Bubbles and Brunch: Mionetto Prosecco Brut and Mexican Egg Casserole

brunchWe can wine and dine our way through the week but when it comes to the weekends, nothing is better than savory brunch fare and a glass of bubbly. There is something about sparkling wine which makes the start of a day so much better!  And to be fair to all of those who love to sleep in and enjoy a mid morning meal, bubbles and brunch are terrific any day of the week!

Each year, Mr. Grape Experiences and I have good friends come to our house at the lake for a relaxing fall weekend and I love to serve a special recipe on Sunday morning. Last week, our friends arrived for a fun filled day of target shooting, wine tasting, dining at a new (to us) restaurant, and engaging in a bit of late night tippling at a local hangout.

Sunday morning had new meaning as we took our first taste of with this delicious Mexican Egg Casserole (easily prepared the day before, refrigerated, and baked when I woke up) and a glass of Mionetto Prosecco Brut.  All of us loved the subtle zing of the green chiles and hot pepper sauce, a quick eye opener to be sure.  Although I served the eggs with fresh fruit and muffins only, you may want to have salsa for those who prefer a more spicy taste.

Don’t forget to pop the cork of the dry and fresh Prosecco which added effervescence and a delicious counterpoint to those wake-me-up flavors.  With aromas of citrus and a touch of freshly picked golden apples, the Mionetto Prosecco Brut was light and balanced and can easily be enjoyed on its own or as an ingredient in a Bellini.  Cost is around $15.


Mexican Egg Casserole


  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 12 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (divided)
  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 2 plum tomatoes (seeded and diced)
  • 1 can chopped green chilies (4 ounces, drained)
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro (minced)
  • 4 green onions (sliced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • salsa (optional)


Step 1
In a large bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.
Step 2
Add the eggs, 3 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, cottage cheese, tomatoes, chilies, onions, hot pepper sauce, oregano, cilantro, salt and pepper.
Step 3
Pour into a greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish.
Step 4
Sprinkle with the remaining Monterey Jack cheese.
Step 5
Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
Step 6
Reduce heat to 350 degrees, bake 30 minutes longer or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
Step 7
Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting. Serve with salsa if desired.
Step 8
Pour a glass of bubbles and enjoy!


 Cheers to bubbles and brunch…any day of the week! ~ Cindy


















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Stomp Grapes at Lake Chelan Wine Valley’s Crush Festival

Grape stomp compressedPurple feet aside, what better way to celebrate the harvest than to participate in Lake Chelan Wine Valley’s annual Crush Festival to be held the weekends of October 4-5 and 11-12? Grape stomping, wine tasting, barbeques, live concerts, and more can be enjoyed at twenty one boutique wineries as they open their cellar doors for your behind-the-scenes look at winemaking.  Having been to Lake Chelan in the summer of 2013 I can absolutely recommend a visit (and I wish I lived closer so I could stomp and taste these amazing wines again in October).

Lake Chelan Wine Valley is a thriving community that continues to attract attention from winemakers, grape growers, wine bloggers like me, and wine lovers. Located in the heart of Washington’s Cascade Mountains, Lake Chelan is three hours east of Seattle where it is situated on a beautifully clear 50.5 mile lake.  Some of the many varieties that flourish in the Valley include Syrah, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Viognier.  Be sure to check out the Lake Chelan Wine Valley website for detailed information. And don’t forget to visit the following wineries. Enjoy and stomp a few grapes for me!

Atam Winery: The tasting room will be open on both weekends on Thursday-Sunday from 12-5pm.  Live music can be enjoyed on both Saturdays from 2-5pm.  Crushing activities are dependent on the maturity of the grapes.

Benson Vineyards: Benson will be open both weekends from 11am-5pm with live music both Saturdays from 2-5pm.

Cairdeas Winery: The winery is open each day from 11am-6pm through both Crush weekends.  Visitors will be able to taste new wines out of the press or fermenter, learn about punching down, and try Syrah grapes to see how they taste before they become wine.

Chelan Estate Winery and Vineyard: Crush hours during both weekends are from 11am-6pm.  Special prices of their 2008 Chelan Estate Pinot Noir (5 bottles) or their 2007 Chelan Estate Vineyards Reserve Red (4 bottles) are $100.  Karin Martin of Dove Designs will display her one of a kind jewelry designs featuring gemstones combined with unique silversmithing.

Chelan Ridge: Chelan Ridge Winery will be open daily from 12-6pm.

Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards: Open every day of Crush from 11am-6pm, guests will be able to see falcons at work in the vineyard on Saturday, October 4 (rain date October 11) protecting the ripening grapes from predatory birds. Demonstrations of the falcons will start at 11am and every two hours after with the last session at 5pm.

Lake Chelan Winery: Open daily at 11am., there will be a barbeque lunch Saturday and Sunday at 11am and dinner at 4pm. Winery and production tours are Thursday through Saturday at 2pm and grape stomp activities are from 12-4pm.  Sunday is Family Fun Day with a barbeque at 11am and a grape stomp focus.

Mellisoni Vineyards: Mellisoni will be open Thursdays through Sundays from 12-6pm.

Nefarious Cellars: Nefarious will be open 11am-5pm both weekends.

Rio Vista Wines: Rio Vista Wines will be open Friday through Sunday from 12-6pm both weekends of Crush. Rio Vista is the only waterfront winery in the region. Visitors may arrive by car, boat or float plane (call 509-682-5555 for plane reservations). You’ll be able to sample the harvested grapes, taste the wine, lend a hand or observe the harvest and crush activities.

Tildio Winery: Tildio will be open Saturday 12-6pm and Sunday 12-5pm both weekends. They will be actively fermenting and offering cellar tours throughout both weekends.

Tsillan Cellars: Tsillan Cellars is celebrating Lake Chelan Crush with educational vineyard and production tours of their estate vineyards  and winemaking facility. Tractor-drawn carriages will leave every 30 minutes for close up tours of the vineyards. Tours begin at 12pm until 5pm Saturday, October 4th and 11th, weather permitting.  Tasting room hours are from 11am-7pm and Sorrento’s Restaurant at Tsillan wil be open.  You may call for reservations at 509-682-5409.  Of course, they will offer live music!

Vin du Lac: Vin du Lac is open both weekends from 11am-5pm for wine tasting and its bistro is open 12-8pm. You can enjoy a bit of grape stomping on the patio with live music from Saturdays from 2-5pm.

Wapato Point Cellars: The tasting room is open daily at 12pm. Harvest focused appetizers and small plates will be served all day during the Crush weekends and the Winemaker’s Grill will be open every evening beginning at 5pm.  Activities include vineyard tours and wine with food pairings.

WineGirl Wines: Hours during Crush will be  Friday, Sunday 12-7pm and Saturday 11am-7pm.  You may want to participate in an Intimate Winemaker’s Dinner featuring Cannella Kitchen on Thursday, October 9th at 7pm.

Enjoy the weekends and don’t forget to book your pedicure! ~ Cindy


Fall compressed



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Dinner, Wine, Conversation: My Evening with David Adelsheim

adelsheim1Collaboration. This word was used frequently by David Adelsheim, President of Adelsheim Vineyard, as he addressed the scores of wine lovers at the Boarding House in Chicago. I met this intelligent, gregarious man, a pioneer in the Oregon wine industry, when I was invited to attend a five course dinner featuring wines from Adelsheim paired with a carefully chosen menu created by talented Executive Chef, Tanya Baker.

After tasting succulent oyster shooters with yuzu, chili, and cilantro, sipping a racy Pinot Blanc 2012, and meeting more wine aficionados, I located my table at which I was seated to the right of David Adelsheim, a perfect spot for lively conversation .  As the guest of honor, he stood and shared his story with the attendees who were enjoying the delicious first course of chicken salad with boston bibb, roasted pearl onions, creamy dill vinaigrette, and chicharrons paired with a glass of crisp and velvety Pinot Gris 2013.

David Adelsheim founded Adelsheim Vineyard in Oregon’s Chehalem Mountains in north Willamette Valley with Ginny Adelsheim in 1971.  Although a handful of people including Bill Blosser and Dick Erath had entered the Willamette Valley wine scene at this time, none had planted vineyards in the Chehalem Mountains. And with no background in the wine industry (his college major was German literature), David was a true pioneer. He told me that there was a “certain contagion from others in the wine industry in 1971” and he “was hooked.”  In the autumn of 1973 he spent time with David Lett, founder of Eyrie Vineyards in McMinnville, with whom “information was traded leading to his understanding of the process.” Adelsheim was quick to remark that “without the collaboration of the wine growers and business leaders, the vineyard would not be where it is today.  The ten people who started together ultimately crafted something that worked.  Collaboration has been responsible for putting Oregon wines on the map.  You can’t do this alone.”

How difficult is it to start a winery from scratch today?  The world is much different now than it was in 1971.  I asked David if he had any advice for those today who have that ambition.  He admitted that they “must be practical.  Don’t think just about making wine and growing grapes.  Wines made must find a home.  Bring a passion to selling because it’s a business.  Don’t do this thinking you’ll get rich or famous.  You must be committed.  Passion is contagious…it helps the whole”.  And collaboration is key.

Our second course of tagliatelle alfredo with rock shrimp, pickled lemon, asparagus, and sorrel was paired with the rich “Caitlin’s Reserve” Chardonnay 2012, a pairing so delicious that all of us at the table looked at each other with amazement before we savored more tastes and sips.  Adelsheim feels that “wine refreshes the palate and food adds elements not in the wine so that one doesn’t overpower or underpower the other.  A great pairing is when you can’t figure out where the food and wine start or stop.” In this case, he knew that the cream sauce enveloping the tagliatelle was the key to this exquisite collaboration.

While enjoying our next course, Faroe Island salmon with mushroom ragout, rapini, and bacon vinaigrette along with the elegant and focused Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2012, those of us at the table discussed our choices for the most interesting wine we had tasted while our guest of honor talked with other guests.  Later, Adelsheim explained to me that an interesting wine is “any bottle you open which excites you.”  For him, it can be one which is sipped for pure enjoyment  or one which is “ twenty five years old and shared with friends to show how it can age.” For me, the most interesting wines I had were those enjoyed that night at dinner paired with delicious food and good conversation.

Adelsheim admitted that “it’s hard to find things that don’t work with Oregon Pinot Noir.” How true that is…especially while appreciating Chef Tanya’s roasted duck leg with merguez, French navy beans, duck fat bread crumbs and a succulent Boulder Bluff Pinot Noir 2011. A sip of the Pinot Noir and a taste of the rich duck were so compatible that my palate was in Oregon Pinot Noir heaven.  I was wondering if Adelsheim had any thoughts about what he considers the next “big wine growing region”.  “The world is not waiting for the next warm place to grow grapes – there are already enough places”, he shared.  Growing in “cool climates is difficult” since the wines must be “nuanced and delicate.  Yet, could it be northern Michigan?” Perhaps…

The light and oh so satisfying dessert arrived at our table. The Greek yogurt panna cotta with summer berries and ginger crumble was served with Adelsheim Deglace Pinot Noir 2012, a firmly textured dessert wine omitting the cloying sweetness you may expect.  Knowing that the evening was coming to a close, I asked David about the future plans for Adelsheim Vineyards.  He explained that there will be a “gradual change of management to younger people who want to maintain independence, meet continual challenges, and collaborate in order to raise the bar on Pinot Noir.  The idea of collaboration must be uppermost in people’s minds.  Inclusivity not exclusivity is key.”

Wines from Oregon account for 19% of wine production in the United States. “It’s a challenge to educate consumers as to why Oregon wines are important and why they should have it”.  Consistently on the cutting edge, the Boarding House offers almost twenty wines from Oregon including those from Adelsheim in a collaborative effort to introduce more consumers to the varied nuances of wines from this region.  Whether you are already an Oregon wine lover one who is unfamiliar with the region, you will want to visit your local wine shop or enjoy a lovely evening at the Boarding House for a glass or two.

Since 1971, David Adelsheim has helped propel the Oregon wine industry to what it is today through passion, commitment, hard work, business acumen, and of course, collaboration.

Cheers to David Adelsheim ~ Cindy



Note: David Adelsheim was the first chairman of the Oregon Wine Board which granted him the industry’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.  He has worked on clonal importation, wine labeling regulations, created statewide and regional industry organizations, and established the International Pinot Noir Celebration and Oregon Pinot Camp.  Currently, his role is “strategic planning, financial planning, and overall direction of vineyard and winemaking activities” at Adelsheim after having worked as “vineyard manager, winemaker, and the person in charge of sales, marketing, accounting, and fixing broken plumbing.”



Posted in Events and Travel, Random Thoughts, Regional Wines, Restaurants, Wine Connoisseurs | Tagged , , , 1 Comment


One Response to “Dinner, Wine, Conversation: My Evening with David Adelsheim”
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  1. Sounds like a great meal & experience. Love Oregon pinot here, for sure!

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Splurge with Top Shelf Wines for the Weekend

splurgewinesThe weekend is upon us and you may have your favorite, inexpensive bottle of wine ready to open.  But there are times when you just want to splurge and open a bottle that is not only above your usual price point but worth it.  I have found two outstanding wines from California, a Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, which will be perfect to share with that special someone, at a dinner party, with friends during happy hour, or to sip alone as you create a beautiful meal for pairing.  Affordable wines are always welcome, but sometimes you just have to look to the top shelf of your favorite wine shop and find something extra special!

During my visit to Santa Barbara this summer, I stopped by the Riverbench Winery tasting room in the town’s eclectic Funk Zone.  I tasted many delicious wines which included their sparkling wines produced in the Méthode Champenoise and the 2010 Chapel View Chardonnay which I purchased Riverbench is located in the Santa Maria Valley and the Chapel View block is planted with only Clone 4 chardonnay grapes. The old Sisquoc Chapel, a Santa Maria landmark, sits upon a hill overlooking the Chapel View vineyards.  I opened the bottle recently with friends while spending a lovely weekend at the lake in Wisconsin.  Our guests appreciate a bold Chardonnay and I knew that they would love the 2010 Chapel View.  And they did.  Aromas of juicy tropical and stone fruits radiated from the glass.  The first sip was an eye opener with its deliciously creamy buttery notes. Dry and balanced, I was mesmerized with this rich, full bodied Chardonnay and its optimal acidity, more tropical fruit tastes, and a long finish of butterscotch and caramel.  The 2010 Chapel View Chardonnay is wondrous on the palate yet with a bit of an edge…  Cost is $34. and you can order it directly from Riverbench.

If you are craving a beautifully balanced, complex Cabernet look no further than the 2011 Cornerstone Cabernet Sauvignon Black Label Napa Valley Stepping Stone Cuvee.  Cornerstone Cellars continues to produce some of  my favorite wines thanks to its consistency in winemaking and good taste both literally and figuratively.  Mother Nature offered plenty of challenges to the 2011 vintage but with “patience and precision farming of our fantastic growers” the wines are elegant and enticing.  This selection of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Merlot was aged for eighteen months in French Bordeaux oak barrels.  The intense bright aromas were of succulent raspberries, dark red fruits, rich chocoloate, and sweet spice. More deep jammy fruits and spice met the palate and the well integrated and satin like tannins, buoyant acidity, and lush mouthfeel precluded a lingering finish with a hint of minerality.  This graceful wine was sent as a sample.  Cost is $45.  Contact Cornerstone Cellars to have this wine shipped to you if it’s not available in your area.


Cheers to a top shelf weekend ~ Cindy




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10 Tips for a Memorable Wine Tasting Experience

winetastingWho doesn’t love going to a wine tasting? The fall is one of my favorite seasons for public or industry wine events and tastings at festivals, wine shops and wineries. As I open the newspaper each day, it seems that more and more events are publicized. If you’re a newbie to the wine tasting world or a seasoned swirler, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of the manners that matter when going to a wine event.  Rules can be broken, of course, without the eagle eyes of the Wine Police (or your mother) – but if you remember a few simple points, the wine tasting experience will be that much better for everyone.

1.  Hold your glass at the stem. You’ll have more control of the glass and the warmth of your fingers won’t affect the temperature of the wine.

2.  As you visit each winemaker’s table at a large tasting event, let them pour, listen to their explanation of the wines, and enjoy the experience.  Ask questions to the one who is pouring, but don’t monopolize their time since there may be others waiting to taste.

3.  Reserve your vocal opinion of the wine until everyone has tasted. Be appropriate and respectful with your comments.

4.  In the event that there are many people waiting for your front row spot at the table, let others take your place.  Don’t overstay your welcome!

5.  Instead of guzzling the wine, take time to swirl, sip, and savor!  Try to identify aromas and tastes then write your notes in a journal or program from the event.

6.  Many people drink too much at wine tastings and regret it later.  You can take a sip then pour the wine from the glass to a bucket which is always on the tasting table or you can spit.  And as one wine lovin’ friend reminded me, don’t drink from the dump bucket!

7.  Don’t wear anything white to a tasting.  I think the reasoning behind this tip is obvious (think bucket backsplash)!

8.  You don’t need to rinse your glass after every tasting.  However, if you taste a red after a white or vice versa, you’ll need to rinse with the wine you will be tasting.

9.  If you are at a winery’s tasting room, you shouldn’t feel obligated to join their wine club or purchase wine.  But it you do, you’ll be able to enjoy the wine later and savor the memories of your tasting.

10. Thank your host or the person who poured the wine when you leave the table or event.  It’s just the right thing to do.


Enjoy tasting some delicious wines and have fun!

Cheers!~ Cindy




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