Saturday, September 24, 2016

Virginia Does Cab!

Tucked away in Caroline County, Virginia, there is a gem that should be the next winery on your “places to visit” list. The Vine Wine Club had the pleasure of exploring local vineyard, Castle Glen Estate Farm and Winery, found right off of Route 1, nestled between oak trees and not much else. Nature is the gorgeous frame that captures the picturesque beauty of Castle Glen.  But there is one true star…and that is what is in the bottle!  

I have a confession.  Castle Glen Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the best that I’ve ever tasted!  And it makes me proud to know that it is grown and bottled right here in Virginia. 

It is a familiar story that someone falls in love with wine and all of its nuances and decides to try to make it.  Not everyone gets it right.  As Ed Cowdrey, owner of Castle Glen Estate Farm and Winery and winemaker-in-chief, found out, it isn’t an easy process.  After visiting numerous wine shops and tasting thousands of wines, Ed found a love for wine.  He was intrigued with how the beverage was so versatile and how manipulating the process created a difference experience in the bottle.  His first attempt at wine making was with a wine kit and led to him eventually growing Concord grapes.  Unfortunately for Ed, he didn’t enjoy the “sweet” fruit of his labor since he had come to enjoy drier styles.  Fortunately for us, he didn’t give up!   Ed’s passion and commitment only grew. 

Castle Glen Winery’s 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon was the first wine for retail.  The research and persistence paid off. Cowdrey has perfected the wine’s dark, inky color while finding the perfect balance of fruit and acid.  The wine offers a softness that is not always found in a Cabernet Sauvignon.  Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, it lends a currant quality on the mid-pallet with a nice peppery finish.  The wine pairs very well with dark chocolates, various cheeses, and red meats. 

Ed Cowdrey credits his winemaking expedition to his lovely wife, Pamela, who graciously shared the kitchen with Ed to start his wine growing in their home in Chesterfield, Virginia. The vines quickly outgrew the small space and soon decided to purchase enough land for a house and a vineyard.  Ed plans to extend the vineyard with 6,000 additional vines to be planted in Spring 2017.

Castle Glen Estate Farm and Winery is a private winery where Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot flourish.  Stainless steel tanks and French and American oak barrels throughout the property almost make you forget that you are “home”.  In addition to producing wine that rivals some of the best Bordeaux, the setting takes you to something that must be close to Utopia. 

The Castle Glen Estate Farm and Winery is more than a home for phenomenal wine but also a venue for private wine tasting events, weddings, and private parties. The vineyard is a gorgeous space to hold a special event as well as space for more wine!

To contact Castle Glen Winery for a private tasting or a private event, you can visit or you can send a message to   Castle Glen Cabernet Sauvignon is available at  Bring the experience of France directly to your door.

Check out my interview with Ed on the "Off The Vine with Benita and Terricinia" radio show on the May We Help You Radio.  Click here!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Girls on Port!

Today my good friend, The Butterfly Queen, hung out with me.  Although we've been spoiled with mild summer-like days, today was overcast and a little breezy.  So I took advantage of the cool temperatures and took out the bottle of Pocas Ruby Port.  Why does the weather matter?  Well it really doesn't but for me, Port is typically my winter dessert.

The Butterfly Queen and I sat and talked about everything from work, life, relationships, and wine.  We shared how wine is the backdrop of many enlightening or fun conversations between women, whether they are old friends or new acquaintances.  It is the relaxation elixir.  The conversation starter.  Ladies, Let's Wine!

After much sharing and much more wine, we decided to add dessert to our Ruby Port.  The Butterfly Queen had a decadent double chocolate cake.  Of course, it was a perfect match.  The richness of the chocolate just seemed to play up the ripe, subtle sweetness of the Port.  I had traditional Carrot Cake with Creamed Cheese Icing.  I was hesitant about my choice as a pairing.  Typically, I would have gone with a Muscat or a Tawny Port.  But the Ruby Port held its own.  Not the best pairing but the sweetness of the icing toned down the sweetness in the Port.  It introduced the "hotness" that I hadn't pulled out of the Port before.  But no worries!  I didn't finish the cake and went back to what's important...conversation with one of my sister-friends and great wine!

Our Next Class!

March 23, 2016:  How To Taste Wine Like a Pro - $25

Register today by emailing

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Wanted: Female Winery Owners!

Once a month, a group of women and I try to get together for dinner and wine.  We select restaurants that are new to most of us so where we can celebrate together the experience of trying something new.  Our group consists of very discriminating diners who range from the most carnivorous to vegetarians.  Our ages range from late twenties to mid-sixties.  The cross-generational gathering provides a depth to the conversations that can only be present among groups with various experiences.  But what stands out to me the most of the reasons that we may not ever have our full core group.  We (women) have so many things that keep us busy and many times away from what we want to do.  We are caregivers, we work, we lend shoulders to the bereaved, we are taxi drivers, we don't have sitters...the things that keep us from taking care of our own needs run the gamut.  So I want to raise my glass to women...we truly are "every woman"!

Sidenote:  I'm not a food critic so I won't mention the restaurant unless the food was slammin'!  Yesterday's choice was alright...just I won't give the name.  But the Riesling was awesome with the Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich and the Crab and Shrimp Nachos.

With March being Women's History Month, The Vine Wine Club wants to highlight wineries that are owned by women.  To do this, we need your help!!!  Of course, we have Shoe Crazy Wine in our cellar but we invite you to send us other wine brands that are woman-owned.  We want to feature them on our site and do something to honor these phenomenal women over the next few weeks.  Please send those names to our email at  Don't hesitate!  March will blow by quickly.

Join us this Friday with our California friends "The Grape Girls".  Off The Vine with Benita and Terricinia at 3:00 pm on the May We Help You Radio Network (woman owned).

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Ladies, Let's Wine!

I was recently reading an article about the importance of women communities.  What I was reading evoked images of screened in porches with swings where women came together to talk about their children, families, and celebrated one another's victories.  It was a communion of sorts where they were free to be themselves.

When my friends and I get together, we have great conversations and wine (and food) are always included.  It's comfort!!!  We laugh, cry, and laugh some more.  We connect on a different level, without competition.  It's authentic, and it's real.

March is Women's History month.  The Vine Wine Club is going to do its part to celebrate that history by kicking off  powerful programming with topics and activities to inspire and empower women and fosters sisterhood.   We are also kicking off "Ladies, Let's Wine", our monthly social gathering for dinner, wine, and great conversation on March 18, 2016.  If you attended The Exclusive Blacklist, you have a free admission to one, compliments of Indigo Salon.  Our special guest is none other than 2016 People's Choice Award winner Gwen Hurt.  The topic is "Changing The Game:  Walking Away from the Job and Into Your Dream."

Our radio show "Off The Vine with Benita and Terricinia" (airs every Friday at 3:00 pm on the May We Help You Radio Network) will feature powerful female guests all month including fan favorites "The Grape Girls".  Spirit Journeys Radio (airs at 8:00 pm on MWHY Radio) will devote March to exploring positive female relationships.

Be ready!  Whether you are a Beyonce "Formation" kinda girl or "I am Woman, Hear Me Roar", March is bringing it for the ladies!  So raise your glasses and let's wine.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Exclusive Blacklist...A True Story

I want to tell you a true story.  Just a little over a year ago, I called an old friend who had been one of my wine reps when I first got into the industry.  I called him because I was looking for a particular brand of wine that I knew his distribution company carried.  How did I know that they carried it?  Two reasons.  Our ABC board has a website that will list every wine, spirit, and beer that is approved in the Commonwealth.  I also knew because I had reached out to the winery owner to find out which distribution company had it and just how many cases they had in its warehouse.  I called my friend because I was surprised when I was told by another person at the same company that they didn't carry it.  Because I knew that my friend would tell me the truth, I called him.

At first, my friend told me that they didn't have it.  When I explained to him how I knew that they had it, he asked for some time to look into it.  The following day, he called me back to tell me that they had it in a warehouse in Norfolk and no one was interested in getting it here to Richmond.  Because my friend realized that it made no sense and wanted the sale, he made sure that his company transported my order to the Richmond warehouse so that I could pick it up.

I've always wondered had this wine not been owned and produced by an African-American would I have had to jump through such hoops.  I could understand if it didn't sell well.  But it seemed to be selling just fine in Total Wine and other big box stores.  Hmmm.

I do not believe that this story is unique.  So what can we do about it? I know, it's wine.  Doesn't seem that important.  But it is important.  The Exclusive Blacklist is important and events like it are lifelines for those brave souls who dare enter this tough industry.

I've charged myself with hosting an event to celebrate African-Americans in the wine industry.  The purpose is to introduce these wines to my family, friends, and colleagues and passing the assignment on to them.  If we like the wines, we should buy the wines and ask the wine retailers and restaurants that we support to make these wines available.  Just how much Yellow Tail can we drink?  We deserve the best!  And many of the wines that you will taste at The Exclusive Blacklist are rated high and receive critical acclaim by wine aficionados everywhere.  We invite you to be the judge!

This year, cast your vote to decide who goes home with our beautiful People's Choice award.  In order to vote, you must be present.  Here's how:

The Exclusive Blacklist
The Shoppes at The Renaissance
101 W. Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23220

Call 804-993-4130 for tickets or email me at for more information.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Deck The Halls and Fill The Cellar!

The holidays!!!  What a great reason/excuse to fill your cellar with various types of wine!  Some of the wines would definitely be your personal favorites, others could be bottles that you've always wanted to try and the last few could be strictly for the cellar.  Let's go shopping!  Click here.

The Vine Wine Club has partnered with other small businesses this holiday season to offer you some of the best and most creative gift ideas for adults.  Thank you for supporting us!  Whether you are buying gifts for yourself or others or you simply want to share our list of gift giving ideas with others, we want to help you.  The Vine Wine Club is making it easier to find the perfect gift for wine lovers all over Virginia.  Of course, gift certificates to wine classes and tickets to The Exclusive Blacklist are fabulous gifts, but we have even more to offer.

"The Gourmet at Home" Gift Package:  Enjoy two bottles of wine, one white and one red, plus a signed copy of the acclaimed cookbook by Paula Garrett, "From Miss to Mrs:  Recipes to Capture His Heart."  $50 plus shipping.  Orders must be placed by December 12, 2015 to guarantee Christmas Delivery.

Shoes and Elephants:  Get a bottle of Shoe Crazy Wine and a signed copy of "Conversing with The Elephant: Things Your Girlfriends Don't Have The Balls to Tell You" by Terricinia St. Clair. $30 plus shipping.  Order must be placed by December 12, 2015 to guarantee Christmas Delivery.  

A Sweet Treat:  Get 4 Tastrie Jars (Desserts baked in a jar by JBel's Tastries") and a bottle of our sweetest new craze "Little Bosco".  $45 INCLUDES shipping. (The dessert will arrive in separate packaging)

The Vine Wine Club 3 Month Membership:  For only $99 receive 2 bottles of the best pours delivered directly to your door.  Includes shipping.  If this is a gift, we will send a card to the receiver to let them know that the wine delivery will begin in January 2016.  

Holiday "Cellar"bration:  Get 4 bottles of top rated and limited produced wine from our new "Thirty-6" for $180 plus shipping (at least a $200 value).  In order to secure this prior to Christmas, the order must be placed no later than December 12, 2015.

So get your shopping started by simply going online and taking advantage of these easy ways to put a smile on someone's face.  Click here to visit The Vine Wine Club to take advantage of these great gift ideas.  Need help or more ideas?  Call us at 804-993-4130.

Happy Shopping!

SAVE THE DATE:  December 1, 2015, The Vine Wine Club is launching "Thirty-6".  Thirty-6 is our cellar of top rated and limited produced wines that are perfect for drinking today and even better when saved in ideal conditions.  We will feature 36 of the world's finest varietals from the most prestigious regions.  Our members will be invited to our private tasting party in January.  Stay tuned!

Monday, October 12, 2015

What are You Afraid Of?

I know that many in the wine industry have had this experience.  What happens is you're doing a wine tasting and someone comes to the table and say that I want something sweet.  There can be any number of wines on the table that folks may taste for free.  I'm not taking about one of those places where you pay a price to taste and you can only pick a select number that you want to sample.  But I am talking about the ones that you can end up having a couple of glasses of wine in tastings alone.  I probably shouldn't care when people want to stay in their comfort zones all of the time. But I do care! So excuse me while I stand on my soapbox!

#1. Wine tastings are for more than just to sell a customer wine.  A purpose of wine tastings is to educate.  We (I mean those of us in the industry) take pride in being able to explain the subtleties in the wine, talk about the great growing regions and the phenomenal season that helped to result in this little piece of "heaven" in a bottle.  We are poised and ready to talk "shop" because we've prepared and we've picked wines specifically for you.  When customers come to the table where we have lined the wines up in order of lightest to darkest with a few exceptions and ask for something sweet, it feels like cold water has been thrown on us.  We can offer the sweetest wine that we have.  If the customer doesn't like it, they walk away like we've offered them dirty socks.  Or worse, believe and tell others that we don't have any "good" wine.

#2.  What's sweet to one person isn't sweet to another person.  I will share an example from last week.  We were tasting out a Prosecco and one person said that it was sweet.  I personally wouldn't define it as sweet but I am just one person.  Wine can be somewhat subjective.  I have found a tinge of sweetness in some Merlots while others think that it is as dry as the Mojave Desert.  We taste things differently.  If you are at a wine tasting, use this opportunity to ask the expert why that is.  That's why they are there.

#3.  When you taste wine at your favorite shop, you are helping the shop/store owners to select wines to be on their shelves.  Do your part!  If you taste it and don't like it, take the opportunity to say what you don't like about it.  It's simple.  You better believe that if the masses think it isn't worth the shelf space, you won't see it again in that shop.

What are you afraid of?  Taste the small portion.  If you don't like it, spit it out or dump it.  Eat an oyster cracker to get the taste out of your mouth, drink water, and move to the next one.  Something may happen.  And that could be that you find something else that you like.  Write down the names of what you like or take a picture of the label with your phones.  When you shop or eat out, share the wine that you liked with the server and see if they have something similar.  There are so many varietals of wine; too many to limit your options to just one flavor profile.  Be adventurous, be fearless, taste wine.