Perfection in Walla Walla Washington

2012-08-07 | WINO Gal | Wine

I am heading to Walla Walla Washington next week – hosting some friends through Seattle and then off to Walla Walla wine country. I could boast the attributes of the region but to be honest, it’s a pretty easy draw, who doesn’t like great wine, beautiful vineyards and hob-knobbing with the winemakers?   This will be first in a series of blogging my escapades in Walla Walla. So it is only fitting that I begin with where I will be resting my head…at Girasol Vineyard & Inn of course! “Nothing but the best” as my husband says. I have visited Walla Walla on many occasions and this is the only place I choose to stay; I can’t image staying anywhere else.   Girasol Vineyard & Inn is the perfect place to enjoy the casual, relaxed lifestyle of wine, food and friends. The boutique Inn that offers three luxury king bed suites, private entrance, and a patio with sweeping views of the vineyards and mountains. I can’t wait to sit out on the patio with a glass of... More

Get the Skinny on Wine

2012-06-11 | WINO Gal | Wine

It’s time to break out the swimsuits and the wine!   Agreed, wine and a bikini don’t typically work well together. So if you are worried about those extra pounds, I have a find for you.   Skip the over 100 calories glass of wine and opt for Aveleda Vinho Verde and Casal Garcia at only 76 calories per glass.   Vinho Verde is a crisp, fresh and light wine from northern Portuga. Aveleda is the leading producer of Vinho Verde and was selected in 2011 as International Winery of the Year for the 9th time by Wine & Spirits Magazine. Aveleda Vinho Verde is a well balanced combination of Trajadura, Loureiro, Arinto and Azal varieties, with an immediately attractive, re-freshening, crisp, apple-flavored palate and plenty of acidity.   Casal Garcia makes a white and a rose. The white is made with the Trajadura, Loureiro, Arinto and Azal varieties, resulting in a just off-dry white with notes of citrus and a light fruity nose.   Casal Garcia Rose is made with the Portuguese... More

Real Housewives of NYC....

2012-06-11 | WINO Gal | Wine

Are you a fan of “The Real Housewives of New Your City”? If so you know the sassy, wild-card, star of Bravo’s hit reality show, Ramona Singer.   Known as the entrepreneur and Pinot Grigio connoisseur of the bunch, Ramona teamed up with Opici Wines to create her perfect Pinot Grigio.   “When I developed Ramona Pinot, it was important to me that this was a smooth wine that could be enjoyed on its own, and we really accomplished that,” said Ramona.   Ramona Pinot Grigio is made from 100% Pinot Grigio grapes grown in the Veneto region of Italy. The wine is crisp, fresh and fruity. Selling price $14-$15 per bottle at your local Bev Mo or Total Wines.   Have a glass of Ramona Singer Pinot Grigio and catch the new season of “The Real Housewives of New York City”. We all need a little drama in our lives, don’t we?!?  ... More

Save the Dates...

2012-04-02 | WINO Gal | Wine

Mark your calendar for these not-to-be-missed wine events in Arizona….   AZ Wine and Dine Thursday, April 12, 2012 - Sunday, April 1, 2012 AZ Wine & Dine will showcase Arizona's premier chefs, restaurants, resorts, fine wines and craft beer. The hip, new Scottsdale Quarter location sets the perfect tone for a magical evening of food and wine. The top chefs from renowned restaurants and resorts will offer culinary delights while rocking jazz beats fill the Arizona night sky. Boutique wines and craft beers will be paired with each dish to ensure a palate-pleasing experience in a fun, festive atmosphere. Visit for more information.   Southeast Arizona Wine Growers Festival Saturday, April 14 and Sunday, April 15, 2012 Join Kief Manning, winemaker at Kief-Joshua Vineyards, and 14 other Arizona Wineries at the 2012 Southeast Arizona Wine Growers Festival. In addition to live music, great food and fabulous wine, you will be able to meet winemakers from... More

Sparkling for Holiday Entertaining

2011-12-16 | WINO Gal | Wine

When I think of holiday entertaining, I immediately think SPARKLING. Is there anything more festive than those bubbles?   So when Anthem Country Club hosted a Chandon Winemaker Dinner, I was quick to sign up. It was a wonderful evening...the Club was decorated beautifully, the staff was spot-on and kudos to the new Chef for some wonderful pairings.   But alas, the shining star of the evening was Chandon. After 30 years, Chandon is an expert in sparkling. They blend the best of French tradition with new world innovation and it is evident in every yummy bottle. Chandon also has lovely still wine varietals such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.   Three highlights of the evening were the Chandon Rose Sparkling, Chandon Chardonnay and the winemaker, Tom Tibruzi.   First, the Rose, a dramatic pink tint with strawberry, citrus and apple notes all perfectly balanced. This is a sparkling that can hold up to most foods. Retail is around $22.00.   Second, the Chardonnay,... More

Lets Talk Port

2011-09-27 | WINO Gal | Wine

At the end of a decadent meal, a glass of port with a hearty cheese tray is just the ticket. Add a little dark chocolate and perhaps a strawberry or two and you have perfection.   Port is a fortified wine – fortified by the addition of a neutral grape spirit (such as brandy) in order to spot fermentation which then leaves extra sugar in the wine and increases the alcohol content. The wine is aged in barrels then bottled. Ports come in two forms, ruby and tawny. A Ruby Port is younger, sweeter and fruitier while a Tawny Port has aged longer and has a more complex characteristic. In a 20 Year Old port, the fruit has mellowed further than in the 10 Year Old, and the spicy, nutty aromas of ageing are more powerful and intense.   A particularly nice port is the 20 Year Old Taylor Fladgate Tawny. I personally like this port because it is smooth, powerful and spicy. It retails for around $50 and may be found at most wine stores. Below is what the tasting-pros have to say:   Robert... More

Hot Days and Chilled Rose

2011-08-29 | WINO Gal | Wine

This heat is out of control! And the only way to survive is in the pool…with a good glass of Rose, of course   Rose can range from hot pink to a gentle blush. The color depends on the grape varietal and how long the skins were allowed to hang out with the juice. The flavor profile is all over the place from sweet to super dry. I personally like a dry Rose.   As mentioned previously, Rose is a great hot day, pool wine...Serve chilled. It also pairs well with a multitude of foods because the wine is so refreshing and typically light. Fish, chicken, ham, salads, burgers and fruit, all go great with a Rose.   Here are a few Rose wines to check out: Maryhill Winery, in Washington, produces a Rose of Sangiovese. It’s a refreshing Rose with hints of strawberry and nice minerality. The wine retails around $12 per bottle and can be purchased at Bev Mo.   Delille Cellars has created a Rose with the traditional European flare. Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvedre make up this... More

Once Upon a Time there was a Naive Wine Lass

2011-08-16 | WINO Gal | Wine

Photo Credit: Chateau Ste Michelle
Once upon a time there was a naïve lass. This poor lass walked through life with no wine palate and no knowledge of the romantic world of wines. Her only experience with wine was a trip through Eastern Washington lovingly called the “Fruit Loop” (the name says it all). For reasons she may never completely understand (let’s not question fate), she was hired at the top Washington wine company where she proceeded to learn the intricacies of wine. Now, she spends too much money each week on her “passion” and has become a picky wine-drinking lass. Ah to be naïve again!   Were you a naïve lass or lad once upon a time? What experience moved you from the boxed Chablis, super fruity Riesling or that dreaded white Zinfandel?   Well, to continue my story…   On a sunny Seattle day (that was truly make-believe), I had the opportunity to sit in on a wine tasting with Chateau Ste Michelle’s winemaker at the time, Erik Olsen. I was curious to see how the other-half tasted... More

Did you know …Only 4% of the wine produced in CA comes from Napa?

2011-08-04 | WINO Gal | Culinary

We recently enjoyed a few days in Napa…okay, “enjoyed” is an under-statement! The trip was my first as a wine “tourist” instead of a wine-worker-bee. We visited many amazing wineries that I will blog at a later date but let’s start with the Conn Creek Winery Experience. WOW!   At one point in my career, I oversaw programs at Conn Creek Winery so I am very familiar with the winery and wines. We were traveling with friends and since I had never taken advantage of the VIP experience, this seemed like the perfect time.   The Comprehensive Blending Experience is one of the best in California. The room is surrounded by barrels with a table full of tasting mats, glasses and beakers. For the next couple of hours our wine educator gave us an overview of the Napa Valley AVA, guided us through barrel tastings, instructed us on the blending process and gave us an overall FUN time. It is a true hands-on experience! After we each blended our perfect bottle of wine, we corked... More

Great Wine! Great People!

2011-07-24 | WINO Gal | Wine

I often am asked “what is a fun wine itinerary for a long weekend”. Most people expect that I will say “Napa” and I must say that it is on the top of the list. But if you are looking for a long weekend wine get-a-way with personality and warmth, Walla Walla Washington is truly the place.   Walla Walla is in the foothills of the Blue Mountains. The area has over 1.800 acres of grapes and is the home of over 100 wineries with tasting rooms. In the center of town is a cute historic district filled with great restaurants, boutiques, art galleries and of course, tasting rooms.   The residents, which include 100s of winemakers, are friendly and very proud of their community. Walla Walla was just named by Rand McNally THE friendliest small town. And I must agree with the vote, no where will you find a warmer, friendlier, relaxed community.   Arrive in Walla Walla and stay at my personal favorite, Girasol... More

Help Breast Cancer Research!

2011-06-27 | WINO Gal | Wine

Fight against breast cancer while you sip semi-sparkly Rose. Aveleda, one of the leading producers in Portugal, will donate $2 for every case sold in June of Casal Garcia Rose to the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure.   The grapes come from the Vinho Verde Region of Portugal. Vinhos Verdes wines are light and fresh, and are intended to be drunk early. The name means “Green Wine”, referring to the youthful freshness.  Check out the video to get  a feel for the region.   Aveleda Casal Garcia Rose is available at Bev Mo for $8. This wine is perfect for fish, spicy cuisine or a poolside afternoon. With a low alcohol content (10.5%)and natural acidity, the wine is light, fresh and has an effervescent mouth feel. Served chilled.   To learn more about this producer go to   Holly Matson WinoGal... More

A Wine with History!

2011-06-25 | WINO Gal | Wine

In honor of the upcoming 4th of July celebrations….a wine with history!   Mateus is a brand from Portugal that was created in 1942; production began at the end of World War II. The flavor profile appealed to the international market and became a huge hit. At that time the appeal was its fizzy, sweet, easy drinking profile.   Eventually, sales diminished so to breathe life back into the brand, a re-package and re-launch began. The new package capitalized on 1970s nostalgia. Along with new packaging came an updated flavor profile; less sweet and slightly more sparkling.   Today, you can find Mateus in its flask-shaped bottle, inspired by the flasks used by soldiers in WWI, at Bev Mo for approx $6.99.   Serve well chilled on a steaming hot day, such as this 4th of July, and you won’t be disappointed. Its not a dry Rose, it is a unique, fizzy, lively, fresh, $6.99, Rose....... More

Great Value Patio Wine

2011-06-18 | WINO Gal |

Yesterday’s temperature made it to 100 degrees…for a Seattle transplant that is HOT!  So my husband and I decided that we needed a little pool time followed by a bottle of wine on the patio.  We broke out the 2010 Bellaruche Cotes du Rhone Rose.  This was my first experience with Bellaruche wines and I must say I was extremely impressed!  Immediately the soft pink color pleased my eye.  The nose was a mix of raspberry, citrus and a bit of floral.  But most pleasing was the taste; well balanced with just the right amount of fruit and acidity.  If you like a light, fresh rose, you will love the 2010 Bellaruche Cotes du Rhone.  You can find this wine at Bev Mo and Total Wines for approx $12.99. Great Value! ... More

A Happy Wine

2011-03-18 | WINO Gal |

I must admit that I have a soft spot for a varietal called, Gruner Veltliner.  On days when the world looks a bit unruly, I refer to it as my “Happy Wine”.  Light, chipper, easy to drink, dry and well balanced…it is the perfect wine for the patio.  One of my favorites is the Berger 2009 Gruner Veltliner.  It is an Austrian liter-bottling with a crown cap.  Very fun to bring out at a party. It’s not easy to find but Nancy and Bryan at Brix Wine Spot in Cave Creek will order a case for you.  Cost is approximately $13-14 for a one liter bottle.  Always a huge hit at our BBQs!  It just has a way of reaching out and appealing to everyone. More

Rouge Vodka

2011-02-18 | WINO Gal |

Decided to (needed to) break out of the Wine World for the night…. Our uncle, the vodka drinker, was in town so we decided to have a little fun and do a vodka taste test.  The things I put my family and friends throughJ If you drink vodka with a mixer then you probably don’t care which brand you choose.  I am a vodka martini Gal so good vodka is paramount to my experience. I won’t “call out” the losing vodka brand names but let us just say I had a sufficient representation. Must say it was a fun night!  But more importantly, I found my NEW FAVORITE VODKA.  Rouge Vodka was super smooth, no burn and had a great finish.  I looked it up on  and found the following information:  Distilled 5 times, made from Oregon Cascade water and filtered through white rose petals (that is super cool!).  Best part is the price is in the mid $20s which is great for super premium vodka. I found the process interesting:  They take high quality grain; ripen it in... More