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Alessandro di Camporeale Donnatià

Alessandro Donnatià Sicilia DOC 2015

On a cold and wet winter’s day, we received a sample of the Alessandro di Camporeale Donnatià Sicilia DOC. This wine is made of 100% Nero D’Avola grapes. It just happened that we were having lasagna for dinner on this dreary day, so we opened the bottle looking forward to a red wine from Sicily. Sicily is one of the Italian wine regions that we have yet to have a chance to visit. Perhaps one day . . .  .

Alessandro di Camporeale has 50 hectares (123.5 acres) of vineyards on rolling hillsides about 400 meters above sea level. The ground consists mostly of clay and limestone. The vineyard is farmed organically and all vineyard work is done by hand. Native varieties grown include the Nero D’Avola grape. As far as Italy goes, the winery is new. The winery was built in 2000, the same year the Nero D’Avola vines were planted.

Nero D’Avola is a red grape. The 2015 Donnatià was an opaque dark ruby to black color. It had a black fruit aroma that was reminiscent of a fruit salad made with predominately black-colored fruits. On the taste there were notes of blackberries, blueberries, black cherries and baking spices. The wine had a velvety mouth feel with medium to full body and medium tannins. The finish was fruity on the onset then yielded to baking spices on the aftertaste. It paired nicely with our lasagna. An Internet search of prices in the United States range from $12 to $16.

Donnatià is an easy to drink red wine. It would pair well with tomato-based Italian dishes. The wine would equally match with a rocking chair on a porch or a easy chair in front of a roaring fire on a wintery day.

Wine Tourism

Alessandro di Camporeale is southwest of Palermo, about a 45-minute drive. The winery has four distinct tasting that include wine and a tour. Some of the tastings include local foods. Another tasting possibility includes a vertical tasting of three vintages of Syrah and other wines paired with bread and olive oil made from olive trees on the estate. A fourth tasting includes lunch. Tastings are priced from €10 ($11)  for the basic tasting to €35.00 ($38) for the lunch.


It’s National Hot Buttered Rum Day!

January 17th is known as National Hot Buttered Rum Day. Rum has been made for centuries and dates back to before the founding of the United States. Looking for a Hot Buttered Rum recipe? Check this one out! Some recipes for hot buttered rum call for ice cream but this one does not.

In celebration of Hot Buttered Rum Day, try this recipe provided by Prichard’s Distillery.

Prichard’s Hot Buttered Rum

  • 1-1/2 oz. Prichard’s Fine Rum
  • 1 tsp sugar syrup
  • 1 pat of butter
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spices (cloves, cinnamon & nutmeg)

Stir in rum, sugar and spices into mug.  Fill with hot water, float butter on top and stir gently until butter is dissolved.  Serve hot.

Prichard’s Distillery has two locations in Tennessee. The first location is in Kelso. The second location is in Nashville. According to the Prichard’s Distillery website, “Our original distillery located in Kelso, Tennessee is in an old schoolhouse where the basketball hoops still hang on the wall. Or visit our second distillery (Prichard’s Distillery at Fontanel) located in Nashville, Tennessee on the beautiful Fontanel grounds on Whites Creek Pike.”

January 16th, National Fig Newton Day

Springhill Winery vineyards in Kentucky

Springhill Winery vineyards in Kentucky

Today is National Fig Newton Day. The Fig Newton cookie was first created and marketed in the early 1890s. The first cookies were filled with a fig jam. Today Nabisco has changed the name to Newtons and consumers have the choice of fig, strawberry or triple berry fillings.

A few years ago we visited several wineries in Kentucky. One of our stops was at Springhill Winery, a boutique winery, in Bloomfield, KY. The owners are Eddie and Carolyn O’Daniel.

Springhill Plantation Bed & Breakfast

Springhill Plantation Bed & Breakfast

Next to the winery is a historic manor house, Springhill Plantation Bed & Breakfast.  The manor house has a tragic story about the Civil War which involved soldiers believing it was a safe house. To find out what happened visit Springhill Winery or read the Wine Trail Traveler article.

One of the wines the winery offered during our visit was a Chardonnay which they suggested pairing with Fig Newtons. We wrote, “Chardonnay Plantation White is the best selling wine. The wine produced from a blend of French hybrids has a light floral aroma. The sweet taste has floral nuances. The finish has floral notes as well. Eddie suggested pairing Fig Newtons with Chardonnay.”

Our article about Springhill Winery is available online.

So open your package of Fig Newtons and decide what wine you should pair with this well known cookie.


January 11th, National Hot Toddy Day!

It's National Hot Toddy Day!

It’s National Hot Toddy Day!

Today is known as National Hot Toddy Day. If you do a short internet search, you will discover numerous recipes for a hot toddy. It seems to be a matter of opinion as to what a hot toddy recipe should or should not include.

I remember as a child hearing someone advise a member of the family who was sick with a terrible cold, that they should try drinking a hot toddy. I suppose they thought the lemon and spices just might help with the symptoms while the vodka or whiskey might help one sleep. (Reminder: some medicines should not be mixed with alcohol. If you aren’t sure, ask your doctor.)

But don’t drink a hot toddy just to treat a cold, just enjoy it for the warmth it brings on a cold winter day.

Below is a recipe for a hot toddy from Belvedere Vodka.

Belvedere Toddy


1 oz Belvedere Vodka
1.5 oz hot water
1 oz Lillet Blanc
.5 oz lemon
.5 oz honey
1 cinnamon stick
Fresh grated nutmeg
Orange wedge


1. Add hot water to heat glass mug, then honey to melt.
2. Add remaining liquid ingredients.
3. Garish with a cinnamon stick and orange wedge and top with freshly grated nutmeg. Option to pierce orange wedge with 3 cloves.

Recipe and photo provided by Belvedere Vodka.


A Cesari Amarone Wine Chocolate Pairing


Cesari Amarone wine paired with chocolate

In 2016, we received a 750ml bottle of Cesari Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2012. Late in 2016 we participated in a chocolate tasting and tour. This was the perfect time to open the bottle of Amarone and match it with the unique chocolates crafted in Portland, Oregon.

Close to Thanksgving, we visited a unique chocolate shop, Ranger Chocolate Company, in the middle of downtown Portland. A few days earlier our family in Oregon suggested that we might like to sign up for a tour at this one-of-a-kind chocolate and coffee shop where we were able to carry in a bottle of wine. With a group of about ten family members, we arrived at  the coffee and chocolate shop with a  bottle of Cesari Amarone that was paired with the chocolates.

The Cesari Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2012 is a special wine from Northern Italy. The wine was a translucent dark ruby color. It was very fruity with notes of cherry.  This Amarone was medium-bodied with medium tannins. The wine was crisp with a fruity finish. The wine was 14.5% alcohol. Suggested food pairings include red meat and game.

The Cesari  Amarone della Valpolicella was produced with Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grape varieties. To craft this wine, the grapes are  dried on racks until the middle of January. Eventually the wines are aged in barriques and large oak barrels.

Ranger chocolate crafted in Portland, Oregon

Ranger chocolate crafted in Portland, Oregon

At the end of our insightful chocolate tour, the Amarone wine was paired with five different bites of handcrafted chocolates, each with a different percentage of cacao. We discovered that the first chocolate bite had cherry notes reminiscent of the Amarone wine. Everyone participating in the wine and chocolate tasting enjoyed different tastes one had as a result of the chocolate and wine.

About the Cesari Winery

Gerardo Cesari established the winery in 1936. It was his son, Franco Cesari, who established worldwide distribution. Currently, Cesari has 100 hectares in the Valpolicella and Lugana regions.


2017 d’Vine Affair in Chicago Supports Self-Sufficiency Programs

041716aOn Sunday, January 29, 2017,  from 1:30 pm until 6:00 pm, the 2017 d’Vine Affair takes place. This is Chicago’s Premiere Wine Tasting event that will  have 90 vintners with more than 250 types of wine available. Participants can taste wines and attendees will be able to purchase their favorite wines.

For those who prefer beer, this special event will include a Craft & Imported beer tasting.

D’Vine Affair will feature a Live Auction of a Barrel of Wine. That’s a lot of wine as typically a barrel of wine can hold about 270 – 300 bottles. In addition there will be a silent auction of dining, entertainment and wine experiences, a raffle and a wine grab.

This special wine tasting event benefits the Catholic Charities Self-Sufficiency Programs.

The 2017 d’Vine Affair takes place at the Union League Club of Chicago, 65 W. Jackson Blvd.

D’Vine tickets and raffle tickets are available online. Those interested in sponsoring the event will also find the information online.

If you are not able to attend this charity event, donations can be made online.


Today is National Whipped Cream Day!

St. Francis Winery & Vineyards offers wine and food pairings

St. Francis Winery & Vineyards offers wine and food pairings.

National Whipped Cream Day has arrived. January 5 is the annual national day to celebrate whipped cream. After all those mouthwatering holiday foods and New Year’s resolutions to eat healthy, National Whipped Cream Day has arrived. I guess the New Year’s resolutions will just have to wait one more day to start!

Good to Know: Whipped cream was made as early as the 1500s. Aaron S. Lapin invented Reddi-Wip in the mid 1900s.

Check out this recipe from St. Francis Winery & Vineyards.

Chocolate Mousse with Zinfandel and Raspberries

Delicious chocolate mousse with raspberry garnish. Serves 8
Pairs With:

Chocolate Mousse


1 pound bittersweet chocolate
4 cups cream
6 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1 pint raspberries


Melt the chocolate and 1 cup of cream over a double boiler until chocolate is melted and the cream is incorporated. Meanwhile, whip the egg whites and sugar until soft peaks form. Remove egg whites to a large mixing bowl. Whip the remaining cream to soft peaks. Let the melted chocolate cool slightly. Fold the chocolate into the whipped cream. Fold the whipped egg whites into the chocolate and whipped cream mixture. Refrigerate the mousse for three hours or until it has set. Use a pastry bag to pipe the mousse into martini glasses and add raspberries to the top of the mousse.

Four other recipes that use whipped cream and wine are listed with the links below.

Peaches and Cake
Hawk and Horse Vineyards Latigo Sweet Potato Pie
Rose Chiffon Pie
Lovers Leap Blackberry Wine Zucchini Bread

Happy National Whipped Cream Day!

Favorite Vineyard Photos from 2016

We enjoy four seasons in a vineyard and have seen some fantastic vineyard views during 2016. The following photos are some of our favorites.

Rocklands Farm Winery in Poolesville, Marylan

Rocklands Farm Winery in
Poolesville, Maryland

Last February, we were invited to participate in a small group pre-pruning session at Rocklands Farm Winery & Market in Maryland. Several rows of Chardonnay grapes required pre-pruning. TJ Fleming, winemaker and vineyardist, demonstrated the pruning technique and offered words of wisdom from his bible. Read the Wine Trail Traveler Rocklands Farm Winery article.

Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery in Templeton, California

Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery in Templeton, California

Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery, located in California’s Paso Robles region, provided us with a delightful view of a ladybug visiting a developing grape bunch. The vineyards benefit from the Templeton Gap that allows the cooling air from the ocean to rush in and cool the vineyards. Read the Wine Trail Traveler Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery article.

Great Frogs Estate in  Annapolis, Maryland

Great Frogs Estate in
Annapolis, Maryland

Great Frogs Estate winery and vineyard is located in the outskirts of historic Annapolis in Maryland. In late spring, visitors can view the life of the grapevines bursting forth with energy that will eventually result in clusters of grapes hanging from the vines. Read the Wine Trail Traveler Great Frogs Estate article.

Thistlethwaite Vineyards in  Jefferson, Pennsylvania

Thistlethwaite Vineyards in
Jefferson, Pennsylvania

A scenic view at Thistlethwaite Vineyards in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The property is a fifth-generation, 19th century farm. Today the property has five acres of vineyards including: Chambourcin, Villard Noir, Cabernet Franc, Marechal Foch, Leon Millot, Traminette, Vignoles, Vidal, and Seyval. Read the Wine Trail Traveler Thistlethwaite Vineyards article.

Chateau Bu-De Winery & Vineyard in Chesapeake City, Maryland

Chateau Bu-De Winery & Vineyard in Chesapeake City, Maryland

The contrast of ripening grapes against sparkling blue water and a summer’s blue sky offered visitors a delightful experience. Chateau Bu-De Winery & Vineyard in Chesapeake City, Maryland is a hidden gem that must be visited. Read the Wine Trail Traveler Chateau Bu-De Winery & Vineyard article.

Serra Vineyards in  Grants Pass, Oregon

Serra Vineyards in
Grants Pass, Oregon

Serra Vineyards offers scenic views for wine enthusiasts and art lovers. The fall visit was breathtaking with its autumn colors throughout the vineyards and the mountains in the background. Serra Vineyards is located in Applegate Valley. If you are visiting at the right time of year, you may even see turkeys parading from the vineyards past the tasting room. Read the Wine Trail Traveler Serra Vineyards article.

Abacela in Roseburg, Oregon

Abacela in Roseburg, Oregon

Abacela winery located in the countryside of Roseburg, Oregon is the result of what two enthusiastic people can accomplish through hard work, dreams and persistence. The winery is located in the Umpqua Valley. Abacela is the result of the owners interest in finding the perfect area in the United States to grow Tempranillo. Read the Wine Trail Traveler Abacela article.

During our 10 year wine journey, we have met many wonderful people and visited numerous delightful wineries. We wish everyone much success during the coming year. We hope during 2017 to visit and write about many more breath-taking vineyards.

(If you are interested having us visit your wine region, contact us.)

Terry & Kathy


Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone a happy and peaceful New Year in 2017!


Terry and Kathy
Wine Trail Traveler

12 Grapes, a New Year’s Tradition

Yesterday, I wrote that one of the customs for celebrating New Year’s involves eating 12 grapes at midnight. Each grape represents a month of the year. As you eat your way through the twelve grapes, note the flavor of each grape. The sweeter grapes represent good months and a sour/bitter grape is believed to represent a not so good month.

If you will be participating in the New Year’s Eve grape tradition, you are likely to have some grapes left over. Why not try this simple recipe that even children will enjoy putting together for New Year’s Day? This recipe from British Columbia Grape Growers’ Association traditionally uses Coronation grapes.

Unfortunately, table grapes are not particularly common at this time  of the year. Look for other grapes that are similar to the Okanagan Coronation grapes. When in season, be sure to look for Coronation grapes from Okanagan.

The British Columbia Grape Growers’ Association describes the Coronation grape as:

• Coronation is the most abundantly planted table grape variety in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. It is a blue, seedless variety developed in Summerland, making them unique to our region

• Seed traces are sometimes found in Coronation grapes. These are called vestigial seeds, and are usually soft, and not noticeable

• Coronation grapes can be used in any berry recipe.  Whatever cross-grocery items featured with strawberries, raspberries or blueberries should be displayed with these grapes.

Grape Parfait Recipe

A delicious dessert that couldn’t be easier to make. Kids especially love layering fruits in fancy glasses.


•4 cups (1000 mL) Okanagan Coronation grapes
•1 cup (250 mL) sour cream, stirred
•4 tbsp (60 mL) brown sugar
•Optional garnish: fresh mint sprigs


1. Add ½ cup (125 mL) of grapes to parfait or stemmed goblets and top with 2 tbsp (30 mL) sour cream.
2. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Repeat layers and refrigerate.
3. Chill before serving.
4. Garnish with a sprig of mint, if desired.

Serves 4.

Recipe provided by British Columbia Grape Growers’ Association.

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