Women Winemakers: A Cut Above

Not to say “Nanny nanny boo boo!” to the boys – but we will 😉 It turns out women winemakers rule!


According to a study published by Dr. Lucia Albino Gilbert, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Santa Clara University, and her husband, John Gilbert, Ph.D., wines produced from California wineries that have women winemakers are more highly acclaimed (proportional to their presence in the field) than those that have male winemakers.

How did they figure it out?

Drs. Gilbert used two sources of data. One was the California winery comprehensive database of 3,200+ winemakers developed for their first study. The second data source was evidence of winery quality, which was obtained by using the listing of wineries from Opus Vino (2010), a widely cited and credible source of winery quality.

Who to look out for? 

Ready to taste what women winemakers have to offer? We found this list from Cru Wine Online. Click the link to read the full bios.

1. Helen Turley  She currently makes wines under her own label, Maracassin, a California Cult style wine that regularly receives outstanding ratings by wine critics.

2. Merry Edwards makes award-winning Pinot Noir under her own Merry Edwards label. She is a pioneer in California Pinot Noir, so much so that UCD Pinot Noir Clone 37 is also called “Merry Edwards Selection” for the work she did on it.
3. Sally Johnson Today she makes wine for Pride Mountain Vineyards in Sonoma County where, like the other females on this top ten list, her wines have received international attention from wine critics from the Wine Spectator and the Wine Enthusiast to Wine & Spirits and Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar.
4. Heidi Barret Currently she is making wine for eight wineries, including her own, La Sierna. She has been deemed by Robert Parker of the Wine Advocate as the “First Lady of Wine.” Heidi is married to Bo Barret, winemaker at Chateau Montelena (Bottle Shock).
5. Susana Balbo She has started her own line of wines that bear her name on the label.
6. Cecilia Torres is the head winemaker for Vina Santa Rita in Chile. She is the woman behind #57 on the 2009 Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines List.
7. Vanya Cullen is the head winemaker at Cullen Wines in Western Australia. Her wines have received attention from wine critics across the globe including 90+ point ratings from the Wine Spectator.
8. Alexia Luca de Tena is the head winemaker for Bodegas Agnusdei in Spain. Her world-class Albarino has received international attention, and she continues to push the envelope creating high-quality wine for the price. Alexia is a pioneer in the modern Spanish wine scene.
9. Isabelle Baratin-Canet manages the production of the infamous Chateau Grillet, the AOC/winery in the northern Rhone region of France. Chateau Grillet is one of only two single-estate appellations in France. They are well known for producing arguably the finest Viognier in the world. Isabelle’s family has operated the winery since the 1830’s.
10. Pascale Peyronie is the owner and winemaker at Chateau Fonbadet in Bordeaux, France. Peyronie marks the fourth generation of this family-owned and operated winery. She is one of only a few female winemakers in the Paulliac sub-region of Bordeaux.

Want to read more about it? www.womenwinemakers.com

*Photo Credit: Domaine Carneros Wine – made by another favorite woman winemaker Eileen Crane.

Save Green on St. Patricks Day

What better excuse to throw a party than St. Patrick’s Day—sure it’s an Irish holiday —but everyone looks good in green, and we all love a holiday that celebrates mischief makers. We liked these cost savings tips from Billcuterz.com written by blogger Sydney.


Make it pot (of gold) luck style and bring your own beverage (and food)! If you’re hosting a party, get a few girl friends together as co-hostesses and simply make it a BYOBF. Your bank account will thank you for saving on funds and sharing the cost of party food and drink.

DIY decorations

Cut out shamrocks from green construction paper to hang on the wall; for most people, that’s plenty of decorations. Check out Pinterest’s DIY Saint Patrick’s Day page for more inspiration.

Cook traditional Irish foods

Baked potatoes are easy, very inexpensive and sure to be a hit. You can also try your hand at making soda bread, chicken and dumplings or Guinness corned beef. All Recipes is a great resource for Irish dishes.

Go to a parade

The majority of American cities have a parade for St. Patrick’s Day and these are free to watch and sure to entertain you for a few hours. Or, if you’re too far from one, watch the New York City St. Patty’s parade on television.

Spray Tans Tips … Make it Last!

D Sharon Pruitt

Wanting to make that summer glow last through Fall? Well for most of us that means either using bronzing lotions or going to a salon for spray tan. And we don’t have to remind you about the scary melanoma rates related to tanning booths, right?  On that health note, if you want instant results we suggest looking for a paraben-free spray tanning option. Katherine Goldman, founder and owner of Stript Wax Bar, with salons in Palo Alto, Oakland, Walnut Creek, Los Angeles and San Francisco, which offers these safe tanning options offers tips on how to make your next one last. 

  • Make sure to wax or shave the area a day before your spray tan. Waxing will remove the tan so always do so a day before your service.  Shaving or waxing the day of can make skin more irritated, so wait for your skin to calm down before spray tan application.
  • Exfoliate before a spray tan. Use a body scrub to exfoliate dry skin before a tan. This will help with even application of the product and ensure a flawless look.
  • Wear dark, loose fitting clothing to your appointment. Spray tans usually include a bronzer that can rub off on light colored clothing so always wear dark colors. Tight clothing can rub against the skin and create lines, so make sure to wear something that is baggy.
  • Plan not to shower for at least 6 hours. This allows the tan to develop, as water will wash away the active ingredient from the skin. Most people like to schedule their appointment in the evening so they can just go home, go to bed, and shower the next morning.
  • Use dark sheets the night of your tan. Make sure to put dark colored sheets on your bed after a spray tan appointment. The bronzer can rub off onto sheets and clothing so make sure to swap out anything white the day of your appointment.
  • Get a manicure before your spray tan appointment and then protect nails with a little Vaseline. This will help prevent darkening around the cuticle.
  • Purchase the right after care products. It is important to moisturize your skin after a spray tan as this will help it last longer.  You can also get a lotion with a small amount of DHA, the active ingredient in spray tans, to help keep the tan from fading.


Office Party Hosting: Misa Makes it EZ!

It’s that time of year to start planning the ultimate office party. Regardless of your budget, Misa Phutangdee, founder of Miss Go To Girl, a concierge service for everything from party planning to personal assistance, offers these great tips to be sure make the office party you plan to be the new standard!

  1. Priorities Unless you have an endless budget, spend the money on location, food, food servers and clean up crew. You work too hard to be working at the party.
  2. Recruit and Delegate Sure, you are the event coordinator for your office party, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you do all the work, especially for small and medium size companies with a small to medium budgets. Send out an email to your colleagues and ask them if they would like to help out. Designate areas needed; food, bartending, clean up, planning. Not only will you be surprised at the potential connections (as in Lisa in accounting has a family bakery and would love to donate dessert) but it will make the entire office feel included.
  3. Paper Invitations Please don’t only send an invitation through email, evite or facebook! Since you work in an office, with access to a computer and a printer get creative and print out paper invitations in post them around the office.
  4. Personalize and Customize There are so many ways to customize your party. Have the company name printed on the napkins or create customized food and drink names that represent your office and some of your colleague’s quirks. For example if Joe always has a bottle of Tapatio at his desk for his lunch every day, create a food card that says, “Joe’s Tapatio Taco’s.”
  5.  Spice up the Food! Do your office a favor and don’t have plain ‘ole cheese and crackers – unless of course you are serving up a variety of artisan cheeses displayed with fancy (no trans fat) crackers and fresh, organic fruit. In other words, whatever you serve – make it special – as in the feature photo above. Pinterest has lots of creative food displays if you need inspiration 😉

Two EZ mistakes to avoid:

  1. Zip it! Do not brag about every detail that you have done, how hard you worked etc.  Let your work speak for yourself, accept the compliments, just don’t carry a memo board that says, write your compliments here.
  2. Don’t push it! Do not over exert yourself, your theme, your food, your décor, your party. What I’m really trying to say is don’t be all over the place in every way. Less is more
  3. Confirm prices/duties ahead of time. There is no bigger buzz kill then realizing the caterers are driving away before the room is cleaned. “Oh was that not in the contract!”

How to take a GOOD party photo!

Don’t be on the end! Don’t stare at the camera… don’t, don’t, don’t 😉

For most of taking a good photo is not easy! Chin up, cheeks in, smile/ don’t smile…suck in your gut! It’s overwhelming. We’ve enlisted the help of Mo De Long (behind the camera), a professional photographer who specializes in making people look good!

MO’s Tips!
1. Turn partially sideways to the camera, planting one foot in front of the other. Point your toe to the camera and place your weight on your back foot.  
2. Pull head forward slightly to minimize any appearance of a double chin. Also try the swallow and hold method.  To do this, swallow and while holding the swallow, smile naturally.
3. Hold arms slightly away from your body or hand on the hip. This keeps upper arm flab from flattening out and therefore appearing flabbier.
4. Pull shoulders back, chest forward and gently suck stomach in.
5.  Try the look away method.  To do this, look away from the camera, then turn towards it, breaking into a smile just before the camera clicks. Your smile will appear fresh, not frozen.

What not to do:

1. Never stand fully facing the camera and no slouching.  This makes you look boring and often wider than you are.

2. Never tilt your head back to avoid a double chin.  This just makes your neck look weird and strained.

3. Do not be the girl on the end, the people on the ends of group photos will look wider than the rest.  If you find yourself on the end, use the arms on the hip method so the elbow will appear to be the wide part of your body and not your hip.

4. Do not hold your smile for too long.   Take a break by looking  away and then turning back to the camera.

5.  Do not wear baggy clothes.  If you have to, wear a belt to accent your waist. Baggy clothing can make you look wider than you actually are.

Citrus Punch – Party Favorite!

In time for your weekend plans we wanted to share a no-fail party punch recipe. Last fall, we were lucky to meet with the charming celebrity chef Bradley Odgen a James Beard Foundation award-winning chef and restauranteur who had just published his second cookbook, Holiday Dinners with Bradley Ogden.

One recipe that we have sampled and approved is the Winter Citrus Punch a spinoff of classic sangria and can be made up to three or four days in advance in big batches to share with a crowd at a party. While the official name is Winter Citrus Punch, it can be enjoyed anytime of the year.

Winter Citrus Punch With Spiced Pomegranate Ice

Serves 8


3 star anise, crushed

2 cups pomegranate juice, freshly squeezed
2 cups tangerine juice, freshly squeezed
8–10 peppermint leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
2 cups pineapple juice, freshly pressed
2 cups blood orange juice, freshly squeezed
2 cups orange juice, freshly squeezed
½ cup Meyer lemon juice, freshly squeezed
8 shots of rum or Cointreau (one per person) or sparkling wine or champagne to taste, optional

To Make
1 In a small noncorrosive pan, combine the pomegranate juice, star anise and peppermint leaves and heat to a high simmer. 2 Turn down the heat and steep for 15 minutes, then strain. 3 Pour into ice cube trays and freeze. 4 Combine the remaining juices and refrigerate until needed. 5 Place juice and frozen cubes in a large punch bowl with slices of fruit on top or serve in individual glasses over the frozen cubes of pomegranate ice. 6 Garnish with peppermint sprigs. 7 For holiday cheer, add desired spirit.

Halloween Costumes for 2012!

D Sharon Pruitt

Inspired by the recent Halloween research from the National Retail Foundation, we’re back with our annual Halloween nudge. According to the NRF, a record seven in 10 will be celebrating Halloween resulting in a total budge of $8 billion to be spent for this hallowed eve.

The average amount Americans will spend on decorations, costumes and candy for Halloween

Americans who will look to a retail store for costume ideas

Americans who will look for costume ideas via social media sites

Don’t have a costume -don’t fret – we’re here to help!

This year’s trendy picks:

Love it or hate it -Honey Boo Boo is HOT! While we’ve seen a few costumes online – you can basically squeeze yourself into a sequin dress, get dolled up and spill some mustard or jelly down the front (ketchup might look like blood). How about the totally inappropriate teddy bear “Ted” who enjoyed a moment in the spotlight this summer. If you’re heading to a dance party, add a little “Gangnam Style” fun via Korean rapper Psy (short for psycho). Or considering the elections are a few days away – be presidential, these candidate face masks are for sale all over the internet starting at $10.

Since we only have one female costume in this group here are a few pretty simple female inspired options via Pinterest

Still haven’t figured it out? Check out our Halloween costume posts from 2011 and 2010.

Best Facebook Birthday Notes

While it might seem a bit narrow to dedicate an entire post to saying “happy birthday” to someone on Facebook, after a recent office birthday, we are inspired to share some of our favorites ideas. Speed limit signs of their birthday – this works well with 25, 45 and 55. Any cakes or sweets … especially if they include a birthday candle and our personal favorite hearts -because it’s all about love, right?

Another great way to get the point across that you like this person and think they are worth a few minutes of cutting and pasting is posting a song.

Happy Birthday sung by the Beattles,

Beyonce in London

Jack Johnson

Jack Black

We’d love to add to this list so let us know if you have any favorites.

Keep in mind that it is illegal to use photos without attribution or permission … or it might not be. After 20 minutes of reading through many legal posts on ‘fair use’ ‘third party’ jargon, we can’t figure it out. Feel free to use these..

Frozen Fruits – Cost Saver Huge Flavor!

D Sharon Pruitt

As we say so long to summer and bask in the glory of fall, we also bid adieu to many of the brightly colored, highly nutritious organic fresh fruits. Hence we did a bit of research on how  to freeze that last batch of summer fruit.

Thanks to AllRecipes.com for their tips of freezing fruit.

Wash fruits and sort for damaged fruit before freezing. Some fruits do best with a sugar or sugar-syrup preparation. Blueberries, currants, and cranberries do fine without sugar.

Here’s a trick for freezing delicate berries like strawberries or raspberries: Arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer to a plastic freezer bag or container. You can also prepare delicate berries with sugar or sugar syrup.

For fruits that tend to brown, like apples, peaches, nectarines and apricots, treat with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). Look for the powdered form in health food stores, drugstores, and some grocery stores in the vitamin aisle. To make an ascorbic acid wash: Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of ascorbic acid powder (or finely crushed vitamin C tablets) in 3 tablespoons water. Sprinkle this mixture over the cut fruit. An acceptable substitute: Slice the fruit and dip the slices  in an acidulated water bath — about one quart water plus a tablespoon of lemon juice — before drying and freezing.

For the elusive frozen bananas (ours seem to collect ice crystals and turn brown ;( ) We’ve gone to LiveStrong.com for their advice. For preparation for smoothies they suggest peeling, cutting into 1/2 slices and putting on wax or parchment paper and place the banana slices onto it in a single layer and then placing the bananas in the freezer in a level spot for 30 minutes to an hour to solidify Otherwise, peel the bananas. (peeled frozen bananas can last up to four months, while those frozen with the peel last only two months) And place your bananas into a zipper freezer bag. Push as much air as you can out of the bag before sealing it shut. Don’t crowd or squish the bananas because it will make them harder to separate when you want to use them.

Fleet Week Recipes

Screenshot from bettycrocker.com

If you happen to be in the San Francisco Bay Area this weekend you can’t ignore the roar of the Blue Angels practicing for Fleet Week, and buzz from sailors (and sailing enthusiasts) around the world excited for the America’s Cup pre-races. It’s such a party, in fact that Humpback Whales have been spotted nearby getting in on the action.

The whales have been spotted over the past two weeks gallivanting just outside the Golden Gate and, in several cases, venturing inside the bay, raising concerns that there could be a collision.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a warning to all boaters, ship’s captains, para-sailors, paddlers and other water recreationists to watch out for whales and other large marine mammals this weekend.

Here are some fun Fleet Week Recipes gathered from around the web.

From Good Morning America U.S. Marine’s Barbeque Chicken. This recipe comes from a cook off between the U.S. Navy. We tried this one and it was delish!

  • 3 1/2 pounds chicken (broiler fryer), cut up into 8 portions.
  • 4 ounce bottle chili sauce
  • 1 16-ounce bottle tomato catsup
  • 4 ounces cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 ounces prepared mustard
  • 2 tsp. cayenne
  • 2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the chicken on a shallow baking pan with space between the pieces. Combine all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Stir with a wire whisk until completely smooth.

Reserve half of the sauce for dipping. Spoon the sauce over the chicken; reserve 1/4 cup to spread over the chicken for the last 10 minutes of cooking. Bake in the oven until nicely browned and cooked through, 50 minutes to one hour.

Place on a serving platter and serve the sauce along with the chicken.

We also suggest Texas Caviar and make your own potato chips!

For dessert bettycrocker.com has a slew of cake type recipes (as seen above), our favorite is the angel food with berries (of course!).

Gotta have the signature drink! From one our favorite sites on the art or drinking, Drink of the Week here are their picks for five blue drinks:

  • The Aviation: Since it’s San Francisco and our bartenders are way into old-timey cocktails, prohibition and pre-prohibition era cocktails, try this yummy and delicious cocktail with crème violet that turns a pretty shade of blue.
  • The Blue Hawaii: For some reason, this drink makes me think of Top Gun and Top Gun makes me think of the Blue Angels.
  • The Red, White and BlueThey are our men in uniform. Need we say more? They bleed red, white and blue.
  • The Blue Moon: A pretty awesome drink. Give the boys in blue (or white) something new to try.
  • The Blue MotorcycleAgain, it brings back images of Maverick from Top Gun, which makes me think of the Blue Angels.

Have we missed one of your favorite recipes or Fleet Week party ideas?  Let us know 😉