Melissa Kaylene

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Living Locally: An Evening at Stoller Family Estates

A few weeks ago Wayne and I headed over to Stoller Family Estates with a couple of friends for an evening outside under the stars to watch a live performance of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew”. We had never done anything like that before, however since we pretty much live a hop skip and a jump away from Stoller (I know, how lucky, right?) we decided to just do it – and we were so glad we did!

The evening was gorgeous, set out on a hill in the vineyard, where you had the option to purchase Red Hill’s Farm pizzas or you could pack a picnic. There was also wines to purchase by the glass or by the bottle, and we just had to sample a bottle (or two!) of their 2014 Pinot Noir Rose’. It was amazing – the perfect drink to sip on a summer night.

I never used to know just how lucky I am to live in the heart of the Willamette Valley – surrounded by beautiful wineries and many fun events. We literally live an hour from the beach, two hours from the mountains and 20 miles from the state capital and 30 miles from Portland – and yet I live in a small town where we are all about community.

It’s a great place to raise our family.

If you are ever in the area I would definitely recommend you stop by the Stoller Winery for a visit. Their tasting room is open daily from 11-5pm with tasting flights offered for $15 (waived with a purchase of wine). 


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Wine Bloggers Conference: Day 2

(See day one HERE)

You know you are at the Wine Blogger’s Conference when you begin tasting at 10 am with as much champagne being poured and consumed as coffee! The opening notes began promptly at 9:30 am the next day and we had a variety of topics, from our key note speaker Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible, to the Finger Lakes Country Tourism Board, who gave us a brief history on how the Finger Lakes happened, as well as the topography of the area. Lunch was presented by the Finger Lakes Country Tourism Board and we all sat outside eating salad and sipping wines of our choice from a variety of vendors at an expo held concurrent with lunch.

Afterwards there were more sessions available to choose from, and I chose to attend a class on Rieslings from the Finger Lakes region, partly because I’ve always been a fan of that grape varietal, and also because Riesling has traditionally been very dominant in the Finger Lakes region. There we learned in greater depth about the grapes, and had the opportunity to sample 8 very different styles of Riesling. Riesling is known for being a "terroir-expressive"grape, meaning that it picks up many flavors from the soil and surroundings.

Directly after the hour long session began another one, which was unlike any other session I had experienced: live wine tastings and tweeting. 10 local wineries were in attendance, and the closest thing I can refer the event to would be similar to what I’ve been told speed dating is like. Bloggers were in groups in tables and each company would take turns coming to our table to let us sample one of their wines – the catch was that they only had 5 minutes to spend with us and tell us about their wine and answer questions. Oh, and yes, we were live Tweeting during it as well. After 5 minutes they switched and we had another glass of wine to sample from another winery, and this went on for an hour! It was so crazy and fast but kind of fun at the same time. We sampled only white wines on Friday, and then Saturday we held another session for just reds. I’m not normally an iced wine person, but I did happen to like Casa Larga‘s iced wine. It had honey and peach aromas, and was rich and smooth which made it very enjoyable.

Directly after the speed tasting event (as I refer it to), we all set outside where tour buses were ready and waiting to take us to different locations that were all a surprise. The idea was to just hop on a bus, enjoy the ride, and then share your experiences with each other afterwards.

I was so very happy where I ended up though! Remember the Dr. Frank’s Riesling I sampled? The particular bus I hopped on ended up taking us to their vineyard and winery, which overlooks Keuka Lake. We were greeted outside at the vineyard with tastings not only from Dr. Frank’s winery, but also from Lucas Wines and Genova Winery. The scenery surround us was so peaceful; so surreal. After chatting and learning more about the vineyard we headed in to the tasting room, where all three wineries generously brought in 3 different library wines out for us to try, and offered delicious fruit, cheese, and meat platters, which were presented in a way that I had never seen before: vertically. I couldn’t help but take a picture because I thought it was such a great idea.

I was honored that they let us try wines that they had been saving for years, the oldest wine we tasted was a Riesling from Genova from 1983! We also sampled wines from them. Dr. Frank and then Lucas Wines brought in three different Cab. Franc out from 2007, 2005, and 2002 so we could all taste the differences between the bottles.

When we finished with the wine tasting we were all invited out onto the tasting room’s deck, and we enjoyed lovely Buffett style dinner with the owners from each of the wineries, who were all so kind and generous. They truly were amazing hosts.

We returned to the bus after dinner to head back to Corning, which was about an hour drive from the lake, and everyone enjoyed themselves on the bus, pouring more wine and chatting with each other.

When we returned we were dropped off at the Rockwell Museum of Western Art, where a reception was waiting for us. There we had small bites and wines to taste as we freely browsed through the gallery levels as live music was performed.  

After the reception I headed downtown with a few friends that I had made, and we stopped into what had become a very popular restaurant and bloggers, called Foot and Mouth. There we had a cocktail (or two) before we headed off to an after party at the hotel which was hosted by Jordan Winery. I finally got to sleep after two am – happy and very exhausted!

Stay tuned for Day 3! 


Friday, August 28, 2015

A Snack Pack® Picnic

Compensation provided by Snack Pack® via Mode Media

I know that across the country many kids are heading back to school, but I’m happy that our school district doesn’t resume classes until Labor Day, so we are all together until September 8th this year, and I’ve been trying to make the most of our last few days together at home.

We love to do little picnics in our yard here, tea parties, lunch, brunch – we’ve done them all – but we’ve never done a sweet treat afternoon Snack Pack® picnic before!

My kids love SnackPack® pudding, so I thought about making a fun and easy mix-in picnic for them to celebrate the end of summer vacation.

What you need:
  •    Picnic essentials: an adorable blanket, preferably a basket, and plates, napkins, etc.
  •    Snack Pack pudding: chocolate, vanilla, and butterscotch flavors.
  •  A variety of toppings: such as raisins, coconut flakes, chocolate sprinkles, whipped cream,      candies, flavored syrups, etc.
  •  A little time to spend with your kids.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t take enough time out of my schedule to just ‘be’ with the kids, without rushing here or there or worrying about what I should be doing or what has to be cleaned…and I need to stop. Stop all of the nonsense that we *think* has to happen, and start doing more fun little moments like this.

Snack Pack® picnics on a summer afternoon – just because; because the kids will love it, because I know that in the span of my life there are only a few short sweet summers that they will want to do this and because it’s important and will be a great memory.

Even if your kids are back to school already, I encourage you to do something new: surprise them with an after school Snack Pack® picnic that is all set up and waiting for them when they arrive home. It will make them smile, which in return will make your day.

This back to school season take a moment to slow down and enjoy a tasty and fun treat with the kids. Snack Pack comes in a variety of flavors and offers endless mix-in opportunities the kids can help prepare. Each serving of Snack Pack is fortified with as much calcium as an 8 ounce glass of milk*, so you can feel good about serving your kids Snack Pack. For mix-in inspiration, visit Snack Pack on Pinterest ( and Facebook (

** All Snack Pack products contain at least 30% DV of calcium, with the exception of Bakery Shop Lemon Meringue Pie, Lemon Pudding, and Snack Pack Gels.