The Road Taken-Balletto Vineyards

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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both…* So begins the frequently referenced Robert Frost poem which alludes to choices made, paths traveled, destinies missed and revealed. When John Balletto was a very young man, he was forced to choose a path that would, again, diverge. Through trials and tenacity, […]

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Celebrating this Labor Day-Hacienda de Arínzano

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It marks the unofficial end to summer, a reason to gather with friends and family and enjoy the fruits of our labor. While some may consider staying at home with children as a break from labor, those who know are aware it is anything but a break. The days are long, we don’t ever clock […]

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Love at First Sight-Sonoma County

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We arrived at nearly midnight, weaving up Plum Creek Road, the canopy above blocked our view below. We entered through a porte-cochere, hidden again, and after a brief tour of the essentials, gave in to pull of the pillow after a long day of travel. As I went to sleep, I wondered what I would see […]

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A Confession- Hess Select #WineElevated

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I have a confession. I am reminded of this shortcoming every holiday season. The family gathers, appetizers are prepared, it is time to open something. And I freeze. On one shoulder there is the angel saying, “Share that one. It is divine and will go smashingly. It is the holidays, after all.” On the other […]

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Balance, Bubbles, and Bertolucci

Nearly two decades ago, a film set in the Tuscan countryside provided my first wine-related epiphany.  Not through her teenage prattle or any life-changing plot, but through one scene in particular.  The rich golden rays on a rustic table, wildflowers and clinking glasses, laughter and debate beneath the branches. I remember so clearly thinking: THAT.  […]

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Spring Forward

  One thing that is consistent about Texas weather is its inconsistency. Fifty degree swings in 24 hours are not unheard of.  In fact the week before Spring Break we had freezing temperatures, the weekend it began we hit the seventies, the second weekend was chilly and raining. Another consistent for Spring break is daily […]

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Storytellers-Sequoia Grove

This past summer, my family and I flew into San Francisco, pieced together equipment from my brother and father-in-law, and headed north.  I had seen them before.  I was probably eight.  At that age, everything seems a bit taller than it does now.  You tilt your head back, way back and gaze up, up, up […]

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Classic and Elegant-Franciscan Estates

When reviewing a wine, I like to come to it with a clear palate and a clear mind. When I have had sufficient time with the wine, I like to go back and read the winemaker’s notes and the history of the vineyard. Each piece of information paints a picture and build my understanding of the industry, the winemaker, and the wine itself. It also serves as a means for self-examination. Did I pick up on that nuance? Did it remind me of another wine from the same AVA? Do I have a good understanding of how that variety typically shows? And did the pairing I chose work or not with all of this in mind? Then I go back to the wine with this knowledge and continue to learn.
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East Coast vs. West Coast

This week I decided to sample two Chardonnays, back to back, for an East Coast/West Coast showdown.  The first Chardonnay was the 2010 Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay from North Carolina and the second was the 2010 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay ($20). The Biltmore was very easy to drink.  Which was great because we opened it after my son’s […]

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