Hot Blooded by Kendall Grey

Kendall Grey’s Hot Blooded came out on 7-14-14. I resisted the lure of it for two whole days before I succumbed.

I’ve read her Urban Fantasy series, Inhale, Exhale, and Just Breathe; and I’ve read her erotic trilogy, Strings, Beats, and Nocturnes. I thought I was prepared for anything Kendall Grey could throw at me.

Was I wrong.

Hot Blooded

Hot Blooded, to me, is a Hawaiian version of film-noir style, if film noir had been done now instead of the fifties.

Blood, and sex, drugs and family – ‘ohana is everything – drive the story. It’s a twisty dark tale that is utterly believable.

Grey shows you what some people will do when pushed to their limit. It’s gritty, it’s real, and it’s damn good fiction. Some of the best writing I’ve read in a long time.

If you’re looking for something different, something out of the ordinary, something that will change the way you look at the concept of “family” – then read Hot Blooded.  If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought. I’m dying to discuss it with someone.


I’m in San Antonio this week, soaking up the Romance Writers of America atmosphere and hugging the stuffing out of my friends. May your week be a grand one – mahalo!

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Pre-Conference Panic

RWA national conference 2014Most of the time, the two days prior to going to RWA’s National Conference are spent in a state of sweaty panic. The clothes I need to wear are a) lost, b) suddenly too small, or c) have strange stains in suspicious places. Or, horrifically, all three. (lol)

So I spend way too much money on clothes that are barely adequate, stuff them all in my too-small huge suitcase, and spend the entire conference in a state of panic/misery due to my feeling uncomfortable in the clothes I have to wear.

For some reason, this time around I’m good. I didn’t buy clothes for conference. Nor did I buy new shoes just before conference (to buy new shoes just before you stand for five days straight is not a good thing, in case you were wondering).

What I did do is put together an entire outfit for each day of the week, not including travel days. Then – no joke – I labeled each outfit for the day I’m going to wear it. Packed each outfit, layer by layer. Added underwear, sox, jewelry, shoes. Everything’s now packed for those important days, and I still have room in my suitcase. It’s a lovely feeling, because I always come home with more stuff than I leave with; having extra room in the suitcase lowers the possibility that I’ll be over the weight limit on the return flight.

But extra room makes me nervous. Which means, of course, that I’ll need to add some pieces for the nights, and extra tops. Just in case.

My dragon needs a name. He's going a-courting Lady Dazzleton, a lovely tutu-wearing dragoness that he's seen about on the inter webs.
My dragon needs a name. He’s going a-courting Lady Dazzleton,  a lovely tutu-wearing dragons (companion to Tameri Etherton) that he’s seen about on the interwebs.

And maybe another pair of shoes. Oh, a hat – I think I’ll really need a hat. And of course my dragon will be going with me – everyone needs a dragon, right? And art stuff. Well, maybe not art stuff, it’s not like I’m going to have time to draw or get fancy, but still. Should I put in the ms I’m editing? lotta pages, but maybe there’s room…OOH! CAMERA! Day planner. Should I add my day planner? And maybe I should unpack and double check those clothes…

…This year, I’m not panicking. Not panicking at all.

In other news, there were certain things I was planning to get done prior to National Conference, such as: pedicure, manicure, massage, facial, get hair cut and colored. Yeah, well. I did color my hair, and I’ll probably give it a bit of a cut this morning after my shower. So there’s that…

Hoping to be able to shout from the rooftops my news soon. In the meantime, have a safe and happy week!


If you have a name for the he-dragon in the photo, fling it to me in the comments!

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Life Heats Up

Hi there! Yeah, it’s me. Sorry I’ve been absent. There’s been SO much going on that it’s going to take me a while to get everything organized in my brain. But first off, my dad was given a Lifetime Achievement Award for everything he’s done for the San Diego Book Awards and Read-4-Fun programs (both groups live on donations, by the way). He started those two groups twenty years ago, and they’re still going strong. My husband and I, as well as my brother Greg and his lovely wife Tina, were all there to cheer him on.

Chet Cunningham, passing on his wisdom at the San Diego Book Awards night.
Chet Cunningham, passing on his wisdom at the San Diego Book Awards night. Photo by Greg Cunningham.

Yeah, so everyone stood in front of the projector – but that didn’t lessen his savoire faire.

A couple more photos from that night…

Mark A. Clements presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to Chet Cunningham, San Diego, June 21, 2014.
Mark A. Clements presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to Chet Cunningham, San Diego, June 21, 2014.  Photo by Greg Cunningham.

Mark A. Clements is SO TALL (about 6’6″ or 6’7″…) and my dad so short, lol! Below, Daddy rocking his Cunningham tartan hat and beard.

Dad with the plaque, and rocking his beard! June 21, 2014 Photo by Greg Cunningham
Dad with the plaque, and rocking his beard! June 21, 2014 Photo by Greg Cunningham

The San Diego Book Awards ceremony was held about four weeks after he was flooded out of his house. (You can read the first installment and see the photos of that here).  On June 21, 2014 I wandered through the house I’d been born in, and it seemed so small. Bare of everything. Stripped down to the cement foundation, the house looked awkward, old. It felt chilly despite the warmth of the day, as if everything I’ve grown up with and known is gone forever. But I had to face it. Seeing it that way, while my dad is alive, was sad, yes; but not devastating.

dad's bare living room

(The above photo is also by Greg Cunningham.)

As of this writing, Dad’s still not back in his house, but the carpet is in and all the painting is done. (We thought we’d be moving him back in last weekend but it didn’t happen.) As he keeps saying, he’s writing 2K a day because there’s nothing else to do at the residence hotel he’s been staying at (for almost two months now).  He’s discombobulated and just wants to get back to his garden, and who can blame him?

(I’ll have another post later about the 4th of July in Tehachapi – wonderful day!)

As for me, I’ve got lots on my plate. Finishing up a Fairy Tale on spec, editing my ballet novel, working on book 2 of the StarTide Talent Agency series, plus coming out with new editions of my Demon series books (plus book 3, finally!). Busy, but that’s the way I like it.

OH! And I’m working on a 48-hour Film project at the beginning of August, writing with Mona Deutsch Miller and Cailin Maureen Harrison. It’s Mona’s project – I’m just along for the ride, lol!

Plus there are some short plays I’m working on. Busy, it seems, doesn’t begin to describe my life…please add in there the Day Job and family. Whee!

Next week, if you’re in San Antonio, come see me…

RWA national conference 2014

I’ll be at the Romance Writers of America Annual National Conference. There’s a HUGE book signing that’s open to the public on Wednesday, July 23rd, from 5:30pm to 8pm – I’m not signing, but I’ll be there helping the authors who are. I’d love to see you! So grab me and tell me how you know me, because I’m terrible with both names and faces, and I promise you a big squishy hug.

Here we are, in the middle of summer. Hope yours is going swimmingly! Hug your loved ones and keep positive. Life just keeps on getting better.

Write Hard!


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Taking a Fall

It didn’t used to happen. Falling, I mean. Sure, I’d walk into walls. I’d trip over absolutely nothing. Ballet dancers do that (or I did, anyway). But falling? Only when I was aiming for a triple pirouette.

But Then I Hit 40. And then 50.

Things started to change. A benign tumor was growing in my right ear. Fibroids were developing in my uterus. My center of balance started to shift. Falls became more common.

I have some doozies in my recent past. Like, right over the top of the handlebars, for instance. Or falling backward from opening the window, and landing on my tailbone. Oh, and there was the one where I was walking to the kitchen and I stepped wrong, and broke my fibula. Yeah, that was a good one. (Fast forward ten months and I did it again, at the Day Job. Sigh.)

Since then, there were the two – or maybe three – times I’ve gone sprawling, face-first, in the grocery store. (I blame the shoes I wore.) Or on the street, heading to my car. (Dark, rain, puddles, headlights.)

By now, the tumor is long gone. Ditto the uterus. I should be back to “normal” and just be walking into walls and tripping over nothing. Right? For some reason, I’m not. And that totally sucks.

Falling never ceases to be nerve wracking. Like, is this the time I totally ruin my body? Or, is my tumor back? In the other ear this time, maybe? Do I have multiple sclerosis like my mother did? Is this the time I break a hip, an elbow, both wrists? The thoughts that go through my head after a fall are agonizing, and I know I can’t be alone there.

I do balance exercises. It’s one of the reasons I started giving myself a ballet barre again. I work at balance, I swear I do.

17 at Heart

In my heart of hearts, I’m seventeen. Or maybe twenty-nine. (Oh, shut up, lol.) I have the verve and agility and balance out the wazoo that I used to have. And that remembered verve gets me in trouble. I wish it didn’t, but it does. Every. Single. Time.

My last fall happened over the weekend. I’d been meaning to do something – not sure what – and when reminded, I jumped up from the chair with verve and alacrity, and immediately tripped over the footstool. Barking my shin, my toes, bumping the coffee table which tipped over several fragile marble chess pieces (breaking two), landing on one hip and one wrist before gracefully rolling onto my back, legs to my chest, breathing slowly and taking inventory.

Two days later, my wrist is still sore. My hip has recovered, as have my toes. My shin has a nice 4 inch, barely visible scrape/bruise which is tender to the touch but otherwise unremarkable. I have survived. I live, to fall another day.

I will redouble my balance work. I will do my best to make my pathways as clear as possible. I will do everything in my power to stop falling. But the one thing I refuse to do is pull away from my inner seventeen-year-old. I like her. I don’t want to give her up. I don’t want to have to live so cautiously that I am afraid to do anything. Because for me, that’s no way to live.

My spirit is seventeen. I’ll curb her when I need to, but I won’t squash her.


Why do older people fall…

Falling and Multiple Sclerosis…

Stop me falling…

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Hidden Disabilities

Handicapped? Yeah, right…

I used to judge people who parked in handicapped spaces and then step out jauntily from their sporty car.  Most of these folks looked rich and entitled. They rarely looked disabled. Many of them, most likely, weren’t even handicapped. I mean, come on.  UCLA football players were caught illegally obtaining handicapped parking placards in 1999, so it’s not like this is a new thing.

But then I became disabled. Or, rather, I gained a disability, as technically I’m not disabled. And while I don’t need a handicapped parking placard, I have come to realize that my disability is invisible, which brought me to the thought that there are many disabilities that are invisible.

As I’m also working on making my world as much a judgment-free zone (because judging people without all the facts is a pet peeve of mine), I decided this is one thing I can discuss from personal knowledge. (Okay, not the handicapped parking placard per se, but the invisible disability part.)

Losing hearing in one ear is a disability.

Like I said, it’s not one that comes with a handicapped parking placard, and it’s absolutely nothing when compared with total deafness. But not being able to echo-locate can be dangerous, mainly because I still think I can. For instance, I can’t always hear cars coming on my right side when I cross the street, so I have to be extra-vigilant. I can’t tell where gunfire is coming from (and in many areas of America, that’s damned important), or which direction a siren is coming from. A crowded, noisy room gives me a headache and makes me talk much louder than I normally would. Plus I have to turn my good ear toward the person speaking, so I can hear them – which often means I can’t SEE them when they talk, which can lead to awkward social interactions – until I confess my disability to the other party. (Okay, that last isn’t dangerous; it just has the possibility of being totally awkward.)

Other “Invisible” Disabilities

Other disabilities that might not be immediately apparent and that could require that handicapped parking placard are described as follows, from the Invisible Disabilities Association:

The term invisible disabilities refers to symptoms such as debilitating pain, fatigue, dizziness, cognitive dysfunctions, brain injuries, learning differences and mental health disorders, as well as hearing and vision impairments.  These are not always obvious to the onlooker, but can sometimes or always limit daily activities, range from mild challenges to severe limitations and vary from person to person.”

Now, granted, someone with cognitive dysfunctions (for instance) probably won’t be driving a car; but the point is, there are disabilities out there that are not noticeable, and that may require a handicapped placard. Or, you know, some compassion.

So what the hell am I asking here?

Think before you judge. Pretty please.

Think before you speak your mind to the person popping out of her expensive car in a handicapped parking spot. This might be her first pain-free day in weeks. Think before you cuss out someone who doesn’t get out of your way in the grocery store, even though you’ve said a polite “excuse me”. This may be his first foray into the world after surgery (which can leave the brain muddled for months). Think before you make fun of someone who doesn’t look/act/talk the way you do. They have as much right to live a happy life as you do.

And if you see a woman about to step into the path of an oncoming car, make sure to shout at her and get her attention. She just might not have heard that car coming up on her deaf side. (My thanks to the anonymous gardener in Studio City, who made sure I didn’t lose an argument with a speeding SUV last week.)

Live a compassionate life, people. In doing so, you’ll receive compassion, which is something all of us deserve.


So, what’s one of your pet peeves? I’d love to know!

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Writer Wednesday – Wolfpack Publishing

Everyone’s doing boxed sets this year, several books bound together with one low, low price. This phenomenon has usually been in the romance world – sweet romances, country romances, sexy romances, gothic – well, you get my point.

wolfpack dadNow, just in time for Father’s Day, Wolfpack Publishing has come out with a Western Boxed Set. Some authors you may know include Kat Martin, L.J. Martin, and Chet Cunningham (yes, my dad). So I’m VERY excited to share this with you.

Spread the word, grab the boxed set for your dad’s Kindle, and make my day.  Here’s the blurb for it:

NEW RELEASE SPECIAL $1.99 FOR A LIMITED TIME! 9 full length Western novels from America’s premier western writers – Western Writers of America Spur Award winners and runners up, NYT best selling authors. Frank Roderus, Robert Vaughn, Gary McCarthy, Chet Cunningham, Douglas Hirt, Kat Martin, L.J. Martin, Cliff Hudgins & Thom Nicholson. Over 650,000 words of fine western writing. Action, Adventure, Romance at its very best!”

This includes my dad’s book WADE’S WAR. So you see, you REALLY need to pick this up!


Thanks for dropping by! Who’s your favorite Western writer?

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It’s Barbecue Season!

~ I’m working hard on my next novel and didn’t have time to write up a new wine blog – but please enjoy this reprint from last year about this time. Wines to go with barbecue season! ~

Today I’m talking about two big reds that are a little more expensive than what I usually highlight. In California, you’re just as likely to have a spicy Mexican recado on your brisket as you are a sweet and tangy southern barbecue sauce. At times, I’ll admit, a cold beer or ale goes a long way with the Mexican flavors. But a big, bold red wine is almost always good.

kjKendall Jackson Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Sonoma County Alcohol, 14.5% by Volume  $15.99 on Sale at Vons (normally $26.00)

On the Label: “Our Grand Reserve Cabernet is crafted with grapes hand-selected from specific areas of our Jackson Estates Grown vineyards on Alexander Mountain estate and other nearby properties.  Growing vineyards on these mountains and hillsides has produced intense, concentrated grapes.  This Cabernet has cassis, currant and black cherry tones with enticing aromas of mocha, nutmeg and cinnamon that are the efforts of 17 months of barrel aging.” – Jess S. Jackson, Founder

My Take:

This is a wine drinker’s wine. By which I mean, it’s not an easy sipping wine unless you REALLY like complex wines. Which I do. You want to serve this wine with the meal, and preferably before your guests have imbibed too much. With it’s deep garnet color, smoky rich scent, and a vibrant taste it’s a wine that deserves attention. It will stand up to almost anything you toss on the barbecue.

Or, if you’re like me and want to give cooking a pass, you can serve it with rich cheeses and crackers and some salume as you watch the stars come out while having a summer picnic. Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean you can’t drink a big wine!

My Rating: ~ Very, VERY Drinkable ~ though pricy! Watch for sales at your favorite grocery store.

J. Lohr Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2010  Seven Oaks Estates, alcohol 13.5%jlohr by Volume $12.99 at Vons on sale.

On the Label: “Our Seven Oaks Cabernet is grown in our vineyards in the Estrella Hills area of Paso Robles, one of only three appellations in California that produce “world class” Cabernet Sauvignon. The Seven Oaks Cabernet has aromas and bouquets of cherry blueberry, violets, and vanilla.  The flavors are lusciously full, balanced by firm tannins. Serve it at 65 to 68 degrees F with grilled or roasted red meats.

“J. Lohr Estates wines are best characterized by their intense flavor and remarkable balance. Jerry Lohr practices the French system of planting each grape variety in its ideal appellation.  With over 3,000 acres of vineyards, quality control is ensured from selection of optimum rootstock and clones through all facets of artisan winemaking.  Each of these steps is focused on one goal…flavor second to none.”

My Take: My husband and I have a fondness for the J. Lohr label, as it was one of the first, affordable, bottles of wine that we remember ordering in a restaurant that wasn’t a half carafe of the house wine.  Now of course, J.Lohr is up there in price in restaurants, but you can usually find it in the grocery stores for between $10 and $15 a bottle (which puts it out of my usual price range).

The wine? Juicy. Rich. A hint of oak. Perfect with a nice steak, grilled chicken, vegetables. If there’s any left after the meal, enjoy with a chocolate truffle. Your mouth will thank you. This is an easy wine to drink, and will likely appeal to a broader spectrum of people. I enjoyed it, but for me, this isn’t my first go-to wine.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ A good bottle for that intimate barbecue.

As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.

~ Until the next time, cheers! ~


My Rating System: Undrinkable; Barely Drinkable; Drinkable; Very Drinkable; and the ever-popular “Stay Away! This is MY wine, you Slut!”

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Everything Changes

My dad had a devastating flood at his house. Apparently the toilet in the front bathroom (which had become something of a pain in the past decade) overflowed. And kept flowing. All night.

When he got up at 4 in the morning, there was 2 to 3 inches of water in his bathroom. The living room was flooded. Hallway. My old bedroom. Parts of his bedroom. Parts of the den.

People came out to cut carpet away and set up dehumidifiers. They were without water for a couple of days. When the insurance company folks came out, they said the tile under the carpet had to go as well. The tile? Asbestos. Yep. So now my dad can’t even live in the house until all the work is done. Oh, and the wallboards will have to be replaced, too. Two to three feet up.

So he and his caregiver are in a residence hotel about half an hour away from his house while the work goes on. My brother was there this past weekend, and took some photos.

Before and afters, coming right up…

Dad's living room, pre-flood.
Dad’s living room, pre-flood.
Post Flood
Post Flood
The closet where dad stores copies of his books. Yes, those are all his.
The closet where dad stores copies of his books. Yes, those are all his.


Cleaned out.
Cleaned out.


My room and the master bedroom sealed off due to asbestos floor tile.
My room and the master bedroom sealed off due to asbestos floor tile.

One more – the hallway looking into the living room.


Everything changes. Even the house I grew up in. The last time I was down there, in May, I had taken tons of photos of the house – the photo wall, the kitchen, the garden, everything. Except when I got home, only two shots – of me and dad – had actually registered on the camera.

May, 2014
May, 2014

Here’s hoping the magic folks who are packing up my dad’s house and doing all the work it will take to make it habitable again do an amazing job, and that my dad is back in his home very soon.

Oh, and by the way – this is a public service announcement. If you don’t have homeowner’s insurance, OR renter’s insurance, get some. Trust me, it’s not money wasted. My dad has a $500 deductible which I’m sure has already been spent. Insurance is taking care of the rest.

Happy Monday. Count your blessings!





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Pasadena Playhouse & L.A. Female Playwrights Initiative & ME!

Lovelies, I’m attaching Seema Sueko, the Assistant Artistic Director of Pasadena Playhouse’s email, below. If you can, PLEASE come – I might have a micro-read (one page) of my play that night afterwards. Plus, there’s FOOD. And DRINK! And if you come, I’ll hug you to pieces! It’s a week away!
Dear Friends,
Please join me on Friday, June 13, at The Pasadena Playhouse for a night of theater, networking and fun, all in the name of celebrating women playwrights and supporting gender parity in the performing arts.
The Pasadena Playhouse is producing the play STONEFACE written by LA-Based female writer Vanessa Claire Stewart and starring her husband French Stewart. On Friday, June 13, the LA FPI (Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative) is organizing a group to attend the performance to celebrate Vanessa. After the show, we’ll all go to the upstairs Carrie Hamilton Theatre for food, drink, and Micro-Reads. Micro-Reads are quick, fun, one-page scripts, written by members of the LA FPI and read aloud by the cast of STONEFACE.
The entire evening costs only $28.00. That includes admission to STONEFACE and the Micro-Reads – that is 50%-off the regular ticket price.
Our goal is to demonstrate that producing plays by women is smart business. Did you know that in the field of nonprofit American theater, approximately only 17% of the new plays produced are written by women? – and that’s not representative of the number of women playwrights. There’s an interesting article about this here:
I hope you’ll join me in supporting gender parity in theater on June 13. Here are all the details. Order your ticket soon as space is limited:
WHAT:          LA FPI Night at The Pasadena Playhouse
WHEN:          Friday, June 13, 2014
8:00 PM performance of STONEFACE, followed by Micro-Reads
WHERE:       The Pasadena Playhouse
                        39 S. El Molino Avenue
                        Pasadena, CA 91101
TICKETS:     $28.00
Space is limited! Order your ticket now here:
Click on the Tickets Icon
Follow the on screen instructions – Click on either seating section at right of screen
Select the brown seats (Rows Q, DD or EE) to get the exclusive $28 LA FPI ticket rate (this is 50% the regular rate)
You will receive a ticket confirmation when your booking is complete.
Be sure you only use this link to book your ticket. (If you use any other portal, your order won’t be part of the LA FPI group and you won’t get the discount and admission to the Micro-Reads).

Thank you!


Seema Sueko
Associate Artistic Director
The Pasadena Playhouse
Admin Office: 600 Playhouse Alley, Suite 300 | Pasadena, CA 91101
Theatre Address: 39 S. El Molino, Pasadena, CA 91101
Up Next:
June 3 – June 29, 2014
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Wine with Food

The wines I’m featuring today are slightly more expensive than my usual under $10 bottles, but since this time of year there are lots of parties (graduations, wedding showers, oh-hell-they’re-out-of-school-where’s-the-wine neighborhood gatherings, etc), a slightly more upscale wine might just be the right ticket. Or, heck, treat yourself; it’s the weekend.

Avant chardKendall Jackson Avant Chardonnay 2012 Santa Rosa, CA  Alcohol 13.5% by Volume; Regularly $14.99, on sale at Vons for $11.99

On the Label:  “Our Kendall Jackson AVANT Chardonnay is crafted in a modern style that delivers a fresh expression of this exceptional grape.  This wine is cold-fermented to retain crisp green apple and lemon drop flavors; the resulting wine is sleek and lively, providing a superb affinity for food.

“To learn more about our sustainable practices and the 100% renewable wind energy we employ to make our wines, visit us at”

My Take: Well, once again if I’d read the label I wouldn’t have bought the wine. Green apple and lemon drop in the same sentence makes me think of hard candy, or perhaps flavored vodka. Wine is the very last thing that comes to mind. However, this is a nice wine – not, to my taste buds, noticeably a Chardonnay, but a clean and crisp white that goes great with seafoods or light pasta dishes, charcuterie, cheeses, etc. I have to say, while I might not be a fan of KJ’s labels, I am a fan of their wines!

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ Plus it has a screw top, and I’m all for easy-open bottles.

DeLoach Vineyards Zinfandel 2011 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, CAdeloach zin  Alcohol 14.5% by Volume; Regularly $18.99, on sale at Vons for $11.99

On the Label: “As a family-owned winery widely considered a pioneer of Russian River winemaking, we take great pride in producing distinctive wines that highlight the unique nuances of our appellation, while at the same time nourishing the land with sustainable viticulture and minimally intrusive winemaking.  Fruit for this luscious Zinfandel includes grapes from century-old vines in the heart of the Russian River Valley, showcasing the flavor profiles of this unique terroir.  Bold fruit and violet aromas blend enticingly with spice, leading to a delightful finish with a perfect balance of acidity and tannins.”

My Take: Any label that uses the word “unique” more than once needs to have the label re-done. That aside, this is a nice, big wine with a lovely mouthfeel.  Great, once again, with food; spicy Mexican, zesty ribs, or a really well-cooked steak.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ especially at the sale price. I just checked DeLoach Vineyards web page, and it doesn’t look like they’re selling any RRV Zin right now – so if you see it in your store, grab it.


What wines are you drinking? I’d love to know!

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