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Jun 17

Guest Post: Meet Louisville (and Loueyville!)

Melissa, er, Lou blogs over at My Loueyville and I just love her. Cincinnati is a wonderful city, but we’ve also got two other wonderful cities – Louisville and Lexington – around or under 2 hours drive south. I have ties to Louisville, I admit, as my brother-in-law just graduated from UofL, I went to school at Kentucky Wesleyan (where I swear everyone was from Louisville), and I don’t know if I’ve ever missed a Kentucky Derby in my life. I’m thrilled that Lou decided to guest post for me here at Wine-Girl!


I’ve been a proud Louisvillager and self-proclaimed cheerleader for the city for almost four years now.  And one of the many, many things I love about this city is its proximity to Cincinnati.  I relish my quarterly weekend trips to Cincy to avail myself of some of the luxuries that my corner of the midwest doesn’t possess.  I’m an IKEA fiend, but I go as much for the meatballs as for the home decor.  I’m a recent convert to Trader Joe’s– as a single person, I am bonkers for their frozen food entrees.  And if there’s a prettier bar in the entire region than the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, I haven’t seen it.

That being said, I sure hope you Cincinnatians take advantage of your proximity to my fair city.  There’s no better time to make your way upriver to our neck of the woods than summer.  And some of the best reasons to visit are free or cheap as heck.

Image by Fleur-Design Photography under a CC license

I’m a 4th generation Red Sox fan, but now that I’ve moved here, I’ve embraced your Reds as my secondary team.  And if you have even a passing love of the Reds, you need to get down here to a Louisville Bats game to see some of your future stars at work.  Last year, Homer Bailey was my favorite “boy of summer,” and now he’s pitching down your way almost full time.  This year, the star to watch is Aroldis Chapman… you may want to watch him because, at least right now, the Reds’ $30M man seems to be falling apart a bit. But the best reason to hit Slugger Field to see a Bats game is that it is, hands down, the cheapest fun this city has to offer.  As little as $7 gets you inside (watch for deals, like a AAA discount) — I rarely ever sit in an actual seat as the park features abundant picnic tables with great views. Beer is about $4.50, but again, keep your eye open for deals — happy hours can reduce that down to $1-$3. And there’s more than hot dogs and nachos for food.  The stand under the Jumbotron sells pork chop and ribeye sandwiches as well as really excellent grilled corn on the cob. Slugger Field is also a gorgeous place to watch a sunset over the river.

If you’re lucky like I am and enjoy summers off, the best free fun the city has to offer during the summer is Waterfront Wednesdays, the last Wednesday of every month from April-September.  Waterfront Wednesdays is a free concert at Waterfront Park sponsored by public radio station WFPK. Every WW features three acts, most of them nationally known — this month (June 30) features Carney (fronted by Reeve Carney, who will next appear in the Julie Taymor-directed Spiderman musical on Broadway), Sonos, and Joshua James.  Feel free to bring a picnic, but no outside alcohol is allowed.  That’s no big deal because the WW stands feature great beers and a full bar at reasonable prices.  It’s spitting distance from Slugger Field, so in addition to good beer and great music, you’re treated to the same gorgeous riverfront sunset.  Waterfront Wednesdays are like my birthday and Christmas rolled into one, six times a year.

Big news recently in the ‘Ville is that our own 21c Hotel has announced intentions to expand to 15 more cities, starting with Bentonville, Arkansas — home of Walmart HQ.  (Weird, I know.) Cincinnati is going to get one too.  While it isn’t cheap to either stay at or eat at our most beautiful and interesting hotel (but it is so-o-o-o worth it!), it is absolutely free to check out 21c’s contemporary art museumConde Nast Traveller’s #1 US hotel is way at the top of the list of things that make me proud to be a Louisvillager.  If it’s possible to have a crush on a business, I have a raging crush on 21c. (Check out my blog post about my 21c love.)

Image by ellenm1 via a CC license

We are an art-loving city, and this year we landed the Glass Arts Society annual conference, and so lots of our downtown galleries and museums feature some really beautiful and groundbreaking glass arts.  The conference is June 10-12, but most of the exhibits will last all summer long.  And the best time to take advantage of all those exhibits is on the first Friday of every month, during our First Friday Gallery Hop.  This art show/street fair is totally free, including parking and trolley transportation during the event. The Gallery Hop goes from 5pm-11pm, and most of the participating galleries and museums offer snacks and drinks — some even offer wine and beer tastings.

This just scratches the surface of all the fabulous things that Louisville has to offer this summer.  I like to believe that whenever I fill my cooler at Trader Joe’s, another Cincinnatian gets his/her wings to fly to Louisville.  Of course for more goings-on in Louisville, you can check out my blog, Loueyville.  Other stellar Louisville blogs include, Consuming Louisville, and for music lovers, Backseat Sandbar.
Hope to see y’all downriver soon!

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Michelle at 8:00 am in Guest Writers, Travel | Permalink | Comments (3)
Jun 16

Guest Post Op-Ed: A Little Bit of Legislature

This guest post is from Nancy Bentley, co-owner of Kinkead Ridge Winery in Ripley, OH.

An editorial note: I try very hard as a blogger to stay apolitical. However, I do not require this of my guest bloggers. Nancy’s post expresses her personal feelings about some legislative issues affecting agriculture in Ohio and is a legitimate Opinion piece. I invite you to express your own feelings about the legislature in the comments or by contacting Nancy.

– M

It makes me laugh how the Wall Street Journal continually posts ads from the state of Ohio suggesting what a great state Ohio is to start a business. In 1999, we relocated from a highly successful vineyard operation in Oregon, in order to prove that great wines could be made in southern Ohio and to revitalize the area with new wineries for agritourism. We personally mentored at least five new wineries, and continue to help more.

I would like to describe several current situations regarding the Ohio Department of Agriculture and wineries, and then two other situations that reflect how they are hurting small farmers. To put finances in perspective: The Ohio wine and grape industry released its 2008 economic impact report, which finds that Ohio’s grape and wine industry has a significant impact of more than $580 million on the state’s economy.
Highlights of the report include:

  • In 2008, the Ohio wine and grape industry had an economic impact of $582.8 million.
  • The Ohio grape and wine industry employed more than 4,000 people in 2008, providing a payroll of $124.2 million.
  • The Ohio grape and wine industry contributed an estimated $62 million back in state, local and federal tax revenue.

Situation #1: Given the fact that the Ohio wine industry contributes so much money to the economy, we are appalled at the latest overreach by the Ohio Department of Agriculture bureaucracy. There is a law on the books that allows them to inspect wineries as food production facilities, something that neither California, Oregon or other huge wine producing states do. Only wineries that wholesale their wine are subject to this annual inspection, which wineries will be charged an annual fee for, ranging from $50 to $300. Wineries that only sell retail will not be inspected. I have actually been in a winery in Ohio that only sold at retail that had dog turds on the floor. Wholesale warehouses that store wine may not be inspected (follow the distributor lobby money).

Nothing harmful to humans can live in wine. We actually had an ODA person suggest that we wash the grapes to eliminate insects, a laughable comment. There was a suggestion to use bleach to clean up black mold, a product that is well known to cause TCA taint in wine. Our only avenue for change is to change the law to exempt wineries. In the meantime, inadequately trained, probably highly paid registered sanitarians will be hitting the road and generating travel expenses to make sure that wineries have hairnets in the building. The maximum amount of money these fees could generate for the state would be $30,000, and it will be much less than that.

The claim is to protect the public, but there are no plans to take samples of wines for testing of any kind, and wineries are already highly regulated by the federal government (TTB) and local health organizations. This is just bureaucratic bloat and a waste of taxpayer money.

We cannot get a straight answer as to what part of the regulatory code will be enforced. On a conference call, I was basically told that wineries could be inspected with different criteria. And imagine if your winery is inspected in January, when everything is cleaned up, or at crush, when bees, fruit flies, etc. fill the winery.

Situation #2. We have been making Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Viognier/Roussanne and Petit Verdot for 10 years. In general these wines are in the 12%-13% alcohol range. A fine vintage from 2008 pushed them all over 14% alcohol. The federal government approves all wine labels. For free. The state of Ohio rubber stamps such labels, at an initial fee of $50 per label. Because these wines went over 14%, I was required to submit “New Label Registrations” and write a check for $250 to the state.

Situation #3: It goes beyond wineries. Last year, Harmony Hill Vineyards had a wonderful farmers market. The Ohio Department of Agriculture has now said that if you want to sell your eggs or meat at a Farmers Market, a cooler with blue ice is no longer good enough to store your food for a couple of hours. “Mechanical refrigeration” is required. So that means you load up a refrigeration, hope you can plug it in somewhere, transfer your food in the cooler, load it in the fridge, and reverse for the trip home.

We use farm fresh eggs in fining, and needed 6 dozen eggs from a small egg producer in Ripley. She is NOT allowed to deliver the eggs to us, a few miles away. We had to pick them up.

Situation #4: The Fizzleville Fair in Adams County has made home made ice cream for over 30 years. Apparently that will no longer be allowed.

So, in summary, this is a bureaucracy out of control. We need new leaders who will get out of the way and let Ohio small business do what they do best without excessive and stupid regulations. Ohio is hurting and driving small business out of Ohio, not encouraging it.

– Nancy Bentley

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Michelle at 2:30 am in Current Affairs, Guest Writers, Legislation, Wine Misc | Permalink | Comments (2)
Jun 14

Be Our Guest

By the time you read this, I’ll be on my way to San Diego … then Pennsylvania … then DC … then Walla Walla and Seattle. Hopefully while we’re in Seattle and Walla Walla, we’ll get some posts in from the Wine Bloggers Conference. No promises though.

However, so that you still get information on a regular basis, I’ve lined up a group of guest bloggers. They’ve already given me their posts (so that I don’t have any surprises) and they are scheduled and ready to go. For the times Kevin and I are gone, you’ll be hearing from our friends and colleagues, both locally and in other exciting cities.

I hope you enjoy their insight! They’ll be bringing you different perspectives based on their locations, jobs, and interests.

You’ll be hearing from

Kevin will also be chiming in while I’m on the business portion of the trips.

Thanks, and “see” you in July!


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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Michelle at 8:00 am in Guest Writers, Travel | Permalink | Comments (2)
Oct 28

Wine Shop Wednesday: A Month in Business

This is one of several recurring posts from David Lazarus about the intricacies of opening and running a wine shop. David's posts will appear on Wednesdays.

As we come to the conclusion of our first full month in business and enter our sixth week of operation, our store has had a week of ups and downs.

Last week we had tow special tastings, both with winery principals. Our Tuesday tasting went very well and was well attended (for the short notice and considering we are new), while our Thursday event was a great chance to get to know Brent Shortridge better, but Jan and I were basically the only ones there. The lesson from these two events, do not assume anything. I had thought Tuesday would be the dud and clearly I was wrong.

That aside, we still had our best week yet! We had a number of people venture in on Saturday to sample from the dozen or so bottles that were open. Sales throughout the week were strong; all in all it was an encouraging week.

That said I am still slogging through the checks of inventory and pricing in our POS system and our Quickbooks is not yet integrated with the POS system. Aggravation levels are diminishing as more aspects of the business run smoothly and I think we will be in good shape by the time that the holidays get into over drive.

As I said with my last post none of this would be possible without the customers who have both found us for the first time and those who I have known for years. When this business is a success, I can claim some credit, but more will go to our customers, my wife, and all of the others who have helped to get this store off of the ground.

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Posted by Michelle at 10:50 am in Guest Writers, Wine Shop Wednesday, Wine Shops | Permalink | Comments ()
Oct 21

Wine Shop Wednesday: Opening Glitches

This is the one of several recurring posts from David Lazarus about the intricacies of opening and running a wine shop. David’s posts will appear on Wednesdays.

We finally got the store open to the public and made our first sale. It should be great and we should be able to relax and just sell wine, right? Not so fast! There were a few glitches upon opening.

We opened our door with a fancy point-of-sale (POS) computerized register that turned out to be non-operational. That means no inventory control, no fancy receipts, no tracking customer sales history. This made life harder since much of the wine sold in the first several weeks was not tracked and I only noticed sales after several bottles of a wine had been sold. Although this was a major headache and somewhat embarrassing, it was not the only glitch at opening.

image from farm4.static.flickr.com
We had been so busy just getting the store set up that we hadn’t remembered simple things like bags for our customers to carry the wine home. We also had not done anything about wine accessories. It took about a week after opening for me to find a source for the bags, and then another week or so before I got the wine accessories ordered. But the store was finally beginning to reflect what I’d envisioned.

What more could we have to worry about? Now we can sit back and sell wine! Well, now that we have our working POS system, we still have to proof the nearly seven hundred listings to correct any mistakes in the transfer of data and put in pricing where it was left out. We also have a weekly task of selecting the theme of the Friday wine tasting, the complementary food, and then getting the whole thing in place on Friday. It is a lot of work and yes, some of the tasks will remain as part of our weekly list of tasks, but eventually it will become easier as it becomes part of our routine.

image from farm3.static.flickr.com
Glitches aside, I have been pleasantly surprised with the response of the neighborhood surrounding our store. We have made sales every day we have been open and better than half of those have been to new customers. We have even had new repeat customers. All of this in just three weeks! Are we making money yet? Certainly not, but we do have decent cash flow for a brand-new business. Under the circumstances (economy and new business), we are doing better than anyone would have expected.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of those who have patronized  our new venture and encourage those who love interesting wines to come and check us out.

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Michelle at 8:13 am in Guest Writers, Wine Shop Wednesday, Wine Shops | Permalink | Comments ()

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