It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years that I’ve been writing the Dallas Wine Chick blog.  As we come to the end of the decade, that’s 570 blogs with a lot of pictures and words that started off pretty horribly and improved over the decade.  It’s been an evolution.  Many of the blogs and publications that I’ve  linked to or written for no longer exist.  I tasted tens of thousands of wines and met amazing people around the world. As the Grateful Dead eloquently said, “What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been.”

Here are some highlights and lessons learned:

From Some Humble Beginnings….

 

 

Sometimes a Picture is Worth 1,000 Words and Sometimes No Words are Needed

 

I went back and looked at the very first Dallas Wine Chick post from a decade ago.  While the publication that I used to write for no longer exists, it talks about how you really need to take those special wine moments into your own hands.  We got married young – at the age of 24, but even then I knew enough that I did not want to run to the limo and toast with a bottle of White Zinfandel.  That’s when I learned my first wine lesson – there are some experiences that go better with wine and there are times when it’s better to wait for the champagne in the room.

 

 

Bogart in Charge

 

So How in the Heck Did this Start?

I started on Twitter for the paying gig and started talking about marketing and soon switched to wine realizing I had much more to say.  It never occurred to me that I had enough to say for a blog.  My dear friend, Bruce Felps, encouraged me to write.  Unfortunately, he passed away unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm several years ago.  Bogart, his cat, became mine and loves to continue to “help” encourage me to write by standing on my laptop as much as possible.

 

 

Was There A Wine That Changed My Life?

I was on a client trip to San Francisco.  The client was a consummate planner and had the marketing team come in early and realized we weren’t needed.  We took the opportunity to visit Napa for the first time and I knew nothing about wine.  I couldn’t understand why anyone would pay $12 for a taste of a wine, but I suddenly had to try it to see what the hype was about.  Mine was literally changed by one sip of a Stag’s Leap Cask 23.  I remember being overwhelmed by the moment – absolutely astonished that the wines I had been drinking tasted so different.  Later I was overwhelmed by the price of purchase as I prayed my credit card would go through for a single bottle.  Several days later, I had to use all of my marketing skills to convince my husband that paying that much for a special bottle was worth it.  And, several months later on our anniversary, I was validated as I saw he enjoyed it as much as I did.

Recently a friend asked me what I drank when I started the blog ten years ago.  I racked my brain and finally remembered that it was Bolla Valpolicella.  I also remember that this was a “nice” bottle of wine for us at the time at the higher price end of $10.  At the time is was perfect for us as it was within a price range I could afford.  My good friend Anatoli Levine, who writes the Talk-A-Vino blog recently posted about discovery packs for the new wine drinker.  These are wines under $20, representative of their region or style and are easy to find across the country.  There are some great recommendations here and in the comments.

 

What Have I Discovered (About Many Dallas Restaurants)

Many restaurants are lazy with their wine lists and you see the same mass produced wines everywhere. We, as customers, who spend our hard earned money eating out, deserve better and restaurants should take the same care with their wine lists as they do with their menus.

There is a widely popular chain of Tex-Mex restaurants here that I refuse to patronize. I think it’s ironic that if a restaurant has the gumption to charge me $16 for a plate of mediocre tacos, that I cannot get a decent glass of wine.  This started a series of columns about “Can You Get a Decent Glass of Wine at a Chain.”  In a few cases, yes.  In many cases, absolutely no.  I did about seven of these columns over the years and then the research got painful.

 

 

Adam Bernstein from Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse

 

I also learned that the city of Dallas has no recycling program. Adam Bernstein at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse downtown is single-handedly taking that on. I hope the city takes notice.

 

What I Learned About Wine Country Behavior (and myself)

 

 

Toward the end of that fateful wine country day

 

I’ve been asked by many of my friends and readers about the right way to experience wine country.  I always smirk a little to myself when I’m asked because I was such the poster child of bad behavior the first time I visited.  See, we all have to evolve.

 

 

 

 

Me and Lisa Mattson, Director of Marketing and Communications at Jordan Winery

 

What I Learned About Food and Hospitality (thank you Jordan Winery)

There are hospitality experiences and there are hospitality experiences.  Jordan Winery knows how to create iconic experiences featuring gourmet food and wine at its Alexander Valley estate in Healdsburg.  I have been lucky enough to be an invited guest at its chateau, for several wine blogger conferences including a wonderful caviar and wine tasting followed by dinner and a wonderful Halloween celebration.

 

 

 

What I Learned About Blending Wine?

I learned that blending wine is a challenge.  I had an amazing opportunity with three other bloggers in 2014 to make a Masthead Sangiovese with Winemakers Mitch Cosentino and Paul Scotto from Scotto Winery with grapes from Mohr-Fry Ranch.  More about the experience here.  It was eye-opening through the entire process especially at the end when the wine was submitted to the Wine Advocate and Decanter and we received ratings in the 90’s.  Immediately I retired knowing this could never be replicated.

 

 

 

 

What I Learned About Never Knowing Enough About Wine

Imagine a wine trade show in Italy where you had to navigate 128,000 people, 4,000 exhibitors, 400 seminars and still find a story?  That was my experience at Vinitaly, a wine conference in Verona that taught me that I knew nothing about wine.

 

What I Learned About My Wine Family

 

 

Julie Pedroncelli, me and Ed St. John

 

 

Me and Bill Smart, General Manager of Lambert Bridge Winery

 

And then you meet some really special people who become like family.  I was invited to the 90th anniversary of the Pedroncelli family in Sonoma.  I have never felt so welcome at an intimate family gathering in my life.   In fact, Ed St John and Julie Pedroncelli have become dear friends and when my husband and I turned 50 this year, brought some special wines out of the cellar, including a 1969 Private Stock Pinot Noir that I never expected.  My friend Bill Smart, General Manager of Lambert Bridge also joined us at an amazing dinner for a milestone birthday at Valette with some fabulous wines.  People that I am honored to know and call friends that I never would have known if it were not for this blog.

 

 

Me and Gaia Gaja from Gaja Winery

 

What I Learned About Several Legends of Wine

And then you meet legends and they are gracious and kind.  And I’ve met so many over the past decade.  A few months ago it was Gaia Gaja from Gaja Winery.  I loved hearing her stories of growing up and how she’s now running the family business.  She’s an icon, but she’s a passionate business woman who is excited to share her wine and story with Gaja lovers around the world.

 

 

 

Me, David Adelsheim and Hunter Hammett

 

What I Learned When Work and Wine Collide

The company that I was working for at the time was in the process of being recapitalized and we were thrown for a loop by the new owner.  We were summoned to the Fairmont Hotel next door for a meeting and were downstairs in the bar.

I ordered an Adelsheim Pinot Gris, usually one of my favorite “go to” whites on the Fairmont’s by the glass list.  The next thing that I knew Hunter Hammett, the Fairmont Sommelier, summoned me over and there was David Adelsheim, the founder.  As my fellow executives looked on across the bar, I tasted through David’s latest offerings and left with enough content to write this blog.

 

What I Learned About Myself

 

 

 

Sometimes you have no idea that one conversation will change your life.  Fast forward about a year and a half because of the situation explained above and I knew I was ready for a change.  Cyril Chappellet from Chappellet Winery came to town and we ended our conversation talking about loving what you do and doing what you love. The next thing I knew I was leaving the corporate world to start my own consulting company.  It’s been almost five years and I haven’t looked back.

 

 

What I learned about my readers. 

I learned I have the most amazing community at Dallas Wine Chick.  People that love wine – passionately and make my collection pale – and people that just want to go to a restaurant and be confident in ordering a bottle.  You have challenged me with your questions.  You have motivated me with your stories and wine discoveries.  You’ve made me laugh with your stories.  Thank you for sticking around the last ten years and here’s to the next decade of Dallas Wine Chick.