Barrel Thief
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

06th August, 2014

I’m very excited to post my first round of Quini reviews to share with you! If you don’t already know what a Quini is, refer back to my intro post “What the Heck is a Quini” and find out more. In my last post I talked about how the Quini app was going to make my blogging routine easier and this is exactly how I’m going to do it.

Below are 2 wines that I’ve tasted and rated using the Quini app. A wine rating and review system founded and developed in Vancouver, Canada. Many wine bloggers have their own way of rating wines. Joe Roberts has is ABC system and some graphical awards he hands out, some simple say buy or don’t buy, thumbs up or thumbs down, most use the 100 pt system and I’m over here like auto-fill please!

From here on out I’m going to share and discuss my results with using the Quini app and finally be able to rate wines in a fair and mildly unbiased manner. Since this is the first round you’ll probably see some changes and inconsistencies but bear with me as this is the only form of wine ratings you’ll see from me. Without further delay……

I just tasted a 48% Pinot Grigio, 37% Greanche Blanc, 15% Falanghina from Castoro cellars

and scored it 83/100. Check out my review.

I just tasted a Syrah from Ecluse Wines and scored it 95/100. Check out my review.

06th August, 2014

There isn’t really anything more satisfying for someone in their 20′s than finding an app that makes their life easier. Multiplied, when that app is for wine and you are a wine blogger like me. Ok people, prepare for your mind to be blown to the point of washing your walls of the debris.

I didn’t know when I arrived at the wine bloggers conference in Santa Ynez last month that I’d find a way to make taking wine tasting notes 1000 times easier for someone like me who blogs about wine but also has no interest in writing tasting notes whatsoever. Ok enough build up….

Enter the Quini app. A wine tasting application that has completely changed the way I take wine tasting notes, rate wines and blog. I started using Quini as just a way to enter a contest but soon found over a dozen ways to help me in my wine blogging endeavors. Quini walks you through the tasting process step by step with 99% tap and swipe capabilities. No typing! Unless you want to.. I’ll get to that part. Eyes, nose, mouth, finish, opinion, that’s the full scope of our tasting experience right? Instead of writing down all the notes you’d need, simply tap and choose from some pre-selected aromas, and flavors slide a few tabs to iron out the details and your done. You can add your own self written notes in the opinion section and if you have Siri, your having your notes scribed for you.

My favorite part is the auto fill wine tasting notes! I simply tap a button and all the categories I chose from are woven together to make a well constructed tasting note ready for publish. Much better than what I’ve tried to write in the past. If I use the word crisp one more time to describe a white wine I’ll slit my wrists to prevent me from writing this blog. Sheesh!

Back to all the perks, as a blogger I can showcase my own credibility and consistency with the wines I rate. Now some people will say I have no business rating wines and publishing those opinions because I have zero certification and barely any experience. I mean I’ve only been drinking for 6 years after all …..legally. Never the less with a well crafted system like this I feel like I know what I’m looking for and publishing my over all taste profile might help some new wine explorer in the future. I read wine reviews on blogs all the time when I first started drinking that sweet, off-dry nectar and they really helped me get comfortable with the whole process.

With this new app I think the wine tasting process will be accessible to everyone interested in wine and can help every new and experienced wine drinker explore what they love. They’re slogan is “opening wine” and that really is the result you’ll get. Quini can guide you through each of your tasting experiences and you’ll be a more confident wine consumer to boot.

Opening Wine

Cheers Truly,
The Barrel Thief


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