Saturday, March 7, 2015

March Madness - Wine Country Style

It is a week into March and I am already tired. Not for lack of sleep mind you, but for the hordes that are descending upon my neighborhood for the annual March Madness...Barrel Tasting Weekend.

Every year during the first two weekends of March, thousands of visitors descend upon Sonoma Wine Country for this annual tasting fest. It is the time of year when those lovers of the grape are allowed to get a glimpse of what's been hanging out inside their oak homes for the last several months. With over 131 wineries, and multiple barrel samples at each stop plus a few more from the bottle, that is a lot of wine to taste!

Now combine all that wine with all those people and you have a perfect recipe for disaster. It may not be anyone's intention, but I have seen it and I get it. Having worked this ticketed event before, I know you have paid a lot of money, so you want to get the biggest bang for your buck. Let's be realistic though, this event was never designed to be a bottomless progressive drinking festival. Rather, it is an opportunity for those wine connoisseurs to taste futures and buy their favorites at today's prices. Unfortunately, as it as often happens, a few have to ruin it for the rest and you see evidence of it everywhere.

Over time, the winery hosts have learned to be savvy and not only can, but do cut people off when necessary. In fact, they are required to do so. However, it is not just the excessive drinking by our guests that bothers me, it is the rudeness and the air of superiority shown toward those that live in this beautiful area. Look at it from our perspective, we have invited you into our homes, but after you get here, you forget your manners. Don't get me wrong, we love having you visit, but not when your behaviors could potentially hurt someone, whether physical or otherwise. And just because you procured limo/bus or designated driver services, it does not give you license to insult us or hurt our feelings with your actions.

So why am I writing about all of this anyway. It's not that I don't like these wine events, because I actually think they are great (and below I'll offer a few must see wineries to visit any time). What bothers me is the fact that the locals, including myself, all have to hide out in our homes because we can't safely get around town due to lack of parking, jaywalkers or people just simply walking in the crosswalks when the flashing sign clearly says "Do Not Cross." And all because the wine participants are not thinking clearly because they have tasted more than they should.

But all hope is not lost. Last night, we went to the grocery store. While standing in line to check out, we met a really cool couple who had literally got on a plane from Chicago and flew all the way here just so they could sit in the sun for a few days. They didn't care about the fact that it was Barrel Tasting Weekend. They were just cold and wanted to go somewhere warm, so they picked our little corner of the world. This was definitely an exception to the norm, and it was quite refreshing!

So let's be safe everyone. It is alright to have a good time, but after a glass or two, you won't remember what anything tasted like, nor the fun you had. Remember, it is never safe to drink and drive, so be responsible!

Now, below are a few recommendations in Sonoma County Wine Country (in no particular order). These are just a few of my secret gems in the area - enjoy!

1. Carol Shelton Wines -  A Zin lover's paradise with a little Pinot Noir, Cabernet, and Petite Syrah thrown in for good measure. Try the Black Magic Late Harvest...yum!
2. Merriam Vineyards - Shhhhh! They have Cabernet Franc...and it is really good!
3. Old Roma Station  - Nine wineries in one convenient location. It's one stop shopping ! 
4. Davis Family Vineyard - Pinot, Pinot and more Pinot! Just across the street from Old Roma Station too!
5. Harvest Moon Estate & Winery - Known for their awesome Zins, but their Sparkling Wines are simply amazing!
6. Toad Hollow Vineyards - Feeling a little Risque? You should...try it that is!
7. Premonition Cellars - Limited Production Wines...worth every drop!
8. Krutz Family Cellars - They have a Malbec, Pinot and Chardonnay. Did I say they have Malbec? Yes, it's that good!

Wishing you moments of to remember to be safe and responsible!


Like anything you see here? Then contact me, Susan Dusterhoft at I am always looking for more books/products to review. I can also provide assistance with blog writing!

Sunday, March 1, 2015


Do you ever spend part of your day just wasting time doing nothing important because you have no ambition or desire to do anything at all? Worse yet, doing meaningless things that just while away time that you'll never get back. If the answer to that question is a big, fat "YES", then I know exactly how you feel. 

I don't know what it is, but I have had such a lack of ambition lately I don't know what has come over me. I am thinking that it is really because I am just flat out tired. Tired of working like crazy, tired of not being able to get my own things done, tired of wasting time on playing meaningless video games, tired of being tired.

I think I am just worn out. That has to be the reason because I have been sleeping a bit more so that I can gain my physical and mental energy back. Once that returns, I think I will be able to get my ambition back to do the things I want to do, whether work related or not.

I wonder if my problem is due to the fact that I worked an extraordinary amount of overtime last year. Although, I have spent the better part of my career working a lot of hours, so I don't know why I would feel any different. I like working by I am beginning to like it a little less because it takes me away from the things I love more. 

I suppose work is the thing that identifies me, but it is not the only thing. The older I get, the more I remember about the other things that I want to be known for...such as my compassion, my writing and other creative projects, my loyalty and love for my family and friends. 

While I may have a temporary lack of ambition, my desire to get things done has not waned. I have noticed that I am accomplishing a few things here and there on my never-ending "To Do List". Not as much as I would like, but enough to make me feel better about things.

The more I think about it, I truly believe this is God's way of telling me to slow down and enjoy life a little more. He's right. I do work way too hard and forget about the simple joys in life. I am more than my job, I am more than my writing and hobbies. I am more than...I am just me...Susan. 

For now, while I just finished another of the many "To Dos", I am going to sit back with a glass of something fun to drink and a bowl of popcorn, and dream about of one of my favorite places.

Wishing you moments to just relax.

Like anything you see here? Then contact me, Susan Dusterhoft at I am always looking for more books/products to review. I can also provide assistance with blog writing!