Category Archives: cocktails

spicy cucamelon cocktails | why culinary treats are the best travel souvenirs

First of all, happy almost-end-of-summer!! I’m excited to share the story behind this spicy cucamelon cocktail that I created after returning from a trip to NYC, where I toured and savored its verdant famers markets. I’m definitely reveling in these final days of summer and doing my best to capture their vibrancy by making jams, jellies, relishes, chutneys, and, of course, cocktails.

This particular trip to New York City in the fall of 2019 just might be my favorite culinary trip I’ve taken. Yes, I’ve had some incredible food-and-wine-centric trips throughout my wine career. Traveling to historic places like Burgundy, France; visiting the Vinho Verde region in Portugal; exploring the Piemonte, home to Barolo and Barbaresco, in Italy; and touring the vineyards in Ribero del Duero y Rueda in Spain were all career and personal highlights for me.

None of these trips, however, compared to traveling to New York City two years ago with several of my favorite chef and sommelier friends within the culinary industry. There is nothing like rolling out of bed (maybe a little hungover?) and exploring the city’s various farmers markets to source produce, flowers, or meat that will be served at a dinner later that evening, with the very chefs, who will be cooking the dishes.

In 2019, my husband and I were chosen, along with our industry friend and colleague, Jen Mattioni, to be the beverage component of the Colorado FIVE, a group of five talented chefs, who are changing the face and direction of the Colorado culinary scene. I’ve shared one of the epic dinners we’ve thrown in another post, to reference the kind of scale and pomp these dinners have. Throughout the summer season, each of the five chefs within the Colorado FIVE team hosts a five-course dinner at his or her respective restaurant, we pair the drinks, and we all raise money for charity.

The year culminates at a dinner that we host at the James Beard House in New York City.

Yes, that James Beard.

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chai pomegranate whiskey spritz | on winter survival

Happy new year!!

I know we are a solid five weeks into 2021. I can still celebrate. 😏 We took down our Christmas tree only six days ago, I just finished writing out my goals for the year, and I’m still sending out HNY cards into February. I honestly don’t know where the last few weeks went, so I’ll blame my tardiness on the haze that was the month of January. I think we can all agree that the month was, for lack of a better descriptor, weird.

With the darker days thankfully growing longer and brighter, I have been embracing all-things-cozy to keep me grounded and positive. It’s been rainy, snowy, and muddy here at the vineyard, so we have had to postpone outdoor projects and either remain glued to our computers or work on finalizing the blends for our 2020 wines. To keep my spirits high, I’ve been making time for muddy walks with the dog, cooking with my husband, giving the house a deep clean, and whipping up some new cocktail recipes.

This Chai Pomegranate Whiskey Spritz was one of my favorites that I made in January, and it features an easy-to-make chai syrup that works well with wintry drinks. The cocktail is rich and savory, with bright, pomegranate notes, and it finishes with a dry, refreshing pop of bubbly.

I’m also sharing the recipe for another cocktail that uses this chai simple syrup, the Rum Reviver, a rum-forward cocktail, which first appeared in the fall 2020 issue of Spoke + Blossom magazine. Both of these cocktails require low-maintenance prep and yield high-impact reward.

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the peach blossom | a cocktail inspired by a flower farm tour at deer tree farm

I’m not that good at self-care lately. I’m just being honest. This year has beaten me up, but there hasn’t been time to recuperate. Perhaps I should rephrase that – I haven’t taken the time to recuperate. There is always time for what you deem important.

I came in a little early this evening to share this post and recipe I shot and created earlier this week. Today was exceptionally smoky and hot. Here in Colorado, there are four wildfires burning, two of which are relatively close by. I’ve been working outdoors in 97ºF weather, while wearing an N95 mask to keep my lungs protected. I could have finished weeding two more rows of Riesling, but I opted to take a late-afternoon bath and pour myself a little sip of wine from said Riesling.

It was a priority shift.

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I haven’t checked in here in a while, and I could share some war stories from the past few months. I think we call could do that, given the unrest, the tumult, and the uncertainty this year has gifted us. I use that word intentionally – gifted. While the process is is beleaguering, going through periods of unrest, tumult, and uncertainty can be poignant periods of growth, if we are willing to embrace it.

Right now, I’m crying mercy. And choosing to share something beautiful. I hope I can embrace what I need to learn, but I seriously want some reprieve. So, I took that late-afternoon tub bath. I took my medicine.

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Jen Mattioni of Q House garnishing her Five-Spice Old Fashioneds.

five-spice old fashioned | knapp ranch dinner with the colorado FIVE

Just over two weeks ago, Steve and I helped host and orchestrate a dinner at the most epic location. Expansive hillside views, lush and abundant wildflowers, and cool and fresh mountain air, alongside a culinary team of which dreams are made. Hosted by Chef Bryan Redniss of The Rose, in Edwards, Colorado, this Japanese kaiseki-style dinner was a bucket list event not only for us, who helped produce, execute, and capture the dinner, but also for the 80 people who were lucky enough to snag a seat before the experience sold out.

That evening was one of those moments that doesn’t come along very often, where you look around and take notice of what’s actually happening – you truly can’t imagine someplace else that you’d rather be. It felt like it may have been the highlight of the Colorado food scene this year. The scenery was so beautiful that photos can’t even capture the magnitude of the  S P A C E  there at Knapp Ranch. For the design enthusiasts and foodies out there, this property is owned and curated by the former owner of Architectural Digest and Bon Appétit magazines, Bud Knapp. I had the pleasure of meeting him and touring his home and expansive gardens at his ranch that sit at 9,000 feet above sea level.

I am sharing one of my favorite cocktails that evening from my friend and fellow Colorado FIVE beverage team member, Jen Mattioni, owner of Q House in Denver. She crafted this bright, savory, spiced version of the classic Old Fashioned cocktail for the appetizer course at the Knapp Ranch dinner and paired it alongside savory bites like Duane Walker of Morin Restaurant‘s panko-fried confit chicken thighs with black garlic, sweet chili fish caramel, spicy mustard, foie gras aioli, and furikake.

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spirit-free chamomile citrus fizzes | the countdown to wine

Hello, friends!!

I’m laughing to myself this afternoon because the last time I published a blog post was nearly a year ago, and what brought me to my computer today is the same reason why I decided to write a post before – rain. Weeks of rainy days have brought us indoors and delayed us from finishing up the pruning and tying down of canes in the vineyard. It is nearly impossible to work in the mud, so I’ve committed to cozying up inside and gluing myself to the computer.

And I’ll happily distract myself and procrastinate a little by sharing a spirit-free cocktail with you.

But first, let me catch you up to speed on what’s been happening here at the vineyard. Should I start with the positive and exciting or the super-scary and exciting? I suppose I’ll start with the super-scary and finish on a high note.

If I type out all that we need to accomplish within the next ten days, I might have to break out my inhaler, but I really think you want to know what’s been going on, so I’ll take my chances. I’ve been a mad mix of stress-eating Nutella by the spoonful, making due with four solid hours of sleep a night, and rocking back and forth while mumbling Psalm 23. Our vineyard is planted with 16 acres of vines, and within each acre are about 1,000 plants. Because we’ve received so much rain this spring, all of the fruit farms are prolifically producing. That sounds great, right? Well, with a very limited workforce here in our valley, that means all of the farm help around here is spoken for.

Our team of three is two rows away from pruning all 16 acres of vines, and my arms and hands have dearly paid. I sleep with braces on both arms every night, and despite my efforts, my hand get numb at times, and my handwriting resembles the scrawl of a kindergartener. Also on the agenda, we have to finish building our tasting overlook, where we will hold our appointment-only tastings. Construction has been delayed on that project because of – yet again – the rain. We also need to bottle and label our wines (SIXTEEN THOUSAND BOTTLES) before throwing our first wine dinner in the vineyard.

We are also slated to receive 1,250 new vines in two weeks. We still need to dig 1,250 holes in which to plant them, so I’m strongly feeling that it is a good idea to postpone that project until the first of July. Is the timing optimal? Not so much. It’s a more attainable and sanity-saving goal, though.

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Okay, the panic is kicking in, so let’s switch over to the positive happenings. Steve and I surprised our families and tied the knot – just the two of us here – back in February in the middle of a snowstorm in the middle of our Chardonnay vines! Then we took a road trip down to Arizona, where I saw the Grand Canyon for the very first time. It was covered in SNOW! I will have to write a separate post highlighting that beautiful trip. We recently took tank samples of our wines and got placements at three of our favorite spots in Denver, and we will be pouring our wines with one of our favorite Colorado chefs, Alex Seidel, at the Telluride Reserve in August!

And we are throwing our very first wine dinner in our vineyard on Friday, June 14th, and it thankfully sold out this morning!

UTTER.

CRAZINESS.

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