Goodbye… and Hello!

This will be my last post on this blog.

I know.

It’s hard to say goodbye!

This is probably not a huge surprise as I have not been regularly posting this year. Here we are in January 2016 and I’ve only a handful of posts from 2015.  To be honest, for some time now I have been feeling that this blog served its purpose by showing me MY purpose.

This blog of mine has done what it was supposed to do. When I started writing it, I was not in a great place with my day job and I thought, well, maybe I can turn this blog into a career. Of course, at that time, it was my intention to make the blog my job. But, life, as it turns out has other plans for me.

As much as I have enjoyed sharing my DIY projects and my favorite recipes, I’ve come to realize that what I want to focus on is wine.

Idaho wine in particular!

So, what happens now? I’m so glad you asked!

I’m currently studying to take the Certified Specialist of Wine Exam, “a rigorous exam, which tests a candidates wine knowledge and mastery of key elements within the worlds of viticulture and wine production. This certification is widely recognized and regarded by the international wine and spirits industry.” (

To break that down, after I pass I will have professional credentials to lend myself more authority in the wine writing world. I have plans to follow up with wine writing, but it is a bit too early to share just yet – you’ll have to stick with me on social media to share in the journey! Find me on Facebook, Instagram Pinterest and Twitter.

In the meantime, as I study in the coming weeks, I will also be launching a new website and those of you who receive WineDineDIY via email will automatically be subscribers to the new blog and be the first to know when that is up and running.

So you see, it’s not really goodbye, its hello to a new adventure!

To all of my readers: Thank you for following this blog and being a part of pointing me on my path. I appreciate you more than I can say.




WineDineDIY Goes to Savor Idaho

Savor Idaho 2015

On June 14th the Idaho Wine Commission presented Savor Idaho 2015, an annual event showcasing Idaho Wineries and local cuisine, held at the Idaho Botanical Gardens.

The IWC graciously invited me to the event again this year (thank you!) and I asked Brittany, my best friend and awesome photographer, to join me and capture the day of wine drinking and food tasting with fellow Idaho winos.

I arrived early to attend the VIP/Trade hour, and to collect my “swag bag”, provided by the Boise Co-op and used to store all the goodies I’d get throughout the day.  After grabbing my trade badge, I spent some time saying hello to winemaking friends, introducing myself to new people, and scouting the layout.  I tasted a couple wines, but was waiting for my girl Brittany to arrive before really diving in.

And boy did we!

Britt and I at Savor Idaho

As was the case last year, the wine was plentiful, and we sampled as many wineries as time allowed.

Here is a list of wines that stood out to me as Idaho Wines to Watch this year (in alphabetical order):

Bitner Tres Mujeres (no vintage)
Cinder 2013 Laissez Faire White
Cinder 2014 Laissez Faire Red
Coiled 2014 Dry Riesling (my love for this wine is reaching cult status year after year!)
Coiled 2014 Rizza Sparkling Riesling
Koenig 2012 Viognier
Lindsay Creek 2012 Malbec
Pend d’Oreille 2013 Chardonnay
Pend d’Oreille Huckleberry Blush (surprisingly, not too sweet!)
Potter Jalapeño Lemonade
Sawtooth 2014 Grenache Rosé
Sawtooth 2012 Syrah
Snake River 2012 Cabernet Franc
Snake River 2012 Rosé of Mourvèdre
Split Rail 2011 Gerfeffling White (comes in specially made cans!)
Split Rail Touriga Nacional Rosé
Syringa 2011 Tempranillo
Telaya 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Telaya 2013 Viognier

This list is surely lacking some incredible Idaho Wines due to time constraints and, unfortunately, some wines had been tasted out by the time I reached their tables!

While I was hard at work tasting *cough*, Brittany was dutifully photographing snapping pictures of wine, people and winemakers.  I chose the following photos as my favorites of the day, and all were taken and edited by Brittany in Boise.Sawtooth Winery

Taking NotesSplit Rail WineryI think the folks at Split Rail Winery may be having the most fun!Savor IdahoGrenache Rose - Sawtooth WineryWine Glass CoozieThis Idaho Wine Lover has Got the Perfect Wine Accessory!

Potter WinesIdaho WinosKoenig VineyardsCinder WineryLeslie Charles Events

Thanks for being my personal paparazzo Britt!

I had a great time this year and I look forward to the next major event by the IWC, Sippin’ in the City, scheduled for November 5, 2015 (tickets on sale now).  It’s similar in spirit to Savor Idaho, but held indoors, at night and is a more intimate experience.  I went last year and had a lot of fun!

Cheers to Idaho Wines!

Creamy Carrot Soup Recipe

Creamy Carrot Soup

I think my tummy might not be aware of the very hot summer going on all around us, because I find myself still happily cooking some staples of fall and spring cuisine.  But that’s okay because I’m about to rock your soup-loving soul!

Are you ready to meet your new favorite?

Say it with me… carrots!

Oh yeah, it’s happening.

If you have been following the recipes on this blog, you’ll know that this recipe is based on another favorite of mine, Creamy Tomato Soup.

Here’s What You’ll Need:
1 ½ lbs. of carrots
2 small red potatoes
2 cups of cauliflower florets
3 tbsp
½ onion, diced
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 cup white wine
8 basil leaves
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 quart chicken broth

Okay, let’s DO THIS!

Peel and slice carrots and potatoes into large pieces, combine with cauliflower and steam until soft (20-30 minutes – make sure a fork slides into carrot easily).

Veggies Steaming

In the meantime, dice ½ an onion and sauté in 2 tbsp of butter over medium heat.

Onion sauteing in butter

Grate ginger and add to sautéing onion.

freshly grate ginger

I only added 1 tbsp because, confession, I do not love ginger.  But, if you do, feel free to add as much as you please.

Add one cup of white wine. I used Sawtooth Pinot Gris (as an added bonus, it pairs quite nicely with the soup).  Continue to heat over medium and let it simmer for five minutes.

veggies simmering in wine

Transfer onion-ginger-wine goodness to food processor and add 8 basil leaves.

onion mix w basil

Add steamed veggies.

Veggies in food processor

Purée, purée, and purée some more until most of the lumps have been smoothed out.


Now for the sweet twist.

In a large saucepan melt 1 tbsp of butter and stir in 1 tbsp of brown sugar.

butter and brown sugar

Stir it up real nice.

Pour in purée from food processor.

puree in pan

Pour in quart of chicken broth.

add chicken broth

Stir well and watch for heat bubbles.  Let it boil for just a few seconds, then reduce the temperature until it reaches a lovely simmer.  Stir occasionally over the next ten minutes.

Soup in pan

Time to eat!

Carrot Soup

Can you blame me for serving soup in summer when it looks this good?!

Pairs well with crusty sourdough bread and, of course, the aforementioned Pinot Gris!

Wine Wars

Idaho’s Wine Wars

Earlier this year I was perusing the event page for the Idaho Wine Commission (IWC) and an event caught my eye: the Annual Idaho Wine Industry Meeting.  I reviewed the agenda, and to my delight saw that Mike Veseth was a scheduled keynote speaker.  Mike is a noted wine economist who blogs at  I look up to him and he’s taught me a lot about the wine industry and wine blogging since I first began.

He’s kind of a big deal.

I sent an email inquiring whether I might attend the afternoon session, and my friends at IWC graciously allowed me to sit in on that day.

I arrived nervous and excited, which is how one feels when meeting a celebrity!

The afternoon started with a message from IWC Commissioner Gregg Alger (of Huston Vineyards), who gave a warm welcoming speech about support and inclusion.  My takeaway was that Idaho’s relatively small winemaking community needs to collaborate more often and more efficiently for the state to gain traction in the industry.

Then Mike took the podium and began to deliver the keynote address.

But first, a little background.

An economics professor by trade, Mike had a wine-changing experience on his honeymoon (sounds familiar) when he began to discuss the wine economy with a famous winemaker, and thereafter he was inspired to begin studying global wine markets.

The speech I attended concentrated on sections of his book “Wine Wars: The Curse of the Blue Nun, the Miracle of Two Buck Chuck, and the Revenge of the Terroirists” I recommend it if you want to really sink your teeth into how the wine world markets operate, what the future could hold for them, and how winemaking and wine consumption may be forever changed as a result.

For those present at his address, Mike broke down his book according to the three topics listed in its title, then went on to share some lessons already learned by successful wine regions and how those lessons might apply to Idaho winemaking going forward.

Are you ready to learn what that long book title means? I’m going to give you some snippets!

The Curse of Blue Nun – Blue Nun was the first global mass market wine brand.  Even as the quality declined, people kept drinking due to the powerful brand association Blue Nun had created.

The Miracle of Two Buck Chuck – why are people willing to buy wine for two or three dollars? Because it’s sold at Trader Joe’s, a trusted and credible source.  Also, word of mouth has converted many, many Chuck drinkers.

Revenge of the Terroirists (ter-WAHR-ists)- those who challenge the above market trends. Establish a sense of place (terroir) which will lend authenticity and lead to respect. (Read my article on terroir here.)

To expand on these points in regard to Idaho, the foremost challenge is to gain and keep the respect of the wine industry as a whole.  The five most respected wine regions in the world (listed below) have put a lot of effort into cultivating their businesses; Idaho can learn and grow from their examples.

Region 5) Napa Valley.  Napa Valley may have proclaimed its own fame rather prematurely, but now it trails only Disneyland as America’s most-visited tourist destination.  Its regional brand identity is known and well-regarded nationwide.  (Idaho lesson: You are your brand).

Region 4) Tuscany.  People drink it because ITALY. It’s not just the wine; it’s the food, culture, style, tourism, and romance all wrapped up in the name.  (Idaho lesson: It’s not just wine).

Region 3) Burgundy.  Legendary for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  These signature varietals create a perceptible sense of place for some people, resulting in intense consumer fan bases that tend to make repeated purchases over long periods of time.  (Idaho lesson: It’s not just dirt or variety).

Region 2) Bordeaux.  Made famous by getting itself ranked near the top of every wine list that mattered for years and years. (Idaho lesson – Everyone Loves a Winner)!

Region 1) Champagne.  Image, baby, image.  This is the power of celebrity.  What do you call sparkling wine? Champagne. I still catch myself saying it even though I know better (Idaho lesson – Image isn’t everything).

Mike’s presentation was great; he mixed quippy storytelling with professorial enthusiasm, and communicated the topic of wine globalization effectively without losing the audience in his deep knowledge of the subject matter.

Following the address, I tweeted:

2015-04-10 21.21.12

Okay, so this is the part where I nerded out a bit! I was very nervous about introducing myself and I’m sure it showed. I don’t remember much of what I said, but Mike seemed to take it well and he was good-natured concerning the celebrity status I had bestowed upon him.

Luckily for me, a bit later in the afternoon, I was able to collect myself and talk to him again more intelligibly.

I think.

Though I’m afraid I did ask to have my picture taken.

2015-02-18 16.14.52

Thanks again to Sara and Moya at the Idaho Wine Commission for letting me attend.  I look forward to seeing you at Savor Idaho in June!

And of course, a big thank you to Mike Veseth! I’ll try to dial it back should our paths cross again.


PS. We also heard from Moya Shatz Dolsby (IWC Executive Director) regarding some exciting Idaho wine developments. I will share those in a separate post!

Open House Sign

How to Make a Winery from Scratch

Today I’m excited to have guest poster Crystal Potter of Wine Workouts and Whippersnappers! This is Crystal:crystalpotter2

Thank you Crystal for agreeing to write for my blog – take it away…

Yes, the title of this post is absurd. Welcome to my world. Absurdity aside, I think the title is appropriate for two reasons:

  1. Here at WineDineDIY Michelle does a great job of focusing on Idaho wine, in-the-kitchen experiences and tackling home projects. I thought my guest post today should celebrate those themes.
  2. I really do feel like my winemaker and I have built a winery in Idaho from scratch. We started with nothing but a vision and some sweat equity (we filter the sweat out of the wine before we bottle, so no worries).

So to honor this creative female’s blog I’m intruding upon, I’m going to teach you how to make your own winery from scratch!

Step 1: You become newly unemployed which gives you the time it takes to hone a new skill/craft such as winemaking.

This is where it all begins. It’s true what they say – one door closes and another one opens, you just don’t know it yet. My winemaker didn’t have the foresight to know that he would be good at making wine one day. All he had was time on his hands, a wino for a wife and a $!@# ton of grapes. Read, educate yourself, get messy, drink a lot of wine, make a lot of wine, watch a lot of wine explode in your garage…your spouse won’t even notice your lack of a job because they will be so thrilled they have unlimited wine to drink any time of day.

Step 2: You constantly think up insane ideas.

“Jalapeno wine? Seriously?” This was my initial response to my talented winemaker after he had made quite a few great batches of conventional wine already and he wanted to try something new. I couldn’t believe he wanted to go rogue on me. I couldn’t fathom what that would entail. Then I tasted this crazy idea nine months later and couldn’t wait to tell people about it. Dream it up, friends. People are manufacturing and selling powdered alcohol for crying out loud! Pretty sure your idea possibly has potential, not to mention a niche. Go with it until you know better.

Which leads me to…

Step 3: You don’t know any better.

One thing I believe every great entrepreneur has in common is the inability to think that they can’t do something. My husband is one of those people. He doesn’t know he can’t do something. He doesn’t think about that ahead of time, he just goes for it. Many of us think too much and psyche ourselves out – “I’m not going to be good at that” or “I’m worried I’ll embarrass myself.” One big step in making your own winery is to think you really will make it work. You don’t know the how or the when of it, you just go for broke (some years even literally!). As someone who owns two businesses, I can tell you that your stubborn gene (the one that’s too much of a jerk to admit it’s not good enough) will keep you afloat when the going gets rough. Plus, when the going gets rough – you always have wine!

Step 4: You enter competitions.

You start with amateur competitions at the state fair, for one. Maybe you win a few and shock the judges because they have no idea who you are. Then you move on to professional ones. You just immerse yourself into the competition culture because, quite frankly, why the $#@! not? What do you have to lose? You have everything to gain, especially as a lowly winery that started from the bottom. You let these competitions fuel your motivation, not your ego or your attitude towards other wineries. You win a few medals and put your head down and get back to work.

Step 5: You partner up with someone who craves entrepreneurship at all costs and maybe even majored in marketing and communications once upon a time.

So you don’t know squat about the business and marketing world. No biggie, just find someone else who does and make them your partner. For my winemaker, this was me. I’m a third generation entrepreneur-aholic. I don’t know any different and I hate working for other people. I will do whatever it takes to call my own shots. I’m a terrible accountant and I hate paperwork. Guess what I hate more – not being my own boss. Suddenly I’m a QuickBooks sponge and an expert at filling out a ridiculous amount of forms. (I do mean ridiculous – you should know now that if you’re planning to be in the wine industry that half of your time will be spent at the computer filling out silly reporting forms and you will hate it. But you will love that if you want to cry it out over a glass of wine before you finish that damn excel spreadsheet, you can do that without some anal retentive HR department firing you for drinking on the job.) As with all self-employment, you will find out what you are good at and what you are not. In the wine world, if you aren’t the one making the wine then know thy place is in the office, on the phone, and running the business side of things. In our case I gladly accepted this role because quite honestly, I stink at making wine.

Step 6: You work your arse off.

You will drink a lot of wine in this business but you will sweat it all out between crushing, fermenting, bottling, labeling, corking, selling, marketing, and reporting it. Doesn’t owning a winery sound romantic when you read the magazines or watch movies? It is romantic at times, especially when the Syrah you’ve been aging for two years comes out better than you could have imagined. But 80% of the time you will feel underappreciated and overworked. And you will wake up to do it all over again every day because somehow, this is exactly what you really want.

Syrah Crush

Crusher Destemmer

Von and Crystal Potter

Step 7: You lean on others.

Because you have so adequately carried out Step 6, you will need to pay special attention to Step 7. You will need a super support system in place to be in the wine industry. You will need grandparents, siblings, friends, baby sitters, cousins, aunt and uncles, and neighbors. You will need to find like-minded entrepreneurs who completely get it. You will lean on farmer’s market organizers, industry associations and people who love what you do and what they do and want to collaborate. You will need to listen to your customers and know what they like, where they eat and what their hobbies are. You will build your own network of the right people, not the one that worked for your best friend who owns the carpet installment business. All of these people will fuel your fire, make what you do possible and many of them will be super fun to drink with.

Step 8: You educate yourself constantly.

I have no idea how my husband knows the things he knows about making wine. But I do know he’s constantly teaching himself things, reading things, trying new things and learning. Just as I am constantly figuring out procedures, learning how to do something more efficiently and fine-tuning my organization skills (always an area for improvement!). We both get to learn a lot about wine and most recently I attended a sensory seminar that just blew my over-active mind. You think you’ve heard all there is to know about wine? Keep your head in the game; you’re just warming up.

Step 9: You enjoy farmer’s markets and community events.

Even if you don’t know that you love these things yet, you will. These things will be your home base. They will be what lifts you up to get you where you want to be. You want to develop a solid customer base and community support? Head to the streets, my friend. Farmer’s markets and community events have been our tasting room for the last two years and it will continue that way until we build our own tasting room. The people at these events are quality and they’re looking for you. So love them.

Step 10: You remain humble.

I really do think there is a stigma when it comes to wineries – at least when I tell people we own one and they immediately tell me they can’t wait to see our tasting room and I’m wondering if in their mind they’re thinking dollar signs. That could just be my own stigma of what comes to mind when you hear the words “I own a winery.” Nevertheless, I actually am quite proud to tell people we don’t have a tasting room yet. We’re not rich. We’re making a winery from scratch. We don’t know everything about wine. We also like gin and whiskey. We’re just two business owners who are also raising two tiny humans, just like many of you. We’re going after the American dream much like everyone else. We are super humble (I have even been known to cry “uncle” now and then). Humility is the key to success, in my opinion. This is coming from the woman who has been known to change her son’s nuclear bomb of a diaper in the farmer’s market parking lot. Keep it honest, folks.

Crystal PotterCrystal Potter lives in Boise, Idaho with her winemaker Von and two little humans, Lila and Luke. She owns Poise Health & Fitness, co-owns Potter Wines and when she isn’t building forts for her children she blogs about wine, fitness and child-rearing. Visit Crystal: