Red Wine Ice Cream!?? No Way! Might have to be incorporated into the festivities this weekend brings! Enjoy!


Serves 8

2 bottles full-bodied red wine, like cabernet sauvignon
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups sugar
9 yolks
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract.

1. Pour wine into a large pot and bring to a simmer. Add cinnamon sticks and peppercorns. Simmer until the wine is reduced to 1 cup (it should take about 1 hour).

2. In a large pan, bring the milk, cream and half of the sugar to a boil and turn off heat. In a bowl, whisk together yolks and remaining sugar. Temper the yolks into the boiling milk by gradually whisking about 1 cup of milk into the yolks and adding this back into the pot with the remaining milk. Stir in the salt and the vanilla. Whisk in the reduced wine. Set pan over a bowl full of ice to cool. Pour the chilled ice cream base through a fine mesh strainer. Process the base in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze at least 2 hours before serving.

Champagne Punch!

Not only am I obsessed with Mrs. Lilien’s – Styling House Blog, love the fashion, her cute rhymes, colors, and the graphic designing… I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the fact that she is always sneaking in something to do with wine and champagne with such elegance!  And with the sweltering heat around here lately, Izze + Champagne Punch sounds good to me! Here is her fabulous post from today! Dare you to try it this weekend and let me know how it is!!!

Champagne Punch For One 

There’s nothing quite like a party of one – which is why drinking alone can be so much fun! You can make something fancy without all the pomp – and keep it all for yourself, which let’s face it, is what you really want! So here I give you my champagne punch for one – so good, it’ll dance the cha-cha on your tongue! Pour a split of champagne into a highball half-filled with ice – leaving a little room at the top for melon soda, all sparkly and nice! float fresh starfruit slices in the glass then give it a stir – then sip that sucker down with a straw if you prefer. I’m not sure there’s anything more delightfully ad hoc – than a highball of champagne punch for one filled to the very top!


Off Roading in Sonoma – Day 3: Detour to Napa

As I have said before in “Swanson Vineyards, My Obsession” Swanson Vineyards has a certain aura about it that just rubs me and I’m sure all of its followers the absolute RIGHT way!

On our third day of our wine extravaganza we made one last stop in Napa to Swanson Vineyards where all of the magic that I saw in the brand and on the bottles came to life before my eyes. It started with a special tasting for 10 people sitting around a round table in their magnificent and very intimate Sip Shoppe (a lovely Victorian room with a formal tasting), listening to tales from the charismatic proprietor Clarke Swanson himself and getting to know the 10 strangers around us sipping on the finest wines the vineyard had to offer. Not only were we in the finest most fabulous room with an amazing ambience we were also tasting Swanson wines with a gracious plate filled with fine cheeses, caviar and the world’s best chocolate. It was something I can’t even describe so I hope my photos do it justice. This is a MUST when visting wine country – we were focused on Sonoma but had to carve out a day to spend at Swanson. We then went to a wonderful lunch at the most elegant Bouchon Bistro in downtown Yountville, CA with Mr. Clarke Swanson and continued our discussion about wines and other fun ideas about his delicious and famous Merlot! P.S. I’m not a merlot lover, but this is a kind Merlot that turns around the non-lovers!

To see “Off Roading in Sonoma – Day Two” click HERE

Off Roading in Sonoma – Day 2

Day 2 of Off Roading! For Day 1 click HERE

Saturday May 18, 2011

11AM- What a way to wake up with some sparkling rose, pastel shorts, bow ties and sear sucker jackets at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards.  With a magnificent view on the terrace that looks out upon its vineyard, this vineyard was one of the most breathtaking visions I’ve seen, not to mention their 2007 Brut Rose with tangy raspberry, apple, and citrus flavors was one of the best sparkling’s I’ve tasted.

  • Bought: 3 bottles of 2008 Carneros Pinot Noir Rosé for $25
  • Fun Fact: Has one of the best terrace’s good for enjoying with a big group, watching gorgeous views and drinking excellent bubbly and rose!


12:30PM – The next stop, Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, was filled with my first Olive Oil tasting (tried an orange olive oil, it was, well, interesting) and full-bodied reds complete w/ chocolate wine shots!

  • Bought: 2008 Late Harvest Aleatico (what we did the chocolate shots of) intense plum and floral-licorice in taste; great for after dinner; 2009 Barbera (won 2011 SF Chronicle Wine Competition); crisp and vibrant raspberry and cherry filled with tobacco notes – delish
  • Fun Fact: Not only are the chocolate wine shots fun, Jacuzzi’s label is the wedding picture of winemakers, Giovanni and Teresa Jacuzzi


1:40PM- Lunch pit stop at the most amazing sandwich shop I’ve tried out there… Sonoma’s Best. They have the best Panini’s with so much olive oil that one person in the groups Panini slipped off  his plate and fell to the floor… He wasn’t very happy, woops! Even so, I would HIGHLY recommend this place for a bite in your wine journey!

3PM- Arrived at Tin Barn Vineyards and tried out a steel barrel… You’ll see what I mean in an upcoming post…  Tin Barn is a very unique and ‘off the map’ vineyard that offers up a twofer as a tasting room and cellar space. Their wines are authentic to the ‘wine country’ and presents a nice variety of fruitful and well balance wines.. Not to mention you get that ‘homey’ feeling and hands on experience when you first step in the door.

  • Bought: 2008 Zinfandel Russian River Valley (lush with fruit); 2007 Syrah Sonoma Coast, Coryelle Fields Vineyard
  • Fun Fact: Not only are their wines GREAT, they offer bite size dark chocolate disks to taste with your wines… although dangerous (bc you cld eat way too many of them) they add a nice extra to the experience.  Great ‘off the beatin’’ tasting room!

4PM- We ran right next door to Tin Barn in the rain to Kamen Estate Wines tasting room.  Definitely known for it’s high quality Cab’s, this tasting room was very quaint and a nice way to end our wine tasting experience… Might as well go out with BANG with heavy hitters!

  • Fun Fact: The winemaker of Kamen Estate Wines is the acclaimed Robert Kamen, screenwriter of such films as Taps, The Karate Kid series, The Fifth Element, A Walk in the Clouds, The Transporter series and Taken.. Cool!

6PM- After our lovely day with good company, we ventured into the downtown of Sonoma county where we visited the Swiss Hotel Bar in Sonoma Sq… Such a cute little town, it almost reminded me of Edgartown in Martha’s Vineyard (without the water nearby)!
**However, on our way to the bar, we heard a BEEP and it was the sommelier who conducted our tasting at Jacuzzi… apparently he remembered us, we said hello, and he pulled out another bottle of 2009 Nero d’ Avola from his backseat and said “take this, it’s one of my favorites, enjoy” WOW!


7PM- We then went a BBQ at a friends house in Sonoma, filled with fire pits, cheeses, meats, a wonderful steak dinner, and of course lots of excellent wine….. So many laughs and great company ended our Sonoma trip with perfection!


Don’t know how we survived Day 2, but we did and we did it well experiencing lots of unique places and tastings all over Sonoma! Our last day was a magical day at a vineyard I’ve been following and been amazed with for a while now….But you’ll have to STAY TUNED!

Off-Roading in Sonoma

I had the great pleasure of spending my Memorial Day Weekend tasting wine at some of the most beautiful and tucked away vineyards in Sonoma (aside from one special pit stop on our way home in Napa Valley, but I’ll get to that later).  With a map in hand and no real itinerary, aside from our few favorites, we set out and crafted our own wine adventure to some of the most hidden treasures on and off the map.  With characters met along the way and enjoyable experiences, here is our road map to our “off-roading in Sonoma” or ‘off the beatin’’ as some like to call it.  Not to overwhelm you, I divided everything by day so you will have to check back for Day 2 of “Off-Roading in Sonoma”.  Beware, do not drive while reading…..

Friday, May 27th 2011

10:30AM – Premeditated first stop in the Russian River Valley; Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery.  The beautiful and diverse terrain started our trip off in a magical way. We were the first ones to enter and were treated like kings! They make a 2007 Estate Red which evokes a wonderful red wine that is true to Chalk Hill.

  • Fav Tasting: 2007 Estate Red (51% Cab, 24% Malbec, 13% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot, 1% Carmenere)
  • Bought: 2007 Estate Red and 2008 Estate Sauv. Blanc (great price)
  • Fun Fact: They do their vineyard tours in a hummer and you should ask for Rich S. when you get there!
11:43AM- J Vineyards stop for some morning bubbly
  • Fav Tasting: Brut Rose (what they are known for) and the entire champagne tasting we did there. Highly recommend!
  • Bought: Brut Rose (there is no way I was leaving without a bottle)
  • Fun Fact: Really cool looking bottles and you can’t help but stop and gaze at the exquisite entrance with bridge running over a lily pad filled pond.
1:20PM: Pit stop in Healdsburg Burger Bar and Grill (best burger in town) washed down with Damnations Russian River beer (Belgian Strong Pale Ale) brewed in Santa Rosa, CA.  TRY: GET A BURGER, IT’S WORTH IT!

2:30PM: Returned to car and found a stranded cell phone by the car, it rang, we answered, and we received a free bottle of wine for returning the lost phone! Pays off to be nice! :)

3:39PM: Entered Dry Creek Valley

4PM- Looked up on yelp “wineries that serve chocolate with their tastings”, Truett-Hurst Winery came up, we went and were disappointed that they didn’t have free chocolates.  They did however have the spiciest and highest in alcohol wines of the day… TRY: RED ROOSTER & DARK HORSE GPS.. Some of the most unique tastes I’ve had.  EXTREMELY INTENSE WINES!

4:45PM- Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves was the next stop down the road that added a nice change of atmosphere. Great cave tasting experience with top-tier Zins and Syrah’s (their specialty). This is a must stop for a nontraditional experience and tasting

  • Bought: 2009 Zin – rich, rustic and the perfect ‘all-purpose Zin’!
  • Fun Fact: They have the most amazing cheesy breadsticks to clean your pallet with and great Adirondack chairs outside on the grass to chill out in!
6:15PMLongboard Vineyards, the last stop that we randomly stumbled upon and had them reopen the tasting room for us which was an interesting concept of WINE and SURF!  Not only (as you can imagine) do they have surfboards hanging from the walls, t-shirts, glasses, basically everything branded with a surfboard, they also have a ‘Surf Speak’ glossary somewhere around their tasting room.  Drink up and surf’s up BRO!
  • Bought: 2007 Syrah (complex wine with dark berries and coffee notes.)
  • Fun Fact: “Stay loose, trust your own palate, get wet often and spread more time surfing and sharing life with friends and family and less time reading the back copy of wine bottle” – as I’m reading the back of the wine label… SURF’S UP!”

Day one completed and survived… Stay tuned for what’s to come for Day 2 (SPOILER: chocolate shots, olive oil tastings, and fire pits ahead!!!)