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.
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.
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
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.
After the crowning – it was off on our adventure:
First stop – Debonne, which was just about 4 minutes down the road from Red Eagle.
Queens Miranda, Mary & Anna enjoying treats at Debonne
2 ice wine offerings and a blueberry pistachio goat cheese that was TDF!
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One last royal round of ice wine:
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!
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?
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 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:
- Orange Black Pepper Biscotti
- Basil Pistachio Shortbread
- Lemon Zest Tea Melts
- Caramel Maple Pecan Bars
- Cream Cheese Cinnamon Tarts
#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.
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!
For me, it’s really been a great couple of weeks celebrating the holiday season. From family parties, to my Mom’s birthday to Holla Days (with some LVT after) – I’ve had an absolute blast catching up and partying with everyone. And indulging. Lots and lots of indulging.
Let’s talk a little more about indulging since I brought it up. No, no – no lectures or resolutions. I want to talk to you about the cookies you should be making, when you decide to break your resolutions.
This year – I took a different approach to Christmas presents around the office and decided to bake for everyone. Would it have been easier to just get gift cards? Probably. Would my coworkers have appreciated it more? Perhaps. But I was going homemade, no if’s and’s or but’s about it.
I ended up making four recipes in total – one “tried-and-true” – and three “new-to-me”. Let’s start with the new and end with the tried and true.
New to me Recipe #1: SnickerDoodles (by How Sweet Eats)
You. Guys. For 20+ years – I did not eat or understand SnickerDoodles. And then a few years ago they made their way onto a cookie platter I couldn’t resist and I finally tried one. Can you believe how long I missed out?! It’s a real travesty. But now that I’ve been set straight – I’m trying to educate the world. EAT MORE SNICKERDOODLES PEOPLE! And if you are going to make them – use this recipe. It’s foolproof and yields the softest, most wonderful cookies.
Also – if you don’t read Jessica’s blog – do yourself a favor and change that now. In my humble opinion – she is THE best food blogger around.
New to me Recipe #2: Holiday Confetti Cake Batter Cookies (by Sally’s Baking Addiction)
I found this recipe on Pinterest (shocking, I know) and the picture was too adorable to pass up. Then, when I read how simple the recipe was – I knew it was meant to be. These are exactly as easy as they sound, and a definite crowd pleaser. My only note would be that you do NOT need 1 cup of sprinkles. That ended up being WAY too much for me. I made these a second time and used between 1/2 and 2/3 of a cup and it was perfect.
New to me Recipe #3” GDW’s Version of Ina’s Bark (original recipe here)
White chocolate & me? We do NOT mix. As a matter of fact – we hate each other. Because – EW – who likes white chocolate?!?!? So when I saw Ina’s recipe I thought it looked delicious – with some changes – if you catch my drift.
Where Ina’s recipe calls for white chocolate – I split that into 1/2 dark chocolate chips, 1/2 semi-sweet chocolate chips. The recipe itself is really easy. The only real prep that you need to do is chopping the dried apricots (1/4 cup). Aside from that you take 1/4 cup of dried cranberries, and 1/2 cup of shelled salted pistachios and that’s it. Melt the chocolate in 30 second increments in the microwave, always making sure to stir thoroughly. Once all the chocolate is melted – pour it out onto a parchment lined baking sheet – and sprinkle the apricots, cranberries and pistachios on top.
Refrigerate for about 2 hours and then break into chunks. Based on how quickly this went in the office – I’d say the end result was a hit. Here’s the finished product:
Tried-and-True Recipe: Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies (by Picky Palate)
These are always the crowd favorite. Do you need to get your way? Make these cookies and give them to the person you are trying to convince. Someone made at you? Make these cookies and all will be forgotten. That’s a guarantee.
So that’s my 2012 holiday cookie round up. Each year I try and switch things up but I might not do that next year since each of the cookies were so successful. Only time will tell.
Disclaimer: Recipe #3 was brought to you by Oh Nuts! I was offered two products of my choice in exchange for making a recipe. As always – the thoughts and opinions in this post are very much my own. I was much more successful this year than I was last year!
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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