I am a winer and occasionally a whiner. In this blog I will write about all my wining experiences (and occasionally whine about the wine horror stories, yes they do exist!). I will review and describe in detail all the good, the bad, and the ugly wines, and provide my own rating system, which is much simpler than the Wine Spectator, et al (and what does 92 points really mean anyway??).

As I am also a writer, be prepared for the long-winded sentences of wine description, and the use of many a metaphor in my wining adventures.

Swirl, sniff, sip, and enjoy!



Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Midlife Crisis 101: Opening a Winery

I had this nightmarish vision of myself working as a part-time ESL teacher grading papers until the day I die, and it caused me to almost have a nervous breakdown.  I like my job, I like meeting with the students from other countries and knowing so many beautiful souls, but the prospect of staying at this job forever without any possibilities to grow financially or psychologically scares the living daylight out of me.

Hence my obsession with wines and wineries, and I believe other people's obsession with wine and wineries too. Yesterday some of my female friends and I had a wonderful girl trip to Schultze Winery, Black Willow Winery and Murphy Orchards, all of which are located practically in our backyard - Niagara County.  Whereas Shultze have earned its reputation in the NY State wine world and received some awards, Black Willow Winery is a new kid in town, having opened only several months ago. http://www.blackwillowwinery.com/

The story of its creation is heartwarming as well as heart-wrenching at the same time.  We had a heart-to-heart with one of its owners - Cynthia West-Chamberlain, a  gentle and quietly inspirational woman.  The winery owns its conception to her cat, who died from heart problems, and turned Cynthia's world upside down.  Having realized that life is too short, she quit her 9 to 5 job, got a wine-making degree and opened a winery.  Kudos to her and her spunk.

Her mead wines (wines produced from honey), priced in mid-twenties, are a pleasant surprise.  My own favorite was Freya's Passion, infused with strawberry and vanilla, but not too sweet or honey-ish.  According to the winery owners, it pairs well with mild goat and nutty cheeses; I would definitely pair it with turkey or chicken and, obviously, dessert.

Of the more traditional grape wines, my favorites were Black Willow Trilogy Red, a medium bodied medley of Cab Franc, Cab Sav, and Chancellor (a hybrid) and Risling-Gewurtz-Niagara (?)  blend Black Willow Trilogy White. The very pleasant friendly red would pair well with mild red meat dishes, or pasta, whereas the semi-dry white would go with any traditional white meat or fish dishes, as well as dessert, or by itself chilled on a hot summer afternoon on your patio or deck.

This inspirational story got me thinking, and thinking too much.  For years I've been struggling with trying to figure out what my purpose in life is.  The search led me to writing, belly dancing and excessive wine tasting, but all of these are not what I want to do as a career for the rest of my life.  I admire and envy Cynthia, who knew her dream, and turned her life around to achieve it, because even though she wasted some of it doing what most of us do - lie low and avoid taking risks, she had enough guts to pursue her passion.  I seem to have all the guts, and the guts are churning and yelling and rebelling, but I have yet to figure out what my passion is.

Maybe more winery trips and more wine tasting will clear it out.  For as some ancient Roman dude and I earlier in my blog already said, "In Vino Veritas" - "In wine, there is the truth."


  1. Nice blog. I like the heart and soul blend with the wine critiques. I had those very same kind of thoughts when I was teaching English down in Houston. Fortunately, I found my calling and my passion after 9 years overseas, right here in my own backyard (literally). Keep tasting! Keep exploring and searching! The passion will come and give your guts their due. -- Kirsten

  2. Lu,
    Other than the fact that you're drinking nice wine & I'm drinking wine from the Chinese grocery store (really not as bad as you'd think), it's like my life. I like teaching, too, but I don't see myself doing it forever. But, umm, what to do with forever???
    Love the new blog, by the way!