Let’s get started.

Yesterday started just before 5:00 am with me lamenting that is was after midnight when I went to bed at the Special Love Casino Royale Gala in Washington DC. It’s a wonderful event to help an even more wonderful organization raise money to help kids with Cancer.  My wife and I love working with these folks at our day job. Despite the exhausting fun, I guess I was just too excited to finally enjoy the first incredible weather day of Spring 2018.

Responsible parenting!

This weekend seemed like the perfect time to do my first official wine story for this new hobby of mine. But, despite my dreams of being lazy, I apparently had to earn the right to sit outside and drink wine.

To make it home in time for our youngest’s 9:30 am soccer game, we rolled out of bed early, grabbed breakfast, and hit the road. On the drive over the river and through the woods, we passed many great Virginia vineyards, but it was way too early to stop. I would complain, but we were seriously just at that one (Doukenie), and the one over there (868) last week. I’ll be back. You know … because it’s like a 30-minute drive and well … wine!

Here’s a list of the crap that I had to do before I could uncork a bottle of wine.

  • After the game, my wife and I stopped at a community garden project I’ve been working on to help kick-off opening day,
  • I worked on some marketing for my design studio,
  • Cleaned off the patio and cleaned out the shed … All so I could get the setting (and furniture) ready for maximum Spring afternoon relaxation and grilling … and pouring wine!

Special Love Gala, Promise Garden Opening

Gala in the evening, soccer, garden party, yard work and wine at night!


Isn’t this is supposed to be about wine?

Sorry… Stick with me because this is going to be the most epic first wine review ever and it only has a tiny bit to do with how good the wine is.

California is great.

Let’s start with the fact that that it just is. Sorry … It just is … I’m right on this one.  In fact, this easy coast boy has always been in love with the idea of being from California. I love that Californians just make up their own rules and unlimited possibility seems to be the mindset. Work hard. Play hard and try new stuff. Sign me up.

I thought If I married a girl from California, I’d be on my way to a life of sun and surf, but my wife had other ideas and she moved here instead. Being from Southern California, my wife perfectly personifies this mindset. Somehow, she can add whatever she wants to into her life and make it all work out in some techy, hippie, zen-like badass business woman way.

So… it seems fitting that the unexpected Locations Winery CA5 red blend designed to capture California’s essence takes an unexpectantly different path.

No Cab, No merlot. No Pinot! Nope. Nope. Nope!

This rich blend doesn’t use any of what many folks might consider the iconic red grapes of the golden state. No Cab, No merlot. This delicious red is made from Barbera, Grenache, Petit Syrah, Tempranillo, and Syrah. It’s a mixed bag of Italian and Spanish rockstars with a couple Frenchies trying to cover Hotel California and actually pulling it off in a very unusual, but thoroughly enjoyable way.

It’s a mixed bag of Italian and Spanish rockstars with a couple Frenchies trying to cover Hotel California and actually pulling it off in a very unusual, but thoroughly enjoyable way.

This blend kinda reminds me of another California icon… Zinfandel. It’s got bramble and jam, blackberry, blueberry, and smoke, roasty-toasty goodness, and vanilla from the 10 months of French oak. After my long day, it was easier to drink than it normally would be–which at 15.5% alcohol is dangerous–unless you’re lucky like me and the only place you had left to go is from the porch to the grill and back again.

A little time to shine.

It did need a little time to warm up and fully shine. When I first opened it, the aroma seemed to be hiding. Either that or all the flowers blooming in the yard were getting in the way. After about 30 minutes in the glass, it opened up. The flavors and aroma became more pronounced and richer with just enough smooth tannins and acidity to keep the fruit in check and make the sense of sweet chocolate goodness. Well, at least to me, my wife doesn’t get the chocolate bits and she is usually better at this than I am.

Do I like it?

It took me a few sips to figure it out. I mean … I liked it … but I was thinking it needed some food to make it easier to understand. Time to light the grill and bring on the beef.

The wine was really nice with our dinner. I made some simple grilled filets, sweet potatoes with rosemary and grilled romaine with caesar dressing. CA5 worked really worked well with that combo.

So well in fact, that when I closed up the bottle for the evening, I realized that most of the bottle was gone. Drinkable indeed. So, yes… I really did like it. Good thing I have 2 more bottles on the rack.

Not epic enough for you? Agreed!

Onto the guest appearance … How often do wine tastings involve a fly-by from a falcon?

As if yesterday’s weather was not already epic enough, during dinner, a falcon streaked past the porch about a foot or so from the back of my wife’s head picking up its dinner. How crazy is that!

I’d chalk it up the high alcohol content and quantity of the Locations – CA5 that I consumed, if my wife didn’t confirm the whoosh as the air behind her head was parted by the diving falcon.

I was always planning to include guests in these wine reviews and adventures, but I bet it will be a while before we get another one that makes such a dramatic entrance. It was certainly a memorable way to end an amazing day and to start my journey in wine on this site.

So there ends my first official wine review. One down and many more to come.

Day 2 Update:

It seemed my duty to make sure the wine was still tasty on day 2. I tossed together some homemade pizza with spinach and prosciutto for lunch and filled my glass. Today the flavors evolved just a bit more. I picked up some chocolate to go along with the ripe fruit. Like dark chocolate covered raisins, but the tannin and acidity are still there balancing it all out. Yum.

Wine not just get to the point!

Rating: 3.5 outta 5
1 star1 star1 starhalf star

Wine: Locations Winery CA5

From: California: Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and the Sierra Foothills

Grapes: Petite Sirah, Barbera, Tempranillo, Syrah and Grenache

Cost: I paid $20 bucks on Vivino. Wine.com has it for around that price right now too.

Other Stuff: I wrote this review in April. That was months before I had this blog figured out. I popped open another bottle last night (Oct 5th) to see if my opinion had changed. Nope. It still gets better with time and it is good, but not everyone is gonna agree. It is a little intense and in your face on its own, but the right food makes it dangerously drinkable.