Bottle Stock Spring Trunk Show

by whitney on April 14, 2014

Angelenos! Please join me this Saturday at Platform in Highland Park for Bottle Stock‘s Spring Trunk Show and Róse Tasting. I’ll have the full lineup of B/S goods including our ERMIE collabo of hand-dyed indigo + cochineal wine totes and cocktail napkins, as well as the debut of a few new items!

bottle stock spring trunk show

Oh! There will also be pink wine! How could I forget. I’ll be pouring three of my fav róses of the season (suggested donation).

See you there?

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Me Time

by whitney on April 8, 2014

I need ME TIME!! I’m screaming. But seriously, it’s important. I cherish the moments when I find a pocket of time in a day when I don’t have to be anywhere, do anything, or see anyone.  Sometimes, I waste it by watching stupid YouTube videos and stalking people on social media. BUT. But. Sometimes, I pick some roses from the bush in front of my bungalow (that I didn’t plant!) and pour myself a glass of wine. When you’re only worrying about yourself, you can be selfish in your wine decisions. What is it I want in this exact moment? Something pink and cold and tart. Done!

pink and red

I poured myself some 2013 Teutonic Pinot Noir Rosé and dang was it delicious. I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve tasted from this Oregon winery and was so excited to dig in to this new release. It was almost prickly on my tongue, so young and fresh. A perfect way to end a 90 degree day here in LA. As we are only in April, I fear a brutal summer ahead. But, that just gives me an excuse to drink more rosé. So, I guess it won’t be all that bad.

teutonic

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Lady Somm Style: Dana Frank

by whitney on April 4, 2014

Dana Frank is a busy lady. She’s the wine director of Ava Gene’s in Portland, co-owner (with husband Scott) of Bow & Arrow Wines, and mom to Orly. Her wine list at AG is strictly Italian, so she certainly has a soft spot in her little wine-soaked heart for vino. My kind of lady! Dana has a palate and approach to wine that I respect and am inspired by. She is the perfect example of the modern sommelier-  without attitude (or a suit)- just pure passion for her wines and her guests. And always a big smile.

dana

How did you become a sommelier?

I became interested in wine because I’ve always loved food and cooking. I returned to Oregon in 2003 after almost four years in the peace corps in Romania. I was sort of in shock being back in the U.S. and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with myself, so I took a paid apprenticeship as a pantry and pastry cook in Bend, in central Oregon. After a year as a pastry chef, and ungodly hours in a small kitchen with four male cooks, I was really craving the interaction with guests in the dining room. I left the kitchen and took a job at another restaurant in Bend, this time as a server with no wine experience. But I fell into the right place at the right time, trained by front-of-house professionals from San Francisco and Jackson Hole.  And I was tasting and talking about wine all the time. With support and encouragement from my co-workers and tasting group I took my Level 1 exam through the Court of Master Sommeliers and moved to Portland after passing.

Since being here, I’ve passed my Certified Exam and have worked in most facets of the wine business. My husband, Scott, and I were both retail buyers back in the day. I worked for Triage Wines, a now-defunct importer and wholesaler representing the likes of Louis/Dressner, Skurnik and José Pastor. I was the direct sales manager for the Casteel family at Bethel Heights Vineyard. And in 2010, Scott and I started our winery, Bow & Arrow. Scott makes Loire-inspired wines with fruit from the Willamette Valley at our winery in Portland, and I help where needed. After nearly 10 years working in wine, I’ve realized my heart lies in the restaurant business, and I’m now running my fifth wine program. It’s my favorite job, being a wine director and a sommelier, and although it’s not a job that gets quite as much play in Portland as it does in other cities, I really can’t imagine doing anything else. I go to work everyday, excited to do what i’m doing, grateful to be learning.

What’s your go-to look/daily uniform for work?

Portland is really casual, so I try to strike a balance between dressed-down and professional. Our front-of-house staff can wear anything they want, so I follow suit, in my own way. I generally wear skinny jeans or printed pants with heeled booties or clogs and some kind of a fun, bright-colored top, or a classic white t-shirt. The focal point of Ava Gene’s is a wood-burning hearth at the chef’s counter, so the restaurant always feels warm. As a result, I wear a sleeveless shirt most nights. Sometimes I’ll throw on a pencil skirt with a simple tank top, or a knee-length dress, but I find pockets totally necessary for my job, so pants are my go-to.

My make-up routine is spartanly simple, and I don’t even wear lipstick (I hate the half-worn-off look in the middle of service), so my face is the same whether I’m working or not. I love a good statement piece of jewelry. Depending on the day, it’s either a short, chunky necklace, or a long delicate necklace and gold or silver hanging earrings. Since I have short hair, I wear a necklace or earrings everyday, as well as my wedding rings and, lately, a big vintage navajo turquoise ring on my right hand.

Do you transition your outfit from daytime duties to nighttime floor action?

I can get away with wearing the same outfit day to evening for service. During the rainy season, I’ll often wear rain wellies and bring my work shoes with me. My admin days normally end around 6pm, so I usually wear sneakers or boots those days, and if I’m hanging in the warehouse schlepping wine or doing inventory, I’m almost always in a sweater or sweatshirt and a scarf.

dana b/w

 What are the three things you can’t leave home without when heading to the restaurant? 

  1. Pencil case (holds pencils, pens, wine key, and chapstick)
  2. Phone
  3. Contact lens case and glasses. My 12-hour shifts are brutal on my lenses.

Three things a somm should never do or wear?

1. Be a know-it-all. The world of wine is massive, and we can always, always learn more. I can’t stand competitively talking about wine. That whole “I’ve drunk that wine, I know this winemaker, I have 15 vintages of x in my cellar” drives me bonkers.

2. Overtalk. Read your guest and know how much information they want from you, and how they want you to interact with them. I think being a great somm is about giving your guests an experience, not a lesson.

3. Make a guest keep a wine they aren’t enjoying. I’d rather take a wine back, pour it by the glass, sample it to staff, share it with other guests, than force a table to drink and pay for a wine that won’t contribute positively to their evening.

What wine (or wine region) on your list at Ava Gene’s is exciting you the most right now?

It’s a three-way toss-up: Sardinia, especially some of the bright, fresh versions of Cannonau and Bovale now available on the West coast. Northern Piedmont, because I’ve been incredibly excited about some offbeat things like Avana and Bequet as of late. And the Langhe, for the stunning Rieslings and Riesling blends that are perfect for this time of year. But, It’s actually really too hard to choose what I’m most excited about. Writing a list that’s 100% Italian means there’s something piquing my interest, pushing my button every week. A few weeks ago it was Marsala and Sagrantino.

What do you usually drink and/or eat at the end of a shift?

Either a glass of white or rosé while i’m buttoning up at work, or a Negroni or rye whiskey on the rocks after my shift.

Photos by Travis Blue

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This Sunday: Whitney’s Picks at Domaine LA!

by whitney on April 1, 2014

I’ll be pouring some of my favorite splurge picks at Domaine LA Sunday afternoon.  Since we all fall into the trap of reaching for the under $20 bottle most days, it’s time to kick it up a notch. Life is far too short to not treat yourself to something special. You’re worth it!

domaine la

I’ve chosen wines that excite me, that are drinking great right now, but that are also bottles you can lay down and forget about for a while. Most everyone knows I have an undying love for Italian wine. So, I’ll be pouring a beautiful and classic Champagne method sparkler from Piedmont and a more wild skin contact Pinot Grigio from my beloved Friuli. Rounding out the bunch are wines from France, Spain, and California: a divine Chenin Blanc, a Rioja Reserva, and a wine exemplifying the New California style.  Let’s do this! See you there?

Head here for all the details. No reservations necessary!

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The Nose Knows

by whitney on March 31, 2014

Smelling stuff is a major part of what I do. So my nose, at this point, is super sensitive to almost anything. Which can really suck at times. But it can also be amazing, especially when I find something that smells fantastic. I love two things right now so much that I just had to share them with you. And your noses.

candle

The candles from Pommes Frites Candle Co. are superb. They have intensity, but aren’t overpowering. And they smell like real stuff, nothing artificial or manufactured. I’ve been burning the Spruce scent and even when it’s not lit, it kind of haunts me if I sit anywhere near it. Like how a man’s cologne settles into his skin and smells lived in after a day of work. That good. Winter forest, bruleed citrus, and delicate musk. I would bath in it if I could.

palo burn

A friend introduced me to the magic of palo santo. And let me tell you- once you go palo santo, you never go back. I will never burn incense ever again.  Palo santo is a tree native to South America and its fragrant wood burns very slowly. One stick will last months. It literally smells like burnt wood, but with a sweetness to it. Vanilla and mint, exotic spices. It’s chic hippie, as opposed to, like, patchouli hippie.

These have gotten me through Winter and I can’t wait to find my Spring/Summer scents. It’s like fashion. Aroma fashion.

Candle from Summer Camp. | Palo santo bundle from Platform.

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Steaks in the Fireplace

by whitney on March 18, 2014

Say what? That’s right! Steaks IN the fireplace. Cause, why not? Seems as good a place as any, when it comes to fire and cooking. My buddy Ted hosted me while in Santa Barbara and cooked up quite the feast, inside and outside of the fireplace. He’s a man of many skills, clearly. He also opened some stellar bottles of my beloved French vin nature. The standout of the night was from a new-to-me Languedoc producer Mas des Agrunelles. Ted is importing these wines and I’m so happy that he is because they are delicious. Their ‘Les Mauves’ is 100% Cinsault, which is somewhat rare to see, as it’s usually a blender grape. It was tangy, pure, and transparent in its authenticity. It showed a tiny bit of its natural wine quirks, but I loved it even more for it. It was cheerful and it made me want to drink ALL of it and be rosy-cheeked and eat steak cooked in a fireplace.

the table les mauves steak!

Please excuse the blurry pic. At this point in the evening, I was hungry. And buzzed. This was the absolute BEST I could.

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Les Marchands

by whitney on March 10, 2014

I mentioned I (finally!) stopped by Les Marchands while in Santa Barbara a few weeks ago. I posted all my pics from the visit over on the Domaine LA blog. Check it out!

entrance

swirl

shelves

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Raveneau Happy Hour

by whitney on March 3, 2014

I headed up to Santa Barbara a few weeks ago for a teeny tiny mini vacay. A mini vacay for me involves planning a whole lot of nothing and a whole lot of wine. After a quick visit to Les Marchands and Lilly’s for some tacos, my friends and I went to another friend’s house for some happy hour action. The action was of the white Burgundy variety and I was very much down with that. You know when every element of a moment seem perfectly aligned? The air, the light, the energy, the conversation, the music, the wine- all delicately in sync. It was like that, and the wine was so good I could have filled my glass a dozen times over.

backlit

prep

cork   vintage

We enjoyed two delicious wines, two different expressions of Chardonnay- the 2010 Chablis from Raveneau (pictured) and a 2011 St. Aubin from Hubert Lamy. Both very good, very pure and direct, wines that know exactly what they are. The Raveneau was bursting with flavor and texture, acidity, elegance. Basically didn’t want the bottle to empty, but we had to get on the road to the next wine (or six). Our dinner, wherein steak was cooked in the living room fireplace (!) and many fun French vin nature were consumed, on the blog next!

sunset

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Share the Love

by whitney on February 10, 2014

One of my favorite things about this whole wine deal I have going on is sharing the wines I love with my friends. I love seeing them perk up after a sip of something delicious. My friend Claire had her second annual Gal-entine’s Day brunch recently to celebrate all the ladies in her life. She put out quite the spread of savory tarts and quiches, a DIY garland station of beautiful flowers, and bubbly wine with fresh juice. Guests brought yummy desserts and other goodies. I brought wine, as per usual. My go-to wine for a daytime girly affair is pink pet nat. A new favorite is Stephane Serol‘s ‘Turbulent’, a super delightful gamay bubbly.

ladies love pink

It pretty much goes with anything. Savory quiche, sweet scones, buttery biscuits, sunshine…

We had quite the afternoon. Making garlands, drinking, eating, drinking, and playing a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity. Check out Rue Magazine for all the pics and Claire’s tips! You’ll also get a peek at Bottle Stock‘s new greeting cards.

bottle stock vday cards

Hope your week is filled with friends, love, and belly laughs. And wine. Duh.

Photos by Claire Thomas

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Stillness

by whitney on February 4, 2014

I survived. I made it half way around the world and back. Plane travel still blows my mind! So does Thailand. What a marvelous place, so full of energy. So much energy bursting at the seams, it’s hard not to smile. Apparently, it’s also hard to take any photos because there’s so much fun stuff to do. I took my nice Canon 7D all the way to Thailand and I only took the two pictures you see below. And that’s OK. I had my iPhone and Instagram, after all.

bed

I was compelled to take these pictures, because I wanted to capture something else I found in Thailand- stillness. My favorite town from the trip was Pai, in the North. There is a peacefulness there that effortlessly settles into the air. The light, the sounds of chanting in the hills, everything just slows down. I didn’t buy many souvenirs, but that stillness and pace is something that I am trying to bring back with me to my everyday in Los Angeles. It’s so very easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle.

IMG_4918

Thank you, Thailand.

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