5 Keys to Hosting a Memorable Wine Tasting

As a wine educator, people often ask me, “What’s the focus of your business?” I typically answer by stating, “In-home, private wine tasting events.” As the conversation progresses, I’m usually asked, “What types of things do I need to plan for if I wanted to put on my own wine tasting event? Do you have any recommendations?” In fact I do!Continue Reading..


Planning a Perfect Napa Wine Tour

For several years now, my cousin and I have been thinking about taking a trip up to Napa. When I flew out to visit just a few weeks ago, found ourselves talking about it once again and finally decided we just needed to pick a date and do it. So late this summer, we’ll be headed up to Napa to try out some new wines and have a good time. Naturally, our upcoming trip got me thinking of what we can do to really make the most of our trip. Here are a few things I came up with to help you have a great time in Napa if you’re headed up there this summer.

1. Plan on Visiting 3-5 Wineries at Most.

The most important thing to remember is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re idea of a Napa vacation is to visit as many winery’s as possible, you may want to rethink that. Napa is the perfect place to relax and enjoy yourself. My advice is not to spoil that and choose about 3-5 wineries to visit. Many are in walking distance of each other so choose a few near each other and you can’t go wrong. In the event you do want to visit a winery a little ways away and you don’t have a designated driver, Uber and Lyft both operate in Napa and Sonoma.

2. Make Reservations.

Napa gets more than 3 million visitors a year, so make sure you make hotel reservations before-hand. The last think you want to do is end up staying an hour away and trying to commute to and from after wine tasting. Plan smart and get a room before hand. If you know want to tour a specific winery, it’s a good idea to make reservations ahead of time. Making sure you’ve got your plans set can help you avoid unnecessary hassles during your trip. Keep in mind that traffic in Napa can be a nightmare too and plan accordingly.

3. Pack a Lunch and plenty of water!

When I last went to Napa, I took a long road-trip up from Arizona. So we already had a cooler full of water and food in the car. But in the event that you’re flying in, it’s a good idea to have a plan to eat. Many wineries will have beautiful picnic areas. Going to the grocery store before hand and buying some bread and cheese will not only ensure you don’t go hungry but it will probably save you money on food too. Yes many wineries may have food with the wine tastings but it may not always be much and having some of your own will ensure you are prepared.

4. Pick Wineries Near Your Hotel.

When it comes to choosing wineries, it’s a good idea not to stray too far from your hotel. This will make your life so much easer and help you avoid either having to drive too far, or paying too much for an Uber or Lyft. With that in mind, take a look at wineries when you’re booking your room. If there are any that you know you want to visit, try to get a hotel nearby.

Good luck on your trip to Napa! I will definitely be writing plenty about my trip this summer with my cousin (perhaps a follow up on how well I followed my own advice). If you are visiting wine country or even a winery close to your home-town, consider writing about your experience and contributing to our wine blog. Click here for more details.




The Widow’s Wine: A Short Story

It had been an extremely long couple of months, and in the end, it was as much a relief as a sadness to bury Richard, my husband of 42 years. Being the surviving spouse of one who dies after a long and drawn-out illness isn’t easy. I missed Richard terribly, but in my mind, he had been gone for quite some time. When the terms of his living will had been reached and the doctors shut off the life support that had been sustaining him, I wept, but they were tears of inevitability.

How does one go one without a part of themselves? I wasn’t sure, to be honest. When I walked back into the house we had shared for 37 of those 42 years, it was like walking into a stranger’s place. It was too dark, too quiet, and too lifeless to be mine. The air became stifling and I needed to get outside. I fetched a bottle of wine from Richard’s cellar, a glass, and made my way to the fire pit down by the edge of the lake.

I had resisted the wine cellar to begin with. It seemed like a foolish luxury that was reserved for the exceedingly wealthy, or the downright pretentious. “If you have wine, you’re never alone,” Richard had said, trying to convince me. Of course, he meant that we’d have all sorts of parties and friends over to help us drink. And there were, at first. But as life goes on, the grandest of plans often dwindle to ashes of their former flame. It wasn’t more than a few years before our spectacular parties became the two of us, nestled in front of the fire at the water’s edge, enjoying a bottle of something he was immensely proud of and that I couldn’t pronounce.

That night I hoped to recapture the feeling of relaxation, and maybe even evoke the spirit of my late husband. I kindled a fire and threw a few larger logs on top before settling into one of the white Adirondack chairs to watch the sun set behind the mountains on the other side of the lake. Richard and I had certainly chosen a beautiful spot. The sun burned through the changing fall leaves and set fire to the surface of the water as I poured my first glass. I had chosen a bottle of Cabernet, mostly because I knew how to say it and I prefer red wine to begin with.

A few sips into my glass, I heard footsteps approaching over the dry leaves that had fallen on the yard. I turned, somewhat startled to see the neighbor approaching down the lawn.

“Hello, Warren,” I said, “You startled me.”

“I’m sorry, Cynthia. Didn’t mean to. I saw the smoke and wanted to make sure that everything was okay over here.”

Warren had divorced some five years earlier. He and Richard had been friendly, occasionally playing cards together, or enjoying cigars on the porch. The sparkle of the setting sun on the water was reflected in his smiling blue eyes and his gray hair wafted softly along with the gentle breeze off the water.

“Yes, fine,” I said finding my voice. “I was just having a glass of Richard’s wine in front of the fire and watching the sun set.”

“He was a good man,” Warren said, as an offer of condolence.

“Yes, he was. But I’m being rude, would you like to join me?” I asked, motioning towards the second Adirondack.

“That’s very kind of you, Cynthia,” he said. “But I’m sure you’d rather be alone tonight.

“Actually, the company might be nice.”

“Well, alright. I’d love to then,” Warren said, sitting down in the chair beside me.

“Can I offer you some wine? Richard said this was an excellent bottle. It’s a cabernet.”

“I’d love some, but to tell you the truth, I don’t know much about wine.”

“Neither do I,” I said, smiling. “Wait here, I’ll go get you a glass.”

I rose and started back towards the house, with Richard’s words echoing in my ears. “If you have wine, you’re never alone.” He was right, as always.

Pick up Thomas’ debut novel, “Evergreen” in paperback and e-book on Amazon!