Bogus surrender = Secret resistance?

I think I finally broke Steve. His spirit I mean. Gone are the huffy breaths when he has to zig-zag through the boxes of decorations and carnival games that litter the entryway as I take hoarding supplies for the next upcoming event to a whole new level. No more do I get the scowling-face questions ‘what’s all this?’ As a matter of fact, I think he’s become quite accustomed to his laundry being kept in a stack on the chair rather than on hangers. Long ago, he came to terms with the fact that I think –as long as there’s no party at the house coming up – dusting is for suckers. But, this is whole new level of complacency.

He actually helped me unload my car in the parking lot of Home Depot in order to fit sheets of plywood in, then repack it all in and around the plywood. He had to ride with his seat pulled all the way forward and a box of something-or-other on his lap and his only comment? ‘You travel like a homeless person’. But, not a word of complaint when I left the driveway covered in sawdust, he just came behind me with the leaf blower. Apparently, as long as he can access his golf clubs and fantasy football app, he’s content.

I kinda miss the contention, I never thought he’d surrender. but….

Perhaps he is not broken.

Perhaps he is on to me and is trying some misguided attempt at reverse psychology.

Time to step it up. Game on Steve – game on.

There are only 8 more weekends until Thanksgiving. I don’t know about you, but I thought Fall would never get here. Last year it was like summer lasted all the way to Spring. I felt a chill in the air this morning and that was all the inspiration needed to start thinking about Fall centerpieces and finishing household DIY projects before the Holiday parties! My goal? Finally finish re-finishing the stairs and baseboards. I wonder how Steve would like to have a stair or two missing as I work. Taking the stairs two at time is good exercise, right? Or, maybe I block the stairs entirely and have the family use a ladder to get to their bedrooms. This is gonna be fun.

But, first – start saving your wine bottles! Here’s some easy Fall centerpieces if you’re hosting and gift ideas if you’re not, it’s time to get crafty…

000 wine 1 000 wine 2 000 wine 000 wine 3

000 wine 5 000 wine 4

I LOVE these! They’re made with kitchen towels!!! Click here for a how-to:

I started my bottle collection this week with these:

 aaa wine

Masterpiece Chardonnay ~ Stama Chardonnay ~ Michel-Schlumberger Red ~ Three Oaks Cab


aaa wine 3

2012 Masterpiece Chardonnay Alexander Valley $7.99

Elsewhere price $19.99

Larry noticed the citrusy aroma and Terry commented that is was creamy. Kerri said she liked it, it’s very light. Arvin agreed that is was light and added fruity. Steve said, ‘is good’, like a caveman.

On-line review: This is a fresh, lively, balanced Chardonnay that is not bogged down by too much oak or malolactic manipulation. It has amazing fruit and texture, clean and bright, with just the right amount of acid! Amazing Value! (Christie Cartwright, Hollywood)

From the Winemaker: This Chardonnay was made in an unoaked style, fermented very cold, which preserves the delicate Chardonnay fruit flavors and highlights the natural acidity, minerality and clean finish. A very small percentage of Viognier was blended with the Chardonnay to add a floral note and complexity.

Without the influence of oak, the fresh pear, citrus and tropical fruit flavors, deft balance and clean, seamless finish of this wine make it a perfect choice to pair with pan seared or grilled seafood and poultry dishes prepared with lighter sauces. It is also an excellent choice with subtly seasoned Asian cuisine.



aaa wine 4

2012 Stama Chardonnay Lodi $3.99

Elsewhere price $14.99

Terry thought this Chardonnay was tart and Larry found it to be dry. Arvin said it was peppery. This was not a favorite on the Front Porch, but it seems to be selling pretty well and check out this accolade:

Gold Medal winner of San Francisco International Wine competition 2013 ~Stama Winery

Tasting notes: This classic chardonnay is pastel yellow with the faintest hue of lime.  It opens with a white flower nose that includes honeysuckle, almond blossom and white clover.  In the mouth there’s a hint of vanilla with a burst of grapefruit, yellow pear, apple and melon, finishing in long butter-creamy notes due to the French oak fermentation. 



aaa wine 1

2012 Michel-Schlumberger Maison Rouge California $4.99

Elsewhere price $19.99

Larry started us off and said this is lip smackin! He tasted plum. Arvin thought it paired well with the pizza (Steve was in charge of food this week). Larry added, ‘this is deliciously dry’. Terry asked, ‘Larry said that? He must be drunk’. Lol. I think it’s official, he likes red wine! Terry and Kerri agreed that this red blend is dry and Joe said, ‘Schlumberger is no humberger’. I’m pretty sure that means he liked it.

89.1 Points from Red raspberry aromas and quite herbal (parsley & thyme). The palate largely matches with cool red fruit & herbs. Medium acid tannins/acid. I could see this aging a few years but is drinking perfectly well now

From the label: Maison Rouge, our “house red,” is layered with rich fruit flavors. Always an easy enhancement for casual fare, it’s the perfect wine to enjoy among friends.



aaa wine 2

2012 Three Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon North Coast $4.99

Elsewhere price $12.99

Becky tasted plums and berries, Kerri commented that this Cab is yummy. Arvin agreed, saying, ‘that’s a wine you don’t have to drink – you can just smell it and enjoy it.’ He did drink it though, he said it’s oaky and it slides right down your throat. Terry thought it would pair well with chocolate and Larry thought it tasted like berry pie.

I couldn’t find any on-line reviews on this Cab, but I did find this: 2014 Silver Medal Award winner The Seattle Food & Wine Experience

From the label: The North Coast growing season was slightly cooler than normal with few heat spikes throughout the Summer. These moderate conditions favored color, flavor and tannin development, producing grapes with exceptional complexity and concentrated flavors.

For the Love of Strangers

Do you ever get really busy? I mean really, really busy with work & home & life. I’ve been so dang busy. Football season is finally here, I thought It’d be fun to re-do my gameroom before it started. Yeah. Sooo much fun. Now, I hesitate to show you pictures of my Packer obsession as I know Packer’s Fans are really not my audience here. Though, I’m sure you can appreciate commitment to your team and even the warm hospitality if you’re not a football fan.

4 gameroom 5

4 gameroom 2 4 gameroom 3 4 gameroom 1 4 gameroom 4

Rediculous to have this your in your house? Perhaps. Em, but I don’t think so. Can you feel the warmth of the neighborhood pub where everybody knows your name? Well, I’m bad with names, but you get it. Many a game will be watched here – by 49er’s fans, a couple Stealer’s fans and we don’t discriminate, even Raider’s fans are welcome if they’re on their best behavior (you know who you are – Caroline). The food is good, we serve Leinenkugels and cheese curds , and the company is even better. It’s more than just football. It’s about hospitality.

Hospitality, noun

  1. the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers
  2. the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way

The word ‘hospitality’ in the New Testament comes from two Greek words. The first word means ‘love’ and the second word means ‘strangers.’ It’s a word that means love of strangers. ~Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Even those who don’t care much about football, can enjoy themselves here on gameday. However, this is our second favorite place to watch football. Second only to Lambeau Field, where the hosipitality among strangers is unique and must be experienced – put it on your bucket list. You can read an un-biased perspective on what game day in Green Bay is like by clicking here. Here’s my favorite quote from the article: ‘Next door to Brett Favre’s Steakhouse, a warehouse-size merchandise outlet called the Jersey Store offers the mind-bending sight of a man clad in a Favre jersey buying a Favre jersey. One, presumably, for laundry day.’

Here’s some great wine picks from the Front Porch – two weeks worth again – enjoy them with friends!

4 wines 1     4 wines 2

Clayhouse Sauv Blanc ~ Hidden Cellars Chard ~ Bay Leaf Pinot ~ Victor Old Vine Zin

Hawk Crest Chard ~ Roblar Chard ~ Oak and Vine Pinot ~ Stonehedge Merlot


4 clayhouse sauv blanc     4 brie and jam pic

2011 Clayhouse Sauvignon Blanc Paso Robles $4.99

Elsewhere price $14.99

Arvin noticed this Sauv Blanc had a nice aroma. Kerri thought it tasted very fruity – good on a hot day. Scott commented that it was not too sweet and asked the crowd if we all thought it would be good at a wedding. Terry said it would please a lot of people :-) We paired this Sauv Blanc with raspberry jam ($1.99 in our natural/organic section) and brie ($2.99 in our deli case).

87 points from

From the winemaker: Made in a refreshing aperitif style, Clayhouse Sauvignon Blanc exhibits a bouquet of starfruit, green pear, honeydew melon and grapefruit, with a hint of grass. There’s a touch of minerality that enhances the floral notes contributed by the Musque clone, and the wine finishes with a creamy mouthfeel (from sur lie fermentation and aging) and mouthwatering acidity.


 4 hidden cellars chardonnay     4 meatballs pic

2012 Hidden Cellars Chardonnay Mendocino County $4.99

Elsewhere price $12.99

I thought this California Chardonnay was very light. Larry said he tasted butter, and Steve said, mmmmm buttery. What? They agreed, how weird. Connie said this was an excellent Chardonnay and Kerri agreed. Terry said she liked both the white wines tonight. We paired this Chardonnay with all natural teriyaki & Pineapple meatballs ($3.99 in the deli case).

4/5 stars on

87 points from

Apple and pear nose. Buttery start on tongue, turns to lemon-apple green apple tart. refreshing. Good appetizer for fish or chicken.


 4 hawk crest chardonnay     nacho bites

2008 Hawk Crest Chardonnay Monterey $.99

Elsewhere price $12.99

We paired this wine with spicy nachos ($3.99 in the freezer), it was a great compliment. Terry commented that this was a pleasant Chardonnay, a little sweet, but not too much. Steve thought he noticed a floral aroma, and surprise, Larry agreed.

81.6 points from

Winemakers notes: This wine opens with soft aromas of white peach and lemon alongside subtle notes of jasmine and oak spice. Styled after a Macon Village Chardonnay, the wine has a rich silky mouthfeel, medium body, and finishes with bright acidity laced with minerality. Open a bottle with a lightly dressed Shrimp Louie and a chunk of sourdough bread.


 4 roblar chardonnay

2012 Roblar Chardonnay California $4.99

Elsewhere price $14.99

Terry thought the aroma was like a citrus tree. She found it fruity and said it finished with a slight tartness. Arvin called it lemony – not a bad chardonnay. Larry tasted grapefruit and pear, and wait for it ….. Steve agreed.

91 points from A citrus-inflected, vanilla-leaning nuttiness consumes the aromas of this offering, which makes for a very pleasant sipping experience. There is good acidity, with apple, lemon and a bit of tropically, including nicely rounded fruit in the midpalate. A dazzling zest continues to the finish as well.


4 bay leaf pinot

2013 Bay Leaf Pinot Noir California $5.99

Elsewhere price $18.99

Steve commented (for real) that he liked the oaky aroma, Scott agreed. Arvin also noticed the oaky oakyness, he said, ‘this is the kind of wine I can hold in my mouth and enjoy for 5 minutes. Larry said it had nice legs and Kerri agreed. She noticed blackberry current in the aroma and said that this pinot goes down like velvet and tastes of plum with a pepper bite at the end.

The only tasting notes I could find on-line is from one of my favorite wine snobs, you can read it here


4 oak and vine pinot      4 snacks pic

2011 Oak & Vine Pinot Noir California $4.99

Elsewhere price $14.99

Larry started us off and said he tasted black cherry and plum. Steve thought this Pinot had an aroma of licorice, Larry added – Anise. Yeah, that is the same thing. We snacked on some treats from our new line of nuts, dried fruits and snack rack that you can find by our fresh produce department.

Tasting notes from Wine Wire: Along with the dark color, aromas strawberry cedar, and crème fraiche meet the wine drinker. Focused tannins and a long finish are complemented by flavors of black cherries, lychee and pomegranate. Oak aging adds hints of vanilla, nuances of toast and a soft, smoky finish.

 4 nut rack 2 4 nut rack 1


4 stonehedge merlot

2012 Stonehedge Reserve Merlot Napa $10.99

Elsewhere price $39.99

This one got everyone commenting at once! It was hard to keep up… Terry said her nose wriggled and it made her shoulders raise with a shrudder (like she just got a warm hug) ‘it’s good’, she said. Steve said it’s got legs and is very moist & smooth, Arvin agreed. Larry said it was a bit sweet, Arvin agreed. This would pair very nicely with Devil’s Food Cake. Arvin added that this Merlot had long sexy legs and had a lot of sugar from the fruit, almost a dessert wine. So great with berries & chocolate.

From the Winemaker: The Napa Valley Merlot starts with aromas of black cherries and plums followed by tobacco and vanilla. It is very strong in mid pallet and finishes with notes of ripe strawberries and a hint of toasty oak. This is a strong but elegant wine that can be enjoyed now, and also laid down for long cellar aging that will highlight the fine attributes of this wine.


4 victor old vine zin

Victor Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi $5.99

Elsewhere price $16.99

Becky said this zin was like a flavor explosion in her mouth. Steve found it dry and Kerri tasted cherry. Becky added that it had long lingering flavor with a peppery finish. Everybody was happy.

On-line review: Our Old Vine Zinfandel is rich with brooding complexity – supple tannins frame the dark raspberry, blackberry, and cherry flavors rounded with brambly spice and hints of mocha, black pepper, and lightly toasted oak

From the winemaker: Victor Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel is crafted from grapes grown on our Lawson vineyard and other selected vineyards with vines aging from 35 to 112 years old. Our Old Vine Zinfandel is rich with brooding complexity—supple tannins frame dark raspberry, blackberry and cherry rounded with brambly spice and hints of mocha, black pepper, and lightly toasted oak. Appellation: Lodi – Blend: 85% Zinfandel , 15% Petite Sirah – Vineyard age: 35 – 102 years old


I love history. Wait. I don’t mean like reading a giant dusty book then being quizzed on it later… More like as it pertains to culture and way-of-life. It doesn’t matter what era, 40’s – 50’s – 60’s or even older like pioneer days, I like to imagine what it was like to live back then. Getting a T.V. in the 50’s was a major event! Cars, the drive-in and school dances were the things to do. Not being around back then allows me to only consider the best parts of the times and leave everything else out. Like selective memory… without the actual memories. I gather some of my ‘memories’ from T.V. and movies, but my favorite is hearing people that were there tell stories.

Terry’s mom and sister came to join us on the Front Porch for Wine Tasting. Her mom, Leila, told me about how they used to have parties at their house after Terry and her sisters went to bed. Not like every night parties where parents celebrate their kids’ bedtime. It was probably an annual party for a birthday or anniversary or something like that. They had a four piece live Jazz band play right in the house and hired bartenders to serve the guests. Leila said that band played the pictures right off the walls! It’s a wonder that kids could sleep through a party like that. Hm. Yeah, they didn’t. Here’s a snapshot, courtesy of the artist Shag, of how it I picture this party as I listen to the story:


Terry and her sisters must’ve been just out of sight at the top of the stairs.

I imagine the whole town was at those parties. Towns were smaller then according to me. Everybody knew everybody. Life was slower, simpler. Going to a party involved getting dressed up & dancing and was probably the talk of the town until the next party. The world may never move at that pace again, but when we take the time to reminisce – I think it slows down just a little.

Have a glass of wine and reminisce with someone today :-)

Ok, so the following reviews are from TWO wine tastings. I just wanted you to know that we didn’t drink ALL of these wines in the span of two hours. Don’t miss the Award Winning Wines at the bottom of the post!

stack wines

Your Choice $2.99!    Elsewhere price $11.99

Stack Wines are four individual glasses that are each sealed separately so you can have just a glass at a time. For instance, the movie theater seems like the perfect place to enjoy Stackers Wine, you can easily carry one in your purse. Purse wine is my favorite. The ‘glass’ is actually plastic, so no worries around the pool either.

Pinot Grigio:

Bob found this Pinot to have a fruity after taste. He thought it was a great summer wine. Larry also commented on the fruity-ness, Steve tasted apple. Granny Smith apple. Shirley thought it was dry at first taste, she tasted apple as well and said it was light – nice for summer. Caroline, our resident wine snob, said she liked it (I tried to hide the packaging so she wouldn’t judge the wine before she even got a sip). She tasted pear and lime and added that she was surprised that this tasted like it came from one of the wineries that she is a member of. High praise from Caroline!

Winemakers notes:

Color: Light straw yellow with flecks of green.
Nose: Delicate with honeydew melon, fresh meadow, and lime peel.
Palate: Grapefruit, key lime, and melon


Becky found this Chardonnay buttery and did not taste any oak. Bob commented that it tasted good. Larry and Steve did care for it, but I thought it was nice.

Winemakers notes:

Color: Medium light gold.
Nose: Medium with lemon cream pie, vanilla and toasted almond.
Palate: Lemon peel, apple and pineapple

Cabernet Sauvignon:

Becky enjoyed the aroma of this cab. Terry and Shirley thought it was grapey. Bob noticed the oak. Larry and Steve both (who must read each other’s minds before commenting on wine) said it had legs. Steve wasn’t sure if it was dry… Caroline confirmed for him that it was dry. She added that it was a smooth easy drinking cab; she tasted black cherry and plum.

Winemakers notes:

Color: Medium garnet, perfect clarity.
Nose: Medium/plus with cassis, blueberry, cedar and some black licorice, mint and black pepper.
Palate: Blackberry, cocoa and berry jam


 four wines

Alondra Chardonnay ~ Anterra Chardonnay and Merlot ~ Marchand Bordeaux



2010 Alondra Chardonnay Middleridge Ranch Vineyard $5.99

Elsewhere price $16.99

Larry said this ones got a little zip to it! Steve called it smooth and Ethan thought it had a nice aroma.

89 Points from Medium-bodied, with a subtle flavor profile, full-on creamy from the malo; easily withstands oxidation. Really great paired with honeydew melon and smoked salmon.

From the Winemaker: Penetrating aromas of green apple, lemon custard and subtle tropical fruits of guava and melon. The palate is sleek and detailed, with just enough flesh and mid-palate presence for pinpoint balance with the natural acidity. The fruit gains momentum into an expansive finish, while remaining graceful and elegant


 Anterra chardonnay

2013 Anterra Chardonnay Italy $4.99

Elsewhere price $9.99

Terry got the first taste; she said it was crisp and refreshing. Larry thought this Chardonnay was very light and Steve agreed, of course. Scott said it was not too sweet, which is a compliment from Scott. Jose said he would buy this wine; it was juicy – almost not like wine – smooth and sweet.

Blogger NHWineman review: 89 points, poured a bright polished gold color, and smelled like the misty calm afterglow of a thunderstorm with hints of lilac and lemon.
The medium-plus body was crisp, slightly off dry (the label says dry), clean, had mineral notes with moderately acidic lemon flavors, and finished as it began, but with a touch of the 12% alcohol and ginger.
I loved this sleeper of a white wine, and I’m not the biggest fan of Chardonnay; this is not anything like a Cali Chardonnay (no butter here), but was produced in the Italian “traditional style” closer to a Chablis.


anterra merlot

2012 Anterra Merlot Italy $4.99

Elsewhere price $9.99

Larry gave this Merlot two thumbs up, he tasted berries. And Steve added: blackberries. Scott was turned off by the screw cap. As it turns out, screw caps aren’t just for cheap jugs of wine anymore. Read more here: Cork Versus Screw Cap: Don’t Judge A Wine By How It’s Sealed

3.5 stars from Black cherries and berries with toasty oak overtones, smooth finish and lush tannins


bordeaux    bordeaux 2

2011 Chateau Grand Marchand Bordeaux France $7.99

Elsewhere price $27.99

Concours General Agricole Paris Wine Competition 2012 Gold Winner Source

Terry commented that this one was full-bodied and yummy! She added that it just rolls right you’re your little throat. Steve said it was very smooth. Jose said it got looong leeegs.

86 Points from

On-line review from This firm wine has black-currant and red-plum fruit, nicely integrated with the dry core. Ready to drink, although capable of aging a year or two.


fish eye bottle fish eye

2013 Fish Eye Cabernet Sauvignon Australia $8.99

Elsewhere price $15.99


3 liter box = four regular bottles!

Bob noticed that at first sip this cab tasted a little acidy and needs to be aerated, which is kinda tricky since it’s in a box. Caroline agreed, saying she tasted unripe cherries. We let it sit around in the glass after pouring for about 15 minutes then tried it again. I found it to be dry and Terry said it definitely got smoother. Caroline said she didn’t care much for it, but I noticed she refilled her glass. Hm.

From the bottle: “Cherry and blackberry with a hint of pepper on the nose.”

On-line review from Garnet purple color. Aromas of dried currants, spice, and delicate peppercorn with a silky, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a whole nut, tobacco, and sour cherry finish with chewy tannins. A nice relaxed sipper.


I need my Mojo back!

I thought I’d gotten pretty good at ignoring Mojo, the tiny dictator in my head. You know the one that politely encourages me to tackle household projects.

I’ve spent some weekends lately just kickin’ it watching movies and as much Netflix as possible. I tried to get myself motivated, but the pull of the couch kept winning out. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t really notice that he was gone at first. I knew something had changed. I even considered the possibility that I was coming down with a cold or something.

Then I got to thinking: Terry got Larry to clean out their shed, tear it down and build a new one.

Terry 3

You remember the free old wood I got to build this table, it came from their old shed. Terry decided to use the RV space on the side of their house to create a Secret Garden Patio.

Terry 4 Terry 5

She got Larry to cut a window out of the side of the house and install French doors leading out into the new patio.

Terry 2

What!?! That has my tiny dictator’s name all over it! I thought at the time that Terry was Larry’s tiny dictator. But, as you can see here she’s pretty handy too!


They also found the time and energy to re-decorate Terry’s sister’s master bedroom – hmmmm, suspicious.

Terry 6

Terry picked out some of the furniture that had been stored in the shed to decorate the new patio. They painted with over-the-top colors, which I looovve, and planted tiny succulents all around. Terry sewed curtains and Larry installed a retractable shade. It’s decorated with fun & quirky stuff that Terry loves and they created a great space to have a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning or a glass of wine in the evening. It held almost 20 Front Porch Wine Tasters at it’s debut.

When I saw their completed Secret Garden Patio I knew. It was so obvious now: Terry totally kidnapped my Mojo.

Terry 7

Thanks for having us Larry and Terry! Now, please send me my Mojo home. I neeeeed to finish my game-room before football season starts and my stairs are still torn apart.


Terry 12

Turn 4 White Blend ~ Red Autumn Chard ~ Discoveries Cab Sauv ~ Castro Oaks Cab Sauv


Terry 8

2010 Bennent Lane Winery Turn 4 White Blend California $3.99

Elsewhere price $18.99

Misty thought this white blend was a little tart, but good with salsa. Joe S. said it made him stop and say, “Oh, that’s good”. Scott and Terry liked it but Pat said she didn’t care for it because it was too sweet. But, she added that she’s the type of girl who drinks vodka straight. Neighbors Steve & Dara choose this one as their favorite. Becky said it was crisp and Jose gave it a ‘thumbs up’.

86.3 Points from

Wine Spectator - Offers appealing pear and fig flavors that are fleshy and round, with a juicy, ripe quality and details of floral and spice notes, especially on the finish. Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Drink now. 4,410 cases made.

Wine Enthuisiast – Sweet and forward in pineapple, peach and lime flavors, this is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. It has good acidity and a clean, spicy finish.

Tasting Notes - This refreshing California white wine is the perfect partner to our popular Turn 4 Cabernet Sauvignon. With aromatics of honeysuckle, white peaches and a hint of the tropics, this is an incredibly fruit forward and bright wine. On the palate there are rich flavors of mango and ripe peach, balanced by refreshing acidity and a lively clean finish.



Terry 9

2012 Red Autumn Chardonnay California $2.99

Elsewhere price $12.99

Steve and Larry liked this Chardonnay right away. Dean agreed, he said it tasted good. Brian commented that it was smooth and refreshing. Terry liked the white blend better, this one got her all flushed. Scott came into the store the next day to get a couple cases for his daughter’s wedding. Steve was able to bring in a second shipment, but at time of this writing – there is only about a case left of the second shipment.

The only on-line review I could find on this Chardonnay was not very favorable. Which just goes to show you that sometimes the wine snobs are wrong lol.



Terry 11

2012 Discoveries Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon California $4.99

Elsewhere $12.00

Pat noticed the oaky aroma from this cab. Steve and Jose found it to be dry. I tried it with dark chocolate which was a perfect pair. Misty said it was strong and it cleared her sinus’. Dara labeled this one as her favorite too, especially for winter. Scott got a case of this for the wedding as well.

87 Points from

Wine makers notes: Our Cabernet Sauvignon is deep red and violet in color with aromas of tea, cherry and blackcurrent accompained by toasted oak, almond, and a hint of cocoa. On the palate, concentrated fruit flavors give way to smooth, oaky tannins



Terry 10

2011 Castro Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon Sierra Foothills $6.99

Elsewhere price $18.99

Joe R. stopped by before his hockey game for a quick sip of wine, he found this one to be oaky. Becky described this one as a ‘burst of berries’ and liked how it stays on your tounge. Bob called this one his favorite and Brian filled his glass! Terry said it was excellent and I thought it tasted like Syrah – which is my favorite. Dean liked it and Jose found it to be smooth and would pair it with red snapper. Misty  and Larry agreed that it was dry, smooth and less fruity than they expected.

4.0 out of 5 stars from

Wine maker notes: This Cabernet Sauvignon is warm and smooth harvested in mid-October at 3000′ elevation near Yosemite National Park. Aged fifteen months in new American Oak. A full bodied Cabernet with excellent balance of fruit, oak, vanilla, berry, and much more. Drink now or hold.



Pairing Food with Wine

This week, I had a little more time than I usually do when planning for wine tasting. So, I thought we would have specific food pairings with each wine. Sometimes I can get a little lazy and just serve berries and cheese & crackers. You can get all the food pairings at Manteca Grocery Outlet as well (while supplies last), with the exception of Becky’s Blackberry Pepper Jam…

Here’s a link to a basic food and wine pairing chart, check it out if you’d like to have a little more guidance. I don’t know if I’d trust it completely though – it lists chocolate as one of the hard to pair with wine foods. I have never had any trouble pairing chocolate with wine – it seems to go with just about every red that we’ve tried on the Front Porch!

a nice line up of wine

Marco Fiori Sauv Blanc ~ Lander Jenkins Chard ~ Greg Norman Malbec ~ HCV Merlot


Marco sauv blanc   fresh fruit pairing

2013 Marco Fiori Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley $4.99

Elsewhere price $18.99

4.7 out of 5 on

We let this wine breath for 15 minutes before we tried it and we paired it with a fresh fruit platter. Terry took her first sip of this Sauvignon Blanc while we we’re all still visiting, and interrupted with a, ‘oh, that’s good. I like it a lot.’  Kerri commented that this Napa wine is airy, nice on a summer evening. She said she would pair it with fish or chicken. Larry tasted pear. Scott, who usually stays away from Sauvignon Blanc because it’s too sweet for his taste, said, ‘this, I’ll drink, it’s not too sweet at all. So, to recap: Kerri said it was airy, Larry thought it was pairy and Terri and Scott liked it a lot.



lander jenkins chard   beckys jam and chard

2011 Lander Jenkins Chardonnay California $4.99

Elsewhere price $12.99

2012 New York int’l wine competition awarded this winery Family Owned Winery of the Year

After searching the internet on details of this wine, I found that they have recently changed their label, which may be why we have it. We paired this California Chardonnay with Becky’s homemade Blackberry Pepper Jam with cream cheese on crackers. Dang, that jam is good. Larry felt it had a little bite to it and Terry thought it was buttery. Becky said it’s pretty good and Scott stated that it was strong, but not bitter.

Wine Enthusiast: Rich in apricot, orange and tropical fruits, with buttered toast, honey and creamy lees flavors, this Chardonnay leaves nothing to the imagination. It’s flashy and forward, yet has enough acid and mineral balance to give it interest.  (8/ 2013)

K&L Notes: Lander-Jenkins’ 2011 California Chardonnay boasts the freshness of the cool 2011 vintage, with aromas of lemon cream and Key lime pie that carry over to the round, but fresh palate. Packs a lot for the price.



greg norman malbec   sliders and malbec

2011 Greg Norman Malbec Argentina $4.99

Elsewhere price $12.99

This Malbec from Argentina also has had a label change. This bottle, even with the old label, was my favorite of the night. We paired it with Chicken Sliders with provolone cheese and marinara sauce. Kerri tasted the berries and would pair it with red meat. She said it reminded her of a Pinot Noir. Terry thought it was good, very smooth and I agreed. Scott was talking baseball with the guys, but stopped to say, ‘I like it’.

Winemakers notes: Intense purple red and ruby hues paint the backdrop for this Argentinian adventure bursting with ripe fruit flavors, hints of exotic smoke and vanilla and a long, dreamy sunset-like finish.

“Excellent and enjoyable best describe this black-fruit driven Malbec. Hard to find this quality for the retail price.”           –Steve Pollack, wine buyer for the Chairman’s Selection® program



HCV merlot   salami and merlot

2010 Happy Canyon Vineyards Merlot $6.99

Elsewhere price $22.99

This California Merlot scored 92 points from! We paired it with Salame and Cheese on bread rounds. Kerri commented that is was jammy and she definitely tasted dark cherries. Becky said, ‘I love it! It’s like sunshine in my mouth.’ She would pair it with steak or cheesecake. When she paired it with her Blackberry Pepper Jam then took another sip, she said you get a little ‘pizzaz’. I thought it was just dry enough and after about 30 minutes of breathing, it mellows way out. This would go excellent with a nice dark chocolate.

Tasting notes: Happy Canyon Vineyards offers us an aromatically complex Merlot with their 2010 release from the nation’s newest AVA, Happy Canyon! This release is a blend of 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot. The palate offers cocoa and fresh dark cherry fruit with soft tannins supporting the fruit. Reserved oak and a bright acidic structure keep this Merlot food friendly and down-to-earth.

The Forgotten Adventures of Jake Tarr

Let me tell you a story. Okay, it’s been a few years since we’ve gone camping. Sleeping on the ground isn’t really my thing. I like beds and showers and free breakfast that is already ready already. So, when I was cleaning out the garage a few weeks ago – and people stopped their cars as they passed to shop through my stuff – Steve and I sold the air mattress & tent among other things. Later that day, we watched ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ with our son Jake.

 After seeing the movie, Jake decides he needs more adventure in his life, he says we never do anything noteworthy or mentionable. He wants to go to cool places and hike and climb rocks…

What? I reminded him of all the places we’ve been and all the things we’ve done, as specifically as I could. Fishing in Cresent Lake – a beautiful glacier fed lake in northern Washington; camping in Three Rivers; hiking in the Redwood’s; taking a ferry boat ride to Victoria Island in Canada; horseback riding on Catalina Island; he rode a bike on a tight rope at the LA Science museum; whale watching in Long Beach Ca; Sledding in the High Desert after a snow; Touring Alcatraz and the Winchester Mystery House; Rock Climbing in the Joshua Tree National Monument; Off-roading in Sedona, AZ; Snow Boarding and fishing in Big Bear; Snorkeling – touring the USS Missouri – Submarine ride in Hawaii; Snorkeling – parasailing – jet skiing in Cabo; probably more cool stuff that I can’t think of right now… (here’s some pictorial proof, in case Jake actually comes across this someday when he Googles his own name)

Jakes forgotten adventures

Guess what he says. Go ahead, make a guess. He says he doesn’t remember those things! Adventures in four states and three countries – forgotten.

Yeah, so we risked our personal safety and camped last weekend in bear country. I had to get all new gear and buy bear spray! We set up camp, hiked, shot the compound bow, fished (caught nine fish between us), kayaked, cooked over an open flame (including the fish), got sunburned and came home early. All in a 24 hour period of time. Speed camping at it’s finest.

The moral of my story is this: If you’re planning trips while your kid is little, get a babysitter and leave the kid at home. He won’t remember anyway.

Time for some wine :-)

6 wines

Light Grape Rose’ ~ Lindeman’s Chardonnay ~ Light Grape White Blend ~ Santerra White Table Wine ~ Light Grape Red Blend


light grape rose

The Light Grape 2012 California Rose’ $1.99

Elsewhere price $10.99

This was a happy-friendly summer wine. Brian said it was nice and fruity. Misty paired it with cherries and Arvin said it was nice and light. Connie thought it would make a nice summer sangria.

Winemaker’s notes: Delightfully fruity with flavors of strawberry, watermelon & cherry. So versatile, it that they can be served with a range of flavors and foods such as BBQ burgers, grilled salmon, lobster, omelet’s, pizza and spicy chicken.


lindemans chard 2

2012 Lindeman’s Early Harvest Chardonnay $2.99

Elsewhere price $6.99

I thought this Chardonnay was very fruity. Larry said it was nice; it’s got some body to it. I noticed he had a second glass. Brian commented that it was sweeter than he expected.

Tasting notes: Crisp and refreshing, Lindeman’s Early Harvest Crisp Chardonnay is at least 25% lighter in alcohol and calories compared to Bin range. Bright straw in colour with youthful green hues, this wine displays an attractive array of tropical fruit flavours with subtle spicy notes. The palate shows ripe melon & stone fruits with a creamy mid palate leading to a fresh finish.


light grape white blend

The Light Grape 2012 California White Blend $1.99

Elsewhere price $10.99

Terry thought this white blend was smooth. Scott liked it as a nice summer wine. Larry thought it tasted like a couple ice cubes melted in it, but it was enjoyable. Misty liked the pairing with pineapple and I thought it would make a nice sangria. Connie said it was very good and Arvin said he liked it; it had a little bite – well maybe a nibble.

Winemakers notes: Light color of yellow with elegant green tint. Fresh fruit flavors with hints of honeysuckle & citrus. The palate is bright with flavors of citrus with hints of honeysuckle. Finishing with a crisp clean minerality and lemon zest. This refreshing wine is a blend of Pinot Grigio, Viognier, Gewurztraminer, Chenin Blanc, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.


santerra white wine

2009 Santerra Sonoma County White Table Wine $3.99

Elsewhere price $19.99

Arvin commented that this white blend was dry; he noted that it is ready to drink now and would pair well with chicken. Brian, who doesn’t really like dry wine, said he had to take the last of his fast like a shot of tequila. Scott said it was dry, but not bitter – smooth.

4 out of 5 on pear, vanilla, rose petals…on the nose…full bodied with a slightly sweet, crisp finish…


light grape red blend

The Light Grape 2011 California Red Blend $1.99

Elsewhere price $10.99

Arvin found this red blend to be dry as well. Terry said it was dry, but good and Misty agreed that she liked it. I expected it to be lighter like the others from this brand; it’s a pretty good table wine. It would pair well with many different dinners.

Winemakers notes: Soft and rich, with flavors of cherry, dark chocolate & blackberries. The palate is plush and plentiful, backed by supple tannins and hints of creamy cocoa and sweet oak on the finish. This enticing blend is Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Syrah, Syrah, Merlot, Tannat, Zinfandel, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Because of its broad appeal our Red Blend is the perfect go-to table wine. The silky texture and medium body make it versatile, and the juicy fruit and bright acidity complement fish (especially salmon), meat, poultry, and anything grilled.



2010 Patassy Vineyard Pinot Noir $6.99

Elsewhere price $24.99

Arvin immediately commented that this wine has finesse’. It’s really good and it has legs! You could just sit around and take in the aroma all night. Larry also thought it had a nice bouquet, another excellent red! (yeah, he’s been converted to the red side). This is a wine you buy by the case.

Check out this link for the story behind this Pinot and why it’s being sold at such a great deal!

Expert tasting notes from

Old-school Russian River Pinot here – lots of blackberry and cherry fruit in the nose, with deeper, earthy undertones. The palate is broad, fruity, and supple, echoing on the palate ripe red and mixed berry flavors, with just a touch of spice to keep things interesting. Medium-bodied, with medium acidity and soft tannins, this is juicy, accessible Pinot with a lot to offer for under $20

This is easily the best value in a CA Pinot that I have ever had. The Patassy father/son team clearly know what they are doing, and I suspect their future vintages, if they can be found, won’t be sub-$20. Kudos to K&L for finding this gem. Extremely flavorful, but not too big. An approachable, fruity and slightly tannic Pinot. Makes me believe that CA can make a really good Burgundy after all…


Confessions of a reluctant work-a-holic

Immediately following our five year anniversary event, Steve & I had planned on visiting some family out of town. If you’ve ever worked retail you know – the first half of the month is not a time to take a few days off. Never-the-less, we we’re pretty optimistic about going. We worked 12-15 hours a day with no days off for two weeks leading up to this trip. Still, I was not ready. I tried to send Steve without me… nope. not-ga-doit. He talked me into going. All my workstress was tied up in my neck making it impossible to finish the mindless paperwork that was demanding my attention. So, I packed up my work, and we left really late for a seven hour drive.

I started to relax. It only took about three hours of mostly silent driving, watching along the side of the road. I like to get glimpses of other people’s lives out my window as we pass by farms and small towns. I do enjoy finding beauty in the scenery no matter where we go. We started up through the Tehachapi’s as the sun started to go down. I love the scattered oak trees across the rolling hills.

May 2008 040

And, we came down the other side into the desert as the sun was setting when I remembered… I love the desert night.

desert road

Speeding down the dark desert highway, my favorite playlist blaring from the speakers. I roll down the window so I can feel the cool wind in my hair, a million stars all around. The lyrics from almost all of the Eagle’s songs are played out here. I got a peaceful easy feeling. Then, in the distance – civilization. Dotted lights across the horizon. We’re home. That’s an upside to living in so many different places over the years, it always feels like home when you go back to visit.

golf course

That was pretty much the highlight of the trip for me, lol. I had to work most of the time there and we left early, but it was nice to see the family and Steve golfed the best game of his life. A week later, I’m almost caught up from being gone. It was still worth it. Next on the agenda: Front Porch Wine Tasting!


four wines

Fortress Sauv Blanc ~ OM Chard ~ Roblar Syrah ~ Olin Cab


fortress sauv blanc

2010 Fortress Sauvignon Blanc $4.99

Elsewhere price $14.99

Arvin started us off saying this Sauvignon Blanc has a stout aroma. Larry tasted a mixture of sweet and sour in the first sip and Steve tasted citrus. Terry said it’s tingling her throat and feels warm. Connie said it’s unusual and commented that she liked the taste of orange with a splash of arsenic. Becky noticed that the first sip wasn’t the greatest, but the second and third were really good. So, skip the first sip if you can (and take out the 13th floor in every building, please).

Winemaker’s Notes: The Musque clone produces a Sauvignon Blanc reminiscent of a fine white Graves. This wine is crisp and clean with bright acidity and notes of kiwi, honeydew melon, and ocean brine. It is an excellent wine for pairing with cheese.

Critical Acclaim: “Fortress is piling up quite an impressive record for good Sauvignon Blanc at a fair price. Their 2008, which is unoaked, combines crisp acidity and extreme dryness with complex flavors of lemons, grapefruits and gooseberries. Sommeliers should scoop this one up.”
90 Points Wine Enthusiast



2011 Oliver Marshall (OM) Chardonnay $6.99

Elsewhere price $17.99

Terry and Larry both declared, “It’s a good one!” Connie called extraordinary and Joe said, “Now this is good” That’s pretty much the highest praises from the Front Porch tasters.

On-line review from Front Porch Wine Tasting! Lol, I tried this last year when it was pretty much just me, drinking wine on  my porch.


roblar syrah

2012 Roblar Syrah $5.99

Elsewhere price $24.99

Steve tasted dark cherries and Terry tasted berries. Joe commented that this was an oaked wine and Becky said, ‘That was pretty good”. And Connie, well let me see if I can quote her properly: “Almost rose like – a great bouqet”, “Oh my gosh – must breath. Honestly, so good”.

On-line review:  Delicious!  With aromas of cocoa and anise, the wine opens with flavors of raisin, black currant, and blueberries.  Those notes are followed by black pepper and sandalwood.  The wine has nice structure and smooth tannins.  We enjoyed it so much, we went ahead and ordered more!

90.5 points from


Olin cab sauv

2007 Olin Cabernet Sauvignon $10.99

Elsewhere $35.00

Larry immediately liked the aroma and Terry said it was tingling her noise. Becky tasted berries, but Arvin tasted chocolate covered cherries when he paired this cab with dark chocolate. He said, “Very good”. Joe commented on how much he liked the aroma and said it was perfectly aged. After his first sip, “Wow! Really good”.

On-line review: An interesting and divisive cab. This showed a great deal of flavorful fruit, yet had a strong green pepper element as well.

89 Points from


crazy legs

2011 Crazy Legs Old Vine Zin

 Robert Lauchland Vineyards Lodi, Ca.

Arvin got this bottle, from a customer that owns a small local winery, as a tip! So, even though I don’t know where you can get it, or how much it costs… here’s our review:

Steve liked it, he said it was dry but smooth. Arvin also thought it was dry. Connie said it’s got legs and Becky says she’s going to Lodi to find some Crazy Legs!

From the bottle: Crazy Legs describes the bold characteristics of this wine as it streaks down the sides of a wine glass. We are old, small lot, winemakers working to sustain the unique regional character of Lodi wines. Our family has been growing winegrapes for over 100 years in the premier Lodi Appellation, which is famous for its soils, Sierra Mountain water, and cooler Delta Climate.