Even More Holiday Cork Crafts to Share with your Family

Fall is the best time to start some craft projects. The weather is cooling down and the rains keep you inside. Don’t get cabin fever this season with these holiday cork crafts! You needed another reason to open up another bottle of wine, right?

Cork Picture Frame

Save your favorite moments with this adorable picture frame. Buy it on Etsy through CorkCreationsbyK or make a similar one for yourself.

Wine Cork Picture Frame

Wine Cork Stamps

Better extra crafty with these handmade cork stamps. Come up with your own design and go crazy! Here’s the tutorial thanks to Sweet Spot Cards.

Wine Cork Stamp DIY

Wine Cork Pumpkins

Nothing says fall, like pumpkins. Make these cute little guys to decorate the house and celebrate the seasonal harvest, thanks to I’m a Yarner.

Wine Cork Pumpkin

Wine Bottle Candy Holders

Need a little something sweet? Put your favorite candies in these homemade wine bottle containers. Instructions thanks to Instructables.com.

Wine Bottle Snack Holders

Wine Barrell & Bottle Fountain

Take the wine party from inside to outside with these beautiful fountain. This project will keep you busy for most of the fall. Created it yourself with the step by step instructions from HGTV.

Wine Barrel Fountain

Wine Cork Back Splash

For the serious wine drinker, decorate the back splash of your bar or kitchen with wine corks! There are several different patterns and styles that you can make so the design fits your personality.

Wine Bottle Platters

Jazz up your table with these fresh, wine bottle platters. It brings a little nature inside and can be used any season.
Wine Bottle Planters

Wine Bottle Bird Feeder

Make the birds happy about your wine consumption with this outdoor bird feeder. Don’t forget to tweet us a picture if you make this animal-friendly upcycle.
Wine Bottle Bird Feeder

Wine Cork Gingerbread Man Ornament

Finally to really get ready for the holidays, make this cute ornament. It would be a great gift for co-workers, holiday parties, and distance families.
wine cork gingerbread man
Do you prefer crafting with corks or wine bottles? What is your favorite holiday craft?

A Crowd Pleaser: Cline Family Cellar’s Chardonnay

This past weekend, I got together with two of my girlfriends from college to watch our alma mater play football. While we no longer live in the same city, we try to still see each other on occasion. Life has gotten busy. We are aren’t the same college kids as when we met. But no matter how much we change, when we get together it’s like no time has passed.

For the game, we decided to have a potluck and just watch it on television as my friend Bre has a little girl, who just learned to walk. Like always, I offered to bring some delicious dessert and a bottle of wine. One problem, they both only really like sweet, white wines. What to bring?

Looking through my wine refrigerator, I found only one option as I’m not a big sweet wine fan. So I crossed my fingers that it would appease both buds’ taste buds. Luckily it was a success!

Cline Cellars Chardonnay

The 2013 Cline Family Cellar’s Sonoma Coast Chardonnay featured sweet aromas of tropical fruit and honey, but on the palate remained fresh with notes of citrus, green apple, and pineapple. The finish was a nice balance between the crispy acidity of the fruit and the vanilla tones of the neutral oak fermentation.

One day I’ll get the girls into red wine, but until then stumbling upon wines like this chardonnay that finds a balance of tastes works for me!

What wine do you bring when you have guests with varied tastes?

A Reason to Reisling: Brooks Wine’s 2012 Yamhill Riesling

A fantastic wine with bold acidity and candied fruit flavors.

Brooks Wine 2012 Yamhill Reisling

On the first whiff, Brooks Wine’s 2012 Yamhill Riesling greets you like an expensive perfume with aromas of honeydew, tart peaches, and spring flowers. Then the boutique blossoms further with flavors of jolly rancher green apple and bright citrus. But what I loved most about this new-world wine was it vibrancy and ease to drink. I enjoyed the bottle (too good to share) over a camping weekend in Bend. Between summiting Broken Top, I sipped a glass or two at a picnic table in a high desert pine forest just off the Cascade Lakes Highway. It may have just been the setting that put me in a good mood – but more likely it was this surprisingly delicious wine.

Visit Brooks Wine in the Eola-Amity Hills just west of Salem in their new tasting room Tuesday through Sunday, 11am – 5pm. This isn’t the only amazing Riesling they craft (or Pinot Noir for that matter).

A few gift ideas to bring to the happy couple

Wine gifts for the happy couple

It’s wedding season! By the end of the summer my husband and I will have attended three weddings and two anniversary parties. Here are a few wine gifts I have in mind for my gift-giving celebrations.

Box gift set of wine tools
For a newly married couple, a gift set of wine tools could be a nice addition to their new home. Many sets include a corkscrew, foil cutter, pourer, wine collar, bottle thermometer and bottle stopper.

Wine Chiller Stick
This tool helps to keep wine cool (not to be confused with cold) on even the hottest days plus provides a spout and aerator. I particularly liked the chiller by My Wine Passion since it’s made of stainless steel and can be kept in the freezer long term. It’s also a great tool to use when entertaining. It helps white wines stay chilled but works even better for red wines to keep them a bit under room temperature.

Wine Charms
These adornments are great for parties and holiday meals when many people are enjoying wine. Pick a charm, pop it on and you’ll be able to find your glass throughout the whole evening.

Vacu Vin Wine Saver
This small vacuum pump can keep wine fresh a few days longer by removing the air from an opened wine bottle. (I love this gizmo! Since my hubby doesn’t always drink wine with me, I use this vacuum to help keep my wine fresh for a few more nights.)

When in doubt…Give a bottle of wine
A bottle of wine can be a great gift on its own! It can even be a special way for a newly married couple to celebrate their anniversary by opening the gifted bottle of wine. Pop into your local wine store and ask for a few suggestions. Otherwise, check out a few of our favorite wines listed under the reviews tab.

Wine Tasting on Your I-5 Drive

Traveling on I-5 through Oregon soon? Here are a few places that are easy to access from the Interstate. Pop in and visit one of these great wineries on your next trip.

North Willamette Valley
Sineann Winery
Located across from Champoeg State Park, this small, family-owned winery is a short six miles off I-5. You can sample small-lot, high quality Pinot Noir and other varietals from inside the wine production area. They are almost always available for visitors. Give them a buzz before you stop by.

Sineann Winery

Sineann Winery in St. Paul, OR | Photo credit: “Finally, Sineann” by eyeliam is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Central Willamette Valley
Willamette Valley Vineyards, Turner (Near Salem)

Sitting atop the hillside along the Interstate near Salem, you’ll find Willamette Valley Vineyards. It has great views, a nice selection of wines and even daily tours at 2 p.m. The tasting room is open daily from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Fridays until 8 p.m. Food pairings are available as well if you need a bite to eat before hitting the road.

Photo by: Travel Salem on Flickr

Willamette Valley Vineyards in Turner, OR | Photo credit: “Willamette Valley Vineyards” by Travel Salem is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

South Willamette Valley
Saginaw Vineyard, Saginaw (Near Cottage Grove)

This rustic farm house built in 1905 is a cute, quaint retreat from the hustle of I-5. Get off the Interstate at exit 176 and unwind with complimentary tastings in the country. Open daily 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. and until 9 p.m. on Fridays.


Saginaw Vineyard in Saginaw, OR | Photo Credit: “110 year old barn now turned tasting room” by Saginaw Vineyard used with permission

Umpqua Valley
Spangler Vineyards, Roseburg

This stop off the Interstate would be great place to stretch your legs, take in a lovely view and enjoy a taste of big, bold reds. Take exit 119 and then the second left. Located only ½ mile off I-5. Open 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily.

Spangler Vineyard, Roseburg, OR

Spangler Vineyard, Roseburg, OR | Photo credit: “Lovely afternoon while pressing Sangiovese at the winery” by Spangler Vineyards is used with permission

Rogue Valley
Del Rio Vineyards, Gold Hill

Visit one of the largest vineyards in Southern Oregon housed in a historic hotel built in 1864. The winery has ample space for a family picnic, so pack some food and relax with a lovely view of the vineyard. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Del Rio Vineyard

Del Rio Vineyards in Gold Hill, OR | Photo credit: “Del Rio Vineyard, Gold Hill, Oregon” by Ken Lund is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

4 Movies About Wine to Watch While You Drink

Some nights you just want to settle in with a glass of wine and good movie. So sit back, relax, and pop some popcorn to watch these four great movies about wine. By the time your bottle is gone and the credits are rolling, you’ll even have learned a little more about the world of wine.

Movies by Robert Couse-Baker

Bottle Shock

The oldest wines I’ve ever tried were all featured in this amazing coming of age movie about California’s wine industry in the 1970s. Based loosely on the 1976 wine competition, the “Judgment of Paris,” when California wine defeated French wine in a blind taste test, Bottle Shock stars Alan Rickman, Chris Pine, and Bill Pullman and a lovable cast of supporting actors. I had the opportunity to taste the winning vintage from Stag’s Leap and the subsequent vintage from Chateau Montelena at a media event in Napa. Read more about it here.


A classic wine film that put Pinot Noir in the spotlight and shadowed Merlot, Sideways follows two men in their forties, who take a week-long road trip to Santa Barbara wine country. An adaption from Rex Pickett’s novel, Sideways, the comedy features Paul Giamatti as a divorced, depressed, and unsuccessful writer and wine aficionado, and his soon-to-be married friend, played by Thomas Church, as they prowl California’s wine region for one last sexual encounter and an elusive bottle of Pinot Noir. Wine salivating banter abounds.


A documentary following the lives for four students as they work toward their Master Sommelier exam, a test with one of the lowest pass rates in the world. From watching the students sniff and even lick just about everything in the grocery market to learn about wine aromas to studying every wine region in the world and blind tasting galore, the movie shows the stress and challenge it takes to be one of a very best in the wine world.

Red Obsession

A collection of interviews and narratives with winemakers and wine lovers around the world, this documentary discusses the rise and popularity of rare, expensive wines in China and their growth as a powerful status symbol. Narrated by Russell Crowe, the film takes the audience on a journey from the deep-rooted vineyards of Bordeaux to the streets of Beijing to examine the shift in wine demand and culture across the globe.

Looking for that perfect pairing with your movie? Try this amazing combo: Pinot Noir & Popcorn!

Photo by: Robert Couse-Baker via Flickr

Fox Farm Vineyards 2011 Pinot Noir

As a tour guide, I spend a lot of time on the road. Long days, active itineraries, and constant interaction quickly take a toll on my energy and nerves. But after two successful summers, I’ve learned to pack a bottle of wine along to relax with and enjoy in my hotel room in the evening before bed. On my most recent multi-day trip on the road, guiding from Portland to San Francisco, I tucked a bottle of Fox Farm Vineyards‘ 2011 Pinot Noir in my rainbow print suit case.

Fox Farm 2011 Pinot Noir

Featuring notes of black cherry, plum and touch of cocoa, the Pinot Noir sipped smoothly after having several years in the bottle to mature. The 2011 vintage for Oregon was a cold one, so these wines are just starting to come into their own now. Since I first sampled this wine last year, it has rounded out nicely and now finishes with classy earth and dust tones.

Sipping the last drops from the patio of my hotel in Sausalito overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, I savored this trip saver.


Red, White & Blue: Three Wines for Your 4th of July

Red, White, Blue

Quady North Cabernet Franc

Even though it’s been a hot start to the summer, a rich red wine is still the best pairing with meats hot off the grill. Pop this bottle of Quady North open with sizzling steak. Featuring notes of red and black pepper, cocoa, roasted nuts, and black raspberries, the wine pops with unapologetic flavor and then seduces you with a cool, long finish.

Evolution White by Sokol Blosser

This wine could be great start to your picnic. With tropical sweet aromas of pineapple and citrus, along with lush flavors of nectarine and citrus, this wine may even please friends who aren’t wine lovers. The Evolution White finishes long and clean with a crisp acidity. Not too sweet, not too tart. It will be a refreshing drink in the heat of the day.

La Marca Prosecco

Light, fresh and just a little bit bubbly, this wine will be a crowd pleaser for any summer celebration. Featuring aromas of citrus and wildflowers, the off-dry wine sparkles with notes of green apple, grapefruit, lemon peel and a crisp mineral finish. To make this wine even more festive, top each glass with a few slices of strawberry.

Whatever you choose to serve, have a wonderful and festive Fourth!

Charles & Charles 2014 Rosé in glass

Kick off Your Fourth of July with a Festive, Patriotic Wine: A Review of Charles & Charles 2014 Rose

To start off this festive week, I snagged a fun, patriotic wine to enjoy: Charles & Charles 2014 Rosé. The bright pink color and tribute to the American flag caught my eye on the store shelf.

It’s been blazing hot outside here in Eugene, and our house doesn’t have central air conditioning (yet!). To manage the heat, I love sitting on my patio, sipping a glass of wine as the sun goes down on the wetlands behind our home.

The sweet smell of rosé, the sun setting and the temperature dropping was so welcomed.

On the nose are lively, invigorating scents of sweet, ripe watermelon with wild cherry, reminiscent of Jolly Rancher candies from my middle school days. Taking a sip, there are fruit-forward flavors of raspberry and slight strawberry accompanied by the Charles & Charles 2014 Rosé tartness of grapefruit. This acidic, crisp wine was a refreshing finish to my day. I would have sat outside long into the evening had the automatic sprinklers not chased me inside.

This wine would be a great crowd pleaser to bring to your Fourth of July party!

Tips for Bringing the Kids Along for Wine Tasting

In my last post, I told you about my latest adventure in wine country as a family. On sunny Sunday afternoons wine country seems to call my name; however, it’s not always easy traveling with the kiddos. Here are a couple of things to think about before taking the kids along wine tasting. (I also suggest calling ahead to your planned tasting room to confirm if children are allowed. Most locations in South Willamette Valley allow children.)

Look into how the wine is served at the tasting room.

For me and my husband, it is easier to have the kids along when the wine is served at a wine bar. We are free get our next tasting when we are ready. (In between bathroom breaks and visiting the tractors outside.) One time, we visited a winery that served waiter style at individual tables. We left before even getting seated at a table because the boys weren’t in the mood for sitting indoors.

Choose a winery with expansive outdoor space.

I suggest looking at the photos on their website and Facebook page or call ahead to ask about their outdoor space. We have found that wineries with grass lawns or garden areas are better suited for our family. Paved patios are nice too, but natural areas are even better. (Bonus points if they have chickens, tractors or dogs on site!)

Bring toys.

The outdoors are fun, but the kids can get bored or start to explore too far. We like to bring a small assortment of trucks and balls, so that the kids can play in the area. But don’t go crazy. One time we brought too many toys and they were scattered everywhere. We want to be gracious guests.

Choose a winery that allows outside food and drink.

The kids aren’t wine tasting (obviously!). They want to eat and drink just like mom and dad. I suggest packing a picnic and sharing it family style. Call ahead or look on the winery’s website to see if outside food is encouraged or discouraged.

Pick one winery and stick around for a while.

We like to only visit one winery at a time. The kids don’t want to get in and out of the car all afternoon. So, my hubby and I like to taste all the wines and then share a bottle outside in the grass or on the patio.

Go out and have fun together!

What do you think? Do you have other tips to add? We’d love to hear about your adventures in wine country with kiddos!

Attempted Family Photo at Iris Vineyards

Shelly Williams and family out at Iris Vineyards near Eugene