Wine Wednesday: Southwest Michigan Sip & Stroll Weekend

Disclosure: I was invited to participate in this hosted tour and will be provided with complimentary lodging. All opinions are my own.

Since it is #WineWednesday, I thought there was no better time to share with you that I’ve been invited to the Southwest Michigan Sip & Stroll wine tour this weekend! I had a big event at work and just started teaching again for the semester, so this couldn’t have come at a better time.

This is the first year for the Southwest Michigan Sip & Stroll weekend being hosted by Deb at Just Short of Crazy and Renee at What Mama Wants and I’m thrilled to help kick it off. Because it starts on Friday, I was able to take the day off of work and recruit one of my besties, Jen, to come along for the ride.

Wine Tour

Our tour is kicking off on Friday, where we check into The Harbor Grand, a full-service boutique hotel in New Buffalo, MI.

Harbor Grand

We’ll be touring four wineries and The Chocolate Garden on Friday and Saturday before heading home. I can’t wait to try the Sticky Bun and Vanilla Rose truffles, which I hear pair perfectly with my favorite, Pinot Noir.


I am familiar with Domaine Berrien Cellars as their wine is featured at Michigan by the Bottle, a favorite hangout of mine, but I am excited to learn more about the others including Lemon Creek Winery, Hickory Creek Winery and Contessa Wine Cellars. I will hopefully have a few new Wine of the Week selections to share with you after this trip. A few fun facts to note:

  • Domaine Berrien Cellars was the first winery in Michigan to release a commercially grown and vinified Syrah.
  • Lemon Creek Winery is home to the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the State of Michigan.
  • Hickory Creek is known for crafting wine in the Old World style.
  • Contessa Cellar’s tasting room looks like an Italian villa overlooking their beautiful orchards.


After doing a quick search on our hotel, I am definitely excited to check out The Four Winds Casino (about a 10 minute shuttle ride away) and recently featured in USA Today’s Leaving Las Vegas: The best casinos outside Sin CityWe will also have to make a stop at Oinks Ice Cream Garden, which is a treasure trove of pig paraphernalia! For those of you that don’t know, I love pigs and collect piggy banks.

You can follow our trip throughout the weekend on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #SWMISipStroll.

Have you been to New Buffalo before? What are your favorite places to visit? If you’ve been to any of these wineries I would love to get your recommendations!

Wine of the Week: Fantini Montepulciano 2012

Over Halloween, I attended a black wine night and discovered an amazing wine that I had to share with you. What is a black wine night you ask? It was set up as a veiled wine tasting with a five course meal. Eight wines were presented in black Reidel O glasses. We had no idea what kind of wine we were drinking and we were in the dark so you couldn’t even tell if you were drinking a red or white wine. We had a list of all of the wines and we tried to guess what we were drinking throughout the evening.

You can get your own black Riedel tasting glass for $40.99 here.


Around the fourth course, I was amazed with the wine pairing and couldn’t wait until the end of the dinner when it was revealed to us. This delicious wine was the Fantini, Montepulciano, Abruzzo, Italy 2012.

Fantini Wine of the Week

This red wine hails to us from the Farnese Winery in Italy. In the sixteenth century, Princess Margaret of Austria and Prince Ottavio Farnese planted vineyards in the Abruzzo district in Italy, putting this area on the map for winemaking.


The Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a specific type of wine created in 1968. This wine is a blend of about 85% Montepulciano with up to 15% of Sangiovese allowed in the mix. You can read more about this on Wikipedia, here. I found this fascinating as I love to know the story behind my wine. I also thought it was interesting that for every Farnese vintage, they have six well-known winemakers living in symbiosis with the grapes arriving in the cellar until they are transformed into wine. I would love to learn more about this process.

I loved this wine! It was easy to drink and had a lush, fruity taste. There were hints of cherry and plum and a smidge of vanilla. Plus I just like saying Montepulciano in my faux Italian voice.

I liked this wine so much, I am thinking of buying a case.

Have you ever tried Fantini Montepulciano before? I would love to know what you think.

For more Wine of the Week posts, click here.

Wine of the Week: Banrock Station Moscato

Disclosure: I received this wine from a PR firm on behalf of Banrock Station to provide an honest review. 

I was thrilled to receive a bottle of Banrock Station Moscato to review for Wine of the Week. I hadn’t had a moscato in a while and this was the perfect thing to test while watching Bachelor in Paradise with my friend Tracy.


Banrock Station is an environmentally responsible Australian winemaker. Every glass of Banrock Station wine purchased helps to support environmental projects such as restoring natural assets in Europe, saving salmon in Canada and preserving waterways and wetlands in Australia. I love the premise of this because wine is such a natural drink – grapes from the earth coming together to form a beautiful wine and by drinking it you are giving back to the earth. Sort of symbiotic.

I had a lot of fun drinking this wine, because it wasn’t too sweet. It was light and fruity with a natural sweetness that was refreshing. I would have loved to continue drinking this, it was a fantastic bottle to share with friends and the perfect summer wine! It would be great with cheese platters or desserts.

Have you tried Banrock Station Moscato? What did you think?

For more Wine of the Week posts, click here.

Wine of the Week: Protocolo Tinto

I received this week’s wine from my friend Jessica, as a hostess gift for my recent wine party. She mentioned that it was one of her and her husband’s favorite wines. I decided to test it out on Bachelor in Paradise Monday; turns out I really liked it.


The Protocolo Tinto is a Spanish Tempranillo wine, that is aged for three months in a seasoned oak barrel. You will mostly find Tempranillo wines in Spain because that is where the black grapes are grown. This had a fresh blackberry taste and I actually thought I could taste some spices, but after further thought I think that was mostly the oak I was tasting.

If you wanted to add some fruit to this it would make a great Sangria. It will run you about $6-8 depending on where you find it.

Let me know if you’ve tried this wine and if you have any wines I should try in the future.

For more Wine of the Week posts, click here.

Traverse City Wedding Recap – Days 1 & 2

I know it was about a month ago, but I wanted to recap my fourth and final wedding of the season. It was a great way to kick off the summer and we had a blast. I’ve mentioned my friend Tracy on the blog before and I was so honored to be part of her special day. If you’ve never been to Traverse City before, hopefully this will convince you to take the trip.

On Thursday, Tracy and her fiance (now husband) treated the bridal party and their dates to a wine tour around Traverse City. We went to some of our favorites and a few places I hadn’t been before. Traverse City is special because the wineries fall on the 45th parallel, which is the halfway point between the Equator and the North Pole.

John and I started our trip with breakfast and a mimosa (because there’s always time for a mimosa).


We started our tour at Blackstar Farms, which has its own inn and winery. If you like sweet wines, this is the place for you. I didn’t find a ton of wines that I liked, because I usually prefer wines that aren’t so sweet anymore. I ended up settling on the 2011 Isidor’s Choice Pinot Noir. If you’ve been following my wines you will probably laugh because I am a sucker for a good Pinot Noir. As I was reading the tasting notes I noticed that this wine will age well for 5-10 years, so I will have to get this in the wine fridge.


Our next stop was 45 North, where I am a wine club member. We set it up to pick up our wine shipment while we were there and I couldn’t help but get more of the Unwooded Chardonnay. They don’t even have this one on the website, so I wonder if it is already sold out. It was definitely my favorite and I would share a picture, but I already drank both bottles.

Our third stop was at Blustone Vineyards, which was a new one for me. The tasting room was beautiful and very open with lots of glass walls. I chose the Pinot Noir Rose, which our host told me they nicknamed the “porch pounder.” I also got some of the 2012 Naked Chardonnay. I am a huge fan of these unoaked and unwooded chardonnays that are popular right now. This is a picture of us outside of the tasting room:


Our next stop was at L. Mawby, which I’ve featured before here. Their tasting room is a ton of fun and the presentation is great! You get to pick what wines you want to try and they give you a tasting plate. I tried the Jadore and Domaine and got them both – so good!


Our last stop was at Chateau de Leelanau, where I settled on the 2012 Peach Fizz. It’s like a Bellini in a bottle!

peach fizz

We had a great time on the wine tour and it was such a lovely gift from the bride and groom!

On Friday, we recovered from the wine tour and went to the rehearsal dinner, which was a bonfire on the beach!


John and I got a great picture and we were photobombed by the family of geese that were hanging around all weekend:


Stay tuned for the wedding recap!

Have you been to Traverse City before? What are your favorite places to visit?

Wine of the Week: Nottage Hill Pinot Noir

Disclosure: I received this wine from a PR firm on behalf of Hardys Wines to provide an honest review. 

I received a bottle of Nottage Hill’s Pinot Noir to review for Wine of the Week. This was perfect as I needed a good bottle for our Bachelorette viewing party (a.k.a. my friend Tracy and I drinking wine). If you’ve followed along with Wine of the Week you will notice that I review a lot of Pinot Noirs, because they are my favorite wine to drink.

nottage hill final

Hardys is one of Australia’s best known wine brands and just last year celebrated their 160th anniversary. It’s a global brand and can be found in more than 80 countries, particularly in the United Kingdom.

This particular brand, Nottage Hill, is named after Tom Nottage who was the nephew of the founder Thomas Hardy. If you ever visit Australia, you can tour the Tintara Winery, which is Australia’s oldest winery and see where the Hardys wines are made.

Tracy and I really liked this Pinot Noir. The first thing we said as soon as we tasted it was that it had a kick of spice on the finish. As you keep drinking it you will taste the cherry and raspberry flavors making this an easy wine to drink. The Nottage Hill Pinot Noir is also very affordable, coming in at around $13.

The official tasting notes recommend pairing this with a mushroom risotto, but I think any pasta or steak would also be great with this.

Let me know if you’ve tried this Pinot Noir and if you have any wines I should try in the future.

For more Wine of the Week posts, click here.

Champagne Wishes and Paris Dreams #UncorkedandUnwined

The day to share my Uncorked and Unwined party is finally here! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen a few photos from the party, but I can’t wait to share all the fun in today’s post.

Seamless vintage background with wine glasses

For those of you that are new to the blog, Uncorked and UnWINEd is an opportunity for us to have a girls night in and try some new wine in the process. You can follow along using the #uncorkedandunwined hashtag. Today, I am linking up with the Uncorked team to share all of our parties with you. If you hosted your own party, you can link up with us below. The Uncorked team includes:

Since my birthday was in July, I decided to go all out for Uncorked and make it my birthday party. I named it “Champagne Wishes and Paris Dreams” and went with a champagne tasting with a Paris twist. I got my inspiration from Birthday Express’ Paris Damask party theme and I was able to purchase their party supplies. They even had a matching Evite and free printables that I was able to customize for my party.

To get ready for the party, I went down to DeVries & Co. Cheese Shop in Eastern Market to stock up on Brie, Gouda, Manchengo, Gruyere, Cheddar and Camembert to try with our champagne.


I also found a fantastic French bakery, Cannelle Patisserie, to get some sweet treats (including macaroons).

canelle patisserie

Without further adieu, welcome to Paris:



collage one

Collage 2


We had a lot of fun tasting all of the different champagnes. I ended up getting nine different champagnes in total, three French champagnes, three Italian sparkling wines and three US sparkling wines to mix it up. At the end of the night I was popping those corks like a pro!

collage 3

We decided that our favorite champagne was the Pommery, which is a blend of three different grapes and is aged three years before it even gets on the shelves.


At the end of the evening, I gave these adorable macaroon trinket boxes as favors to all of the guests. They were just darling!


I ended up with a few extra favors, and I am going to be giving them away for a few lucky readers! Enter via the Rafflecopter below and I will announce the winners next Monday:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway is over, if you won, you will receive an email from me, so make sure to respond within the week. Thanks to everyone who participated!

If you hosted your own Uncorked and Unwined party you can link up with us here and check out all of the other awesome parties:


Our next link up will be on September 29 and I already have an awesome idea for my next party. I can’t wait for you to join us!

If you missed my last party, you can click here to check it out.

Wine of the Week: Meiomi Pinot Noir

It’s been a while since I did a Wine of the Week recommendation, but never fear – I have been trying lots of new wines to share with you!

This week’s wine is one that I have been meaning to share for a long time, it is one of our favorite ones. John and I always order this one if it is on the menu. This week’s wine is Meiomi Pinot Noir, bottled by Belle Glos Wines.

meiomi final

We first discovered this wine during one of our dinners in Greektown and couldn’t believe how smooth it was (for such a reasonable price). I love a good Pinot Noir and this one is the perfect combination of flavors – berries, apple, vanilla with a slight oak on the finish.

Meiomi (May-OH-mee), means “coast” in the language of the California Wappo tribe where this wine is produced. Meiomi is a blend of grapes from Sonoma, Monterey and Santa Barbara.

meiomi blendThe owner and winemaker, Joseph Wagner is a fifth-generation winemaker. He grew up in the vineyard and it seems like winemaking is in his bones.

Meiomi is under the Belle Glos brand of wines and I was surprised to learn that they make another one of my favorites which I will be sharing with you soon! I will just have to try them all because they are delish!

Have you tried Meiomi yet? I would love to hear what you think about it.

For more Wine of the Week posts, click here.

Washington Wedding Recap – Day 2

On Day Two of our Washington Trip, we visited a few wineries in Woodinville. We started with the infamous Chateau Ste. Michelle:


The winery was located in its own estate, there was a beautiful chateau and it was a very scenic area. It would have been a great place to picnic at or sit outside and enjoy some wine. We had a tight schedule that day, so we didn’t have a ton of time to hang about. Chateau Ste. Michelle is famous for its Rieslings. I used to be a huge Riesling fan, but lately I don’t like some of the really sweet stuff. We did buy some of the Sauvignon Blanc from the Horse Heaven Vineyard. We may have purchased more, but I think we drank it during the trip, so this is the only bottle I have left.


In the back of Chateau Ste. Michelle, there is a winery within a winery. This was intriguing to me because it was in this little room made entirely of glass. This picture doesn’t really do it justice:


Our hostess at Chateau St. Michelle was telling us about this winery run by the Antinori family who has been making wine since 1385. I am a sucker for a good history lesson and we had to go check this one out. The winery is called Col Solare and runs in partnership with Chateau St. Michelle. They only have three wines available, the 2008 Col Solare, 2009 Col Solare and the 2009 Shining Hill.


This wine was amazing and if they would have had a wine club I probably would have joined it. We bought one of each at this winery and I am excited because they are a number of restaurants in my area that carry this wine, plus it is available at one of the local markets by our house.

After our visit to Chateau St. Michelle, we stopped at Airfield Winery, where the wedding would be held, to get a sneak peak. This tasting room was PERFECT for our friends’ wedding. He is a Marine and a pilot and she is a Navy Physiologist. One of the hosts at the tasting room gave us a little history about the winery. The vineyard is located in the Rattlesnake Mountains in the Yakima Valley within three miles of an airbase used in World War II.

Throughout the course of the weekend, we purchased the Pinot Noir, Bombshell Red, Ruby Rose and Flygirl White. We also joined The Officer’s Wine Club so we could have a great memory of this weekend.


After this tasting we drove out to Seattle to meet John’s fraternity brother for a Mariners/Tigers game at SafeCo field. I was so happy to see these guys reunited. Plus this added to our list of baseball fields that we can cross off the list.


We had a ton of fun on Day 2!


Stay tuned for Day 3 of our Washington Wedding!

If you missed Day 1, click here for the recap.

Uncorked and UnWINEd

You are cordially invited to Uncorked and UnWINEd:
Seamless vintage background with wine glasses

If you remember my Sip Happens party, then you will be stoked to hear about my newest venture…Uncorked! Uncorked is the official relaunch of Sip Happens as we have a new group of gals on board to kick this off.

The name may have changed, but the concept is the same. Uncorked is an opportunity for you to unWINEd! This might be some wine as you watch The Bachelorette or a wine tasting party with your besties. Uncorked is a chance to take a break from the crazy and expand your palate. There are no rules to Uncorked. You can drink whatever you like, try a new wine or come up with your own theme.

I will keep you updated on my Uncorked plans as the month goes on using our new hashtag #uncorkedandunwined so stay tuned for the date of my party and clues on my theme. Then on Monday, July 28th, we want you to tell us how you Uncorked and UnWINEd by linking up on my blog or any of the new Uncorked team’s blogs below:

Val from Chicken Scratch

Kelly from Sequins & Scissors

Amber from The Browsing Brunette

Aleks from A Slocum Story

Jessica from Jessica Stout Design

As a reminder, my blogiversary raffle is still running and we have some great prizes, including some of the favors from my Sip Happens Party and your very own Haley’s corker to aerate your wine. Make sure to enter here.

I would love to hear your thoughts on what my theme should be and if you have any wines I should try.

For more Wine of the Week posts, click here.

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