My Life in Wine, Thus Far (Subtitled: The Faux Blogger Drops the ‘Faux’ and Puts Her Pinkie Toe into the Waters of the Blogosphere)

Good day, reader(s).

Welcome to my very first blog post. It has taken months to write this first blog post. Oh, who am I kidding? It has been a couple of years.

I set up this blog a couple of years ago with wide-eyed intentions of putting my experiences and my thoughts out “there”. I have been told by a few that they like the way I tell a story and it has been suggested that I write yet I never got the wherewithal to actually “do” it.

I have used the fact that I worked 7 days a week for the good part of a year after I set up the blog and then nearly 7 days a week the second year. Excuses, excuses, excuses.

To explain how I got here, wherever here is, I have to go back a few years. I should rephrase that and say that I have to go back a decade. Wow, it has been a decade already? Years fly by far too quickly, don’t they, but I digress. During the period of May 2005 through June of 2009, I had 13 surgeries. I personally kept a number of healthcare professionals employed. At the one hospital, I literally watched the one nurse through her whole pregnancy. I did.

The four year period was tough. The surgeries were for various things including a benign tumor on my parathyroid gland and a pesky gallbladder. Several of the surgeries were lumped together for two bigger issues. Five surgeries were related to breast cancer and reconstructive history. I am one very lucky lady. Lucky that I had breast cancer? No, lucky that it was found very early and that I didn’t have to go through chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Remind me to tell the story of the incredible growing boob on another blog post sometime. I paint quite the picture. I’m sure a call that the rescue squad will never-ever forget.

The other bulk clump of surgeries were related to lower back problems. First, there was the two level laminectomy (trimming bulging disks). This was followed a couple of years later by the two part spinal fusion. One surgery through my abdomen on a Tuesday and then another on Thursday to put the hardware in through my back. I had said hardware removed a year later. I had hoped that the removal would ease some pain issues but alas it did not. I was in pain most of the time and took pain meds that couldn’t keep up with the pain. I could work but working a full time would mean that any of my leisure time was spent lying down off my back. I didn’t get out much or go many places because of that pain. There wasn’t much fun in my life.

Eventually I would try acupuncture treatments which provided some relief and finally after years gave me hope. I took a long car trip to go babysit my four legged nephew for a week on eastern Long Island in June of 2010 only to find myself in terrible pain and in tears. My husband and I went to the local grocery store where I would find “my miracle” – over-the-counter hot pepper patches. I bought one and tried it. It definitely burned my skin a bit but I found some relief. We went back and bought the few others the store had in stock. I used them every day and my back was better. I do not understand why this worked but it worked for me but I was grateful.

Once my pain level was down and often non-existent, my life began again. My husband and I started going out and about and exploring the Virginia countryside. I couldn’t wait for weekends to get here so that we could go out and play. I had much need for play pent up for those years and “dagnabit” I was making the most of it. In our play, we visited many, many Virginia wineries. I was familiar with Virginia wine back in the early 1990s when I believe there were just over 70 wineries in the state. I visited many of them back then and also went to Virginia wine festivals because the crowds started attending and it was all wine glasses and elbows at tables. I adored talking to the staff from the wineries and learning about their winemakers, their philosophies, and their wines. At some point in the mid-90s, I wasn’t going to wineries much anymore and got out of it. Here it was some 15 years later and I jumped right back into Virginia wine and I found that it had come so very far and now there were over 200 wineries in the state. Some of the same wineries were still around but so many had come and gone in that time period.

My husband and I took a number of wine education classes through the Piedmont Epicurean Agriculture Center in Leesburg and loved learning about wine, wine tasting, and wine storage. During our travels, my husband and I discussed maybe doing some part-time work at a winery pouring wine. We went as far as going on a job interview at one. My hesitation at actually taking the plunge into the job was the concept of being on my feet or as much as 8 hours at a time and being able to life a 40 pound case of wine. I just wasn’t confident that my back was up to that task. We took some time to think about it and discuss it and decided not to do it.

Moving forward into the fall of 2011, my husband and I continued exploring Virginia wineries. We found some of our favorite wineries, favorite people, and favorite views. Then suddenly with a company merge, my husband was now unemployed. I won’t mention that we found out via Fedex letter that said “When you were terminated earlier this week you were given papers, these replace those…” and he hadn’t been terminated. In fact, when I opened the letter he was at work working. Oops, I believe I didn’t mention it. My bad.

My husband received a nice amount of severance pay so we continued to go out and explore Virginia while he busily sent out resumes. The severance pay would run out. He continued to look for a job and eventually was able to find a job albeit part-time overnight on weekends. I learned quickly that I didn’t “do quiet very well” while he needed to sleep during the day. A one bedroom condo doesn’t allow for coexistence with one sleeping and the other accomplishing much. I needed to get out of the house during the day on weekends while he slept. What would I do?

I was on Facebook (shocking I know) and saw a favorite local winery, Barrel Oak Winery in Delaplane Virginia, post that they were looking for summer help. It was one of our favorites, easy to get to, and had some of the most amazing views. I decided to take the plunge and applied. I started working there at the end of March of 2012. Spring came early that year and people were anxious to get out of their homes and we were BUSY. I remember going home exhausted yet exhilarated. I had never worked in the service industry before so this was a bit of a challenge. My concerns over my back and what it would allow me to do were for naught. I found that I completely able to do what was required of me. Sometimes it came with a bit of soreness but it was all so worth it. I worked at Barrel Oak Winery from March 2012 until January 2014. I love the Roeders, Rick Tagg, and the staff at BOW. What a great team to work with. Barrel Oak will always be a part of me and in my heart. In many ways, I found or fostered my passion there.

People use the term “passion” often but I honestly don’t know that I had truly found mine before wine. I have had interests before but most were fleeting.

My passion has been identified and I’m running full steam ahead with it. I’ve taken many wine education classes including the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Intermediate Certificate which I “passed with distinction” (level II). I am currently studying for the Society of Wine Educator’s Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) and will be taking the exam at the end of April.

I have purposely and willfully thrown myself into the Virginia wine scene and the wine scene, in general, and I love it. I have attended the two Virginia Wine Summits, the last two Virginia Governor’s Cup Galas, the Virginia Wine Expo, and the most recent Drink Local Wine event which was held in Maryland. I try to participate in live Twitter tastings for Virginia wines via #vawinechat and wines from around the globe via #winestudio and #winechat. I’ve attended wine lectures, tastings and wine dinners all in an attempt to foster my passion. I’m a sponge!

I have thrust myself into the blogosphere (without even posting a blog post, I might add) and have engaged many of the wine blogging community both local and from around the world through Twitter. I have been warmly welcomed with open arms. I am humbled by their collective willingness to welcome me, interact with me and teach me. It is what “social media” is all about. I won’t drop names as it is not my style but I’ve interacted with some really well known people but most of all I read and I learn.


Testing one, two, three

This is a test. A test of the faux blogger system. Should I have chosen to truly publish a blog post, the world would have stopped.