Wine of the Week: Failla Pinot Noir

I was thrilled when John and I stopped at random liquor store on the way to a party and I found a bottle of 2013 Failla Pinot Noir. I couldn’t believe my eyes, so I had to buy it and save it for later. When we visited Napa and Sonoma in 2012, we were introduced to Failla Wines (pronounced FAY-LA) as one of our first stops.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures from that first stop as I was more interested in tasting the wine, but I will do my best to describe it to you. Failla is a small-family owned winery that’s been in operation since 1998. Ehren Jordan and his wife Anne-Marie Failla are the owners and winemakers.


Our wine tasting was outside at a picnic table and we also got to tour the wine cellars. It was so rustic and peaceful – I highly recommend it if you are visiting Sonoma. I found the above picture on their Facebook page and am guessing that it’s probably the same table we did our tasting at.

Our host told us that Failla was best known for its red wines and Pinot Noirs, which peaked my interested because those are my favorite. You normally can only get these wines by visiting Failla or through their mailing list. They recently launched a Wine Club. This is why I was so pumped to find it at that liquor store. Additionally, you can read more about the different varieties they have in this fact sheet.

Failla Pinot Noir

This wine is BIG and BOLD. It has a lot of flavor and runs about $35. You’ll taste an earthy Pinot Noir with notes of cardamom, spices and fruit flavors. We enjoyed this over Chicken Parmesan and it was amazing paired with the sauce John made.

Failla Cork

If you are in Sonoma, make sure to stop at Failla and if you see Failla around the metro Detroit area, let me know and I will head there to stock up!

For more Wine of the Week posts, click here.

Wine of the Week: Witches Brew

This week’s wine is Leelanau Cellar’s Witches Brew. Leelanau is a Michigan winery started in 1974 in Northern Michigan by the Jacobson family. Leelanau (Lee-La-Naw) is an Indian word meaning “Delight of Life.” They also have a tasting room outside of Traverse City which I’ve previously visited.

Witches Brew is the perfect fall wine. It’s a red blend enhanced with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and other natural spices.

witches brew

Witches Brew is what you would call a mulled wine. A red wine that has been warmed and spiced. You heat it up on your stove and serve it warm. You can also add fun things like cloves, cinnamon sticks or orange zest. Really anything goes. Mulled wine dates back to 1420 in Germany where they call it Gluhwein (roughly translated to “glow wine.” There have even been documented mulled wines as far back as ancient Rome.

witches brew

Have you tried Witches Brew yet? It’s perfect for a tailgate or any outdoor event. I would love to hear what you think about it.

For more Wine of the Week posts, click here.

Wine of the Week: Apothic Dark

John and I are huge fans of the Apothic blend so last year, when a friend introduced me to Apothic Dark I knew it would be good. I was saving this review since this is sort of the perfect spooky wine for October.

Apothic Dark

Apothic is under the E.&J. Gallo brand and was named for the mysterious place, Apotheca, where vintners stored their most coveted concoctions in 13th century Europe. Most of the grapes in Apothic Dark are from Lodi, which has been touted as the next Napa. The grapes were fermented at a maximum of 90 degrees which pulls out the fruit notes in the grapes.

apothic dark1

This blend of Petite Syrah, Teroldego and Cabernet combines flavors of blueberry and blackberry with enticing notes of coffee and dark chocolate for a smooth taste.

Apothic is only available for a limited time, so make sure you stock up if you like it!

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

For more Wine of the Week posts, click here.

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: 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.

Sip Happens Party Recap

A month ago, I wrote my Sip Happens Party post about an awesome wine party link up I was planning with Val from Chicken Scratch,  Eva Marie Taylor and Erin from Living in Yellow. Well the time has finally come for me to share all of the details with you!

A quick recap of what this is all about:


Open the Google Doc here to sign up to be a part of the Pay Pal Cash Giveaway.

Because the featured wine was 14 Hands Hot to Trot Red Blend, which is inspired by the wild horses that roamed Washington State, I decided that my Sip Happens Party would have an equestrian theme. We had a fantastic time and I can’t wait to host another one!

Here is my table setup, I decided to feature all 14 Hands Wine so we had Chardonnay, White Blend, Pinot Grigio, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and the Red Blend.

Table Setup

Table Setup

I also visited DeVries Cheese Shop in Eastern Market to procure all of my cheeses. We had Gouda, Manchengo, Brie and Cheddar. I have a horseshoe shaped cake pan that I used to make the bread. Here is the recipe from Wilton. I did end up making the roast that I mentioned in my previous post and it was delicious! It went great with the red wine.

Cheese Tray

Cheese Tray

For dessert, I got to try out my new fondue pot and had all sorts of dippers (marshmallows, apples, strawberries and rice krispie treats).


Dessert Station

I also found these cute chocolate horseshoes on A Taste of Kentucky’s website.

Chocolate Horseshoes

Chocolate Horseshoes

I also asked all of the women to wear their cutest riding boots and equestrian themed outfits. Everyone looked super cute!

My guests

My guests

We were pretty informal about tasting the wines, everyone could try and pair the wine at their leisure and when they were done I had them rank their favorites from 1-6. My wine glass writer metallic pens came in handy because people could keep notes on their wine glasses. I seriously LOVED these pens! They were so much fun and came right off in the dishwasher.

Wine Glass Writer Pens

Wine Glass Writer Pens

I had to get this picture of everyone in their riding boots!

Riding Boots!

Riding Boots!

The final wine ranking for the night was:

  1. Red Blend
  2. Pinot Grigio
  3. White Blend
  4. Chardonnay
  5. Tie between the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Merlot

The Red Blend was a big hit! We crowned the winners:

Sip Happens Party Winners!

Sip Happens Party Winners!

For party favors, I gave out these adorable Forever 21 horseshoe necklaces. I got little burlap bags from Michael’s and used a red fabric pen to write FEED on them (like a horse’s feed bag). I think this was my favorite detail:




Forever 21 Horseshoe Necklace

Forever 21 Horseshoe Necklace

I had SO much fun hosting this Sip Happens Party! I cannot wait to do this again! I would love to hear how your Sip Happens Parties went and I can’t wait to check them out on the link up!

If you didn’t get a chance to host a party this time around you can check out Val’s post about how you can still link up. The link up will be live from Monday, February 3 at 12:00am and close Friday, February 7th at 11:59pm, so you have this whole week to link up. The hosts will feature their favorite post on all three blogs on Monday, February 10th. Make sure to come back on the 10th because they will also kick off the giveaway and announce their new Guest Host for the next Sip Happens Party link up! 

For more Wine related posts, click here.

Wine of the Week: Steelhead Vineyards Pinot Noir

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

I received a bottle of Steelhead Vineyards Pinot Noir to review for this week’s wine. This was right up my alley, because I love a Pinot Noir, it is my favorite.

Steelhead Vineyards in a unique winery in Sonoma because they are committed to creating a better world through their wine. With every bottle they sell, a donation is made to conservation efforts in Sonoma County. Their mission statement is Better Wine. Better World. Below is a picture of “Wine Creek” which runs through one of their vineyard that they have worked to restore.

Steelhead riverAfter visiting Sonoma a few years back, I loved the mission of this winery. Sonoma is such a beautiful place and it is awesome that Steelhead is working to preserve it.

So on to the wine!

Steelhead Wine of the Week

The first thing I noticed when I popped the cork is a deep fruit flavor. This wine has a smooth finish which is always something I look for in a Pinot Noir, I want it to be easy to drink. You can taste cranberry and cherry with just a hint of toasted oak and spice at the finish.

Steelhead Pinot Noir pairs best with wild Salmon, poultry, pork and lamb. I tried mine with a milk chocolate Hershey’s bar which did the trick.

I can’t help but picture that beautiful river scene every time I take a sip

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

If you missed my previous post, I am getting ready to host a Sip Happens Party with Val from Chicken ScratchEva Marie Taylor and Erin from Living in Yellow. Make sure to check it out here and see how you can host your own Sip Happens Party.

For more Wine of the Week posts, click here.

Wine of the Week: Estancia Pinot Noir

Today’s Wine of the Week is the Estancia Pinot Noir.


The hubby and I first discovered this on one of our Melting Pot trips. I am a big fan of Pinot Noir and this one turned out to be fabulous. This was a few years back and ever since we will drink it at any restaurant that offers it.

Estancia is medium-bodied with a silky smooth finish. You’ll taste flavors of raspberry and black cherry. When you drink this wine, you want to let it breathe for the flavors to develop. This is best paired with smoked salmon, asparagus, pork, poultry and steak (which is probably why it works so well at The Melting Pot).

Estancia means “estate” in Spanish. The winery chose this name because they believe that the world’s best wines capture the essence of their origin. At Estancia, they control the entire winemaking process from start to finish. Estancia also uses solar energy to reduce its carbon footprint, so you know that you are being environmentally friendly when drinking it.

So the best part about the Estancia Wine? Is that they have a matching candle to go with it! Estancia teamed up with DayNa Decker to create a special collection for the winery.  They have a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir candle. The Estancia Pinot Noir candle features aromas of warm raspberry, bright cherry, cassia bark, clove bud, and vanilla wood. The Pinot Noir candle is $44 or you can get the set for $80. These would be great for all of my pregnant friends, you can have as many of these as you want!


Have you tried the Estancia before? Let me know what you think about it in the comments.

I also have some exciting news to share with you! Coming in January, I am participating in a fun wine linkup with Erin from Living in Yellow, Eva Marie Taylor and Val from Chicken Scratch. In the meantime you can check out the #siphappensparty hashtag for some of our sneak peaks. I will be posting one of mine on my Instagram here, so stay tuned!

For more Wine of the Week posts, click here.

Wine of the Week: Castle Rock Pinot Noir

Today’s Wine of the Week is Castle Rock Winery’s Pinot Noir.

Wine of the Week CR

My husband and I originally discovered this wine on our honeymoon. We took a Mediterranean cruise and they served this during our dinners on the ship. Well my husband loved it so much that I made a note of it and we have been enjoying it ever since. If you’ve learned anything about me yet, it’s that I love the challenge of hunting something down.

In the picture, we most recently had the 2009 Monterey County version, but after reviewing Castle Rock’s website it seems that they have a lot of different varieties, and a Cuvee, which my friend Tracy will love.

castle rock

These wines are very affordable and you can find them at most stores, I’ve seen them at wine retailers, Target and Costco to name a few. This makes me want to try all of the different Pinot Noir varieties – might be a good project over the holiday…

This Pinot is elegant and smooth. It has aromas of cherry, tea and herbal spices and tastes like black cherry, plum and spice. It is really versatile and great for most foods.

Castle Rock has a number of different Pinots including:

  • Mendocino County Pinot Noir
  • Sonoma County Pinot Noir
  • Monterey County Pinot Noir
  • Central Coast Pinot Noir
  • California Cuvee Pinot Noir
  • Carneros Pinot Noir
  • Columbia Valley Pinot Noir
  • Williamette Valley Pinot Noir

I can only speak to the Monterey County Pinot Noir, but would love to hear from you if you’ve tried the other ones.

Do you have a wine I should try for Wine of the Week? Post it in the comments section.

For more Wine of the Week posts, click here.

Wine of the Week: Cupcake Vineyards’ Red Velvet

Today’s Wine of the Week is the Red Velvet from Cupcake Vineyards.

wine of the week crv

This is one of my favorite wines to drink. It is always available in the store, easy to drink and everyone usually loves it.

Rich to the taste, Red Velvet tastes like chocolate and blackberries with a hint of coconut and mocha. For some reason, I always thought that it was a Pinot Noir, but I was wrong. Red Velvet is a mix of Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. Which is probably why I love it so much – I love blends!


In my research, I also discovered that Cupcake has a whole Red Velvet line which includes a Zinfandel, Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. I am going to have to hunt these out and try them.

Have you tried Cupcake Vineyards’ Red Velvet? What did you think of this wine?

Do you have a wine I should try for Wine of the Week? Post it in the comments section.

For more Wine of the Week posts, click here.

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