Thursday, December 10, 2009

Five Secrets to Serving Wine with Style!

Networking, Women and Wine is a group created to help all women see the power they have in themselves. Wine tasting brings us together because the metaphor of wine describes us so well. As we women we display a unique a blend of traits, and we are all individual.

Perhaps you're ready to have a holiday party this season. Networking, Women and wine can help. We don't want the process of serving wine to be intimidating. These tips will give you the edge you desire!

1) The right glass: Now I’m not advocating you go out to the mall and buy 10 Riedel glasses, but the right glass does make a difference, and it’s not just presentation. Here’s why. When a wine is opened, oxygen begins its work of breaking down the structure of the wine and enhancing the aromas and flavors. This living breathing thing called wine begins to interact and the dance begins!

One of the most satisfying ways to understand wine is through your nose. Since we all taste via the sense of smell, making the most of this important step will put you on your way to being a wine aficionado. The wine needs space to release these aromas, and a glass which is large enough to allow those aromas to intensify is best. First, smell the wine without swirling. You will get one aroma. Now swirl, releasing the molecules and mixing the wine with air. Another sniff and you’ll get something completely different. Now no sissy sniffs. It’s time to get your face in there and breathe deeply. One trick is to put your hand over the glass as you swirl, and then move your palm aside just enough to allow your nose in. It’s fun!

2) The right temperature: Most of us Americans like our beverages cold. Milk, for example, is wonderful when it’s spiked with ice cubes and placed in a frosted glass. When served with cookies, only you can describe the ecstasy. But don’t confuse cold with serving wine.

If you’ve ever bought a bottle of wine, especially white, and then opened it at home and found it to taste flat and lifeless, it’s not the wine’s fault or the vendor. If you’ve had it in the fridge right before opening, it’s your fault. Just as you would never eat a frozen cake, wine is something that must be at the right temperature to release all of its flavors. Now you won’t get tarred and feathered if you’re one of those folks who adds ice to your wine, (shudder!) but give it a try at the right temp and see the difference it can make.

Here’s the EASIEST way to serve wine correctly. Take the white wine out of the fridge 20 minutes before serving. And put the red wine in 20 minutes before serving. You’ll chill the red down just enough and warm the white up just perfectly. Ideal serving temperatures will be posted on our blog.

(Tip, you can store opened red and white wines in the fridge to make them last up to three days. Keep them sealed airtight!)

3) Tasting the wine thoroughly: Another fun element of wine tasting is how much noise you can make and still be invited back to the party. As we’ve mentioned, the tongue doesn’t do all the tasting, it’s the nose that gives us most of our enjoyment.

Here’s how to do it. Take in a good amount of wine in your mouth. Let it sit on the tongue, all over your mouth. Let it sit there for 5 to 10 seconds. Swallow and breathe in. See how much more complex wine can be? Now try taking in a sip of wine, and then try and breathe air into your mouth while the wine is there, using your mouth and nose to inhale. Swallow and then enjoy the explosion again!

From we quote: “Smell and taste are the chemical senses because their receptors are stimulated by chemical molecules, rather than by energy from light, pressure, or sound. As little as one molecule in a million may be detected by the nose, but it takes a minimum of one part per thousand to stimulate the tongue. As sensitive and accurate as this organ is, relatively few people ever realize its potential for sensory enjoyment by learning how it works and the language of smells. Professional food and wine tasters and perfumers use analogies to common experience to describe aromas. Experts are those that practice and use their sense of smell most frequently.”

4) Pairing and sharing: There are really no rules that you can break in the world of wine. Many tell us to simply buy and drink the wine we like, and pair with abandon. They’re trying to sell you wine, I’m trying to elevate your experience. With that in mind, some rules, when followed, will allow you a much more significant experience with your wine. Before you go back to drinking only your cold Rieslings and Chardonnays, consider the logic we’re going to share.

Many people talk about the fact that they only like sweet wines. Reds are too intrusive and odd. But when you discover the tasting, smelling and texture of wine, your mouth begins to convince you otherwise. Wine can bring out the tastes of food, cleanse your palate and make you glad you have a nose! Wine is meant to be consumed with food. In many countries the thought of sitting with just a glass of wine would seem as silly as eating a meal without a plate. They’re meant to go together.

Wine is comprised of chemicals that are described in many ways. Two of the most significant are the acidic level and the tannic level in wines. Tannins are the sharp, dry feeling on your tongue, like when you eat a ripe banana and your tongue feels like sandpaper. Acidic levels are the tartness. Learning to blend, mostly the acidic level, with the flavors and the textures of your food is key to enjoying both in the right way.

Okay, this is getting complicated. Let’s simplify. You can begin to determine the right pairings by thinking ‘like goes with like.’ Lush foods with lush wines. Fruity and spicy food with fruity and spicy wines. Peppery foods with peppery wines. Earthy wines with earthy foods. These basics can get you started. There are literally hundreds of Internet resources for helping you pair food and wine. But please, by all means pair!!!

5) Ask everyone about their experience!: True, if you’re swallowing and someone starts talking to you, it could cause a mess if you try and reply. But I am a firm believer in making the wine a center of the conversation. First, it’s a good ice-breaker with new people. Wine is so personal, and it’s a good way to get people to move towards a more emotional experience.

Describing the flavors is fun and entertaining and everyone learns something.
If you have a group of novice and/or experienced wine drinkers, or even a combination, you can still follow these suggestions. In fact, have a mini wine tasting session, exploring the flavors and aromas as described above. You’ll find that your guests leave with a new appreciation for wine and for their own ability to enjoy it!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bella Misto Masters at Work at Raffaldini!

I consider myself a pretty good cook. A pinch of this, a dash of that…sauté, broil, bake, and voila! – a new meal is presented. I am soothed by the symphony of flavors harmonizing in a broth, I love inviting herbs to dance on tender morsels. In short, I’m hooked on cooking.

With that in mind, you can certainly understand why I was drawn to the wine blending event at Raffaldini Vineyards, in the Yadkin Valley, NC, held a few weeks ago in their barrel room. This annual event is created to help the winemakers determine the right blend for their Bella Misto wine. We couldn't wait to get those beakers working.

The event began with a set of instructions shared by Jay Raffaldini himself. A former New Yorker and Wall Street aficionado, his approach to wine making is pleasantly spontaneous. Of course it doesn’t hurt that his reputation for making exceptional wine means he made the right decision replacing paper shares for vinification.

We listened intently, hands poised on our glasses and coats pulled up around our necks to keep out the slight chill in the air. He explained that we would first catalog a series of 5 wines to be used in the blending, carefully noting every element of color, texture, nose, flavor, structure and tannins. After our “tastes” were recorded, we divided into teams and began our foray into the world of wine-blending.

Here’s a few things you need to know so you can understand how complicated this can be. First, the wines we were tasting would still sit in their bottles for a few more weeks. The aging process was not yet complete and the wine could change either slightly or drastically over that short a period of time. Based on the grape and structure, we had to decide, if it went one way or another, what might be its best attributes to showcase when blending.

Two, alcohol and tannins behave quite wildly when mixed in your mouth. It’s not necessarily a grape thing as much as a biological result of our tongues, our sense of smell, and our personal choices. Quite simply, it ain’t like addin’ a little more salt to the gravy.

Thirdly, measuring out one small quantity into a beaker with a radius the size of my husband’s thumb is an exercise in making sure your reader glasses are sitting just right on your nose. Don’t want to spill any of this juice! And finally, the biggest roadblock is that we only had about 40 minutes to experiment with our blends. Keeping track of each percentage, keeping a bit of each blend to compare and still have enough left to vote on is tough, especially since you want to gulp down every sip of the stuff!!

At our table, beside my trusty co-grape mixer, Carmen, and our husbands, was a foursome who had pedigree. And they looked like they were ready to eat us for lunch. They were in attendance last year and their blend was instrumental in making the 2008 Bella Misto. We were in awe but feeling our competitive natures surface as we shook their hands and commented on the fact that some of us were wine club members. Hey, hokey, we know. But we had to show off somehow!!

Seriousness abounded. At least we tried to create some levity, but with all of us looking like mad scientists at a frat party, we concentrated on the task at hand. When the blending was complete, we had determined, out of 4 combinations, that we had one worth sharing! Named ANDIAMO in a frenzy to find a title we liked, our blend consisted of 20% of the luscious Merlot, 25% of the grassy and pungent Cabernet Franc, 40% of the Cabernet, a generous wine with a hint of cinnamon on top of it’s familiar, earthy tang, and 15% Petit Verdot, a powerhouse of tannins and soil added to ground our flavors. We opted NOT to blend with the Montepulciano for several reasons. It is not a customary blending wine, it tasted perfectly balanced all on its own so there was nothing we needed to tone down or bring out, and we wanted to be the rebels; there we go again.

When the confusion was over, and we had voted at our table, even the noble’s had to vote for our wine. And we literally pushed a taste onto Jay who exclaimed that this was most likely going to be very close to the blend they would choose! How’s that for the ameteurs! Here’s juice in your eye…a gift from table 6.

If you’re interested in this event, check out Raffaldini’s web site and sign up for next year’s blending. And when you buy a bottle of the Bella Misto this year, check out the label and see how close our percentages came to winning out. We think the Networking Chicks from Charlotte did okay.

Rebalance Your Life With Networking, Women and Wine!

For me, sixth grade was a long, tortuous year. In spite of having at least enough coordination and height to be the tetherball champion, I was always the last one chosen for four-square, teased incessantly about my A+ grades, and rode my Schwinn bike home alone each day.

However, I was able to find one element of triumph in this jungle of rejection, and that was during gym. In particular, the balance beam. It was only 6 inches off the ground, a detail not lost on my acrophobic brain. In fact my tall, lanky frame felt almost graceful as I trotted across the smooth, wooden path. When I reached the end, I dipped my foot and swirled around with ease, a move choreographed to compliment the arc of my dancing arms and solid posture. I found the journey mesmerizing. A calculated series of fluid movements that meant unwavering concentration on staying completely parallel to the bar, head held high, proud and confident.

As I reflect on those years, I realized that we all seek balance in one way or another. We crave that feeling of equality, weight distributed between two events, two people, or even two opposing ideas. Gravity and nature have created that in us, and we thrive on that dominant sense.

The trouble is, that it’s is constantly slipping out of sync. Each day our delicate intentions are thrown to and fro, tumbling about in our hearts and minds like so many bee-bees, stuck inside a closed sphere, causing us to obsess over how they got there and how to extract them. We are often drawn to the imbalance as opposed to celebrating those things that are in perfect harmony and wellness. A habit that causes us much pain.

I don’t think I’ve spoken to anyone this past year who hasn’t had some challenges on various scales. Two-thousand and nine is almost a memory and to some of us, a swift utterance of “good riddance” escapes our pursed lips. Even though the difference between 09 and 2010 is divided only by one greeting with the moon, we all look forward with relief to the reinvention of prosperity in 2010. We can’t wait to receive the balance we feel we are lacking and for the wheel weights on our vehicle of consciousness to be found.

For Networking, Women and Wine, 2010 will center around restoring balance in your life. Our events will continue to celebrate the metaphor of wine, its flavors and explorative elements. We will continue to emphasize the unique qualities of women, and we will offer you assistance in reestablishing balance in your life.

From social, to visceral, to spiritual, to practical advice, together we will find that harmonious balance bar, sweep gracefully along its path, and then, become beacons and strength to others around us seeking meaningful connections and true friendships!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Leaves Do It, Why Can't We?

Okay, let's just get it out there. Change is hard. I don't like it, I don't know anyone who really does. If you're a caterpillar you live for it. If you're a leaf, you have no choice. But us? I don't care how brave you are, it makes my tummy quiver.

We've talked all year with Networking, Women and Wine about living an authentic life. Our themes have revolved around courage, abundance, dreams, vacations, and careers. But before we close out 2009, we have to address the one thing that's been sitting right under our noses all along. CHANGE.

I've been through a few of them. I've moved twice in the last 14 months and plan to move into a our new house next week, so that makes three moves total. Moving is up there on the list of changes that cause a little trauma no I'm going to say I am a semi-expert right now. At least enough to whine about it in our blog.

I know, the noble will tell us we are whiners. That change is the stuff of life. After all, we have whole new bodies every few weeks given the restless nature of our cells and their love of change! And I applaud those who are facing these issues without running to the solitude of a dark closet, or clinging desperately to a teddy bear. But right now I kinds want to feel the whole, itchy, blurry, sour, thing. This happy face I'm trying to maintain is starting to look a little contorted and maybe I need to reach out and be authentic about my distaste for life-altering change!

Recently, as you know we opened our second chapter for Networking, Women and Wine, adding Lake Norman to our list of places for friendship and wine tasting. We would like to report that it was a successful first meeting, generously offering the usual sense of connection, support and laughter. In fact our intention is to spread the energy and nurturing mission of NWW all across the country. Carmen and I are ripe with ideas, and a sense of purpose and renewal in expanding our reach to all of you. But we know it still involves change. You could and can see it in the face of every new attendee that walks through the door for the first time, dons a name tag, clings quietly to the base of the wine glass, and waits to find someone that will say hello.

With all of that said, October's theme will be to embrace that exact experience. We're going to snicker in the face of those brave butterflies, fling our fears into the waiting arms of a pile of orange leaves and find, once again admit that the real courage we need to face all the changes in our lives comes from the female friendships that shore us up.

Join us on October 7th in Lake Norman at CRAVE, or on October 28th in South Charlotte at D'VINE WINE CAFE as we taste wines that symbolize CHANGE. We look forward to meeting you!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Horizons are Waiting!

As I sit in my office and gaze upon the beauty outside my window, I have observed many things. On occasion a hummingbird will dash into view, his iridescent wings catching the light as he stares at me for one, brief, lightning moment. More frequently a proud cardinal will perch upon a cedar branch like a king upon his throne. He clearly feels he owns my backyard and is intent upon showing off his domain to me; the glass between us giving him more courage than he would otherwise display. The squirrels, who seem to flaunt a lack of worth ethic, play like children in a school yard as they dash up one tree and out onto impossibly thin branches that quiver in response to gravity's gentle laws. Their tails twitch like the nervous brow of a wary store keeper, eying a teenager from a hidden stool.

However, the most interesting visitor has been a small finch, who, until recently was feathering his nest neatly inside the edge of my rain gutter not 3 feet from my desk. He visits this chosen site with earnest, instinct driving him to create a place to call home, and to hide from the hawks that hover above the oak canopy stretching out over his precarious saucer of sticks.

As of today, though, things have changed. His visits are frenetic and short. He buzzes like a nervous mother, checking in disbelief to find that all is lost because his home is gone. Why? Yesterday we removed all the debris that lay fermenting and bulging inside the trough. A place he thought he alone possessed. It is now, sad to say, clean and shiny. The roof shingles swept clean of needles. His evidence of toil and passion gone. I think about how we all feel in today's uneasy economy.

So many things are unstable or vanish without a trace and we return to find things taken from us, much like this finch. For awhile, our behavior is rather like his as we fly to and fro worrying and carrying on about something else that has slipped through our fingers; something that we worked so hard to create dashed against the rocks of fate. We use these episodes as evidence that we are doomed, cursed or nearly at the "end of our rope."

In the midst of the mourning and discarding of lost hopes, I wonder, if we could or would see these tragedies as only a transition, instead of a pronouncement of the end, if we might discover new horizons that have been waiting to be uncovered. I ask myself if my own eyes are open to the possibilities that even tragedy can bring. How will I move on without being tempted to nurture my scars and show them off to others seeking sympathy and a shared sorrow?

It seems the bird understands this. By the afternoon hour, not long after his tragic loss, he revisits the location for a very different reason. I know because I saw the splash. I even thought I saw his feathers curled up in euphoria, his beak wryly showing signs of contentment. For in place of the mud and soil was a small pool of clean water; the remnant of a rainstorm caught in a low buckle at the end of the aluminum tube. He had found a spot to bathe and frolic. This very spot where he planned to raise a family or at least rest his wings, was now a playground. A place of joy. And he was happy.

For now at least, I will remember this moment and how it feels. Perhaps I will tie a feather to my lamp so I am reminded that when some things are swept away, it is up to us to discover the joy that can be found in what replaces it. For if there is one thing certain in life, it is the fact that there is always more. What that 'more' is, is up to you and how far you will fly to find it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A vacation metaphor brings us together!

I just returned from a trip to Aspen, Colorado, drinking in the rich beauty of this alpine paradise for 5, sun-drenched days. Although I was tempted to spend each moment on celebrity watch or shopping for shoes and bags, my time was spent hiking, biking and exploring the vast canyons and trails of this outdoor playground.
One of the more profound experiences worth sharing occurred during a bus ride up to the Maroon Bells. As we strained to see the venturis, rushing streams and granite peaks our driver told us an interesting story about the Aspen tree; the namesake of this mining town. Known for their white, papery bark and delicate oval shaped leaves, these tall, slender beauties grow in thick groves, so tightly packed they appear to have been planted and groomed by an unseen hand.

But here is the catch. They are not individual trees at all. In fact, although some trees come up from stray seeds, most are the product of the root system of one tree as it spreads across the soil, traveling with purpose and popping up over and over again to create related thickets along vast hillsides. This fact makes the Aspen tree one of the largest living organisms on the planet. Indeed many acres of Aspen trees are actually one, single, spectacular being.

As you may guess I was struck by the metaphor this glittering-leaved specimen illustrates. If applied to us as humans, and certainly women who gather to create change in the world and in each other, we discover that our root systems is truly shared and we are not here alone. We find that to flourish we can and must rely on each other for life, for nourishment and for protection.

Join us each month and connect to this tree of life, the leaves of friendship and the roots of meaningful solutions.

Seeing Life With Grand Clarity

It’s amazing, flying over the Grand Canyon. The landscape is pure and solemn. The river, cutting through the orange soil and red granite appears to have easily carved its place in history, cutting a blue swath of life giving waters that meander easily over sand and rock; proverbial beads of sweat trickling down Arizona’s dry, thirsty skin.

I sat there, with my nose pressed against the cold glass, a civil meal before me, a paper napkin on my lap and marveled that I could so casually view this hand print of God while moving effortlessly through the thin atmosphere of my home planet. I enjoyed an "aha" moment about the lack of clarity with which we see the minutia in our own lives as I focused on the scene below.

I thought, if it’s so easy to see the large things in life with such clarity, why do we ignore the teaching element of these perspectives? We can look at almost anything in our world from a great distance, adding layers of understanding and reflection to our brain-trust of nature’s beauty. And yet, when it comes to looking at our own life, we peer at our situation through slits of apathy.

It’s like wondering in a dark field, using only a small flashlight to guide us. As we focus the tiny circle of light on a small sampling of our daily lives, we judge the entire field on this miniature, poorly illuminated sphere. A tiny viewpoint surely limits us from seeing our life from a healthy, holistic perspective.

This narrow view is in stark contrast to my reverent vista from the skies. And yet, dreaming is in essence a way to view our lives from above. A 30-thousand foot snapshot of everything around us is the correct perspective to have if we’re going to grow in understanding and become stronger women, stronger friends; even stronger caretakers.

In terms of today, our dreams can be more positive and possible with the right perspective. Not unlike the plant that flourishes when its whole purpose is taken into account, our dreams come into focus with childlike clarity when we nudge ourselves toward this authentic, perspective-driven lifestyle. We see our future as something that we can enjoy now. We become more invested in and more present in the moment before us. Each moment becomes calming and valuable. Our time is then spent seeing, with awe, the life before us that is guiding us towards our dreams, not spent agonizing over one small, dimly lit setback.

As participants in Networking, Women and Wine, you sip the wines before you, let the liquid fill you with a light that will illuminate your WHOLE self. Then you can sit back, fasten your seat belt, and enjoy the view to a new you!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ode to A Grape

O grape. O great grape!
Purple, gurgling, shining, pining, elation!
Reflections, inflections, selections, vini-vacations!
Oh sphere, O red sphere.
Twist, swirl, taste, wait, hear
Engulf, engage, endure, inspire, endear
Oh grape. O great grape!
Purple ideas, lingering, longing, contentment
Liquid enlightenment, excitement, think-itement!
O grape, O great grape.
Flirting with dirt, hurt, sin, yin, yang
Singing, crushing, hushing, singing, bang!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Live Organically, Dream Sustainably, Taste Authenticity with Us!

I'm reading an article in the Atlantic Monthly about a 70 year study of a group of people just out of college, which measures their life in a linear and very in-depth way. The content is rich and worthwhile but the overwhelming conclusion about who enjoys the most happiness, health and longevity was not pivotal on cholesterol, lack of tragedy, success at work or even DNA, if was about relationships. Those people who had friends and developed deep, fulfilling relationships, were the most likely to live the longest and happiest lives.
Not a surprising statistic but really important if you realize that connections may be the key to health. And since living an authentic life is not just a badge but a mission for us, we're constantly looking for ways to help the women around us thrive personally and socially. We're looking to help encourage your dreams, temper your self-criticism and nurture the fabulous things inside you just waiting to flourish in the most natural and fulfilling ways.
All of this brought me around to an idea that seems to be floating parallel to everything in our lives and careers, and that is to move towards a more organic or sustainable way of life in terms of what we consume and how we live and breathe. This seems logical because if you're focusing your life on a more authentic path, it's probably going to be more organic by default. If you're taking a look at what would truly fulfill you and fulfill the needs of those around you, it most likely includes a sustainable solution.
With that in mind, this month our focus will be on organic and sustainably grown wines. There are so many fabulous wineries that follow this discipline that it's fast becoming more of a rule than exception in many regions. However, it's still not mainstream and we're all for uncovering gems. Plus, since we're big on putting metaphors together with wine, June will be the month we ask you to TASTE organic wines and NURTURE your organic self.
Join us Wednesday, June 25th at Vintage Wine Cellar again for wine tasting in Charlotte with Networking, Women and Wine!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Singing a Song of Courage

I used to compose music. I was passionate, imaginative, inspired and deliberate. The ballads came quickly, with words and chords that complimented each other like chocolate and whipped cream. For awhile I was the prodigy of the neighborhood.
Why didn’t I move forward with my music?
Well, for starters, I was only 8 years old and my concert hall was simply my back yard.

It was glorious really. I sat in my swing, rising up and down with a motion only limited by the rhythm of the chains that yanked me back to earth with each arc of energy. While I hit the high notes I rose into the air enough to see the white pebbles that covered the roof of my house, and catch a glimpse of the bird’s nest in the pepper tree not far from the fort I had built out of chenille bedspreads and wooden clothespins.

It was my domain. My little sound stage, I thought the acoustics were fantastic and the possibilities endless.

I remember feeling like I was the only one in the world as I pieced together lyrics and codas, crescendos and repeat verses, finally enjoying that wonderful sensation of carrying the final note up to the clouds and out to the stars. My little songs might have been good, but most likely they were something only my parents listened to from the privacy of the back door, pleased and laughing at the same time.

So why talk about my swingset symphonies? Because it illustrates something that most of us probably did as children but wouldn’t dare do as adults. That is to explore something with abandon, confidence and purpose; to move forward without a thought of failure or criticism, letting our minds be our guide and silence the inner voices of counselors, parents, or jealous peers.

During our gatherings, we, as women with a desire to create friendships and solutions, gather to celebrate what it means to release our inner potential. Coinciding with the season of the release of white wines, we sip on Chardonnay and Riesling and hopefully find a new song in our hearts. One that returns us to our child-like desire to find the voice deep inside us that longs to create; to feel the quiver of excitement in our bellies when we know we’ve found something we love.

George Sheehan, an American physician, author and running enthusiast is quoted as saying, "Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be."

A modest statement of sorts its power lies in our ability to believe it. And that is often the hardest thing of all.

As women we are always nurturing others to believe in themselves. We urge our children to pursue their greatest dreams. We perpetuate the magical myths of our culture, like Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy to lend faith and possibility to a world with too much reality. We create visualization techniques for our boyfriends, partners and husbands to send them out the door with a shield of self-love, set on a path of purpose.Yet, as we look in the mirror all we see is what we need to change, what has worn out, what isn’t remarkable. Those poisonous thoughts make what we WANT seem so very far away.

How can the idea of wine help us segue to a new sense of courage?

When a wine maker experiments with blending and making wine, he has a finite amount of valuable juice to work with; the result of a year of effort, expertise and revenue. But still, he has a dream. A dream that he can find that one flavor that expresses all the grape is meant to be. Something that when sipped, imparts a flood of aromas and flavors, unique and heady.

With flasks and barrels all around, he is ready and willing to mix with abandon and science to find that perfect glass. And, not unlike the effort it takes for us to do what we know we must to do to find what’s inside ourselves, he sprinkles in a little hope and courage along the way.

Today we challenge you to find your own mixing room of flavors, OR your own backyard concert hall of possibility. Go ahead, find your voice and find the inner courage to release all you can be and all you’re meant to be!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival in Blowing Rock, NC

A tent has many meanings. An inert word of sorts there is nothing lilting or romantic about its terse, quick pronunciation. It may be a boring word, but what happens under a tent is usually worth telling about.

I have many fond memories of being in tents. Girl Scout weekends, circus performances, and backyard forts to name a few. If you’re like me, all of the memories like this are vivid and fond, evoking thoughts of celebration, rites of passage, or time with friends and loved ones.

A new kind of tent memory is emerging for me and now becomes a fitting antidote for my adult yearning to return to those celebrations of youth. It all started with the Blue Ridge Wine Festival’s Grand Tasting in Blowing Rock last Saturday the 18th of April. Suspended above hundreds of thirsty oenophiles, the big, white billows of canvas and rope that made up the grand tasting tent, housed the proverbial grape escape of the mountains - a monument to flavor, friendship and opportunity.

I could see the tent as we walked up the main street, watching as people jostled through the crowd to buy a ticket and begin sipping. Once inside, the experience transformed each visitor. Large, purple and green balloons of all sized were affixed to the posts to resemble robust clusters of chardonnay, pinot noir and cabernet grapes. Booths displaying trinkets, books, hats and shirts were nestled between dozens of winery displays large and small, local and international. Wine flowed from the bottles of hundreds of varietals. Food and appetizers were a-plenty with everything from pate, to mini-gourmet cheeseburgers and blue cheese to carrot cake to choose from.

While making the rounds with my logo-etched glass I stopped and visited with many of the winemakers, tasting some familiar North Carolina favorites like the inventive Hanover Park, the young but stunning wines of Stony Creek, the skilled winemaking flavors of Childress Vineyards, and the newly branded and innovative wines at Round Peak. I became a raving fan of Semler Winery in Malibu, an avid admirer of Zuccardi Wines’ Malbec of Argentina, wowed and impressed by the Saddlerock Chardonnay from California. All of which covered my palette with memories I will talk of for weeks.

One of the most exciting parts of the Festival was the mood of the crowd and their eagerness to socialize and learn about their fellow tasters. Since most of us were standing tight as sardines as we waited for each new pour, it was impossible to avoid becoming friends with the person standing next to you. We created our own little sub-cults, gathering around specific kiosks for extra sips of our favorite port or a sparkling white. We clinked glasses, exchanged emails and shared our deepest secrets of disastrous marriages, risky career moves, religious and political opinions, and even recent shoe bargains. In the end, we were all meant to find each other as we huddled under this modern teepee; destined to find new flavors and new friends. It was a perfect entrée to summer in the mountains.

Maybe, as a child, you held your breath as you watched the man on the high wire, hoping the circus wouldn’t end. For me, when the Festival ended, I exited this tent clutching the handle of a wine tote, blue stains on my teeth, and laughter in my heart.

For more information about this annual event, and all of the activities during this 4 day long celebration, log on to or

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Blending Together to Stand Out!

While watching the history channel this morning, I enjoyed a program about 1968 and it's turbulent and defining moments. Written and hosted by Tom Brokaw, a respected historic journalist, he asserted that one of the catalytic moments in our history occurred when Apollo 8 orbited the moon for the first time. When that happened, we, as humans, had a glimpse of our fragile mother earth from a new perspective. It made us realize that we all share this planet together, and we all share the need to make it whole.
Fast forward 41 years later and I reflect that during our NWW events, energy created from those who have joined us has been very potent with these ideals. I see us, as women, on the cusp of creating a new awareness of how important it is to see connection as the way to survival, and certainly the way to joy, healing and prosperity.How does wine fit into this paradigm?

In the wine industry, April overlaps a continuing time for what is called, "blending." It is when the art of the wine is executed. Different juice is combined, tasted and combined again. Therefore, wine is sometimes a single grape, but also sometimes a blend of many. How appropriate to mix these two ideas for discussion. Success in wine making often comes from understanding that one juice can blend with another and make something spectacular.

That is certainly our premise with NWW. When we blend together we find that each of us can find what's best about all of us. In doing so, our individuality sings with triumph because we can be successful in a way that brings all of humankind together. And those blue skies above us and the green below our feet, celebrate our discovery.Join us April 22nd when our theme is blended wines. For that event, we proudly proclaim, "You Stand Out When You Blend With Us!"

Friday, March 27, 2009

Syrah Tasting at D'Vine Wine Cafe

When you think of a vertical wine tasting, you might think that it means you have to drink standing up. Or maybe you'll walk in and see the glasses stacked one on top of the other like a purple, glass fortress. And although you're free to do both, there's more to the idea than just geometry.

On Wednesday night the 25th of March, between rain storms and wind, we gathers to find out what a vertical tasting is. In essence the term refers to sampling wines of the same grape usually from different vintages but from the same vineyards but we twisted the term a little and did the same grape but different regions completely. We chose the Syrah grape (known as Shiraz in Australia) because its flavors are so versatile and yet dramatically different. If you're going to learn about wine and learn how to recognize a certain grape, vertical tastings are a good part of your protocol.

As we entered the well appointed and plush room at D'Vine Wine Cafe, we were handed a glass of Black Bubbles; the title for this bouncy and party-starting sparkling Syrah called Shooting Star. Besides the fact that most women in the room decided to buy a bottle to take home, the audible ahhhs and oooh's were more proof of its popularity! ($15.99)

There's a lot of chatter about Americans shying away from French style wines but I think it's just because they don't know how exquisite they are with food or their palette is geared towards the wines they've always liked. Believe me, you'll like this Domaine Des Cedres, Vin de Pays du Gard, Syrah. (Cool name, eh? Oui!!) The nose is almost truffle like but with a little sun shining through to add an aroma of green plants and warm earth. The taste hands you a mouthful of fruit but it's masked in layers of different flavors that unfold for several seconds after you swallow your first sip. In fact the wine changed throughout the night and we enjoyed going back to it to give our tongue a treat. ($14.99)

Gravity Hills Base Camp Syrah took the room by storm. It's the wine you came for. Peppery and mouth filling it begs you to swish it around for as long as you can. The fruit bursts out of the glass, coating your taste buds with dark fruit and licorice. The list of foods eager to join it at your dinner table are as long as the conversations we enjoyed that night. Check it out. ($14.99)

An organic gift with a story to match, (ask Justin, General Manager of D'Vine to fill you in), the 2007 Gemtree Tadpole Shiraz has a story that will make you wanna be green. Zero filtration, zero fining and minimal intervention it tastes so much more mature that the date would convey. But while you're listening, open and enjoy a bottle of this great wine. It's natural, juicy, soft and drinkable. You'll be on bottle number two before you know it. ($12.99 - amazing!)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Liquid Metaphors

As wine lovers, there is a natural curiosity about the journey of the grape to the glass aside from the pleasure it gives you when tasted. We hold wine bottles like museum treasures, admiring labels, gently inspecting the familiar indentation in the bottom of the glass cylinder, and when the cork is removed (or more and more often the top is unscrewed) we can’t help but pause in anticipation of what the liquid will look like as it cascades into our goblet.

Do we have this same fascination and yearning when making connections with other women or with potential clients, or even with the friends and acquaintances we make every day? Are we thinking about what made them who they are, what kind of a journey they have traveled to arrive at this moment in our life? We would be better off if this logic was used with every human we approach.

For Networking, Women and Wine, the vino we enjoy during our events is more than just the icing on the cake of connections, it’s the mascot of our mission. We look to formulate metaphors based on the wine experience to help define ways to create authentic and meaningful alliances, resources and friendships. We also look to the process to help uncover ourselves and the amazing value we have to offer as individuals, not as faces lost in a crowd of monochromatic followers.

If you think about wine it cannot be made alone. It is not naturally occurring but is the product of nature (the terroir and chemistry) art, (the wine maker, vineyard manager) and time.
It is one of man’s first inventions and is aligned with thousands of years of our human history.

Ancient wine drinkers, (if not inebriated most of the time!) experienced better health and reproduction, and wine is a part of many of our collective, human, ceremonial histories. Grapes are the largest fruit crop on earth and are fairly adaptable plants, growing in a wide variety of soil types, from light sand to packed clay, and flourish around the globe.

All of these combine to serve as a vehicle for us to present ourselves as women, daughters, sisters, mothers, neighbors, angels and friends. We meet as women to enjoy and learn about wine - this drink that so closely resembles our struggles and triumphs through life - to create another chapter in the history of wine and enhance the future of every women who joins us.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A mini vacation by the glass

I took a trip on Sunday. I didn't have to go far but it was wonderful. On this sunny afternoon, I found myself sitting under a lemon tree enjoying the sound of buzzing bees. I was smelling the new mown grass under my toes, savoring the pungent but sweet aromas of the severed blades that were obviously thrown violently aside, like so many organic soldiers.

In my hand dripped the sweet and sticky juice of the grapefruit I was enjoying. Cutting each segment into bite sized morsels of Spring I relished the citrusy liquid on my tongue; the bright floral notes of each little exquisite sac of champagne colored liquid.

Then, just as I thought about running into the meadow for good, I was snapped into reality with the question, "would you like another glass?"Oh yeah I was really at the bar of the new Wine Shop at Rivergate on Tryon and 160, in Charlotte. And in my hand was a glass of 2008 Whitehaven Savignon Blanc from New Zealand that was fast becoming a memory, but one that would never be forgotten. (I should say so-- for $14.99 a bottle, it was a great value!)

I had labored over my choice for the afternoon sipping. Finally settling on the Spring-Fever-antedote of a good Sav Blanc. A sniff into the glass and I was smelling grass clippings, and I could taste the oily and bumpy lemon rind as though I had it in my palm. The first sip exploded into grapefruit and gooseberry, finishing with a hint of orange blossom and contentment.

This is a great place to browse the isles of well chosen wines, and the south wall is packed with boutique brews and stunning ales. The menu was hard to get through because everything looked divine. They offer cannollis and handcrafted cheeses along with flat breads, salads and soups (and so much more!).

I may not have been outside on a summer day, lulled to sleep by the sound of popping blossoms and the taste of the tropics, but it felt like it. You can discover your own sensory getaway next time you visit The Wine Shop at Rivergate. Oh, and ask for the wine steward David. He'll take good care of you.
Our wine group, Networking, Women and Wine, have planned to hold one of our events at this location so check us out!

Find them at 14142 Rivergate Parkway, Ste. 200. Charlotte, NC 28273. Or visit their original shop at Foxcroft on Fairview Ave in Southpark.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Green, St. Patrick's Tasting with Childress Vineyards

St. Patrick was born in Kilpatrick, Scotland in 387 AD under Roman rule. After a kidnapping at 16, imprisonment, and escape he dedicated his life to his beliefs and changed the belief system of the country of Ireland forever.

I share this because much like wine, whose journey twists and turns from the vine to the tongue, our life's passions take us in many directions before our true expression is unfolded.

Take Nascar Racing icon and powerhouse Richard Childress, owner of Childress Vineyards. It's a story about following a passion that is different than your original course. It is evident that he knows surrounding himself with the best talent, attending to every detail and pleasing people will always bring success.

This passion and the perfection of it was evident during an exquisite winemaker's dinner held in the barrel room at Childress Winery, Tuesday March 17, 2009. Hosted by his talented winemaker, Mark Friszolowski, we spent an evening enjoying a completely green menu with foods harvested and grown locally.

Tasting up to 11 wines, our palettes were tickled with flavors from sea to earth. Seated at a long wooden table, decorated with stones, twigs, candles and satin and punctuated with large floral bouquets of white and green, we heard about Childress history, drank pre-release whites, sold out reds, and remarked at the mouthwatering pairings before us.

A sampling of our gastronomic adventure included the matching of a burnt red Heirloom Charred Tomato Bisque soup with their pre-release Trio white wine blend. A crisp, full mouthed and refreshing wine. Release of this new Trio blend is happening April 24th so don't miss out!

Another of our favorite taste sensations was the Smoked Salmon with Sour Cream, Chives and Caviar. Heaven on a fork for us and the smooth, velvety salmon woke up the amazing floral notes of the Rose of Cabernet Franc.

The Braised Short Ribs had been cooking all day, according to one of the chefs seated near me, to enjoy a rare night on the other side of the kitchen. She said the aroma and flavors had been filling the winery with anticipation for the evening's event. By the time the meat arrived in front of us, the collective sigh that rose from the 100 people seated at the long table seemed to flicker the lights strung above us. Paired with the NC Fair Best of Show Winning 2004 Syrah, long sold out, we knew this memory would never fade.

As the last food course was cleared, we were poised for our Irish Bread Pudding which paired with the 2008 Late Harvest Viognier, convinced us that the luck of the Irish is best celebrated with wine, and being green.

Cheers to you Mark and Richard and your staff Ron and myself, and from the women in Networking, Women and Wine!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Spread the Word, Life is Good!

I don’t know about you, but the air seems positively electrified these days. Perhaps it’s fear gone wild, or our medication wearing off, but I sense a hidden optimism just waiting to be tapped.

How can we as women help spread the idea that life is good? Statistics confirm that the lion’s share of new businesses started on our country are started by women. Many of us, without fear and with dreams in hand, gather around kitchen tables, in the parking lots of our kids’ schools, in the checkout line at the store, and even on treadmills in our bedroom, to brainstorm and dare to imagine the world with our solutions in it.
It’s this kind of authenticity that we’re celebrating as this year’s theme for NWW, and it’s definitely the ingredient you need to make sure your business will grow and thrive in spite of the downturn.

I recently reached out to a woman I met in March of last year, that I had included in our Networking, Women and Wine database and hadn’t heard from. Thinking our emails were languishing in her spam folder, I called her to reconnect. She began to tell me all the good things happening in her life and the lives of her family, including her move to a new city, saying that she has decided even to stop listening to her beloved NPR to keep the bad OUT of her life and leave room for the good.

In the midst of our conversation she asked me if I had any advice to help her network in her new city, as she is a social creature like most of us here tonight. In a flash of inspiration I realized she had just created her own solution. By telling me that she has so much good news around her and she’s tired of hearing about the bad she can begin connecting on that premise alone.

I told her how NWW started; a group of business friends who wanted to spend time together and offer each other support and friendship aside from the agenda of some structured business building model. I suggested she form a her own networking group by finding a couple of people who wanted to share and concentrate on good news. Through beginning a blog, a coffee meeting or connecting it with any other passion, she can begin to promote good energy and expand her sphere of influence.

You can do this too! Give something of yourself that offers help and friendship and then others will return the goodness. And from there your authenticity will grow and begin to heal all those around you.

Spinning, Sipping and Seeing

I'm enjoying a glass of Shelton Cabernet Franc and thinking about how the world is spinning faster than I'm used to. I feel like there's no safety net and no straps to hold me in and I wonder if we all feel that way right now.

The wine slides down like I'm wrapping myself in a claret, velvet cape. My lips giggle with anticipation as each swallow glides easily past the taste buds that feel they're denied a longer embrace with the aged liquid.

Sure, the lasagna that I created tonight was a crowd-pleaser. And half of the concoction is hibernating in my freezer until the next meal calls. But it's the dance with the glass I need tonight as I hold on to what hasn't changed in the face of events that define why we wish Monday's could simply slide off the calender to be left behind forever.

I'm remembering the soothing vibration of a deep yoga breath I called forth to ease my fears, earlier today. Quelling my panic until I could measure my day against my health, my happiness, and the warmth of my bed in the morning light.

Then, as I wallowed in my own fear I recall my chance encounter with the faces and stories of women I found online. Powerful ladies who have the strength to smile through their cancer while I cling desperately to the purple glow on the skiff of snow that blankets the lawn outside my March window knowing that I must stop crying without reason for a future yet unknown.

My glass is almost empty and like the end of a visit with a friend, you realize that you feel better already and what you're worried about isn't that bad. That there are people around that still need you to be whole, and they're waiting for you to heal them when their world is rocked.

I think I'll pour another, and fill the sink with sudsy, white clouds to immerse the remnants of meat and cheese. I'll sip awhile longer and ride the ride I'm on today. Spinning as it may, in ever increasing revolutions, my world, my present moment, is still the only way to experience the life I have been given. And I'll enjoy it because I own it and it goes so well with the wine, and the sunrise that I know tomorrow will bring.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hidden Journeys

It’s odd, isn’t it. We discover our truest passions by accident, stumbling upon them like a pit in an olive or a fantastic sunset. Then, quite suddenly, they’re a part of our lives and we can’t imagine what we did before they came along.

My opinion is that these kinds illuminating moments inevitably solve a myriad of other open ended questions and create a recipe for solutions that’s as easy to follow as making chicken soup. Finding these kinds of analogous answers, and leveraging them to new heights, seems to be the hallmark of the female species. Sure, shopping with us is frustrating, so say some of our husbands and lovers. Guys hate it when we walk in to a store looking for red shoes, but walk out with a coffee maker, new eye shadow and salad tongs. But with one trip you can bet we’ve crossed out three other things on our list, and we’ll look good making our morning java!

Why are we so open to and drawn in by peripheral cues that guide us to a path different from the one we set out to travel? Because choices are made not just by logic but by emotion. The stimuli we feel at any given moment helps us make a judgement call to insure that we’re nurturing, protecting and expressing all at the same time. There are cues happening all around us beckoning us not to miss the subtleties of possibility, when the courage to take the path less traveled is put in motion.

It’s hard not to relate this to the story of wine. You never really know what the grape will become. You offer it soil and it prefers rocks. You give it water but it likes it when it’s just a little dry at the end of the season. You gently harvest it and massage it to release its liquid secrets but it never really gives you much hope of predicting it’s exact journey. How do we make wine? We give it respect, we offer it the chance to change and release hidden flavors, we protect it and let it sleep and refine and then it gives us the greatest gift of all, it’s uniqueness and complexity with every sniff, swirl, and swallow.

Our Networking, Women and Wine blog about wine is about that love affair, a connection that invents itself only when we let our intuition discover it’s own way, and then celebrate life together as women who are working hard to become all that we can be, when a passion finds us.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Two Days of Wining in Yadkin Valley

On Thursday the 5th of February, cloaked in the noble intention of business research, Carmen and her husband John and my husband Ron and I set out to enjoy two days of Dixie wine tasting in the beautiful Yadkin Valley. As we crossed over I-40 we could see the beginnings of the Blue Ridge out in the distance and knew that she was whispering her magic upon the rolling hills of North Carolina's fertile wine country, beckoning us to taste her blue skies and viniferous music.
Our first stop was the charming grounds of Laurel Gray Vineyards where a crisp Chardonnay started our journey. They offer a well rounded variety that does not have any kind of an identity crisis. It's forward, balanced and begging for food (and summer!). The surprise of course is that you can sip on a Chardonnay of character this far east of the California grape gurus. Their 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon and their luscious 2005 Estate Reserve Cab are flavorful and well crafted. The 2006 bursts in your mouth with tart cherries, mellow licorice and ends with a purposeful explosion of buttered toast. As we took a mouthful with their famous Cabernet Chocolate sauce we considered camping there for the rest of the day, but more grapes were calling.
As a sidebar, don't miss the detour to the Amish General store not far from the vineyard. Simple and clean surroundings, decadent pastries, and a deli sandwich awaits you that is slathered with the leanest corned beef I've ever had. It's a perfect rest stop.
Back to our trip, or shall we say back in time for a visit to Italy and Raffaldini Vineyards in the Swan Creek growing region. "Chianti in the Carolina's" is the motto and when you drive up to the large, stone villa, you know the fun is just beginning. First of all, you must request Paula next time you're there. She made the experience delightful and had a lot of insight into the winemaker and the story of Raffaldini. But stealing the stage were some fantastic wines. Of note the Vermentino is crisp and summery. The fruit is ripe but tannic. It is wonderful with smoked oysters, turkey and honey mustard sandwiches (Yep, that's what we had for lunch. Yum!). The Sangiovese is charming and full bodied. For $15.00 it's a steal and very popular. So much so that unless you're in the wine club, you can only buy 6 at a time (only 12 for members!). This is valuable stuff.
Their MCCCXLVII is ethereal and warm boasting a rustic blend of Malvasia Nera (yah, that's a grape!) with smaller portions of Sangiovese and Syrah. If you're not craving a moist bite of lamb with this wine then pass your 6 bottles on to me! (Yes, there's a limit on purchasing this wine, too.)
As we sped up I-77 toward another favorite, we remarked about the surprising complexity of North Carolina wines. Yes, there's a distinct flavor to this region, and not unlike the people they're polite and refined, but they always share their opinion with confidence and authenticity. We knew there were more stories awaiting us.
Round Peak, in Mt. Airy is one of those vineyards not to be missed. And since the winery recently changed hands in December, the new owners and wine maker have even more plans to explode onto the scene. If you haven't had a Round Peak Cab, you're missing a great value. All award winners, you'll want to zero in on the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon (memorable, earthy and wonderfully dry), the 2004 Cabernet Franc (woodsy and tart with plumy flavors), and the 2005 Merlot (better than the 2004!). Oh, and ask for Ken Gulaian. He is the new owner and he's passionate about creating wines that will make you sit up and take notice as well as supurb plans to enhance the entire tasting experience!
Dinner at TwentyOne and Main, in Elkin is an oasis of perfection. The Salmon and Scallops will lay you out and don't forget to try the fried artichoke hearts. This restaurant is classy and inventive and a perfect ending to a day of wine tasting.
Friday dawned with anticipation, and after enjoying our prized Amish breakfast rolls we headed out to Shelton for a plethora of amazing flavors (By the way, the best time to taste wine is the morning when your palate is rested and clean.) Let's start with the 2005 Estate Cab Franc which is just plain transforming and Shelton makes the most of this NC friendly grape. Their Kudzu Block Syrah tastes deep, poignant and smokey and the Family Reserve Claret is mysterious and romantic. Hurry and you'll be able to buy a case of this Claret closeout wine for half of it's $40 price tag. A deal worth getting in the car for -- uh now. Hurry! Yes, go!!!
After our aforementioned lunch of oysters and white wine, we sped back down 77 and over 421 to Hanover Park Vineyards. The second oldest winery in NC, you'll find some hard to find favorites and a Cab Franc that rivals any I've had. The Chambourcin is reminiscent of eucalyptus, spice and licorice. The 1897 is a more complex blend of the popular Michael's Blend which sells out quickly every year. Outside this 100 plus year old home, four rocking chairs simply call your name for reflection and tasting.
We ended our day by discovering Westbend Vineyards (we're told this is THE oldest winery in North Carolina), a hidden jewel in the crown of southern viticulture. The Chambourcin tastes like Christmas with clove and earthy flavors that will surprise you. Westbend wines are all award winners from a smile generating Cab Franc to their amazing Estate Cab (one of the best cabs we drank all day!)
After returning home with our collection of engraved glasses, enough wine to serve at a wedding, and a wonderful dinner at Caruso's in Cornelius (Oh my, don't miss it!) We realized that we can't leave this kind of business planning to just anyone. We'll have to do this again and again until we've discovered every nook and cranny of the wonderful world of North Carolina wines!

Women Are The Healers

If there is any energy to be focused, it must be from women. We are healers, nurturers and long to bring connections to our world. I see so many of us falling into the open pit of fear. We are letting it consume us and yet the future is not written!! We are fearing something we ourselves can control!
I am hopeful that if we gather as women and borrow each other's strength we can create a fabric of wellness that will blanket us all, awakening others to offer their piece of wisdom to our circle.
As women, we tend to pull ourselves in during times like this. Thinking that if we conserve and protect we will last longer. And yet, as creatures of creativity and beauty, we must take this as a cue to expand all of our senses and possibilities. We must give ourselves a wide berth and think about things that we thought were impossible, and make them possible.
Only when we believe there is something new that has been waiting for the sunlight to grown, will we step away and let the rays touch the earth below our feet so that the ideas can germinate, and we can begin the journey!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What Networking Women And Wine Is All About!

Another year is behind us and 2009 looms before us with all its potential and mystery. But the only way to know what it will bring lies in understanding the real person that WE are.
In essence, understanding what is truly authentic about our lives, our dreams, our needs and our talents. Putting these things to work will make all the difference in determining what this year and this day will look like.
Networking, Women and Wine was created as a platform to access our unique abilities as women to connect and create solutions, allowing it to germinate in each of us. Our lives are then enriched and our sphere of influence is enlarged.

Why combine wine with this scenario? Wine has become a pseudo-mascot in this endeavor. It is something that satisfies when the authenticity of the fruit, the terroir (the place, soil and growing conditions), and the skill of the winemaker combine to unlock the potential and variations in each vintage -- for that matter, in each sip.
And so it is with women. When we are nurtured, we open up and offer our unique influence for good, blossoming to our fullest potential.
NWW offers networking meetings with wine tasting and wine instruction as well as resources to help you learn about wine. Join us in 2009 and discover the power you already have, by tapping into the authenticity in yourself and your business.

Camine Pappas and Carmen Hunter, Co-Founders, NWW

Networking, Women and Wine ask: Where are You Headed?

"If you don't change direction, you'll end up where you're headed."
This quote, on first inspection, seems harmless, and yet if we reflect on it further, we can see that even a slight miscalculation will push us way off course. It becomes rather frightening to consider how important the course is and how disastrous the wrong one is when you think about what might happen if you’re on the WRONG track.
If you’re like many of us, you feel you’re spinning and have no time to do any course correction let alone course calculation. That is why you must make sure you know who you are and what you’re known for, and of course how to get that idea across to your customer.
The way to find the course and stay on course is through brand marketing. The idea of brand is nothing new. It represents the emotional label a consumer uses to catalog you in his mind so he can quickly recall what you are and what he gets from you. Whether you’re an accountant or a Realtor®, others are forming opinions and creating shortcuts to describe you as well as determining how to interact with you. Shouldn’t you be in more control of what they’re remembering?
The good news is the more you understand your message and "who you are" in all aspects of your business, the less complicated it becomes to communicate who you are to others and the more time you have to create solutions all your customers will remember and pay for again and again.

Here at NWW, we're all about connection. The one thing that all of us need to help us stay on course and create innovation. In fact, we make our evenings casual on purpose. Without formal tables, a podium or "someone in charge," you become the author of how this evening helps you. Whether you find a new friend, find a solution, or create a doorway for another to find a solution in their business, we’ve accomplished our goal for this evening. The only thing we encourage you to do is talk to everyone and exchange a business card or a greeting with all of them.
Why are we aligning ourselves with wine? First of all, it’s fun. Moreover, the idea of wine is about the fact that it’s personal to each of us. We taste things differently and therefore learn something new with each glass we explore.
We hope that you will find something new to enjoy at each of our functions, and be a part of our next gathering - and bring a friend!
Carmen Hunter, and Camine Pappas

Six Ways to Become Truly Authentic

Every day the flood keeps getting closer to our front door. The waves lap at our kitchen table, taking our food and our way of life with it showing neither remorse or evil. It just "is." While it's becoming harder and harder to imagine that we'll survive this without having to become greeters at our local hardware store to pay the rent, there is still something that the waters can't touch. And that is how you feel about yourself inside.

Our way of life here in the western world has been the subject of many criticisms. Mostly we are dubbed as a citizenship of mindless and selfish consumers, eating everything alive as we go and spitting out all but a small bit before engorging ourselves again. But what we're not asking is why do we feel so unsafe that the only path we choose is one of gluttony? Why in a country of wealth and opportunity are we falling like flies into a pit of acquiring? Although we are told by certain scholars of human behavior that gluttony is a natural state of man, what can be uncovered by asking the deeper question may help us all find more peace and even some macro answers as well. How can we find enlightenment and, as the Yogi's say, become Buddha and find true peace?

We have created and sponsor a networking group for women called Networking, Women and Wine, here in Charlotte, NC. We meet once a month to help each other find solutions and friendships. Although the premise is to widen our sphere of influence as business owners or career women, we believe that the power of gathering with a higher ideal for creating solutions helps soothe and renew us all.

Wine has become our mascot for the simple fact that wine and wine making are such symbols of creativity, individuality and authenticity, let alone their symbolism for surviving hardship while growing and becoming more complex as time goes on.

Which leads us to the reason for this narrative; some advice on authentic living.

How many times have we heard this word and wondered, deep inside, if we can get in touch with this concept in a world that seems to be mired in deceit? Peeling off the layers of camouflage diligently applied to our business image, through a collective desire to be on top, follow the pack, and acquire the right things has caused us now to question our own intuition. As business women, we've followed all the rules, listened to the so called experts of business, sociology, and profit and wondered why it felt like we were having an out of body experience every time we marketed ourselves.

We hear a lot of people talking about getting back to basics. My opinion is, and you may share my thoughts, that the word "back" is inherently the problem. Looking to the past as a teacher is like asking a 5 year old how to handle a mid-life crisis. There is no perception of balance or wisdom, without experience. The past can indeed be a teacher (not a template!), but to reinstate old ideas is slow death and a movement away from being authentic in almost every language of success.

To follow the natural rhythm of life is to move forward and reinvent every day. There is only ‘now’ to listen to. And listen carefully you must. The basics we crave are in us already.

The following are some rules I see being obeyed by those moving forward in wellness, who are creating a life of positive success, no matter what the tide is bringing in or taking away. They’re concepts you can apply starting today, so that you can resuscitate your livelihood, your brand and your sense of self.

1. Isolate clearly the reason you’re doing what you’re doing.
Is there yearning in your heart each day to grow your business or career? Do you see ways it can integrate into the fabric of humanity and offer prosperity to others, not only to you? Does it burn with a passion and make you feel whole? Find that and you find success.

2. Locate someone who displays this kind of success and ask them to be a mentor.
Who are the people that stand for what you stand for? Whether you talk with them via a pod-cast from Bermuda or sit over a cup of coffee each week inside your house, create a structure for asking and recording their responses on a myriad of disciplines that are valuable to you. Then create a plan to implement them a little each day.

3. Balance your life in every way by keeping track of the basic needs in your life.
Nutrition, movement, fulfillment, and safety.
Make sure you’re not sabotaging your body and your mind by eating poorly. You don’t have to become someone who eats only leaves and herbs, but watch nutrition by monitoring sugar intake, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and overly large portions, and learn about the effects certain prescription drugs may be having on your body that you need to compensate for.

Movement is life, because it helps with circulation and clarifying the body of toxins. Movement is also a way to indulge in self expression and of course some kind of exercise is the key to everything. Then, when it’s time NOT to move, make sure sleeping is done in an environment that allows restfulness and peace...and enough of it.

Fulfillment is the balance of your sense of self. Are you communicating properly with the people in your life? Are you saying what you mean? Are you in touch with what is hurting you or helping you? Do you need to work on that part?

Safety, a basic human instinct, rules most all other behaviors in our life. If we don’t feel safe we react sharply in a primal ways that throws us off balance and certainly wreak havoc with those around us.

4. Share some time with those you love and ask them if they see you being true to yourself. They’ll have surprisingly valuable answers.
Mirrors are great. But the reflection staring back is still seen through your eyes, your value system, your lens of life. Truth exists from inside you and you overlay those value systems to everything sometimes clouding your path. Good friends and people you respect for having balance can make excellent sounding boards for true self discovery. We’re not talking about gabbing and sharing all your woes with people, we’re talking about self awareness. Ask them if you seem happy, and if you are easy to be around. Ask them if they have any thoughts about whether or not you’re being true to yourself. Make it fun and you’ll find out some wonderful things about yourself. You’ll find most of these people have some insights that are positive and wise, and give you good direction for the future.

5. Evaluate what YOU can do to make the world around you a better place and incorporate that into your business plan.
This is easier said than done, but still possible. If the results of your product and your dream do not eventually help the world around you, your imagination and resources will diminish. We must look to create connections and success through products, services and behaviors that create lasting impact. That is the way to finding a path that is real, to a prosperity that is rewarding and to authenticity in every way.6. Finally, simply let the tide in.You cannot hold back the waters of change or correction. Often the crop is washed away with the weeks. But we can all find new endeavors waiting on the wake of it's perceived destruction. I always say, any day you're breathing in and out is a good day! Make good on the inside and you'll find life is still full of wonderful lessons, opportunities and connections.

6. Finally, simply let the tide in.
You cannot hold back the waters of change or correction. Often the crop is washed away with the weeds. But we can all find new endeavors waiting on the wake of it's perceived destruction. I always say, any day you're breathing in and out is a good day! Make good on the inside and you'll find life is still full of wonderful lessons, opportunities and connections.