CA Fire Relief- How you can help!


Hey Wineos,

Our renowned wine capitals Napa and Sonoma have been hit with terrible wild fires that have displaced families and damaged many of the wineries we all love. For detailed information about which wineries were affected and which counties have been burned please read here.

In latest news, the majority of the fires have been contained for the time being. Many organizations in the area are looking for donations to help rebuild wine country and support the families.

Image result for love in the air is thicker than the smoke

So how can you help?

The Winemakers and Sommeliers For California Wildfire Relief group is hosting fundraising events, taking donations, and taking donated quality vintage wine bottles to use as auction items for funds.

The American Red Cross is taking applications for volunteers to help bring aid to the area as well as donations on their website. Donations can be directed to all general disaster relief which covers the CA fires, Hurricane Harvey, and Hurricane Maria. You can choose which disaster you want to donate to.

The Redwood Empire Food Bank is also taking monetary donations and food donations if you live locally. The money goes to help feeding the displaced families.

Gloria Ferrer winery in Sonoma is doing a special where $1 from every purchase goes towards the fire relief. Check out their website for fundraising events or shop online to make a difference. Every bottle counts!

Scribe Winery in Sonoma County has opened a pre-sale for their special edition Pinot Noir where the proceeds from the sales will go to local aid forces. The wine will ship on November 1st and this limited edition bottle costs $32 dollars. We here at half-past just purchased a bottle and will be reviewing it soon for you!

2017 Nouveau of Pinot Noir Presale // Ships Nov 1st

For even more ways to help like donating to the local firefighters in the area or clothing donations check out

Please do your part to help support the vineyards and the people that work hard to provide you with USA made wine every day. #CAwinestrong

Stay Wine Strong and Cheers

Feature Image Credit – Santa Cruise Mountains Winegrowers Association

Love in the Air Image Credit – Two-Way Breaking News NPR

Pinor Noir Wine Bottle Image Credit – Scribe Winery 




Game of Wines?

I’m sure some of our readers out there happen to be fans of the show Game of Thrones, or a least know someone who watches it faithfully each week. So to celebrate the return of America’s most watched TV phenomenon, we’re pouring HBO licensed wine each Sunday after discovering the Westeros themed bottles at Total Wine.



The show has it’s own wine brand that can be found here for purchase online. As much as I love this show, I wasn’t about the spend $49.99 on their high-end Cabernet. I purchased the GOT Red Blend and the GOT Chardonnay, which I have seen at multiple retailers. If any of our readers happen to go the extra mile and purchase the Cabernet from Napa (aka Dorne) PLEASE let us know your review!

The dragons of khaleesi must have had a hand in the smoked and hickory nose and subtle notes in the wine. It’s a light red but borders on medium body that’s bright with red delicious apple flavor with a cranberry tannin bite. It even have tones of raspberry and plum as the wine breathes.

I highly recommend either an aerator or opening this wine on Saturday night and leaving it corked on the counter for the Sunday showtime. It may need a bit of air to fully develop but easy drinking!

The GOT Chardonnay was a bit more mellow than I was expecting. It wasn’t a toasted buttery bomb that many expect from wines out of CA. It was fresh with a medium body and very light oak. It screams of pear flavor with a green apple finish that keeps it from feeling too heavy. Both wines claim to be from Dorne, but I could swear it hails from a more northern kingdom considering the acidity allowed me to turn it into a bright risotto dish for that Sunday’s episode.  The cork brandished a Lannister lion as if to rebel against the bottle’s Dornish label.


Each bottle is decorated with the famous family emblems as seen in the opening credits of every show. I highly recommend keeping the bottles as a nerd trophy. The artwork of the show is always great. These wines will please any guest and I recommend pairing with food!

“I drink and I know things.” – Tyrion Lannister








Cava’s Little Sister, Summer White!

Just when you think Spain can’t get anymore ingenious after inventing sangria, they share yet another one of their long standing traditions: vi d’agulla from Avinyó


In Catalan, the name means ‘prickly wine.’ But despite it’s Spanish origins, this label reads ‘Petillant,’ which is a French wine designation meaning ‘slightly sparking.’

Avinyó’s Petillant white wine is produced in Catalonia Spain, with 80% Petit Grain Muscat and 20% Macabeu grapes. After being fermented in stainless steel tanks, the wine is given its light bubbles from the Charmat Method (tank method)  in a secondary tank.


Why is it Catalonia’s summer drink of choice? Probably because it’s everything you need from a summer white. Crisp, lightly acidic, blooming with lychee and green apple flavors, floral, with tiny almost metallic bubbles that are a match made in heaven for summer seafood pairings – as if the tiny silver fishes on the label didn’t give it away.

If you happen to come across any petillant or vi d’agulla wines in your travels this summer PLEASE take the opportunity to taste them ice cold with all your summer food choices.


Rare find! – Ancient Peaks Winery

Picture owning a large cattle ranch in central California…and one day some big wine conglomerate comes by and wants to buy patches of your land to grow grapes. Three years later, the grapes are finally ready to be turned into wine, but the conglomerate wants to leave – What luck! Buy the land back, and now you have perfectly managed wine fields that are yours for production. This is the lucky story of Ancient Peaks Winery at the Santa Margarita Ranch.

Don’t worry: they are still a cattle ranch too,but now produce a line up of over 8 different wines each growing in 5 different kinds of soils. Each bottle specifies which soil the grapes were grown in the back label. Did I mention that one of their soil types in an ancient sea bed? Picture massive fossilized oyster shells popping up among the grape vines!


Why is this winery a rare find? The inside scoop is that only 6 different wine shops in the whole state of MA have been presented with the Ancient Peaks wines. We don’t have any information about other states, but so far the number of places to possibly purchase this wine is limited.

So stay on the lookout! If the search doesn’t prove fruitful, check out their online store to see if they ship to your state. Kristen was lucky enough to try their Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Zinfandel.


Cabernet Sauvignon  

It’s a rare day where I enjoy all of the wines that I try in one sitting. This cabernet was a perfect balance of everything we love about the grape. It wasn’t overly fruity or tart, it was smooth with softer tannins with medium body weight. Showing flavors of dark berries and even very subtle hints of cocoa on the mid palate. Perfect for dinner or just stand alone drinking.



Now, Merlot I am very skeptical off because normally it is not my favorite grape. But this bottle was wonderfully produced.  It was velvety, rich, with black cherry and plummy notes and it included that signature mocha smell that you can expect from the grape. This bottle advertises that it was grown in the ancient sea bed, which might have something to do with its subdued quality. It’s a must for red meats or even game meats if you want to take the flavor up a notch.



This has to be one of my favorite zinfandels yet. It was juicy, refreshing, quenching, and yet the fruit flavor was controlled in a way that made it enjoyable sip after sip. With bright berry notes in the front and a slight tart and pepper zing at the finish, this wine is a fun ride for your palate and I hope you get the chance to nab this bottle.


Just in case giant sea shells wasn’t enough of a draw, the next time you are in CA I would recommend stopping by their site. Not only are there cows, a cafe, tasting room, and tours but they now host a 2.5 hour long zip line experience across their property!

Happy Wine Hunting!

Vineyard Header Photo from

Nobilo: Not Your Average Sauv Blanc

We recently went to the store to pick up a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. Knowing we couldn’t go wrong with wines from Marlborough, New Zealand, we picked a random bottle and expected a traditional experience. But this wine – Nobilo Regional Selection – was anything but ordinary!


The difference was noticeable with just one waft. Nobilo has a blossoming nose with full, floral notes. It was deliciously enticing and aromatic. We almost couldn’t stop smelling it to try a taste! (Do they sell this as candles yet? Take our money!)

The taste was just as unique, a delicate balance of citrus with a hint of acid in the finish. While the wine was smooth and light on the pallet, its flavors hold its own. We noticed flavors of pears and oranges, with just a vague hint of something sweeter, like vanilla. It was perfect for a casual glass (or two, or three!).

And to make things even better, we snagged a bottle for just $7.99!

You can find more about the wine here:

Featured image:




Wine & Cider

We know you have already been bombarded with pumpkin, apples, spice, and everything nice. But what if there was a way to combine your love for the season and wine?

Welcome back to the Half Past Wine O’clock wine lab where we enjoy experimenting and inventing simple drinks for you to try!

This time we played with the obvious fall superstar: apple cider. Some love it cold and smooth and others prefer and it hot and spicy. Fear not: you can have both.




Cider Shivers

3/4 c cold apple cider

1/2 c cold white fruity wine

top off with orange flavored seltzer

This drink was not so precise when we came up with it. Take a mason cup and fill the bottom quarter of it with white wine, add in as much cider as you like, and then top it off with some bubbly seltzer to give it some flare. Simple yet not your average cider. Experiment and tell us what you liked!





Cider Cinders

3/4c hot mulled cider

1/2c room temp white wine

1 tbsp rum (half a shot)

cinnamon stick for flavor while you drink

Mull the cider by infusing mulling spiced into apple cider on the stove. 2 cups of cider with a tablespoon of mulling spices at a low simmer for 15 minutes should do the trick for you and a friend. Strain the spices out of the cider and then add the other alcohols to the pot to heat up. This should only take about a minute or so. Remember you do not want the alcohol to cook off so heat it just barely! Pour your spiked cider into a mug and then throw in a cinnamon stick to flavor while you drink. Try this recipe with cinnamon or spiced liquors like fireball!


Stay warm and drink up!


feature image credit (apple photo) – ‘Taxonomy’ by Rebecca Siegel

Move over Pinot, Here Comes Tino

Pinot Grigio lovers: get ready,  because your world is about to change.

Have you heard of Vermentino? It’s a grape famously grown in Sicily, Italy but you can find it in other countries like France. Check out Wine Folly for an in depth description of the grape!


Kristen got to try Groppolo from the Colli di Luni region in Italy produced by the Il Monticello winery. Most websites say it’s similar to Sauvignon Blanc, but this bottle screamed that it was the more successful yet underrated cousin of Pinot Grigio. The slightly lower acidity level made it a smooth glass of wine that smelled of green pears. It was fresh, fruity, but very light with a small yeasty presence that made very tiny bubbles around the rim.

Have you ever had a wine that could float across your palate but quench your vino craving? Kristen did!


This particular bottle might be a little harder to find than most others we post about. Kristen nabbed it from her European wine shop job but you may have luck at some of the larger wine shops like Wegmans and Total Wine. If you cannot find this particular bottle we hope you have the opportunity to try the Vermentino grape by another producer at least! It’s SO worth the taste! You also might want to buy two bottles instead of one; Kristen drank hers in a blink.





Skipping Stone White: A New England Must-Have

I happened upon Skipping Stone White at Pamplemousse’s spring wine tasting in Reading, MA. It awaited me at the last tasting table and immediately proved itself to be the best white of the day. I didn’t hesitate to order a bottle, and merely had to hold myself back from buying two (or three, or four or five!)


It’s hard to explain this wine past simply saying that everything in it is just right, the kind of wine Goldilocks would only find on the third try. The wine hails from Greenvale Vineyards in Rhode Island, and boasts of crisp tastes and floral hints. It’s smooth, easy-drinking with just enough body to distinguish it without overbearing.


The wine consists of 90% Cayuga and 10% Vidal Blanc, two grapes local to the Northeastern region of America. The vineyard takes great pride in this – and the fact that these local grapes produce their best-selling wine!

At around $12.99-$14.99, it’s a fair price for a perfect bottle.


How Low Can You Go – Cheap Whites

So we found you the best cheap reds under $10, but what about whites?  We find it a lot easier to find good cheap whites than reds or rosés. Mainly because white wines are more flexible with production. Good reds or even roses can take a long time to macerate/age before they are considered “drinkable” but white wines can have shorter production times which means less money on the price tag but not necessarily less quality.

But that doesn’t mean all cheap whites are good. Don’t worry, reader – we’ve done the hard work of taste-testing several inexpensive whites. Here are popular, low-cost whites and whether or not they’re worth a shot!

Avia Pinot Grigio – $4.99


This is our favorite cheap white yet! It’s a great table wine and is a popular low-cost choice at restaurants.

The wine is smooth on the palate with crisp apple tastes but none of the tartness that can make a Pinot too powerful for casual drinking. We highly recommend it; definitely a great white to have on store for guests or back-up for a dinner.

Tip: While we’re in love with Avia’s Pinot Grigio, but we’d strongly suggest avoiding the Pinot Noir.

El Sancho Escudero White Blend – $4.99


Found this one at Whole Foods and figured it was worth a shot. Unfortunately…it wasn’t even worth finishing the bottle.

Despite a beautiful nose and color, the wine tasted like lemon-infused water. I managed one glass but had to discard of the rest of it. Wasn’t worth the calories or the pain it placed on my palate.

Stemmari Moscato – $6.99


Discovered at Kappy’s Liquors produced in sunny Sicily! So it’s  easily found and from a reputable wi making country!

This spritzy (yes it’s got tiny bubbles!) white wine was refreshing, sweet, and light on the palate despite the sweetness. It tastes like white peaches and lychee fruit got together and wanted to be like Champagne. PERFECT summer chilled wine on a budget. I even cooked with it and it creates an AMAZING sweet wine sauce for sautéed scallops.

Three Buck Chuck – $2.99 


This famous Trader Joes brand portfolio covers many different varieties all at affordable prices. I randomly grabbed the Chardonnay to try for this post’s purposes since I’m always on the look out for a good one.

I was a bit surprised and confused by the result. If you love Pinot Gris then this wine is for you. It was acidic, medium bodied, and almost lemon like. It was as if the two grapes tried to have a love child. Buttery lemons would be this wine’s new name. I leave this wine up to your palate for critiquing because mine was very confused.

Bogle Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc – $7.99


Trusting a Bogle brand wine seems easy because their label is seen everywhere. This bottle comes specially from Trader Joes but you can find it at almost any liquor store. I, however, was hesitant since a well-known label doesn’t always mean great product.

My fears were put to rest the minute I opened the bottle (screw top yay!). The aroma was beautiful, floral, and smelled like fresh-cut pears. The taste was perfect for me who enjoys the tang of the grape but prefers a slight sweet to help cut the acidity. This Sav Blanc tasted like green apples with a slight hint of pear juice. The acidity has a bite of fresh lemon or lime but not enough that it has you running for a glass of water. I most definitely recommend this affordable white for you!

Steeple Jack Chardonnay – $6.99


We’ve written about this gem before! We found it at Whole Foods and were attracted to the unwooded chardonnay, preferring the less buttery taste in steel barrel fermentation.

From a family owned vineyard, the wine boasts of its fruitful tastes on the back of the bottle. It lived up to expectation, pleasing our palates with hints of peaches and citrus.

The Curator White Blend – $7.99


Found at Whole Foods, this South African white blend does the job of a decent white without exactly wow-ing the drinker. With a lighter body and a subtle taste, there’s nothing in particular about this wine that stands out. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing; while the wine doesn’t have many memorable qualities, it was a bottle worth finishing, though perhaps not buying again.

While we wouldn’t recommend this wine, it’s not a bad choice, either, and will certainly do the trick!

Do you have any favorite cheap whites, or any you’d like to warn others against? Feel free to comment below!


Image Credit Avia 

Image Credit The Curator