Wednesday Wine Pick- Hogue Genesis 2007 Meritage

Every week I am going to try and recommend a mid-week wine that is priced under $15.  It’s going to be an everyday wine that you can pick up somewhere like Trader Joe’s in hopes that it gives you a lot of good wine for an affordable everyday wine price.  Maybe it will even help relieve your mid-week stress:)

This week I am opening up a bottle of Hogue Genesis 2007 Meritage from Columbia Valley.  I picked it up last week at Trader Joe’s as it was on display in the wine section.  This Meritage is a blend of 49% Merlot, 44% Cab, 6% Malbec, and 1% Cab Franc.   This Washington wine is priced at $7.99 and has a 14.4% alcohol content.

The wine pours dark garnet and has aromas of dark cherry, blackberry and earthy spice.  It tastes of cherries, oak, and spice and finishes long with nice, smooth tannins.  I enjoyed the Genesis Meritage and I think it’s a nice buy for $7.99.  I am not sure how long Trader Joe’s will have this wine but I recommend picking up a bottle while it’s in stock.  Let me know what you think of my Wednesday Wine pick.  Cheers!

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Easter Brunch Recipe- Baked French Toast

This is an easy recipe that I usually make Easter morning and it is sure to be a crowd pleaser.  This recipe is great, especially when you have company joining you, because all the prep work is done the night before.  I have shared this recipe with family and friends and they have all come back with rave reviews. Try to use a freshly baked french loaf, high quality maple syrup, and organic vanilla extract…it makes a huge difference in the flavors!  Serve it with mimosas…a nice dry Cava will pair the best with OJ and this dish.  Let me know what you think if you have a chance to make it!


  • 1 french loaf
  • ¼ stick of butter softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbs maple syrup
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • A dash of cinnamon (to taste)


  • Cut bread into ¾ inch slices
  • Spread butter evenly on tops of bread,
  • Arrange in ungreased pan butter side up
  • Whisk all ingredients together
  • Pour the ingredients mixture over bread
  • Soak overnight (most if not all of the mixture will soak into the bread by morning)
  • Bake for 30-40min at 350 degree and serve with maple syrup on the side!
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Another great tasting experience- Hope and Grace Wines

My husband and I were strolling through Yountville after enjoying a great meal at Bouchon and we ran across Hope and Grace’s tasting room.  The place was beautifully adorned with artwork so we decided to browse around and give their wines a try.  Cindy was kind enough to give us a brief history of Hope and Grace and introduce us to their wine collection.  The winemaker, Charles Hendricks, had worked with many wineries in Napa and Sonoma before decided to start Hope and Grace (which he named after his daughter).  He still consults for other wineries but has been able to develop some great wines for himself.  The tasting fee was $10 for the regular releases and $20 for the limited releases) We really enjoyed their reds, in particular the 2008 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir and the 2007 Malbec  from Oakville.


This past weekend we decided to open the Santa Lucia Pinot Noir with some friends.  The wine gives off aromas of berries and cherries with some notes of spices.  The wine pours a medium to medium light red and has a 14.2% alcohol content.  The berries and cherry are also noted in the taste, but it is a very well balanced pinot so the fruit is not overwhelming or too sweet.  The wine finished smooth and silky.  It is really a wonderful pinot and was priced well at $46.  Everyone tasting really enjoyed the wine. 

 If you happen to be in Yountville, definitely stop by the tasting room.  You can sip on fantastic wine while enjoying their wonderful displays of art.  I hope to make a visit up their soon so I can review some of their other vintages!

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Cocobon 2009 California Red Wine

I was browsing the wine selection in Trader Joe’s today and an associate recommended I try the Cocobon 2009 California Red.  It was $6.99 for the bottle and he said it was pretty well received throughout the store.  The bottle refers to the wine as a rich and silky red table wine.  On the nose, the wine smells of sweet berries, vanilla, and plum.  At first sip, you immediately taste cherries and mild tannins with a little bit of cocoa.  It is not a very complex wine but it is pretty smooth and easy to drink.  It’s a little sweeter than I generally prefer, but for the price, it is a decent everyday wine. 

Cocobon is definitely worth a sip or two, especially for $7 a bottle.  I think it would fair particularly well for people who aren’t into big reds or even tend to prefer whites.  If you have tried it, let me know what you think!

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A winery with a catchy name…

So since my name is Bella, several people in Sonoma County recommended that we head out to Bella Vineyards & Wine Caves in Healdsburg.  I was very curious to see what Bella had to offer.  As soon as we arrived, we were impressed with the property.  They have beautiful vineyards along with a quaint picnic area.  The tasting room is located in their wine caves.  The caves also have barrel storage and private tasting/dining room.  The staff was super friendly and gave us a lot of personal attention even though there were several other guests tasting as well.   Although I wasn’t taking specific tasting notes at the time, Bella’s wines did not disappoint.  Most of the wines were priced under $40 and they seem to sell out relatively quickly.  We have recently pulled a bottle of their Late Harvest 2009 Zinfandel out of our cellar.  It’s an after dinner Zinfandel but it is much less sweet than most ports or other dessert wines and also only has a 14.2% alcohol content.  It tastes of raspberries, strawberries, and plums and has a sweet, clean finish.  I love this wine because it is not over sugary and does not have an overpowering alcohol bite.  I would recommend a visit to Bella Vineyards to anyone visiting the Healdsburg area.  It is definitely a stand out in Sonoma County.

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A great winery to start with- Whetstone Wine Cellars

I wanted to start my blog with a bottle of Pinot Noir we picked up in October from a small family winery in Napa.  I was immediately drawn to visit Whetstone Wine Cellars when I learned that the owner Jamey Whetstone hails from Charleston, SC.  I am from a town about 2 hours north of Charleston and my husband and I were married there.  Whetstone offers an incredible wine tasting experience in their gardens.  Our lunch was catered by Top Chef Master Michael Chiarello’s restaurant Napa Style.  It was an array of paninis and a beautiful salad.  We had the opportunity to taste their latest vintages with Jamey’s wife Michelle and I highly recommend you check out their tasting experiences if you are in the Napa area.  They have opened a new tasting room since we last visited.

Tonight I am opening the 2007 Pleasant Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir.  The grapes come from the Russian River Valley and has 14.6% alcohol content.  The wine pours a medium red and has spice, cranberry, and cherry on the nose.  Wine Spectator gave this vintage 91 points and, I agree, it is a beautiful pinot noir.  The wine is dense with a palate of dark cherry, plum and spice and opens up nicely for a luxurious finish.  At $45/bottle it’s not your mid-week wine but it’s definitely a nice bottle for a weekend dinner party.   Now if only I was still sipping it in their beautiful garden 🙂

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