It had been over a year since my last adventure at Wine and Canvas and I had been itching to paint again for quite some time. I was so happy when my friend Juanita was able to join me. Both our hubbies were working so it was a perfect opportunity for a Girls’ Night Out.
We got settled in with our wine and a cheese plate and were ready to begin.
My wine selection for the evening was Sycamore Lane Cabernet Sauvignon from California. It was a nice bold red with a good balance.
Under the expert guidance of our instructor, we started with the background.
Next we added the vase, followed by the flowers and vines. Our instructor did such a fabulous job teaching and guiding us. It had been my intention to take more pictures of each step of our progress, but we were having so much fun I forgot!
Juanita’s was just stunning! It was hard to believe that this was her first painting.
I got a bit over zealous with blending the colors in my flowers that I lost some of the definition.
After I got home, I attempted some touch ups. I’m not sure yet that I’m finished with it. The great thing about this project is that I can always go back and make it even better if I want.
What a fun night out. And so much better with a friend. I can’t wait for our next excursion!
Three gorgeous days! And a group of happy “winos”. The harvest was work, but oh so much fun!
August 27, 2017 – Aromella and Vignoles
The day began at 7:30 AM. We received our instructions from Tony and headed out to the vines.
Netted to protect them from the birds, the vines were waiting for us.
We got to work unsnapping the nets and harvesting the fruit with grape razors. (This are magical tools that work so nicely – much better than clippers. Add two to our Christmas list!)
Meet Aromella. A white grape with a tart yet sweet flavor. There’s nothing quite like tasting the grapes fresh of the vines.
Next it was Vignoles. Another white grape a bit more acidic in flavor than the Aromella. It it noticeably different with its very tight clusters.
As our bins filled, we emptied them into larger containers on the flatbed. The yellow harvesting bins hold approximately 25 pounds of grapes.
About 3-1/2 hours later, we were back in the winery loading the grapes into the crusher/destemmer.
Two horizontal augers move the grapes through the machine. As you can tell by the tight clusters, this is Vignoles being processed.
The grapes are quickly and easily separated from the stems…
…and the resulting must is pumped into the huge bladder press.
As water is pumped into the bladder, it expands pushing the must against the sides and pressing the juice out of the grapes. The fresh juice was so sweet and delicious! From here, the juice is pumped into the fermenting tanks.
September 3, 2017 – Vignoles and Marquette
Day two and we were back at it. This time harvesting the remainder of the Vignoles and moving on to Marquette.
A dark purple grape, the Marquette was easier to see among the leaves which made our work go much more quickly.
Marquette is another beautiful grape with wonderful sweetness. After having eaten wine grapes, I doubt I’ll ever have a desire for store bought table grapes again.
David happily volunteered to man the hose as the must powered through to the fermentation vat. The crushing and destemming process was much the same as it was for the white grapes. However, red varietals are fermented on the skins and seeds before the juice is pressed off.
We even got to do some actual grape stomping! If the vats had been just a bit larger, no doubt Vicki and I would have been dancing around in them like Lucy!
After the work was done, there was plenty of time for fun! Here Donna, Vicki, and I are headed back to the winery with thoughts wine glasses dancing in our heads.
After lunch and a few glasses of wine (well maybe more than just a few), Vicki and I tried out some new lipstick that Jen shared with us. Just like teenage girls, we had to do selfies!
Girls just wanna have wine! Er, I mean girls just wanna have fun! We did both!
September 11, 2017 – Marquette and Noiret
On our third and final harvest day, we were picking Noiret and processing the Marquette from our previous pick. Tony had the nets unsnapped and the vines waiting for us. We worked hard to search through the robust foliage to make sure we got every grape.
Noiret is another red grape with beautiful color and flavor. The grapes were larger in size than the Marquette.
Before we could process the Noiret, we had to move the fermented Marquette out of the fermentation vats. It had completely fermented to dry as evidenced by the seeds floating on top and the lees falling to the bottom. In between was beautiful new red wine.
Not a drop should be wasted! You can see the lees (the thick sediment) I’m scraping from the bottom of the vat so that it can be pressed off. And yes, my wine glass is in my hand. I didn’t spill a drop of that either!
As you can see, it is quite the team effort at this point in the process.
Once the Marquette was moved into the tanks where it would continue to process, the vats were cleaned and we began crushing and destemming the Noiret.
The Noiret, like the Marquette will be fermented on the skins and seeds before it is pressed. The must was lighter in color with a bit more foam than the Marquette.
What a great time we had and what a great experience this was as we got to see a much larger wine making operation. We learned so much from this hands on process. And of course we are looking forward to next year when we get our first samplings of the final product from these efforts. Thank you Tony and Deb for this opportunity!
Although we had had quite the whirlwind of activities the week our daughter visited and were tempted to just stay home and recover after she left, the day was just too pretty to stay inside. We opted for another trip to Brianza to enjoy the summer breeze and a bottle of wine on the patio.
Classy Canine, Peanut, accompanied us on our visit. While we were tasting, he and Winery Dog, Whisky, got to know each other and became fast friends.
Thinking it might be a “white day” I sampled their 2015 Chardonnay and 2016 Dry Riesling. Both were delicious but ended up not speaking to me after all. So on to the reds it was. I revisited the 2016 Noiret, the 2014 Cynthiana (my usual favorite), Italian Stallion – 50% Cynthiana and 50% Chambourcin, and their newly bottled Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. It was hard to choose! But in the end, my love for Chambourcin won out.
We settled in at one of the outside patio tables to relax with our bottle of Italian Stallion. What a beautiful day it was!
It is hard to believe it had taken us until the end of July to visit The Little Kentucky River Winery. Our son is home from college and working so instead of having to juggle two schedules and transportation, this summer we have had three. He was off work early this particular Saturday so once we got him home, we were able to escape and enjoy live music and wine on a beautiful night at one of our favorite outdoor venues.
The Troubadours of Divine Bliss were playing and we had two new releases of wine to try.
I loved their new formulation of Kentucky Rain, which is now a Pinot Gris. It was nicely balanced, tasty, and refreshing. In fact, it almost tempted me away from my usual selection.
The new Smokehouse Red is a Syrah and delightfully smoky with a good amount of wood which was quite to my liking and truly befitting of the name.
Bushmaster was not such a fan of the Syrah and moved on to the Plum Sinful and Miss Bessie’s Pick.
Ultimately, we agreed upon their 1812 Cabernet Franc.
We settled into their comfy over-sided Adirondack chairs to enjoy the music, the wine, and the perfect evening.
My legs were a bit too short to reach the rock wall so Bushmaster came to my rescue with the cooler from our car.
A while later, we were joined by a small guest, who too, seemed to be enjoying his summer evening.
I wondered if he might be a prince but then remembered my prince was the one who had retrieved the cooler earlier.
Thank you to Teresa and David for another enjoyable evening! We are hoping it doesn’t take us so long to return the next time!
Two weeks ago while I was attending a conference out of town, Bushmaster took the night off work and met me after my classes were over. Open until 9 PM, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to visit Chrisman Mill Vineyards tasting room.
Little did we know that they had moved but it only took a small bit of rerouting to find our way to their new (well new to us) tasting room at the Fayette Mall.
Not only had their location change, but their tasting format had as well. To take advantage of a larger variety of their wines, we each selected a flight and then shared the samples.
My picks were:
- First Vineyard Reserve – Red blend of Chambourcin, Norton, and Cabernet Franc
- Norton – Aged 18 months in American Oak Barrels
- Norton Reserve – Aged over 24 months in Cuvee Oak Barrels
Bushmaster opted for:
- Vidal Blanc
- La Madre – Vidal Blanc Dessert Wine
Not surprisingly, my favorite was the oaky Norton Reserve. We both enjoyed the Blackberry and La Madre dessert wines.
As we visited and talked wine making with our host, he offered us a sample of their Chocolate which is a chocolate infused Desert Wine. While I love chocolate and I love wine, I’m not really a chocolate wine fan. After our initial sample, our host added a splash of the Norton Reserve which changed the experience completely. The red wine added a different dimension. I still prefer my chocolate in solid form, but I was surprised how much better I liked this impromptu blend. Definitely something to keep in mind for the next time we do a tasting that includes a chocolate infused wine.
Summer nights. Beautiful weather. Good music. Great wine.
Gotta love it! And we do!
July 1, 2017
To kick off our holiday weekend, we grabbed dinner and headed out to Brianza Gardens — Pizza for Bushmaster and Chinese for me.
In amongst the wine barrels, I’m always in my happy place.
We enjoyed the musical stylings of Holly Spears.
And of course their wine! Bushmaster opted for Sweet Bottom Tropical while I selected their 2014 Cynthiana. Cheers!
July 15, 2017
Two weeks later we were back. This time with several of our friends after wine tasting at Party Town. Marty Connor was the featured musical guest. Dinner was custom created pizzas from Rapid Fired Pizza and our wine for the evening was the 2014 Cynthiana.
It’s always crazy fun with this crew and a good time was had by all!
The Verona Vines and Wines Tour featured four wineries in Verona, Kentucky all within minutes of each other. What a fun day of wine tasting with friends we had lined up!
We couldn’t have asked for a better day. The weather was gorgeous!
Our first stop was Verona Vineyards. Their wine list had doubled since our last visit. We sampled all they had to offer:
- 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2015 Petit Verdot
- 2016 Chardonnay
- 2016 Charonnel
- White Trio – a white blend of Riesling, Pinot Grigio, and Viognier
The general consensus among our group was that the Cabernet Sauvignon was the favorite, with the Chardonnel coming in second.
Carla and Jen ordered a cheese plate which featured Luna Mercato Gouda Pecan Spread. Well seasoned with pecans, onion, garlic, and salt, it was quite a tasty spread. Located in Louisville, Kentucky, Luna Mercato specializes in cheese spreads, dips, and gourmet cheeses. We’re going to need to be on the look out for more of their products.
Our next stop was Verona Landing Vineyard. Not a winery per se, but rather a vineyard which produces grapes for Verona Vineyards. They offered two wines of their own that were also produced and bottled at Verona Vineyards:
- 2016 Chardonnel
- 2012 Rose Cabernet Franc
The Chardonnel was very similar to what we had had at Verona Vineyards. Both wines were well iced and quite refreshing in the heat of the day.
Our pilot, Ray, of course had to check out the planes. Boys and their toys!
On to Schoolyard Winery! We had been there just two weeks earlier and were happy to introduce this new winery to our friends. It was quite crowded so we opted for a bottle of their Merlot while everyone else did a tasting. The wines that were available were:
- Schoolhouse Red – Cabernet Sauvignon
- Honor Roll – Merlot
- Old School – Riesling
- Homecoming – red blend of Norton and American
- Teacher’s Pet – Rosé Catawba
- Spring Break – Cayuga
- Recess – Niagara
Everyone loved the ambiance of the restored school house with its school themed wines and decor.
Our final stop and resting place was Brianza Gardens and Winery. We sampled a few of their wines before settling on bottles of their 2014 Cynthiana and Sweet Bottom Tropical. Their full wine list included the following:
- 2015 Riesling
- 2015 Chardonnay
- 2016 Vignoles
- 2015 Vignoles
- Sweet Bottom Blush – blend of White Zinfandel, Vignoles, and Peach
- Sweet Bottom Tropical – tropical blend with fruity notes
- 2016 Sweet Bottom White – white blend of Vidal Blanc and Riesling
- 2015 Sweet Bottom White – white blend of Vidal Blanc, Bignoles, Riesling, and Cayuga
- Brittany Red – Marquette
- 2016 Noiret
- 2014 Cynthiana
- 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon
- Italian Stallion – red blend of Cynthiana and Chambourcin
- Sweet Bottom Red – red blend of Concord and Blackberry
- Sweet Bottom Black – Chocolate Infused
As everyone completed their tastings, we made our way out to the patio where we joined by even more of our friends. We enjoyed picnic fare and Chad ordered pizza for delivery. Brittany Red and Sweet Bottom Tropical were the popular wines of the evening.
Amongst our laughter and conversation there was live music and even some dancing.
Of course the evening wouldn’t have been complete without Ray trying on my hat. He wears it well, don’t you think?
The Verona Wines and Vines Tour was such a nice event. We all ended our tour with a complete set of wine glasses that we collected at each winery. What a wonderful way to spend a summer day among friends!
It was so nice to be able to visit MillaNova again. And this time in a more relaxed manner. The last time we were here, we had stopped by on our way to our son’s state band concert. Our son had ridden the bus with the rest of the band and in all the mirth and excitement had left his concert attire back in the band room. By the time he texted us he was in a panic and there was no time for us to shop for replacements to rescue him. He never forgot ANY pieces of his uniform ever again.
We were so distracted that day I can honestly say I don’t remember what I tried and Bushmaster couldn’t remember even being here until we arrived for this visit.
Enough of that! On to the wine tasting! From their extensive wine list, we selected the following:
- Sinful-Leah – Zinfandel
- Mafia Merlot
- Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Petite Sirah Royale
- Dry Riesling
- Semi-Sweet Riesling
- Alyssa’s Blush – a blend of Catawba, Diamond, and Concord
- Mint Julia
- Walnut Ridge
The reds were a bit too fruity and soft for me but Bushmaster liked them all.
We tried both of the Rieslings side by side for comparison. The dry was crisp and refreshing and the semi-sweet leaned more toward the sweet side.
Of course Bushmaster could not resist a blend with Diamond in it. If we are able to source our own Diamond, I know he’s doing his research for ideas.
It was the more unusual Mint and Walnut wines that caught our fancy here. The Mint Julia was refreshing but not overly sweet with hints of wintergreen. We can’t say enough about the Walnut. It was so delicious. I am now in search of the prefect walnut cake to pair with it for a special dessert!