casa del vino

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Day 333 – They Say It’s Your Birthday…

no curfew

NOTE TO READERS–Today’s blog could be a little longer than usual…Reader Discretion is Advised! ūüėČ

Birthdays are kind of funny.¬† When we’re kids, we can’t wait to have them.¬† It’s a badge of honor to be 5 and a HALF because we know that before too long we’ll turn 6!¬† We know that when you go from 12 to 13 you enter the ‘Twilight Zone’ called the teenage years!¬† We also know that as you get older, there is a certain mystic quality with each new level in life that has been ascertained.¬†

For example, we both have the SAME birthday. . .today as a matter of fact. . .and those of you who know us and read us–for the most part already know this–but for those who’ve been following this year. . .welcome to something cool and amazing. . .Jean and Brian have the same birthday.¬† Yep, same day, same year–heck, they were even baptized on the same day!¬† But, part of what has made this day so awesome over the past 30+ years has been sharing this day with others in our lives.¬† It all started back in 1989–the dreaded 30th Birthday!¬† The thoughts of being out of our 20’s and into our 30’s was daunting enough, but we decided to meet it head on!¬† Yep.¬† It was PARTY TIME!¬† So, we created Bondy Bash–an annual display of overindulgence on food, beverage and good times.¬† The first year was held at our rent house in St. Peters, Missouri.¬† The house had an above ground swimming pool; a basement and a fenced yard. . .other than that, well, it was a creaky, ugly house!¬† By the time we sent out invitations and heard back from friends, almost 60 people had told us they were planning on joining us!¬† We fired up the grill; iced down the keg; sliced up the watermelon and were ready for a king-sized birthday bash.¬† And it went really well until the weather moved in and forced us into the basement.¬† Fortunately we had the keg with us and all was right with the world.¬† Funny how that one event led to the next year and the next year and so on and so on!¬† The birthday bashes continued after the birth of daughter #1. . .thank goodness for friends!¬† The birthday bashes continued after the birth of daughter #2. . .that year, the rains had been so bad, the mosquitoes looked like 747s and the jello shots were plentiful!¬† After a move to a new neighborhood, the bashes continued until 1999. . .the BIG 4-0!¬†

This was going to be the last in a long history of bashes, and with family, neighbors and friends we celebrated long into the night.¬† It was an amazing way to celebrate-not only a birthday-but life in general.¬† By the next year, we were looking at moving back to Texas and the bashes came to an end.¬† Our kids had ‘grown up’ on these fun, amazing parties and for us, we’d grown to love and appreciate a bunch of terrific people who were part of our lives!¬† In the¬† ensuing time period from 1999 to 2009, a lot happened in our world.¬† Jobs took us from St. Charles, Missouri to Aransas Pass, Texas to Kerrville, Texas and when it was time to celebrate our 50th. . .well, we knew that there was only one way to do it RIGHT!¬† Yep, we brought back Bondy Bash. . .and introduced it to a whole new group of people who’d never known what it was like to party until 2 am. . .grill some bratwurst and burgers. . .sip on some really cold beer and hear the rants and raves from family and friends.¬† In short, the party was something that our friends still talk about to this day!¬†

Birthdays. . .they help us to stop and realize how much we really have in our lives.¬† For the both of us, we are BLESSED beyond belief and don’t think for a moment that we don’t appreciate it.¬† So, we needed a wine tonight that was out of the ordinary.¬† A wine that spoke of the independence that having milestone birthdays offers.¬† A wine that says, “I’m not beholden to anyone anymore!”¬† Tonight we opened a 2010 No Curfew Red Table Wine from California.¬† UH-YEAH, Curfew.¬† Before the 18th birthday, curfews were in effect in both of our houses.¬† To quote Mr. T, “I pity the fool. . .who misses curfew, BUT I’d like to party with those with NO CURFEW!”¬† Okay, he didn’t really say that, but it sounded good!¬† So, this wine is red. . .duh. . .and it’s got a lot of cranberry on the¬† nose and on the palate.¬† And, if you’re into cranberry, then you’re going to want this wine.¬† If not, you may want to try Ocean Spray instead!¬† There are hints of tobacco and leather. . .and as the wine opened up, we tasted a lot of black raspberries and currants.¬† According to their notes, “This wine opens with aromas of violets, blackberries and hints of spice, leading to gorgeously fruited layers of blackberry, cherry and blueberry with a dash of mocha. The lush initial mouth-feel leads nicely into a mid-palate with excellent structure and balanced acidity. Dark berries dominate the finish, which is clean and long.”¬† Hmmm, well, so much for our view versus the tasting notes!¬†

We weren’t overly excited about this wine.¬† A cute name with LOADS of potential that fails to deliver in the end.¬† BUT, a great wine to break out and enjoy for a special day like today.¬† Yep, we’ve gone a lot longer than expected on this blog, but we are excited to share with you our birthday and our love of wine–good, bad and ugly–and, once again as our good friend tells us each time we’re together. . .”Life Is Too Short To Enjoy Bad Wine!”¬† Well, enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible!


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Day 332: Prayers for Luke . . .

Cigar ZinAs we go about our busy lives, we often times don’t stop and take enough time to appreciate what we have . . . each other, our daughters, our faith, our extended family, good friends and our health.¬† To be honest , most of these things we just take for granted and never give a second thought.¬† Tonight we want to stop and pause for a moment or two (or 400 words or less if you are a blogger!) and just count our lucky stars.

During our almost 54 years we have come across all kinds of people – some whom we relish and some we just tolerate because it’s the right thing to do.¬† But, we have to admit there is a young fella named Luke – who while we know a bit . . . mostly through his parents . . . we think is a shining example for all of us.¬† Luke was born premature and from what we know has faced more obstacles in his short 3+ years than most of us will face in a lifetime.¬† His medical issues have ranged from grandiose to not so grandiose – but challenges nonetheless.¬† Every, and we mean EVERY time we’ve come in contact with him, we have been gifted a shy smile and an eye twinkle that melts our hearts.¬† This young man is just contagious – not a water-walker mind you, but contagious in his joy of life . . . while most likely way too young to totally comprehend what he has faced – he lives life to the fullest.¬† With four older siblings to lead and guide him, this remarkable person named Luke has taken life by storm.

Tonight we dedicate this post to Luke as he prepares to undergo some very tough surgery on Wednesday.  Part of his health challenges include the need to do some major surgery on his skull . . . so, we ask that each of you take a moment or two on Wednesday morning and say a prayer for Luke to come through with flying colors.  Pray for his parents to be at peace during the surgery and place complete trust in the capable hands of the surgeons whom our Heavenly Father has placed on this earth to perform such medical procedures.  Pray for his brothers and sisters as they anxiously await word on their brother whom they love, dote on and care deeply about Рfinally, pray for all those who will provide before, during and aftercare for Luke Рhe will need their attention and skill.

Tonight, after a busy day for Jean helping D#1 move into her classroom and then search for a place to live in Austin and a busy day for Brian videotaping “San Marcos Shining Stars” for his upcoming Chamber business expo, we opened a little wine we found during our “work weekend” in Kerrville for less than $12.¬† We opened a 2011 Cigar Zin . . . their motto is “grab life by the bottle” – interesting theme . . . and interesting flavor.

In the glass – its’ color was medium body, a little thin on the ruby-red side but a pretty sight to behold.¬† On the nose, this little gem was classic Zin – peppery, spicy and lots of dark fruit.¬† On the palate, really . . . really fruity with less spice than on the nose, but a fruit bomb nonetheless.¬† It’s a blend of 90% Zinfandel, 5% Petite Sirah, 5% Syrah . . . WOW, what a combination!¬† This wine was also hand harvested at peak season to ensure quality and flavor, the fruit for Cigar Zin was sorted then fermented for 7 days then prepared the wine in French (50%) and American (50%) oak barrels for 11 months. No wonder its soooo good!¬† We will add this one to the Bondy Deck Wine list and am thinking it could make the Top Ten list (well, maybe the Top 20).

Thank you for being out there Рthank you for reading our blog Рand most importantly tonight, thank you for praying with us for Luke.  Have a great night and remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


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Day 331: Change Can Be Tough . . .

Brancott Estate

So, by now anyone who reads our ramblings on a regular basis has figured out that we are just slightly a bubble off-center.¬† Our sense of humor is somewhere between The Beverly Hillbillies and Monty Python’s Flying Circus – oh well, we just like to have a good time regardless of the situation.¬† After spending the night in Kerrpatch with P & L and having a hearty breakfast on the deck at Taqueria Jalisco (another one of the places we love to dine at when in town) – we popped over to Casa del Vino’s remote location . . . aka “the West Crest House”.¬† We knew we had a couple of chores to do before our renter was back to finish packing up and vacating the house.

So in we jumped . . . bet you didn’t know that two bedrooms of fairly decent size could be painted in less than an hour and a half – well four hands working together can do just about anything – bamn . . . check that task off “the list”.¬† Next up – put a final coat of fresh paint on the front door . . . this was painful for Jean – ya see, in EVERY house we’ve ever owned the front door has ALWAYS been painted red – why, because growing up EVERY house Jean lived in (with the exception of the Whittier house) had a red front door compliments of Margaret (aka Mom) . . . it was just a tradition being carried forward – well, the realtor said the red had to go . . . fighting mental tears, Jean painted red to brown (boring . . . but, if it sells the house – acceptable).

Ok, that sad task being done – next up was changing out the mailbox that we had come to know and love . . . yep, another story – ya see, when we purchased the house back in 2003 we thought it was too funny that the mailbox said “MacDonald” – obviously the woman who had lived there since the 80’s was named MacDonald . . . well, most people – which we are not (reference sentence two of this blog) – would have immediately changed out the mailbox . . . well, what more can we say – we didn’t because we thought it would be fun.¬† And we must tell you that over the years, it was VERY fun to watch people coming to see us pull up in front of the house – look at the address – look at the mailbox – shake their head in confusion – and finally call us from their cell phone to confirm they were at the right house . . . which they were and chuckled when they looked up and saw us waving from the front windows.¬† But alas (a shout out to poor Yorick) – well, the realtor said the mailbox had to go . . . fighting mental tears, Brian changed out the mailbox (boring . . . but, if it sells the house – acceptable).

So, now our house has a brown door and a nice shiny black metal mailbox – just like everyone else on the block – – – oh well, at least we have our memories to keep us young – and our sense of humor isn’t going anywhere anytime soon – it can’t be painted or replaced!

After our chores were finished we popped back to our “B&B” and were greeted by P&L with tall glasses of ice water to rehydrate – not sure about where you are, but it was VERY hot here today – we worked up quite a sweat and had two glasses of H20 before L pulled some homemade epanadas out of the oven and we cracked open a bottle of wine that was picked up at Western Beverage in Ktown for less than $8.00 – yes, we were a bit concerned a) it was so cheap and b) it was a white . . . BUT, we must admit it was not so bad.¬† Our tasty treat was a 2011 Sauvignon Blanc from Brancott Estate in Auckland, New Zealand.

On the nose, it was crisp and citrus all the way – kind of like having a grapefruit at the end of your sniffer.¬† At first sip we recoiled from the tartness – almost overpowering – but, as it warmed up, the zing eased up and some really nice flavors came shining through.¬† Would definitely buy again and have with some salmon, creamy cheese or some asparagus.¬† And the price can’t be beat . . . a bargain – will need to swing by and get some more of this puppy.¬† One other really cool thing about this wine is that it has a QR code on it – you scan, download an app and what fun . . . you get to go to some really neat virtual landing pages with information about the wine, food pairing, the winery, climate (you can make it rain on your phone) and facts about the region.¬† It made for a great time before we climbed into the car and headed back to San Marcos.

As you look around your house Рwhat special touches have you added?  A crazy rug, a loud room color, some funky decorations (we have a lava lamp tucked away somewhere) Рwhatever it is . . . make your abode speak volumes about who you are!  As you decorate, remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible!


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Day 330 – Crimes Of The Past

19 Crimes

No doubt…we are big fans of Australian wines.¬† Now, granted, some are WAY better than others, but as a general rule, we’ve come to appreciate big, bold Australian wines.¬† When we started our red wine sojourn several years ago, we remember trying a wine from Australia made by . . . and thought we had died and gone to heaven.¬† We could only buy it at Specs and would go out of our way to buy it…and at less than $9 a bottle, we thought that we were living life large!¬† Uh, that is until we tried a different wine from Australia that was better.¬† WAY better!

Tonight we also give a SO to Scott and Kathryn – congrats on 17 years of bliss . . . you two are a great example for all of us!¬† Here’s to 17 plus more !!!!

Fast forward a few years and we meet Patrick Wilt from Grape Juice and he introduces us to a big Australian wine called, Ball Buster.¬† If you’ve been following this blog for any time, you’ll know that we’ve talked about Ball Buster and to this day, it remains one of our favorite wines. . .hands down!¬† The memory of the previous Australian wine was gone the minute we tried this wine.¬† It had so much taste and smoothness, that the other wine didn’t. . .we KNEW that we’d “graduated” to the next level of wine enjoyment.

Push to button to go forward to today and we’ve once again found an Australian wine that knocked out socks off.¬† The name alone was enough to stop Jean in her tracks. . .along with a VERY cool bottle. . .19 Crimes from Australia.¬† If you read the label, the story details how criminals in Britain—back in the late 1700’s—instead of being sentenced to death, were sentenced to transportation.¬† Yes, transportation. . .as in transported from Britain to the colony of Australia. . .along the way, many criminals died, but those who survived became the founding families for that land.¬† It’s a great story and the wine that is named after it is equally up to the task.

This bottle of 19 Crimes features the picture of John Boyle O’Reilly. . .an Irish poet who was arrested, tried and convicted of mutiny and was sentenced to 20 years in the Australian penal colony.¬† Even though Mr. O’Reilly has a relationship with the daughter of a constable, his escape was arranged through cooperation with a Priest on the island.¬† The wine, on the other hand, is hardly criminal. . .in fact, it’s almost like royalty.¬† The nose wasn’t overly attractive, but gave hints of raspberry, cocoa, and even hints of strawberry.¬† The taste was smooth, fruity and had a nice kick on the finish.¬† While we’re pretty sure that other reviews would give totally different information than what we’re writing. . .we really liked this wine. And for the money, we’ll definitely try to get more.¬† We picked it up at Western Beverage in Kerrville for around $12, , ,not bad for the money¬† . . . a new addition to the Bondy Deck Wine list.

Speaking of Kerrville, we spent the day getting the house ready for the market.¬† So, if you know someone looking to buy a great property in Kerrville, let us know, we’ve got a great place—2,200 square feet—and we’d love to show it to you.¬† From a fresh coat of paint to weeding the planter beds, we spent a busy summer day. . .and really enjoyed and were rewarded by tonight’s blog wine. . .19 Crimes.

You’ll be pardoned for enjoying it!¬† For the record, enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Day 329: A Visit from the Godfather . . .

La SegretaEnjoying good wine can be an expensive hobby – which is why we really, really, really like when we find a good wine on sale.¬† Tonight we opened one more of the bargain wines that Jean found at Twin Liquors in Kyle last weekend.¬† That’s right, we are talking $10 closeout shelf wine – and while sometimes this experiment in frugalness (is there such a word?) backfires, tonight we reaped the benefits of a sale wine tasting really good.

After a long and busy week – Brian had a couple of work events and Jean a couple of day drives for work and one night meeting – tonight we decided to just kick back and relax and do a whole lotta nuthin’.¬† Brian fired up the grill and we enjoyed a link of our all-time favorite sausage from Krolczyk’s in Hempstead.¬† Tucked away at an Exxon gas station off the beaten path, Krolczyk’s offers up a great line of processed meats and sausage.¬† We’ve written about this place before and strongly encourage all to stop in for a look-see.¬† Do not let the fact that they sell gas, bait and tackle scare you off.¬†

When you open the doors of the market РWOW, WOW, WOW Рthe smells just jumps out from behind the counter and demands that you take something home.  Our favorite is the link sausage and dried beef jerky Рspiced up to perfection.  Brian and D#1 stopped on way home this past Monday and picked up some goodies for Casa del Vino and a few other special people.  Again, stop by next time you are out and about on 290 heading into Houston.

So, we digress – back to the wine.¬† Tonight we popped the cork on a 2006 La Segreta from Sicily.¬† Produced by the Planeta family and not just part of one winery, but many.¬† Since the 1600’s the Planeta family has owned an estate at Sambuca di Sicilia.¬† Here, three enthusiastic young Sicilians ‚Äď Alessio, Francesca and Santi Planeta ‚Äď began their winemaking venture in the mid-1980s.¬† Have to be honest, we kept waiting for Vito or Michael Corleone to knock on the door and demand to come in to partake of a glass or two . . . it’s that Italian.

The wine itself was very surprising.¬† Initially the color was questionable – a bit of a bronze hue that usually spells trouble for the taster – but given a minute or two, it changed and really turned into a nice deep red (amazing what a little bit of oxygen can do!).¬† An interesting mix of wines – 50% Nero d’Avola, 25% Merlot, 20% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Franc – combined together to create a super glass.¬† On the nose we were greeted with an explosion of fresh fruit – mostly raspberry, cherry and prune – and something else in the spice world caught our sniffers.¬† On the palate we got more berry, especially that raspberry with a warm roasted nutty taste tossed in for good measure.¬† The finish was quite the surprise – a long, smooth taste of chocolate and coffee combined with some acids from the berries made things just darn good.¬† Have to admit, this one was good – just might have to pop up to Kyle and see if there is any more on the “bargain shelf”.

So, as we check another week off the list – can it really be July 26? – we wish you good tidings and a fun weekend and as always encourage you to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


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Day 328 – No, It’s NOT Perrier!

perrieresIt’s official!¬† NFL training camps have opened.¬† The Boys of Summer are about to give way to the Warriors of Fall!¬† But, lest we forget that professional sports are a business, and when multi-million dollar investments. . .errrr, players. . .show up to work overweight and out of shape–well, they can be (to quote our favorite show) “Chopped”!¬† While there are numerous stories already taking place across the college and professional spectrum, we were caught by a player from our favorite team, the St. Louis Rams.¬† It seems that 2012 draft choice Rokevious Watkins showed up to camp LAST year overweight and out of shape and started his rookie season by being on the Physically Unable to Perform list.¬† Oh, yeah, he eventually got into playing weight, but an injury here and there cost him games.¬† It’s not rocket science to understand that if you’re being paid millions of dollars, then your should probably work out 3-4-5-6 days a week?¬† And, in addition to working out, maybe lay off of Mama’s home cooking?¬† Fast forward to 2013 and during spring workouts, Mr. Watkins was looking good–in shape, sharp on his feet, beginning to show what the scouts had seen from him in college.¬† Ahhh, but the temptation of free time took its’ toll on Rokevious, and between spring drills and the opening of camp this week, he’d gained a whole lot more weight and was not even close to being in playing shape.¬† Instead of working on his craft and staying focused, Mr. Watkins opted to not do what was necessary to keep his millions of dollars contract.¬† And today, he was released by the club.¬† Easy come–easy go.¬† A reminder that the pitfalls of ‘stardom’ are extremely real and that money must be earned and not made.

A good lesson for young athletes–young professionals and those who watch too much television and think that what they see is easy.¬† It’s not easy.¬† The number of kids that play high school football across the United States numbers in the thousands (probably tens of thousands); however, that number dwindles significantly when the number of college ball players are counted.¬† Not everyone is cut out to be college-caliber material.¬† By the time that the NFL has their draft and the undrafted free agents sign their contracts, the number dwindles dramatically—there are, after all only 32 NFL teams.¬† BUT, each team carries up to 90 players into training camp so there is some hope, right?¬† Yes, but the hope is short-lived because the final rosters for all NFL teams is 53 (or thereabouts).¬† So, the humongous number of high school athletes gives way to fewer college players and fewer college players gives way to fewer NFL players and at the end of training camp, ONLY 53 men make the squad—and YOU report to training camp overweight and out of shape. . . and just like that, you’re out of a job.¬† A job that pays VERY WELL!

C’mon people…where’s the work ethic?¬† Where’s the ‘let’s get it done right the first time’ mentality?¬† It’s enough to drive a body crazy!¬† Which is why we thought it appropriate to taste a French wine tonight.¬† A 2005 French blend called Perrieres and includes the varieties of Syrah, Grenache and Carignane.¬† Rated by Parker’s at 89 points, we found a slightly musty aroma as we opened the bottle; however, there were hints of caramel, smoky oak, some dark, very ripened fruit and other aromas less pronounced.¬† On tasting, we got some of the same elements plus a terrific taste of black cherries and black raspberries.¬† It was an amazing taste–for an 8-year old wine.¬† The finish was quick but delicious. . .not very long but satisfying nonethelesss.

Don’t take the example of Mr. Watkins too lightly.¬† When you work hard, people notice.¬† When people notice, they want to be around you and when they want to be around you, you are considered a professional.¬† Mr. Watkins opted to not work hard, and the result was that people didn’t want to be around him and is no longer considered a professional.¬†

Thanks for reading on Day 328 and remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly while remembering to recycle whenever possible.


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Day 327: Zen is it good to enjoy wine?

zen of zinThe name alone grabs your attention.¬† The price probably makes you want to forget it.¬† Depending on your level of wine ‘sophistication’, you’re either WAY past this wine or not in the same league!¬† Seriously, most people try zinfandels because they think that it’s the same as (oh my), white zinfandel.¬† Many times, when these troubadours make it home with their new-found selection, they’re disappointed to find a red wine and not a ‘pink’ wine. ‘YUCK!’

Anytime we see the word ‘Zen’, we immediately think of the book from high school, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.¬† The book describes, in first person, a 17-day journey on his motorcycle from Minnesota to California by the author (though he is not identified in the book) and his son Chris, joined for the first nine days by close friends John and Sylvia Sutherland.¬† The trip is punctuated by numerous philosophical discussions, referred to as Chautauquas by the author, on topics including epistemology, ethical emotivism and the philosophy of science.¬† Not a real exciting piece of literature when you’re 17 years old, and you’d rather be ANYWHERE other than English class!¬† No offense, just sayin’!

When we saw this wine, we also thought about zen…you know, zen, it emphasizes the attainment of enlightenment and the personal expression of direct insight in the Buddhist teachings.¬† As such, it de-emphasizes mere knowledge of sutras and doctrine and favors direct understanding through zazen (not to be confused with Zazu from The Lion King!) and interaction with an accomplished teacher. . .HUH?

Ultimately we have a wine from the folks at Ravenswood.¬† Not a bad name when it comes to producing quality zinfandel wines at reasonable prices.¬† According to several sources, “and this wine is Ravenswood at its’ quirky best. A blend of old vine Zinfandel from great sources throughout California, expertly married by Joel Peterson to make this vibrant, fruity, in your face Zinfandel. Perfect with just about anything, hey that’s the Zen part, but really good with anything fresh from the grill.”¬† Unlike lesser¬†zinfandels,¬†Zen of Zin is not a fruit bomb ‚ÄĒ it has real tannins,¬†and a dry finish.¬† It‚Äôs not¬†complex or superb, but¬†there‚Äôs almost nothing wrong with it.¬†¬†Nothing sticking out here.¬† Nothing poking your taste buds there.¬† It‚Äôs opulent and¬†affordable, but there’s something missing.¬† While it’s label is highly unattractive, the wine itself takes the entire time the bottle has been opened to air out.¬† For a $9-$10 bottle of wine, we’ve tried a lot of others that deliver the taste, the complexity and the importance to get the job done, but this one doesn’t fit the bill!

Even after 327 days, we’re finding wines that may not be worth the investment.¬† We’ve definitely found some new ones that will make return appearances in the months ahead, but we are still looking for those value-priced wines with the killer tastes!¬† We know that within the next 43 days (or however many) that we’ll find some additional bottles that knock our socks off. . .this on didn’t.

Whether you’re looking for Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance or Zen as a form of relaxation, you won’t find either of them in the 2011 Zen of Zin from Ravenswood.¬† Please remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.