I can’t believe it’s been an entire week since I was in
adult Disneyland northern California, sipping wine and having lunch under the sun with the fine folks of Flipflop Wines!
Before I get into my trip, let me give you some info about the company. Flipflop Wines’ headquarters are located in Livermore, California, about 30 minutes east of the Oakland airport, in the impossibly picturesque Concannon Vineyard.
Right. Their offices are in the vineyard. Talk about a desk with a view!
When Flipflop asked me to come out for a quick blogger retreat to learn more about the brand and their wine varietals, I thought, letmethinkaboutitYES. For one, I have alwaysalwaysalways wanted to see California’s wine country (and am still kicking myself for not thinking to fly Ben out and stay through the weekend!) really wanted to learn more about wine, and the Flipflop brand and image really fit my personality and approach towards wine. Please know that I would never accept a trip or product just because it is “free”. ‘Nuf said.
Flipflop’s motto, in a nutshell, is “To each, their own. Drink what you like. Have fun!” aka exactly how I feel about wine. I don’t know a lot about it, but I do know what I like, and don’t take it too seriously. Wine drinking should be fun! Flipflop’s wine varietals are affordable (usually between $7-9/bottle) and the brand really prides itself on providing quality wine for a value.
I know what you may be thinking – quality wine for a value is an oxymoron. To tell you the truth, before my trip to Livermore I would have agreed with you. But I really think Flipflop has something special. Their wine is GOOD. Really good! A lot of that has to do with this guy – David Georges, Flipflop’s Vintner – who I’ll tell you more about in a minute. :)
Flipflop’s laid back approach towards wine is communicated visually, front and center on their wine bottles, which are brightly colored and sporting, what else, flip flops. The bottles also feature screw caps instead of corks which are not only convenient if you’re on a picnic, for instance, and don’t have a wine opener, but actually keep the wine fresher, longer.
What I really love, though, is what’s on the back of the bottle. An explanation of the wine’s flavor, suggested food pairings, AND the wine’s sweetness level. I am such a bonehead about different wine varietals, so this is an especially helpful feature in my opinion.
I touched down in California around 1:00pm on Thursday, then met with the Flipflop team over dinner that evening. The next morning we headed to the vineyard to begin our day with breakfast and Flipflop Daiquiris. FF daiquiris are the new mimosa, if you ask me!
This was one shot Flipflop silver rum mixed with the juice from half a lime, torn mint, and 100% pineapple juice. It was 1,000% off the hook. I accidentally slammed mine…
After breakfast we had a video conference call with Keith Woodley of Soles4Souls, a global, non-profit charity that collects shoes from brands and retailers with excess inventory, private shoe drives, etc., then distributes them to people in need all over the world. Last year they distributed over 18 million pairs of shoes. 18 million! Did you know in some parts of the world, children can’t attend school if they don’t wear shoes?
Flipflop has partnered and supported Soles4Souls since their brand launched a little over a year ago, and help raise money and support the charity in various ways. I thought that was pretty cool.
After the call, we got down to bidness. Cocktail hour. I know.
Ben’s all why are you drinking cocktails at a winery? Well, Flipflop just had a soft release of their new silver and spiced Caribbean rums, which they wanted us to try before we got to wine tasting later in the day.
We set up shop in the Flipflop testing lab, and brand ambassador James Moreland walked us through the tasting.
After pouring us each a sample of their silver and spiced rums, he asked us to smell and describe them before sipping.
Now, I am definitely not the girl who’s going to go into detail about the taste of the wine or rum she’s drinking. To me, it’s either good or it’s not. But, I decided to play along, this time. ;)
After a sip I piped in that the silver rum had hints of vanilla and cinnamon, and that it didn’t have any burn. The flavor was there on the tongue, then it kind of lifted. Then I blushed. I didn’t love the spiced rum – too many captain & cokes in college…
Next, James whipped up a few cocktails using the rums for us to try.
Starting with a fresh Mojito. He muddled fresh mint leaves with sugar cubes and lime, then added a shot each of the silver and spiced rum, and topped it off with soda. SO YUM!
One tip I picked up from him is to not over-muddle the mint, or it will turn bitter. Good to know!
A Mango-Passion Fruit concoction was next…
Followed by what might have been my favorite – a Chicago Fizz. That’s equal parts Flipflop’s Sweet Red Wine and silver rum, mixed with the juice of half a lemon. It was so crazy because it looked like you were going to have a sweet, berry-flavored cocktail, but it actually tasted like a lemon drop!
After cocktail time, we headed outdoors for lunch. Probably a good idea. ;)
We walked past budding grape vines,
under a shaded arbor,
then saw it all laid out in front of us.
I felt like I was in a movie!
The wine was quickly poured – a different varietal for each dish on the menu.
Crisp Pinot Grigio for the spicy Caesar Salad, and deep Cabernet Sauvignon for the tender tri-tip steak.
Since I had to leave early to catch my flight back home, and would be missing the wine tasting in the afternoon, Flipflop’s Vintner, that is, their wine maker David Georges, took me aside for a private tasting session after we finished eating. This guy is GREAT!
One thing I love about visiting company/brand headquarters on blogger trips is really getting to know the people behind the product. It makes me see the company in a whole different light. I could tell 2 minutes into our session that David is not only extremely knowledgeable in the art of wine making, but he’s also very passionate about making good wine, affordable. David is the person that picks the grapes and blends that end up as Flipflop wines, and he isn’t going to let just anything get put on supermarket shelves.
David walked me through the history of each varietal of wine we tried, asked me what I liked and why, and basically we had a great conversation. I could have chatted all day!
A couple things I learned (and don’t laugh if you already knew this):
1. Not all Rieslings are sweet. Rieslings can range from very dry to very sweet.
2. I hate Chardonnay, as it’s usually too, I don’t know…harsh?…for me, but I loved Flipflops’ blend. David confirmed that it is much more “user friendly” than other brands’ blends.
3. Pinot Noir is called the “Transparent Wine” because if the pinot grapes were planted in bad soil, or had a bad growing season, etc., you’ll be able to taste it in the wine. Basically it’s a very sensitive grape, therefore Pinot Noir is an extremely expensive wine to produce. One of David’s biggest challenges was making a great tasting Pinot Noir, that would fit the brand’s price point. Also, it’s pronounced Pinot No-ahhh. I still feel like a tool saying it like that, though.
4. Despite what Sideways says – Merlot is good!
Half an hour later they had to practically pry the wine glass from my fist to send me on my way. 28 hours after I touched down, I had to take back off!
Thank you x1,000,000 to the folks at Flipflop Wines for the spectacular, informative trip!
Inspired by my little whirlwind getaway, I whipped up a Strawberry Lemonade Spritzer using one of Flipflop’s sweeter white wines, Moscato, to enjoy at home. You will LOVE this!
Strawberry simple syrup is combined with fresh squeezed lemon juice and sweet Moscato wine, then topped off with fizzy club soda. It is the perfect marriage of sweet, tart, silky, and fizzy!
Strawberry Lemonade Spritzer
1oz (2 Tablespoons) Strawberry Simple Syrup
1 1/2oz (3 Tablespoons) fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
4oz (1/2 cup) Flipflop Moscato Wine
4oz (1/2 cup) club soda
strawberry slices, optional
Stir strawberry simple syrup and lemon juice together in a wine glass. Pour in wine, then club soda. Add ice and strawberry slices, if using, then stir.
Off to enjoy one of these babies on the porch! :D
What’s your favorite wine varietal? (Sorry, I just heard the term “varietal” on my trip and am now obsessed with using it.)
I love me a good Cabernet Sauvignon in the fall and winter, but am all about ice-cold Rieslings in the spring and summer. Sometimes I like to mix Riesling with little Pinot Grigio if I’m feeling frisky. That’s probably a no-no in the wine world, but as I said, I like what I like!