Don Henley. Kermit the Frog. Emmitt Smith. Dan Kosta. Women Wine Makers. James Mariani: Melanie’s Week of Rock Stars

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This week was a week of opportunity that is truly hard to do justice with words. On Saturday, my husband and I headed to the Hilton Anatole in Dallas for my child’s school fund raiser. Don Henley was the entertainment for the benefit (he has children that attend the school). Because we were seeing a legend and it was Open That Bottle Night (, hotel wine was not going to do. So, operation “sneak in several bottles for the table” was launched. I donned my red cocktail dress and slung a not so attractive bag over my shoulder, which did include a cute little clutch inside. My excuse: the school was having a wine pull and I needed something to bring all the wine home. Judging from the empty bottles on the table and the full bottles of hotel wine, I believe I made the right choice.

There was an electric charge in the room of 1,400 people as Don Henley hit the stage. He played the favorites – Dirty Laundry, All She Wants to Do Is Dance, New York Minute and Sunset Grill. Then he decided to have some fun – everything from Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” to Kermit the Frog’s “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” In a nutshell, he was awesome.

I did not meet Don Henley that evening, but Dan Kosta from Kosta Browne Wines was in town because he donated a very generous auction package that raised close to $25,000 for the school. Boosted by the great wine we were drinking at the table, I walked up and introduced myself by eloquently saying, “I know there are many stars here tonight, but you are the rock star that I wanted to meet.” Good – Melanie – really smooth. Thankfully – we had a nice chat about Kosta Browne Wines, his generous donation and coming to visit my next trip to California.

Another big ticket item was two packages of two tickets to all the events surrounding Emmitt Smith’s induction into the Football Hall of Fame, which went for $50,000 each. (P.S. Emmitt announced that he and his wife, Pat, are expecting at the gala).

Sunday night brought me to the Les Dames d’Escoffier 2010 Raiser Grazer, Silent Auction & Cork Pull to meet six fabulous Napa/Sonoma women wine makers. I had the opportunity to chat briefly with Dolores Cakebread, Kathryn Hall, Joy Sterling, Janet Trefethen and Amelia Ceja. I was blown away by their openness, warmth and engagement with the Dallas wine community. And, of course, the wines were amazing.

Yesterday, Alfonso Cevola (@italianwineguy on Twitter), invited Dallasites to Jimmy’s Market (an old Dallas Italian market with a great Italian wine selection) to meet James Mariani, co-CEO of Banfi. Of the eight wines tasted, the 00 Banfi ExcelsuS Sant’Antimo blew me away – especially for a year not considered to be great. Dark in color, the Merlot/Cabernet blend tasted of chocolate, cassis and dark cherries. While the other wines were younger, this wine showed how age softens the tannins and improves the wine’s balance.

While I didn’t get to meet Alfonso due to a late flight, James was a delightful person and while the room was packed, took the time to talk about his wines, his philosophy and went above and beyond for all of us by offering to help my husband and me (or my readers) plan a dream wine trip to Tuscany.

I’m thinking I may have to take him up on that offer. Who’s with me?

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