2017: My Year of Challenge, Transformation, and Love

(Source: https://www.askideas.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Happy-New-Year-Jumping-From-2017-To-2018.jpg)

When asked to describe my 2017 in one word, my immediate response has been challenging. The first things that come to mind are the sudden death of my mother in January (Obscurity Thwarted), an unexpected tax bill in March, my health scares in January and May-June, then the Napa and Sonoma wildfires in October (A TWC Update: 2017, wildfires, recognition, and Villa Maria).

I decided to reread my website articles from the past year and categorize them. I realized that despite the challenges, I live a simple, charming life here in the Napa Valley. It is not easy living solo in a place far away from my real home, which in my heart will always be the East Coast.

I have enjoyed and shared with you some amazing wine and winery experiences this year, such as:

Villa Maria Estate: The Beth’s Smart Sip Trifecta!
4th of July Cookout Wine of the Moment: 2014 Antigal Uno Cabernet Sauvignon
2011 Lieb Cellars Reserve Blanc de Blancs: My Lake Tahoe Wine of the Moment
2016 Bridge Lane Chardonnay: My Wine of the Moment and Beth’s Smart Sip
The Comstock Experience
Webster Cellars Reserve: My Wine of the Moment
She Said, He Said: 2017 ZAP Zinfandel Experience
You had me at aphrodisiac!

Most importantly, I transformed myself by losing 87 pounds in 10 months and have maintained this healthy, fit lifestyle for five months and counting. I finally loved myself enough to take care of me, so that I may give to you my best self. This transformation is my second lease on life. Many of you have contacted me with your encouragement and stories inspired by my success, so I created a separate website which focuses on this journey, Napa Fit Girl. I share my thoughts about wine and health here, too, though:

#MWWC33: Once Upon A Time
Translation, Passion, and Transformation

I am truly honored to be recognized by wine writing mentors, winning a Born Digital Wine Award in the category of Best Tourism Content with a Focus on Wine for my piece, Lodi: Beyond the Zinfandel. I still cannot believe I won. Thank you to all of you who read and support my writing.

My website was also recognized by 10greatest.com as a top wine blog.

In 2017, I contributed to five other outlets: basil & salt magazine, Drizly, Snooth, American Winery Guide, and Cellar Angels. I did not realize I had published so much. In fact, all year I have been feeling guilty for not doing more. I accepted fewer wine samples due to my lifestyle change, and instead, opted for more wine destination experiences, which I prefer. Through my words, you and I visited East Coast destinations such as Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York. You accompanied me on my travels to Amador, El Dorado, Napa, Placer, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, and Sonoma Counties in California. By way of my palate, I took you to Argentina, Chile, France, Italy, New York, and New Zealand. I wrote about my favorite wine movie, my philosophy about tasting notes, and craft beer. Below are my articles for these other outlets, in case you missed them. I was much more prolific than I imagined.

basil & salt magazine
Wines for All Seasons
GoatHouse Brewing
Taste Maryland!
A Moment with Viticulturist, Vintner, and Winemaker David Parrish

2017 Top Shelf Blogger Holiday Gift Guide

Hudson-Chatham Winery Chelois
Maryland Wine: It’s Time!
Much Ado About Tasting Notes
Beth’s Smart Sip: 2016 Crowded House Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
My Wine Movie Moment: French Kiss
Wine Destination: Chester County, Pennsylvania
Gender, no. Vermentino, yes.
Hudson-Chatham Baco Noir
Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosaïque NV

American Winery Guide
Hudson-Chatham Winery in Troy, New York
Ackerman Family Vineyards
The Red Hook Winery
Bella Grace Vineyards, Sutter Creek
Comstock Wines
Boeger Winery
Robert Biale Vineyards
Lightning Wines
Hudson-Chatham Tannersville
Hendry Ranch Wines
DaVero Farms and Winery
William Harrison Vineyards and Winery
Crocker & Starr
Dutton-Goldfield Winery

Cellar Angels
2014 Zoetic Wines Grazioso Sauvignon Blanc

In light of all that I have accomplished and enjoyed throughout the year, I have changed my one word to describe 2017. The new word is love: self-love, love of the written word, love of wine experiences, love of travel, and love for you, my readers.

I wish for you in 2018 the kinds of love I have discovered this year in the face of great challenges. May 2018 be our best year yet.

Happy New Year!

Translation, Passion, and Transformation

Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #32

This is my entry for Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #32 (#MWWC32), as described at this link. Voting begins Tuesday, April 25, 2017, and ends Monday, May 1, 2017, at the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge website.

I never used to be a procrastinator until I started participating in the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge. After a lifetime as a classic overachiever, perhaps I am starting to relax. Or, perhaps it’s because I see the challenge word and go blank until the very last minute. As I type this, I am still blank, but I am going to write something to keep my streak alive.

When I think of the word translation, I am immediately taken back to my college days. More specifically, I am transported back to Aix-en-Provence, France, and I am sitting in my summer abroad French Translation class at The University of Provence, now part of Aix-Marseille University. I was only 21 years old. The class was held in the afternoon after a grueling morning of other classes. Honestly, it was all I could do to get through this very intense class. It was extremely difficult and the evening homework was long, tedious, and hard as hell. However, the professor was fantastic. She, my classmates, and I often went out after class, as if we didn’t have hours of homework to do every night, and had drinks and bites at various local bars and cafés in Aix. It was during these tasting experiences that I really began to enjoy French wine, especially local wines. I didn’t know anything about wine, but I liked what I drank.

After our post-class outings, we returned to campus for dinner in the cafeteria. When I first arrived in Aix-en-Provence, I became very ill drinking from the pitchers of water in the cafeteria that were left for us daily. I will never forget that day. I had attended all of my classes through the late afternoon when it hit me about halfway back to our dormitory. I had to run, not walk, and it seemed like the longest run of my life. I made it, but I vowed from that point forward to only drink wine with lunch and dinner.

My wine experiences in Aix were turning points towards my enjoyment of wine, not just to avoid water, but as a true beverage choice. Shortly thereafter, as we traveled by bus from Aix-en-Provence back to Paris, I would have my first real wine experience in Beaune.

Although I no longer teach French, my previous career, the language has proved to be very helpful in my wine career, especially when it comes to the translation and understanding of wine labels, wine-related vocabulary, research, and publications. I often revisit this journey and of course, hindsight is 20/20. I truly believe that this study abroad experience in France was where my passion for all things French converged with a blossoming passion for wine. As life would have it, it would take many years for wine to move to the forefront and French to go into remission. Regretfully, I rarely have the opportunity to speak French or travel to France. I haven’t traveled there since 2005. I would love to visit France from a wine professional’s perspective.

Now I find myself in transition again as I follow my latest passion, health and fitness. I’ve lost 64 pounds in seven months through a high-intensity interval training workout and meal plan.  I believe that there is an ebb and flow when it comes to life’s passions, and that they co-exist, but either take center stage or persist in the background. It remains to be seen how my love of wine will translate into my current mind and body transformation.

Jaffe Estate Transformation and Metamorphosis

Jaffe Estate 2007 Metamorphosis and 2008 Transformation
Jaffe Estate 2007 Metamorphosis and 2008 Transformation

Recently I wrote about Jaffe Estate and participated in the fourth annual #CabernetDay with the 2007 Metamorphosis, Jaffe Estate’s Cabernet Sauvignon. I posted a review of the Metamorphosis as part of a fun, collaborative, he said, she said post with one of my favorite up-and-coming wine bloggers, Uncorked Remarks, so get over there and check it out!

2008 Jaffe Estate Transformation paired with sirloin medallions
2008 Jaffe Estate Transformation paired with sirloin medallions

Last night, I decided to cook, which is rare for me since I am rather inept in the kitchen. I made a pasta side dish and sirloin medallions. I decided to pair the 2008 Jaffe Estate Transformation with my meal. It’s a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 100% St. Helena Appellation, 100% Napa Valley, 100% Estate Grown fruit. Like its sister wine, I found it to have benefitted greatly from being in the bottle for a few years. Unlike many Napa reds I have tasted, it’s not a huge fruit bomb, but rather soft and feminine, with aromas and flavors of dark and red berries and a hint of chocolate. On the palate, it’s supple and velvety, with a long, delicious finish. Quite frankly, I couldn’t put it down, so I enjoyed a couple of glasses and imagined myself in St. Helena gazing at the starry night from Jaffe Estate’s adjacent observatory.

2007 Jaffe Estate Metamorphosis
2007 Jaffe Estate Metamorphosis

Both wines were samples graciously provided by the winery. To secure your bottles of Transformation and Metamorphosis, visit the Jaffe Estate website, where they are still offering a three-pack special of the 2007 Metamorphosis, 2008 Transformation, and 2009 Transformation.

Here’s to captivating wines paired with heavenly skies!

Jaffe Estate

Jaffe Estate marries the agricultural and the celestial, the earth and the sky, to create transcendent wines.

Jaffe Estate 2007 Metamorphosis and 2008 Transformation
Jaffe Estate 2007 Metamorphosis and 2008 Transformation

Jaffe Estate is located in the St. Helena district of Napa Valley, sharing a boundary with the Rutherford Bench. Its location in the alluvial fan and its Bale Loam soil are ideal for the production of Bordeaux-style grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

The Jaffe Estate team is led by owners Gary and Pam Jaffe, winemaker David DeSante, and vineyard manager Michael Neal. DeSante’s story is reminiscent of other winemakers’ stories I have featured on my blog, such as Cynthia Cosco, Tammi Ramsey, David Jeffrey, and Mike Anderson, who left other careers or pursuits to follow their passion of making wine. DeSante left medical school in Virginia to pursue winemaking in California and now produces wine for Jaffe Estate, his own label, and other boutique Napa brands.

On Thursday, August 29, 2013, the virtual wine community will be celebrating Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet blends around the world during the fourth annual #CabernetDay. I have participated in #CabernetDay since its inception with wonderful wines from Caymus Vineyards, Meander Wines, and Trentadue Winery, I am honored that one of the wines I will be tasting this year is the Jaffe Estate 2007 Metamorphosis (Cabernet Sauvignon), a sample graciously provided by the winery. I’ve been told that wine is tasting beautifully now and am thrilled to share it with you in two weeks.

It’s not too late for you to enjoy this Cabernet Sauvignon and Jaffe Estate’s other releases for #CabernetDay, Labor Day weekend, and beyond. For a limited time, Jaffe Estate is offering a three-pack special: one bottle each of their current releases, the 2007 Metamorphosis (Cabernet Sauvignon), 2008 Transformation (60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot), and 2009 Transformation (55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot) for $147.50 plus shipping, regularly $204.00 plus shipping. It’s an ideal gift for yourself or the red wine lover in your life.

I hope you will join me for #CabernetDay 2013 in two weeks! Cheers!