First tasting generates smiles, not just due to wine

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I attended the first wine tasting of Mt. Town Wine Club last night, the group I launched recently on behalf of Jim Holton, owner of Mountain Town Station in Mt. Pleasant. The gathering was small, but a big success. Every one of the 10 people attending left feeling happy … and not just from the wine! The smiles were a reflection of exceeding expectations.

Luckily my task was only to promote the event, helping encourage people to come mostly through the Facebook Group page, and other various social media channels. The details associated with ensuring the event was a smashing success were the job of Hillary Williams, and she hit it out of the park with our first event. From the informative tasting placemats, the generous pours, easy to fill out wine order forms and the outstanding appetizer spread … everything was above and beyond.

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Together Hillary and I have partnered to gather a community of wine lovers, generate conversation and camaraderie, offer opportunities to come together, get to know each other and learn about and drink wine. The Facebook Group community is our chance to communicate and share interesting, fun things related to wine. These tastings are our chance to actually meet each other face-to-face, expand our knowledge and share a glass.

Last night Wine Club members gathered around a table inside Camille’s on the River with a shared love for wine. an interest in tasting some new varietals and becoming a bit more educated about wine. We introduced ourselves as we took our seats and we raised a glass, sharing a toast as the inaugural Mt. Town Wine Tasting group. Sommelier Belinda Ladouce of Fabiano Brothers walked us through the four wines and shared her wealth of knowledge about winemaking in Washington State as well as all things wine. The intimate setting allowed for lots of questions and conversation.

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From the exceptional selection of wines to the incredible spread of appetizers, which paired beautifully with the wines, everyone walked away happy to be part of the inaugural Mt. Town Wine Tasting group, and looking forward to the next tasting. Here are just a few of the take aways from last night’s event (some wine related, some wine club friend related):

Wine Notes:

  • There are more than 600 wineries in Washington State, it is the nation’s second largest wine producer with 50,000 acres planted.
  • Washington has 13  American Viticultural Areas (AVA), federally designated wine grape-growing region in the United States all but one located in Eastern Washington.
  • Washington Ranks 2nd nationally in premium wine production.
  • White Riesling among most popular wine produced in Washington.

Wine Club Members Chatter:

  • Red wine lovers surprisingly liked the Riesling from Ryan Patrick Vineyards. “Who knew we could like a sweet white?” “Light … nice for summer.”
  • The grilled Halloumi cheese on top of piece of grilled biscotti, followed by taste of the Chardonnay described as “an explosion in your mouth.” (it really was yummy, my first taste of Halloumi cheese ever. I loved it.)
  • Best for last … the 2009 Red Wine from Shining Hill was definitely worth the wait. “This tops off the night.”

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Magazines + wine = relaxation

Weekends are for relaxing, right? With our crazy lives, juggling the very active schedules of four kids, we don’t always get to do a lot of relaxing most weekends. But I try to sneak in at least a few minutes of down time on Saturday and Sunday. One of my favorite ways to relax is with a stack of magazines and a glass of red wine.

Magazines are one of my simple pleasures. Despite of all the technology today, magazines are not dead. Far from it, actually. I applaud and very much agree with the recent advertising campaign created by a group of the leading publishers in the industry called Magazines – The Power of Print.

Magazines – The Power of Print®

The double-truck ads in most of the top publications spell out the growth and popularity of magazines, explaining that readership among 18-34 year olds is growing, and even more interesting since Facebook was founded, magazines have gained more than one million young adult readers.

I’ve subscribed for years to a couple favorite titles. My top two are Fast Company and Better Homes & Gardens. Two significantly different types of content, I know. But I love them both. What I like most about these two publications goes beyond the editorial. Don’t get me wrong, the articles are always well-written, interesting, thought provoking and motivating. However, it’s the overall layout that grabs me and keeps me coming back for more.

As a writer, editor and publisher myself I’m fully aware of the important role graphic design plays in bringing words to life. You could say I have become somewhat of a graphic design snob. My expectations for design are very high.

To make it into my magazine pile a publication has to be filled with compelling articles  presented in a format that’s fresh, contemporary, fun and easy-to-read. If the layout is too busy or the articles are too long, sorry … it’s off my pile. After all, my relaxation time is limited. I have to be very selective.

While I have my favorites, which are delivered in my mailbox every month, I am always open to new titles. In adding new magazines to my pile, I’ll often visit our local library and peruse the extensive collection of magazines. I always leave the Chippewa River District Library with an armful of recent issues of a variety of publications. Some magazines may make into my pile once, but only the good ones make it twice.

Recently I picked up copies of a couple magazines I haven’t seen in awhile. New to my pile this week is Food & Wine, Wine Enthusiast and Cooking Light. Food Network has made it to my pile for several months in a row now. I’m considering a subscription. While at the library, I couldn’t resist grabbing a few past issues of some of my other favorites, as well — Fortune, Inc. and Entrepreneur Magazine.

On a good weekend, I am typically able to flip through the pages of at least half the magazines in my pile. With close to 10 titles in my pile, I am hopeful for a good bit relaxation this weekend.

I’d love to hear what’s in your pile. Perhaps I’ll add your favorite magazine to my pile!