYS raise my hand to volunteer when asked or given the chance. I really can’t help it. The Napa Valley Film Festival is one of those events I never thought I would be able to participate in, let alone attend. I mean it wasn’t cheap! A day pass which could potentially get you into 5 films was $95, $20/screening if you buy rush tickets. I spent about half my day checking passes, collecting tickets, and letting in late comers. The rest of my volunteering was spent watching the small private screenings of these films and listening to director or filmmaker commentary afterwards! In total I ended up watching 7 different films including: #chicagogirl, Sam and Amira, Wildlike, Eastside Sushi, Teacher of the Year, Botso, and series of narrative shorts. I learned a small bit of how the film industry works, the roles of director-producer-screenwriter-filmmaker. I was so grateful and received so much out of it compared to what I gave.

While I was sitting in on the film #chicagogirl, tweeting about the film THE #chicagogirl from the movie was tweeting me back! So was the filmmaker/director. That’s me with him in the sunglasses above. When I went to see Sam and Amira the filmmaker was supposed to show up for a Q&A but he had just won two awards during the awards ceremony while we were screening the film. The movie really deserved it so the crowd was easy to forgive and let him bask in his win. Winning these awards is kind of like a 97 point wine from Robert Parker. The more prestigious the film festival the more weight the awards carry. Several dozen wineries donated wines as sponsors and they could pour at each venue. Although I think the Stella Artois stole the show with their airstream and free goblets. Priest Ranch Winery had a really impressive set up – for a marketing geek like me I think they did the best at making their sponsorship dollars work for them.



My last screening was at the Mercedes Benz Theatre and felt the most glamorous.


If you’re still not sold on volunteering, according to the United Health Group a study showed that among those volunteers surveyed, 94% said that volunteering positively improved their mood, 78% said that volunteering lowered their stress levels and that volunteering improved their self-esteem. I will totally attest to all these claims

In the photo below I’m pictured with the filmmaker of Wildlike. Unfortunately the disk we had had a glitch and we were unable to finish the film in the last 30 minutes or so. The filmmaker came on stage and offered to send us all a private link to watch the ending.I was really impressed with how generous a gesture that was. He could have easily given away the ending, taken a few questions and left but he stuck around to let us take down our emails addresses for the finale.

Thanks for reading again you guys! I hope one of you decides to volunteer for a film festival or any event near you soon. The rewards are far greater then monetary.


If you want to volunteer next year, they could always use a helping hand!  Visit

30th November, 2014

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Back in September.. errr…awhile back…. I participated in the #FLXwine Riesling hour hosted by the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance. They graciously selected me as a participant so I would park myself in front of my twitter screen and  live-tweet about the wines I was tasting. Against the grain, but mostly because I was drinking and tweeting, I chose to drink  one bottle, the Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars with my husband (the white wine cynic) who helped out to the tune of two glasses.

When I finally had a night to relax and take on another bottle, I moved on to the Villa Bellangelo 2013 Dry Riesling. My husband is in law school and always studying, so one of the ways we spend time together is sitting across the dining room table reading and blogging.

Here’s me filling out my Quini reviews.

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Now what promoted the occasion to pop to cork on this little beauty? My brother, who joined the Marine core last year was home on leave and whenever he’s home it means we’re going to have sweet and sour pork + all the trimmings. Now if I could just turn him on to  the vino…. My mom came over with some killer Chinese food from Happy Garden in Elk Grove and I basicly mowed through a box of chow mein before I could snap a photo of it. I usually only eat the chow mien and rice… I might have a carb addiction.  After some intense Google searching, recommended food pairings for Riesling came up as mostly Asian cuisine and spicy foods.



My Quini review turned up a wooping 91 pointer!



Shortly after tasting the Villa Bellangelo Riesling I started to follow their twitter feed and check up on what was going on around Lake Seneca, NY. Before long, the winery started to follow me back, replying to my comments and I even received this great compliment below! I really respect a brand who reaches out to their fans/followers/enthusiasts and extends a hand of gratitude. As a blogger I appreciated that the winery was willing to engage with me even though they didn’t know this post was coming, nor that I would highly recommend their wine to friends.



Read about the 2013 Riesling launch from these other great bloggers! Ex-Post Facto Finger Lakes Riesling Launch  Finger Lakes Riesling Hour Tasting 

Stary Rad Wine Blog: Tasting Some #FLXRiesling


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

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