You can see it. . .parents carting kids into the big box retailers and clothing stores. You can hear it. . .radio and television commercials extolling the virtues of back to school sales. From college campuses to elementary school hallways, the return of teachers, custodial staff and administration personnel are signalling the start of a new school year–just around the corner. There was a time (a long time ago) when we collectively didn’t like this time of year. Whether it was shopping for school supplies (mainly crayons, pencils and paper) or the dreaded clothes shopping — “stop growing, we can’t afford to keep you in pants!”, when the calendar turned to the middle of August, we knew it was ‘BACK TO SCHOOL TIME’!
Now, granted while most public schools don’t start until the end of the month — many private and parochial schools will be starting in the next couple of weeks. This means that the teachers for those schools are prepping their classrooms now. They’re cleaning up, fixing up, decorating up, prepping up and doing just about anything they can to create a superb learning environment. In our household, we have our first teacher preparing for her first class and we’re not too sure who’s more excited–us or her! When you walk into a classroom as a student or parent, you see things with eyes that are –well more consumer-oriented. What we’ve learned is that when you walk into a classroom with a teacher, especially one who is fresh from the student-teaching experience–the things you see or should see are about creating a way for kids to feel safe, secure, and ready to learn. It’s about creating space for learning; it’s also about creating space for teaching. It’s about removing barriers that send the wrong messages to kids who aren’t quite sold on the idea of being back in school–yet! Colors, shapes, desk layouts, bulletin boards, lights–they all play a vital role in the education of young people and teachers are the driving force behind all of it this time of year. There are still a couple of weeks left before the first bell rings, but we can state beyond the shadow of a doubt that we’ve learned more from our teacher, than we ever dreamed!
With a glance to the start of school and kind of ‘jumping in with both feet’, we opened a really nice 2007 Red Splash from St. Francis Vineyards in Sonoma County, California. Surprisingly, this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Old Vine Zinfandel that’s aged 18 months in oak and then 8 months in the bottle is unbelievably affordable at less than $10 a bottle. It’s a wine that has a gorgeous nose. . .with hints of pepper and allspice as well as dark fruit and leather. Food & Wine Magazine called it “One of the Best American Wines under $15” and the San Francisco Chronicle named it a “Top 5 Hearty Red $15 and under”. according to Snooth.com. Red ripe fruit flavors with spicy aromas make this a wine that pairs well with a variety of foods. Great with grilled foods–we enjoyed it with grilled ranch burgers and it’s probably awesome with pizza or pasta dishes with red sauce. We think that it would be the perfect wine to serve at a cocktail party or backyard barbecue. So, here’s a great example of a sub-$10 bottle of wine coming from a well-known wine maker and absolutely dazzling with taste and finish. Having previously enjoyed and blogged about St. Francis Zinfandel, we’re not surprised by the taste of its’ low-cost cousin.
As we head towards a weekend, around these parts, it’s ‘Sales Tax Free’ Weekend–which around here means…..CHA-CHING!!! It also means stay away from the shopping malls, the big box retailers. . .go somewhere and enjoy some wine. You’ll be glad that you did.
When you head out, remember to enjoy your favorite vintage responsibly and recycle whenever possible.