It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year....

The days are getting shorter, the leaves are changing color and there's a nip in the air. You know what that means... Fall shipments are arriving from our wine clubs!!!

Every year at this time, Bradford and I eagerly await the sound of the UPS truck pulling up to our curb, and gleefully answer the door with open arms ready to receive our treats. Like kids on Christmas morning, we rip open the cardboard boxes and shout with wonder and joy at the new and exciting presents within. "An '08 Cabernet! A 2007 Zin! Is Petit Verdot the new Pinot???", we exclaim to one another while our dog and daughter look on, bemused.

On these colder days (ok, it's high 60's, but still) Bradford and I love to dip into our stash of bolder wines. Break out the cabernets, the syrahs and the blends! With Juna's new early bedtime, I am now free to enjoy a whole glass of wine before Juna wakes up to nurse six hours later. Just in time for our fall shipments!

Looking for a spectacular and unique holiday present? Why not gift a wine club membership? If you live in a wine-producing area, consider a membership to a local winery, where oftentimes members are treated to special events throughout the year. Our favorite wineries are in the Paso Robles/Santa Barbara area, which is just a quick trip up the 101 for us. It's been awhile since we've been able to take a vino vacation (wineries, pregnancy and new babies simply don't mix...) but we plan on revisiting some of our old haunts in the new year. If you are a fan of rich, bold, complex reds, try Tolo Cellars. Bradford and I sampled a wine from this exquisite producer during (yes, during...) our wedding ceremony. We love Tolo for blending Bradford's and my favorite characteristics into one show-stopping wine. Tolo Cellars is located off the beaten path in beautiful Paso Robles, where we spent Valentine's Day a few years back. If you are in the area, stop in and visit the farmhouse tasting room. The tasting rooms in Paso are filled with down to earth, wine-loving folk with no pretense. Don't worry if you're a newbie to viticulture, you will be lovingly and passionately guided into the world of wine by the winemakers, who often man the tasting rooms, and their staff.

For your more spontaneous, adventurous friends, look into Wandering Dog, a homey wine bar in scenic Solvang. I've spent several summers performing for PCPA in Solvang, and Bradford has spent those same summers camped out in wine bars and tasting rooms across the county! We love Wandering Dog in particular because you can sample wines from so many different producers, both local and not-so-local. Bradford and I love our California wineries so much, we sometimes need to be encouraged to try wines from other regions. CT, the purveyor of Wandering Dog, travels the globe in search of the best wines. At the bar, you can taste an array of wines by the glass, carafe or bottle, or dip into a wine flight created by the owner himself. This is without a doubt our most interesting shipment, as you never know what you're going to get or where it's going to come from! We've received wines from Spain, South America and Napa all in the same shipment. Oh, what fun!

I would be remiss if I didn't plug Carvalho Wines in Clarksburg, CA, the site of our nuptials and producers of delicious, universally pleasing wines. We enjoyed a Barbera just last night that was served at our wedding. The tasting room is located at The Old Sugar Mill which is also host to many other area wineries. It's a fun outing for Sacramento-area natives.

Bradford's new favorite store is K&L Wine Merchants here in Los Angeles. They also offer several wine club options. Bradford recently picked up several bottles of my new fall favorite, an '09 Bench Cabernet. He loves to peruse the store for new bottles and stock up on our old standbys.

Baby's up from her nap, so I'm back on mom-duty! Till next time, happy drinking!

A very pregnant me, keeping the wine safe! 


The End of an Era

So long, Colic. You will not be missed. For months, you have wreaked havoc on our daughter's well-being, despite the fact that we denied your very existence. Ten hours a day, seven days a week, we endured your cries and protestations channeled through the innocence of our baby girl. How rude.

You did not let Juna relax throughout the day. You decided she could only be comfortable swaddled, held on her side and bounced, and I have the sore back to prove it. You made sure she would like only to be in my arms and no one else's. You prevented her from sleeping soundly, and ensured her only respite be nursing, which she did for hours on end. Oh, you tried to make her cry and scream all day, but we found ways to circumvent your desire using all the tricks we could find (thank you, Happiest Baby on the Block!). Still, she fussed and squirmed, searching always for comfort and peace. She smiled through it all, so there.

You made us doubt our abilities as parents, and left us wide open to well-meaning, though misguided comments, regarding our natural instincts. We fielded many a remark insisting our daughter needed more food, less attention, medical intervention. We were told we simply didn't understand this baby, though no one spends more time learning and listening to their child than the parents of an infant with colic. You made us feel powerless, impotent. Our anxiety level was at an all-time high; you tested the bond of our marriage, as we struggled to find solutions and answers. Too bad for you, we're happier than ever.

You did, however, inspire empathy and understanding from those who had walked this path before us. We received an outpouring of support reassuring us that it would get better, that we weren't doing anything wrong, and that soon we would begin to enjoy, rather than fear, this process. We learned to lean on friends and family, who fielded many tearful phone calls, so saddened we were with Juna's struggle. Thank you to all the people who told us we were doing a good job.

It's been over a week, Colic, since you've reared your ugly head. You have lost your hold over Juna. She is too strong for you! Her natural personality is shining through, revealing a happy, alert, curious and easy baby. Yes, she's an easy baby. I knew we had seen the last of you when I took Juna to Sacramento on a plane, by myself, and she was a delight the whole time. She patiently relaxed against me in her wrap as we stood in the security line, and smiled at our fellow passengers while babbling to me about our day. Once on the plane, she stared out the window, fascinated by the view of the sky.

Colic, I wish I could wax philosophical about what we learned from you, but I can't. You are a miserable, dark force and we are happy to see you go. So, goodbye, Colic. May we never cross paths again.

Angel Baby