Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's The Most "Zin-Ful" Time Of The Year!

There is one time of the year when one can put on a costume and disguise oneself, be somebody else and not be embarrassed or in trouble for doing it. HALLOWEEN. The most ghoulish and devilish time of the year! It’s fast approaching…Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock! Halloween has become a huge business. This time a year, at least in my neck of the woods, temporary Halloween shops pop up in strip malls everywhere. Of course, being that Halloween is my favorite holiday, I am just as crazed as all those people trying to scramble to get the right costume. As I peruse these shops to find a costume this year, the one thing I know is I’ll never have to disguise is my love of Zinfandel. (Wouldn’t it be fun to find a costume where I could dress up as a bottle of Zin? How awesome would that be? Sure would make for a good conversation piece!)

In 2009, while attending the Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa, I was given the opportunity to chat and rub elbows with the best of the best. At a poolside tasting at our hotel, I met Harry Wetzel, whose family owns and operates Alexander Valley Vineyards, near Healdsburg in Sonoma County. Starting off their family winery in the 1970s, the Wetzels have been a staple in Northern Sonoma County and have an outstanding history and reputation for quality and delicious wines. Harry and I had been online “friends” on Facebook so naturally, I was excited to meet him! I sampled several of his family’s wines and became an instant fan. When I got back home, I began to look around town for some of them.

I remembered that around Halloween time one year, I ran across a boxed set of three of their wines. “The Wicked Weekend” package, they called it. What a “Treat” this was going to be. Three of Alexander Valley Vineyards’ Zinfandels, with gorgeously wicked labels in a seductive little package--guaranteed Halloween fun! However, for me, it was not to be. I didn’t purchase the box at the time. Then in 2007, a friend of mine had one and was going to throw the packaging away. I asked her if I could have the box. She probably thought I was crazy! But instead, I was being crafty. I went out earlier this year and purchased three newer vintages of the wines and stored them in the box. My goal was to let them age a little. Right! That didn’t happen. Harry posted a tweet-up event memo on Facebook recently. It was a contest between Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Zinfandels. I didn’t open them at that time either. But boy, it got me thinking. So a couple weeks ago, slowly but surely, I made my way through all three wines! And guess what??? They’re going to turn everyone into a Zin Lover--even YOU!

While I am unsure if the winery is still selling these as a set of three with the box (those vintages were from 2005), newer vintages have been released since so have some fun with it! OK, let’s get started, shall we?

Here is the line-up: A Zin for each night of the weekend!!!

2007 Alexander Valley Vineyards Temptation Zin -A great starter Zinfandel , it tempts you with rich dark fruit, lingering spiciness and a smooth finish! For $12, no one should pass up this best buy!!

2007 Alexander Valley Vineyards Sin Zin- This is more than likely the wine most people would be familiar with. I can honestly say this is the first bottle of their wines I had ever sampled and boy--what can I say? It is delicious! This one is dark, smooth, full of raspberry and pepper flavor--spicy as heck and so decadent!! (I even picked up a Sin Zin fake tattoo once. Maybe I’ll wear it for Halloween! )I’ve definitely become a fan of this wine. It should be a staple in every Zin lover’s wine collection.$20

So what could be even more decadent that what I’ve just mentioned??? The third of this line--2006 Alexander Valley Redemption Zin. Ah, this one’s a beauty! So smooth and elegant. All the turmoil and spicy heat of the previous two mellow into a velvety mélange of blackberry goodness with just a hint of spiciness on the finish. So nice…Drink this and “All Your Zins will Be Redeemed!” $21

Isn’t it time you discovered these beauties for yourselves? Alexander Valley Vineyards is located in the beautiful Alexander Valley region near Healdsburg, California. The winery has a tasting room and welcomes you to stop by for tastings.Their website,, is a great place to get more information. Their wines are also served in fine restaurants and distributed nationwide for easy access. Serve these award-winning wines at your Halloween party this year or anytime you feel like having a good Zin fest and you'll have a happy crowd! You can also find them on Twitter at @avvwinery and on Facebook.

From one Zin-lover to the next, have a Happy and Zin-ful Halloween!!!
"Clink-Clink" and Cheers to Everyone!

"You Saw It Here First"...This post was created solely for "Cellarmistress' Cellar Talk" by Grace Hoffman. Grace is an Italian-born, American-bred wine blogger/educator with an all-consuming passion for wine and all it encompasses.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cellarmistress Gets Ripped Off!!!

This post is going to be a little out of the ordinary for me. About a week ago, my rosy little blogger world got a swift kick in the pants--a reality check, a shock to the system! I found out I was an internet victim and thankfully I have friends who cared enough to inform me and help me. My good friend, Amy Corron Power, co-author (along with her husband Joe) of one of my favorite wine blogs, "Another Wine Blog" and an attorney in Houston, posted a blog story about people who steal other people's blog content for profit. She was nice enough to mention that in her quest to uncover her stolen blog content, she also found some of mine. There were several of us who had our content scraped and/or autoblogged on to a "fake" wine blog site created for profit by someone else.

Autoblogged. Stolen. Scraped. I was livid! The more I searched, the more I discovered. Every blog post I had authored between the beginning of March and the end of August--27 posts to be exact, showed up on this site. It wouldn't have been so bad if they'd have given me some credit. This would have been the proper thing to do. (I have a disclaimer stating that yes, you can use my content, but you have to notify me in writing. Not difficult or demanding. You just send me an e-mail and I respond. It's that simple!) Each post stated it was written by Grace. That's it--no last name, no link back to my original site, no other information. It appeared as if I (or anyone named Grace) had written each story specifically for them. And to add to my frustration--each one of my posts had a plethora of Google Adsense ads attached to it. These idiots were making money off of me! No, I was the idiot. At least I felt like it for not noticing sooner! (FYI, I personally do not have any Google Adsense ads on my blog site.)

Now, I'm not a technical person and I'm not exactly understanding how these people managed to steal my content. Did they steal it through my RSS feed? Cut and paste? Whatever. I'm learning. And I am fighting back! Thanks to people who care, I received screen shots of my work on their site and Google listings of my work on their site as well. I contacted the culprits personally with a "Cease And Desist" letter. They removed all but one of my posts the same day (that may have been an oversight on their part). They're not out of the woods though. Not by a long shot. I am getting ready to file a DMCA report with Google and have contacted the website's host. DMCA stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act--a United States Copyright Law which covers intellectual property in the digital world. I feel mine was violated and there are penalties for infringing on this via the internet. (I have chosen not to list the website in question so to not draw anymore attention to them or their ads. However, if you feel you need to know, please send me a direct message on Facebook or Twitter and I will tell you where to look.)

So what happens now? Well, it's a waiting game. Who knows if this site will ever be shut down, but until it is, I will constantly be monitoring it. I have to. Ultimately, I'd like to see it shut down and I'd like to see Google get their money back from these thieves. I did notice they have added some more unsuspecting folks' stuff to their site. Guess they have to keep making money somehow. I had a chat recently with my best friend/internet guru and she gave me some great ideas. I will probably never be able to fully stop people from ripping me off like that, after all, there's always someone who thinks the internet is a free-for-all. Going forward, however, I will be putting a short bio/disclaimer at the end of every post. Titled, "You Saw It Here First", it will always give me credit for my posts regardless of where they may end up. I apologize for having to be repetitious like that but I have to do it.

Do yourselves a small favor every once in awhile. If you care about your blog and its content, Google yourself. See if anyone is stealing your stuff. Don't let them do that to you. I've learned a lot from this experience. We wine bloggers stick together and we support each other. We're a community of friends and we don't want to see our friends get hurt. I want to thank Amy and all the other friends who came to my aid and helped me last week. My desire to be a great wine blogger is stronger than ever and this is experience is hopefully just a speed bump. Cheers!

"You Saw It Here First"...This post was created solely for "Cellarmistress' Cellar Talk" by Grace Hoffman. Grace is an Italian-born, American-bred wine blogger/educator with an all-consuming passion for wine and all it encompasses.