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Discover LEAF Vodkas

LEAF Vodka Cocktail

Earlier this month we enjoyed making a cocktail from a sample of the LEAF Vodka made with Alaskan Glacial water. Check out the Wine Trail Traveler blog about that first vodka and the Alaskan Winter cocktail for cold weather. We were also sent a second sample of a LEAF Vodka made with Rocky Mountain mineral water. Both LEAF vodkas are labeled organic and non-GMO. They are 40% alcohol, 80 proof.

LEAF VODKA emphasizes the special waters they use to produce their vodkas. There is a difference  between the LEAF vodka made with Alaskan Glacial water and the one made with Rocky Mountain Mineral water. The mouthfeel is different. I found the Alaskan Glacial water vodka to have a smoother mouthfeel at first ending with heat towards the end. The LEAF vodka made with Rocky Mountain Mineral water offered a pleasant sense of heat that lingered on the finish.

One of the recipes sent with these vodka samples was  Cinnamon LEAF which calls for LEAF Rocky Mountain which is, as its name suggests, produced with Rocky Mountain Mineral Water.

Cinnamon LEAF Cocktail


2 oz. LEAF Rocky Mountain made of Rocky Mountain Mineral Water
1 oz. orange juice
0.5 oz. cinnamon syrup
0.5 oz. lemon juice

We put all of the ingredients into the shaker with ice and poured it into our decorative vintage crystal stemware. The vintage crystal was the perfect setting for the Cinnamon LEAF.

This cocktail was a lovely lemony color. The cocktail aroma included notes of lemon, orange and cinnamon. The cocktail created a sense of warmth and there was a bit of heat on the finish. The LEAF VODKA made with Rocky Mountain Mineral Water allowed the essence of the cocktail ingredients to shine through.

According to the LEAF VODKA website, “Because water is the Spirit of Vodka. Water is the spirit of vodka. There’s something in it that shapes the taste, character, and finish of the world’s favorite spirit. There’s something that makes our vodkas stand apart. That difference is the water.”

Consumers will want to try both types of vodkas from LEAF. Use each in the cocktails you usually make and see which you prefer.

If you plan on making a cocktail for Valentine’s Day, you may want to try the lovely Alaskan Sunset cocktail on the LEAF website. The ingredients include: LEAF Vodka made from Alaskan Glacial water, lemon juice, simple syrup, raspberries and a sprig of rosemary.


Annual Winter Wine Event, January 26

B&O Railroad Museum Roundhouse, site of the Winter Wine event on January 26!

There may not be a better place to be on a cold January evening than the Baltimore B&O Railroad Museum Roundhouse. On January 26, with a wintery forecast in the mid 40’s, the Maryland Wineries Association is hosting the annual  Winter Wine event with at least 18 Maryland wineries participating.

This is a fun and elegant event where

Elk Run Vineyards’ owners pouring sparkling wine.

you will want to wear your best as you enjoy discovering the wines of Maryland, enjoy hors d’oeuvres, light background music and conversation with other wine lovers. You are likely to meet and talk with winery owners, winemakers and people in the know about Maryland wine.

If you enjoy sparkling wines, you’ll want to plan to attend the earlier event, Sparkling Wine Pre-Reception from 6:00 to 7:00 pm. Note: The Pre-Reception tickets are only available in

A Maryland sparkling wine!

advance.) At 7:00 pm you will be guided into the B&O Roundhouse for the Roundhouse tasting which is from 7:00 to 9:30 pm.

Tickets for both events are available online.

Below is a list of the Maryland wineries who will be attending:




  • Basignani Winery
  • Big Cork Vineyards
  • Black Ankle Vineyards
  • Boordy Vineyards
  • Chateau Bu-De Vineyard & Winery
  • Catoctin Breeze Vineyard
  • Cool Ridge Vineyard
  • Crow Vineyard & Winery
  • Elk Run Vineyards
  • Great Shoals Winery
  • Janemark Winery & Vineyard
  • Layton’s Chance Vineyard & Winery
  • Linganore Winecellars
  • Old Westminster Winery
  • Port of Leonardtown Winery
  • Rocklands Farm
  • Royal Rabbit Vineyards
  • The Urban Winery

Wine Trail Traveler has visited and written about the majority of these Maryland wineries. Read the online articles and discover what you may be missing by not visiting these unique wineries.

For out-of-towners and those who would rather not drive after attending Winter Wine, the Hilton Baltimore is offering a special deal.

Why not spend a lovely evening at the beautiful B & O Railroad Museum Roundhouse discovering the wines of Maryland?

Try Gluten-Free Flours from AprèsVin

Apresvin produces gluten-free flours and more.

Today, January 13, is National Gluten-Free Day. Many people have minor to serious issues with products containing gluten. For people looking for gluten-free flour, AprèsVin located in the state of Washington, offers four gluten-free flour products.
AprèsVin Gluten-Free Flours Available

  • Cabernet Sauvignon Grape Seed Flour
  • Chardonnay Grape Seed Flour
  • Merlot Grape Seed Flour
  • Riesling Grape Seed Flour

In addition to producing these gluten-free flours, AprèsVin also produces varietal grape seed oils, grape seed soaps and smoked sea salt.

If you are looking for a special gift for Valentine’s Day, consider these specialty gluten-free flours or grape seed oils from AprèsVin.

More about AprèsVin

Eric Leber, Ph.D. and his wife, Lori Ramonas, Ph.D., are the founders of AprèsVin in Washington State. A few years ago, we visited with Lori and Eric and had a tour of the AprèsVin facility. Check out our online article about AprèsVin.


Two Red Wines from Provence

2012 Chateau Paradis Red, A.O.P. Côtes de Provence

In the middle of Provence in Southeastern France lies the 50 year-old vineyard Château Paradis. The vineyard has 80 hectares, (198 acres), under vine. The soils in the vineyard include clay and chalk. White varietal grapes include: Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Vermentino, while the red grapes varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Vieux Carignan.

We received a sample of the 2012 Chateau Paradis Red, A.O.P. Côtes de Provence, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Syrah (30%) and Grenache (20%). The 13.5% alcohol wine had an opaque dark purple color with a ruby hue and rim. Red and black fruit were noticed on the aroma. The taste was reminiscent of blackberries, cherries, black raspberries, baking spices and licorice. The mouthfeel was silky. The wine was full-bodied and had bold tannins. We paired the wine with chili and were delighted by interplay of the wine and chili. The suggested retail price is $19.98.

The winery is north of Aix-en-Provence and open Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM until 12:30 PM, then ope again from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM.

2015 Fazioli, A.O.P. Côtes de Provence from Chateau La Mascaronne

We also enjoyed a sample of wine from Chateau la Mascaronne, located outside the medieval village of Le Luc. The estate has 45 hectares of grapes (111 acres) growing on rocky limestone and clay hillsides. These vineyards were restored by Tom Bove, from Indiana, who has a love of rebuilding things. Prior to retiring into the wine industry, Tom was an engineer. He also served in the United States Navy, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

The 2015 Fazioli, A.O.P. Côtes de Provence from Chateau La Mascaronne was served with humus and a cream-cheese horseradish dip. The dark purple to black colored wine had a ruby hue. The wine was a blend of Syrah and Mourvèdre. Dark fruits were on the aroma while the taste reminded me of plums, black cherries, spices and leather. The full-bodied wine had medium/bold tannins and a silky mouthfeel. The finish was fruity with the fruit yielding to spices. The wine retails for $24.99.

We enjoyed learning and tasting the wines from Provence and hope to visit the area’s wineries some day.



A Perfect Vodka Cocktail for Cold Weather!

LEAF VODKA for a yummy winter cocktail!

As many people have been experiencing this year, it has been so very cold. In some cases the temperatures have been so low that some temperature lows will go into the record books.

We decided it was the perfect time to open a bottle of the Alaskan Winter Vodka produced by Leaf Vodka and mixed one of the suggested cocktails that arrived with our sample of Leaf Vodka.

Below are the ingredients suggested for the Alaskan Winter cocktail from LEAF VODKA.

Alaskan Winter


2 oz LEAF Vodka made from Alaskan Glacial Water
0.5 oz Vanilla syrup
0.5 oz. Lime Juice
1/4 of a large orange

After adding the ingredients to a shaker with ice and ultimately straining it into our vintage crystal, we enjoyed the cocktail in front of our soothing, hot wood burning stove.

The elegant Alaskan Winter cocktail was a light orange. It was crisp with notes of citrus.

About LEAF Vodka

LEAF VODKA produces two types of vodkas with the essential difference being the water sourced for producing the vodka. For LEAF “Water is the spirit of Vodka.” The LEAF VODKA in the cocktail recipe above is made from Alaskan glacial water. This vodka is labeled as organic and non-GMO. The label states, “Organic vodka, crafted with artisanal wheat and Alaskan glacial water for a clean, smooth taste.” This vodka is 40% alcohol/vol (80 proof.) The LEAF VODKA made from Alaskan glacial water has won numerous awards including Double Gold at WSWA 2016 and Double Gold at the San Francisco Wold Sprits Competition 2014.

LEAF Vodka is distributed by Global Spirits USA.  VODKA, Alaskan glacial water is available on the East and West coasts. It is also available at TOTAL Wine stores where the price is $19.99 for a 1L bottle.

As the LEAF VODKA website says, “Please enjoy responsibly.”

Watch for our next cocktail made with the LEAF VODKA made from Rocky Mountain Mineral Water.


102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show Starts January 6!

Mazza Winery, along with more than 30 Pennsylvania wineries, will attend the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

The century-old Pennsylvania Farm Show takes place January 6 -13 in Harrisburg. During this exciting event 32 of Pennsylvania’s wineries will offer samples and the wines will be available for purchase.

The PA Farm Show takes place at the PA Farm Show Complex, 2300 N. Cameron St., Harrisburg, PA. According to the organizers of this year’s event, “We are proud to host the largest indoor agricultural exposition in the nation, featuring nearly 12,000 competitive exhibits, more than 5,200 of which are animal competitions, plus 300 commercial exhibits and hundreds of educational and entertaining events every year.”

The Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey plans to attend the PA Farm Show.

The expected schedule of featured wineries at the PA Farm Show this year is below.

January 6-7, 2018

Arundel Cellars & Brewing Co.
Glades Pike Winery
Juniata Valley Winery/Wilson House       Bed & Breakfast
Mazza Wines
Mount Hope Estate
Olivero’s Vineyard
Seven Mountains Wine Cellars
The Winery at Wilcox

January 8-9, 2018

Brookmere Winery & Vineyard Inn
Cassel Vineyards of Hershey
Courtyard Winery
Happy Valley Vineyard & Winery
KingView Mead
Spring Gate Vineyard
Starr Hill Vineyard & Winery
The Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey

January 10-11, 2018

Allegheny Cellars Winery
Allegro Vineyards
Armstrong Valley Winery
Blue Mountain Vineyards
Naylor Wine Cellars
Reid’s Winery and Cider House
Shade Mountain Winery & Vineyards
University Wine Company

January 12-13, 2018

Benigna’s Creek Vineyard and Winery
Christian W. Klay Winery
Fero Vineyards And Winery
Flickerwood Wine Cellars Tasting Room
Hungry Run Wine & Spirits
Moon Dancer Vineyards & Winery
Nissley Vineyards
Paradocx Vineyard

Wine Trail Traveler has visited many of these Pennsylvania wineries and the reviews are online.

This year’s 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show offers so much including branch carving, lace making, wheat weaving, spinning, wildlife artists, blacksmithing, chair caning and more. Be sure to check the online schedule for the day you plan to attend, although it is subject to change.

If you enjoy food, wine, animals or want to explore Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Farm Show is a great event to attend. For all of this, admission to the farm show is free! However, there is a parking fee of $15 in all of the Farm Show Complex-operated parking lots.

This is a wonderful way to start your New Year!


A Wine from Campania, Italy

Campi Flegrei Falanghina 2016

Last night we made our first visit to the Facci Restaurant in Laurel, Maryland and discovered the restaurant to be warm in appearance and feel, especially considering the extensive cold weather the East Coast has been experiencing.

We were meeting with a group of about 30 members of the The Village in Howard which is part of the extensive Village to Village Network located in many areas of the United States and beyond.

Outside and at the front  of the restaurant several tables and place settings were set. Laughing in the bitter cold, Terry commented, “Hope we are not meeting out here tonight.” However, the nicely setup area added to the lovely experience we expected as we opened a door for the bar area and table seating beyond. At the far end of this area, the back wall is filled with an impressive display of wine bottles.

After picking up name tags and greeting many of our friends, we sat down to order wine and appetizers. Facci’s Happy Hour includes half price appetizers, $1 off cocktails and half price bottles of wine.

Terry noticed an Italian wine from the Campania region. This was a produced with a wine variety that we remembered from our trip to Campania a few years ago. (Read our online reviews of Campania.)It is not easy to discover a Falanghina wine, so we were pleased to see it on the Facci menu. The Campi Flegrei Falanghina 2016, with 12% alcohol, was a yellow to light gold color, giving the wine a particular elegance. The aroma was of floral and apricot notes. The dry, crisp taste was creamy, with notes of apricots, citrus and daisies. The finish was fruity and long.

Discovering the Facci Restaurant with an extensive wine menu and yummy Italian foods was a delightful experience and a great way to start the New Year!

Two Rose Infinie Wines Capture the Essence of Côtes de Provence

The 2016 Rose Infinie Blanc, AOP Côtes de Provence

Some winegrowers have planted rose bushes at the ends of some of the vineyard rows. They do this to help as a warning for the presence of Oïdium (Powdery mildew). Some believe the fungal disease spreads to rose bushes before grapevines. Perhaps more revealing is the romance associated with the rose and the romance of wine. Rose Infinie  wines capitalize on the romantic notion with the following quote on their bottles,

“I will pick the Rose
At the foot of the vine
And I will offer it to you
As a symbol of our infinite love.”

We had the opportunity to sample two of Rose Infinie wines, a white and a red. The bottles are elegant with a unique punt on the bottom. The label is simple with the image of a rose and the name Rose Infinie and the AOP Côtes de Provence.

The 2016 Rose Infinie Blanc, AOP Côtes de Provence was a light yellow color and was a blend of Rolle (Vermentino), Clairette and Ugni Blanc grapes.The 13.4% alcohol wine had a predominant citrus aroma. The taste included citrus, peach, pineapple and mineral. The finish was crisp and fruity. We paired this wine with different cheeses. The Manchego cheese was an excellent match for this wine. The suggested price for this wine is $14.94.

2015 Rose Infinie Rouge, AOP Côtes de Provence

The 2015 Rose Infinie Rouge, AOP Côtes de Provence was a blend of Syrah, Vieux Carignan and Mournèdre. The opaque ruby colored wine offered red and black fruits on the aroma. The taste was reminiscent of cherry, spices, leather and licorice. The wine had a smooth mouthed, full body and medium/bold tannins. The finish was fruity yielding to oak influences. This wine was paired with meatball sandwiches. The meatballs were cooked in a crockpot in a chili sauce base. The suggested price for this wine is $14.63.

The vineyards for these wines are in the Vallée de l’Arc near Aix-en-Provence. This area of Southeastern France has had vineyards for thousands of years. The soil consists of limestone, clay and red sandstone. The vines receive abundant sunshine and are influenced by the Mistral wind that helps keep the vines dry and fungus at bay.

You do not have to pay high prices for French wines. The Côtes de Provence area has many producers of affordable wines.


Discover Maryland Wineries During the Holidays!

The 2017 Governor’s Cup Award Cool Ridge Red

As Terry mentioned in an earlier blog, last week we attended the 29th Annual 2017 Maryland Wine Governor’s Cup Awards event. Most of the award winning wines were produced by several of Maryland’s more recently opened wineries. If anyone wonders why the earlier Maryland wineries were not winning awards, the newer wineries understand that they are building these award winning wines based on the hard work, and research that the earlier wineries have done. So kudos to all of the Maryland wineries.

One of the speakers noted, “If you like high end local wines, this is a great spot . Our goal is to make the best wines possible.”

The wineries of Maryland range from the small boutique wineries to much larger wineries. We have discovered they are delightful to visit. In fact, we were asked to revisit Catoctin Breeze Vineyard due to all of the changes, this family owned and operated winery have made since our last visit. Upon arriving at the winery, we discovered a new winery tasting room with and new attached winery. The old tasting room and winery are now used for storage. The tasting room offers seating at the wine counter, a fireplace and large windows overlooking the countryside. In addition, for summer months they have a large pergola with tables and chairs. As far as the quality of wines, the 2015 Estate Syrah was named “Best Syrah on East Coast” by the Atlantic Seaboard Competition. Suggestions for foods to pair with this Estate Syrah were meats that were grilled or roasted.

While traveling to or from your holiday destinations in Maryland, be sure to stop by and purchase a bottle of wine to open and enjoy when you reach your destination. For a list of Maryland wineries, check out the Maryland Wine website.


Three Wines from Mercer Estate in Washington

Mercer Estate Malbec – Horse Heaven Hills AVA

Mercer Estate Winery in Eastern Washington is located in Prosser. At this time, the Mercer vineyards consist of more than 2,000 acres. Don and Linda Mercer planted the first grapevines. It was in 2005 that Rob and Brenda Mercer started Mercer Wine Estates.

Historically, the Mercers have been farming the property since 1886 which over the years has included livestock and row crops and then adding vineyards. Sustainability is important to the Mercer family. This effort includes water, soil, integrated pest and waste management.

Recently the Mercer Estate winery sent us three wine samples to review. All three wines are produced with Horse Heaven Hills AVA fruit.

The 2016 Mercer Horse Heaven Hills AVA Sauvignon Blanc was a light yellow color with a light green hue. The aroma included notes of mineral, citrus and tropical fruit. The taste offered grapefruit, lemon grass and a hint of pineapple. The finish was very crisp with lemon grass notes yielding to citrus. The grapes were from the Mercer estate vineyard, Princeton. The alcohol of the wine was 12.5%.

The 2015 Malbec Horse Heaven Hills AVA was a black color with a purple rim. The aroma was light and the full-bodied wine offered tastes of blackberries, black pepper and baking spices. The wine had medium to bold tannins. The finish offered fruit and spice notes.  The estate grown wine was produced with grapes from the Spiced Cabinet Vineyard. The wine was produced with a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Old and new French oak barrels were used for malolactic fermentation. The wine was 14.8% alcohol.

The 2015 Sharp Sisters Red Blend Horse Heaven Hills AVA was a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Syrah, Carignane and Petit Verdot.This red blend was a dark ruby color. The aroma offered notes of black cherries, plums and blackberries. The taste also included notes of black cherries, plums, and blackberries plus leather, vanilla and baking spices. The finish had fruit notes yielding to spices.

The grapes for the Sharp Sisters red blend are from the estate vineyards. Specifically the Merlot grapes were from the Dead Canyon Vineyard while the Cabernet Sauvignon was from the Eagle & Plow Vineyard. Spice Cabinet Vineyard was the source of the Grenache, Syrah and Carignane. The Petit Verdot grapes were from Mercer’s Milt’s Vineyard.

The winemaking protocol included aging the wine in a combination of American and French barrels for 18 months. The wine had 14.8% alcohol.

Horse Heaven Hills AVA produces fabulous fruit. Consider trying some of the Mercer Estate portfolio of wines for this holiday season.

Several years ago we visited Mercer Estate in Prosser, Washington. The article review is available online.


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