2013 Highlights – Oh Baby!

I thought I should try to squeeze in a FOURTH blog post this year. Yeah – I know. That’s an absurd statement. But it’s true – so we’ll have to deal with it.

2013 has been a fantastic year (dare I say – the best YET) and I wanted to recap the highlights for posterity’s sake (read: my own). As for 2014 – I know it will be even better. And hopefully it will have more than 4 GDW blog posts. ;)

January started out quite nicely with a fun night out on East 4th to celebrate our friends, the Weigel’s and their winter-time birthdays:


Then – I got to relive some fun high school days by going to see Reel Big Fish at the House of Blues:


And I got to check out Nashville for the first time ever thanks to a work trip. I stayed at Opryland (holy cow – overwhelming!) and got a chance to tour the Grand Ole Opry:


In February – our niece (the first for me and Mike!), the lovely Marilyn June joined the world.


March involved some fantastic birthday celebrations – including a trip up to Bowling Green (my alma mater) for a wild weekend. image001

My very best friends drove 2+ hours up to the corn fields of western Ohio to hit up all our old favorites – include Jed’s (for some amazing “Freakballs” fireballs),  Brathaus (for Legal Joints), Uptown/Downtown, Nate & Wally’s Fishbowl, BW’s (the old spot, which is now some weird Irish bar), Kamikazes, Campus Quarters (for Flaming Dr. Pepper’s) and Polleye’s (for stuffed bread sticks)


And because birthday’s should be celebrated all month and not just for a day – my friend Stephanie and I continued the party with a special night out on the town in Cleveland. We hit up Velvet Tango Room, Soho (the Chattanooga, pictured below – with strawberries, lime, basil and bubbles? To. Die. For.) and Market Avenue Wine Bar.

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And I got the chance to attend the Ice Wine Festival! (one of the very few actual blog posts this year!)

In April I got to attend Opening Day (my first in at least a decade) – which was a blast – but I had a little too much fun and did end up going home very early. :)

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In May – I ran fourth half-marathon (and then drank the rest of the day away with my family and friends):

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We visited Columbus to celebrate our friend Amber’s birthday:image028 image031

And my handsome husband graced the cover of Cleveland’s Best Lawyers:


In June – our car got stolen. :( The police did find it a few weeks later but it was totaled. I actually had a few pictures of it on my old phone – but they were too sad to post to social media.

July was a much better month than June though…

My sister-in-law came home so we could meet Marilyn for the first time! And my mother-in-law threw a big family reunion/get-together so everyone got the chance to meet Marilyn, but it also gave us all the chance to visit with some family we hadn’t seen in a while!


We went to Cedar Point for the first time in about 5 years:


I got to travel to Vegas for “work” with my friend Megan (one of my most favorite people in the world):


AND, July just so happened to be the month where Mike and I got pregnant! :)


In August we went on vacation to Seaside, Florida with our friends Brian and Stephanie! It was a blast – and while I didn’t get to partake in any alcoholic beverages – I made up for the calories with ice cream and cheese.

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In September – our friend “Little John” got married and I attend my very first Browns game at the “new” stadium.

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Oh yeah – and I finally hit 12 weeks so we announced to our family and friends that we were expecting Baby J sometime in early April.

In October – we celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary!

In November – we learned that the little peanut growing inside of me is a BOY and did a fun (quick and not overly complicated) gender reveal with our family at Thanksgiving.


And December has been insane!

I’m working more hours than I’ve ever worked in my life but that’s thanks to a promotion (so woohoo for promotions, boo to insane hours). And then Christmas was here before I knew it! The holidays were crazy this year – but extra special as Marilyn came home again and we got to spend her very first Christmas morning with her. It was so special and I can’t wait until next year when it’s Marilyn PLUS our little one.


We got to spend lots of wonderful quality family time together. It really is hard to believe that next year there will be a new handsome guy added to the mix! 

image007     “My people”, I don’t know what I’d do without these 5.

Here’s to a fabulous 2014!

2013 Ice Wine Festival

Last weekend Jen from WhyCLE and I were invited by the owners of South River Winery in lovely Geneva to participate in the 3rd annual Ice Wine Festival Queen crowning – and then ride around in a limo to the other participating Geneva wineries with the court.

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Take one guess as to how long it took me to say yes. ;)

It was a snowy, gorgeous day – the perfect setting to be driven around in a limo all day :)

We started the day at Red Eagle Distillery – South River’s newest venture.

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Red Eagle is beginning distribution of its scratch-made bourbon in the next few months. You can bet I’ll be on the look out for that. Here’s the batch I’m looking for ;)

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After a quick tour of the distillery it was time to crown the court. The girls are chosen strictly based on their written essay answers to a creative list of wine-centered questions.

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After the crowning – it was off on our adventure:

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First stop – Debonne, which was just about 4 minutes down the road from Red Eagle.

Queens Miranda, Mary & Anna enjoying treats at Debonneq1 2013 028

2 ice wine offerings and a blueberry pistachio goat cheese that was TDF!

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Then I was totally distracted because they had sled dogs just outside the Ice Wine Festival pavilion. After a minute or two of ooh-ing and aah-ing at the sweet pups – I kept moving along.

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Since my last visit to Debonne (~6 years ago) – they have added a brewery called Cellar Rats to their offering. Jen and I went to check it out – and decided to get the 10 beer sampler to try their offerings.

Yep – “just” 10 ;)

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My favorite was probably the Field Rat Wheat but I can say – if you are smart – please avoid the McRatty’s Smoked Scottish Ale. Imagine a campfire in a beer. No thanks!

From there we were off to Grand River Cellars – where they take their name pretty seriously. We headed down to the basement for our tastings – which had a nice winter wonderland feel to it.

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Champagne Ice Wine (my favorite of the day!!!) with delicious bacon blue cheese for a snack; and me & Jen – the Ice Wine Royalty “media” for the day :)

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We actually all loved the champagne ice wine from Grand Cellars so much that Jen was nice enough to buy a bottle for the limo.

Poppin’ bubbly:

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It’s funny – I started the day out only knowing Jen – but it’s funny how quickly a group of nice girls bond when there is wine and a limo involved. :)

Next up was Ferrante which I lasted visited in 2010 with my parents and Mike’s parents. I had a wonderful time then so I was expecting the same this time around.

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My favorite non-ice wine of the day was here – the Raspberry bubbly. Fun and delicious and not too sweet. After trying my sample on the patio I promptly went in to the store and bought a bottle to take home with me.

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From Ferrante – we headed to St. Joseph Vineyard which was fun since I’d never been there before. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures from it because the place was PACKED! What I can tell you is this – apparently they are KNOWN for their Pinot Noir – so if you go there – TRY IT! :)

Our second to last stop was Laurello – which had a really nice, welcoming atmosphere. Like – the kind where I wanted to just hang out there with a full bottle of red wine in front of the fire place they had going.

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At this point – I was hitting sweetness overload from all the ice wines so I only tried one of their ice wine offerings but certainly enjoyed the hour ‘devours they were offering.

And last but certainly not least – we completed our circle by arriving at South River.

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Can I just tell you – this winery is GORGEOUS! I had not had the chance to visit South River before the Ice Wine Festival but I fell immediately in love.

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One last royal round of ice wine:

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It was really a wonderfully fun day where I started off knowing 1 person and left feeling like I had 10 new friends. And got to visit 6 wineries, 1 distillery, and 1 brewery – 6 of which were new to me!

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Truth be told – I was a little apprehensive at the start of the day because I really prefer dry wines. Riesling is even too much for me most days. But each of the wineries did a wonderful job trying to balance the sweet ice wine offerings with something (typically salty) to balance it all out.

If you have the opportunity to check out the Ice Wine Festival next year – I would encourage you to do so! Heck – who knows – I might even try out for queen next year. Who can say? :P

Disclaimer: I was asked by South River Vineyard to attend the Ice Wine Festival in a limo with the Ice Wine Queen and her court. Most of our tastings at the various wineries were courtesy of South River Vineyard. As always – the thoughts and opinions in this post are very much my own – because no one is the boss of me but myself. :)

A Vermilion Saturday

A few weeks ago – my friend Megan and I decided to spend a Saturday morning and afternoon out in Vermilion. Random? Slightly. But it ended up being a fabulous time and I want to share the two gems we found with you.

YEARS ago – my friend Kristin told me about this cooking school – Laurel Run – that was out in Vermilion and how wonderful it was.  It’s a tiny little building nestled behind someone’s actual farm house – it’s a very cool set up.  They offer hands-on cooking classes and demos on a variety of topics.  The demo I chose to attend was on holiday baking.

Demo = I get to sit comfortably and enjoy my coffee while someone does the baking for me. It was actually a ton of fun – almost like being on the set of a cooking show.


It was SO. MUCH. FUN! Next time I’m definitely going to try one of the hands-on classes.

The instructor was very knowledgeable and took answers from the class as she cooked.

For example – my question: What is the difference between salted  butter and unsalted butter and how do I know which to use in a recipe is it just says “butter”?!

Answer: no real difference – they will yield the same end result, one will just be saltier/you’ll need to use less salt in the recipe because it’s already in the butter.

Phew – glad to know I haven’t been doing it wrong all these years. :)

We ended up making five different types of cookies:

  1. Orange Black Pepper Biscotti
  2. Basil Pistachio Shortbread
  3. Lemon Zest Tea Melts
  4. Caramel Maple Pecan Bars
  5. Cream Cheese Cinnamon Tarts

IMG_2094(a few might look familiar – they made it onto my holiday cookie platter. I promised I’d tell you more about them in another post)

#2 was by far my favorite. I have a hard copy of all of the recipes if you are interested! Just let me know!

After a hard morning of baking ;) Megan and I decided to check out a winery we had noticed signs for as we were getting off the highway.

Vermilion Valley Vineyards


I liked the building itself but something about the wood finish on the gray day we were out there made it remind me of something from a horror movie.  But I’m weird. And you should all know that by now. ;)


You can do small taste test flights if you stand at the bar – so that’s where we started. I was able to try five wines (probably about a 2-2.5oz pour each) for $5. Not bad at all!


And all of the wines were actually quite delicious. After picking our favorite – Megan and I sat down and ordered an actual glass and got a quick bite to each. My choice was their 2012 Dornfelder. You can see their full wine list here.


The restaurant area is open and inviting – and there’s a fun loft that would make an excellent spot for a private party.


If I lived out in Vermilion this is someone I think I’d go quite often. But that brings me to the only drawback I could find (for me at least). It’s just so far out there. It’s a solid 35 to 40 minutes from Cleveland’s west side. But it’s definitely worth it.

So if you plan to attend a Laurel Run class – make sure to leave time for Vermilion Village afterward. Or – if you just randomly happen to find yourself in Vermilion some day – try to find your way to Vermilion Village for a beverage – you won’t be sorry!




    I'm Allison, and welcome to Green Dog Wine! My love of food (AND WINE!) took the freshman 15, to the college 50 for me. This blog is about my weight loss maintenance & healthy lifestyle, and my love of food, wine, and dogs! Cheers!
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