Monday, August 8, 2016

Why I Hate White Zinfandel

Why I Hate White Zinfandel

                I’m going to come right out and say it.  I have a straight up hatred for White Zinfandel.  Part of it is something that I feel deep in my soul.  My soul says that I must react vehemently against White Zinfandel and avenge the greatness of Zinfandel.   Actually, that’s probably most of it.   However, because I try to be a rational person, here are some facts about why you should also hate White Zinfandel (or maybe they will make you embrace it even more). 

                Before I get hate mail, some people truly enjoy White Zinfandel.  It tends to be an easy, sweet, pretty drink that many people love.   I will be the first person to say drink what you like!  I just want to explain my personal biases.   For me, White Zinfandel is often made with grapes that really aren’t of the quality that wine grapes should be.   I believe that many manufacturers (notice I said manufacturers and not winemakers) use grapes that normally would have been trashed to make this wine, because they know that the sweetness will mask any problems with the actual grapes.   Ultimately, many times White Zinfandel is a “cheap” wine that is being pushed on consumers.   I don’t care that the wine is sweet or an “entry” wine, I care that I feel consumers aren’t getting the product that they deserve.

                White Zinfandel, as most people know it, came about in the mid-1970’s.   Bob Trinchero, a winemaker in California, tried to make his Amador county Zinfandel more robust.   Somewhere along the line, he made a mistake in fermenting their regular Zinfandel and a light, sweet, pink wine occurred.   Ultimately, he had taken over the Sutter Home Estate and started producing the wine under that label.  By the 80’s, it became America’s most consumed wine.  (

                Lately, its popularity is starting to wane and Moscato is stepping up to the plate.   It doesn’t make me dislike White Zinfandel any less, but it does make me laugh a little.  Ultimately, drink what makes you happy! You won’t find any “sweet-shaming” at Hoppin’ Grapes.  We want you to enjoy your wine, your company and your day.  Just note that if you ask me why we don’t carry White Zinfandel, you might get a tirade. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Willcox AVA- What Is It and Why Do We Care?

Willcox AVA- What Is It and Why Do We Care?
Callaghan Wines, Sonoita AVA
Kristine enjoys wines from
Sonoita Vineyards,
Sonoita AVA
     AVAs, American Viticultural Areas, are federally designated grape growing regions which have a definite boundary and geographic features in common. These specified regions can become helpful when looking for wines with certain characteristics. If you are unfamiliar with a wine, knowledge of the AVA will help you to choose a wine that will coincide with your palette.

     For example, in the Napa Valley AVA, Cabernet Sauvignon presents itself well. This is the result of years of trial and error in Napa. Eventually, Cabernet Sauvignon emerged as one of the best grape varietals to create one of the greatest wines in the world market. Now, everyone knows that they will get a full-bodied, high tannin wine, usually aged in oak, with an emphasis on lush fruit and berry flavors from Napa Valley.

     In Arizona, the only current AVA is Sonoita. Winemakers have been making efforts for years to have the Willcox area designated as an AVA. This year the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the government organization that regulates AVAs, proposed a Willcox AVA. The AVA itself would contain 526,000 acres primarily situated in Cochise County. If you find yourself very bored one day, here is a link that goes into much more detail about it:

     So great. I know what an AVA means now, but why do I care?

     Arizona is definitely making itself known as a wine destination. With three wine trails already in existence (Sonoita, Willcox and the Verde Valley), the addition of another AVA can only increase Arizona’s brand recognition and bring more tourists into our state. Being part of an AVA also lends another level of legitimacy to Arizona wine country. This air of legitimacy will make it a little easier for Arizona to emerge onto the national market.
     For Hoppin’ Grapes, we are really excited and look forward to continuing to drink some amazing Arizona wines!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Top 10 Reasons to Shop Local

Top 10 Reasons to Shop Local

1. Support for Nonprofits—Local businesses support good work in our community. “Studies show that nonprofits receive 250 percent more support from small businesses than large ones,” explains Sue Lynn Sasser, PhD, professor of economics at the University of Central Oklahoma.  Because small business owners are part of the community, many feel that it is important to give back to the community and support several different local charities.

2. Create a vibrant community – Small businesses create a unique place for people to spend time and enjoy themselves as opposed to chain stores that can be found everywhere across America.

3. Develop a relationship with your shopkeeper – If you like shopping in a place where the owners/employees know your name, try small business.  The more you interact with particular people the more likely they will learn your tastes and be able to recommend other items that you will enjoy.

4. Keep money local – When spent in a local shop, approximately 65-70% of the money will stay in the community for various reasons.  In big box stores, only about 30-35% of the money spent continues onward in the community.

5. Try before you buy – Many small shops will allow you to try a sample of an item before you but it! 

6. Diversity in Product – Many small businesses will specialize in hard to find items that generally aren’t found in a big-box retailer.  

7. Employment –As a whole, small business employs more people than any other corporation.  Further, those employees will go on to spend money in the community in which they live.

8. Product knowledge – Owners are very passionate about their business and will know about the products on their shelves.  If you have specific questions that you need answers, a smaller shop is your best bet!

9. Investment in the Community – Because owners usually live in the community that they work, most small business owners have a commitment to make the community a great place to live and work.  Many volunteer in different for different causes to invest in the welfare of their town. 

10. You matter! – Locally owned businesses genuinely care about the customers that walk through the door and strive to give each person a good experience.  Vote with your wallet!  Spend your money in a small shop and keep local business thriving!

Friday, June 3, 2016

10 Interesting Wine Facts to Help You Waste Time – Ahem, Learn About Wine

10 Interesting Wine Facts to Help You Waste Time – Ahem, Learn About Wine

1. On January, 21, 2016, a notice was published in the Federal Register to make the Wilcox region an American Viticultural Area (AVA).  This area would encompass  526,000 acres in Southeastern Arizona to include portions of Graham and Cochise County!  (See  AVAs are established regions with boundaries where the land (terroir) has a common link such as topography, climate, elevation, and make-up of the soil. 

2. The only current AVA in Arizona is the Sonoita AVA, located a little south of Tucson and about 40 minutes north of Sierra Vista.  This AVA was established in 1985.  For more info, see

3. Who is surprised that the District of Columbia drank more wine per person than any actual state in the United States?  On average, DC consumes 34 bottles of wine per year per person in 2013.  This statistic is from the Beverage Information Group. 

4. According to the International Organization of Vine and Wine, Americans are (FINALLY) drinking more wine than the French.  I had complete faith that we would eventually overcome the French (in wine drinking).

5. Have you ever had a glass of Beringer wine?  Did you know that the Beringer Winery is haunted?  You can take a cave tour of the winery and possibly listen to the whispers of Chinese laborers.  You might need a glass of wine after the tour to calm your nerves… ( 

6. Need something haunted and closer to home?  Travel up to Jerome and stay at the Grand Hotel.  Speaking from experience, the hotel IS creepy, however, a very intense exploration of the hotel did not reveal any paranormal experiences.

7. Sonoita Vineyards is the first winery in Arizona!  Go visit them and enjoy drinking a piece of history!

8. Birding and drinking wine seems to be developing in popularity.  Several different areas (Ohio, Oregon, Sonoma, Argentina, Chile) are building in the possibility of birding while visiting wine trails.

9. Kristine’s favorite wine is Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley please)!  Eric prefers Zinfandel.  Just thought I would throw that in as a fact in case someone wanted to get us a gift.  Just saying…

10. If you are interested in further exploring Arizona wines, check out the wine travel card (  The website has a lot of great information and the card gives some great discounts to different wineries. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Lawyer to Entrepreneur: When the Military Gives You Orders … Make Wine

Lawyer to Entrepreneur: When the Military Gives You Orders … Make Wine

By: Rebecca Alwine

Hoppin' Grapes Note: This article was originally posted to You can view the original post if you CLICK HERE! Re-posted with permission.

Military wife switches paths after career challenges lead her to a new business venture.

When Army wife Kristine Wolfe, a former attorney, found out she would be moving (again) on behalf of the military, she had every intention of continuing her law career. But the relocation to southern Arizona proved to include other plans for her. Like so many military spouse attorneys, the push to grant reciprocity is a slow-moving process, making it challenging to transition as a lawyer from duty station to duty station. So Kristine had another idea.
Sierra Vista, Arizona was severely lacking in a wine bar. With thousands of people rotating in and out of Fort Huachuca every four to six months, the area was void of a comfortable, chic, and fun place to hang out with friends while sampling spirits. Kristine, along with her husband Eric, solved that problem with some difficulties included in the journey of small business ownership.
Getting Started in a Tough Economy
Most of the challenges came from starting a new business, not particularly from the military standpoint. Sierra Vista is a hard area in which to get started; frequently, businesses start and wither within the first year. There is one restaurant building that has changed hands at least four times in the last three years. It is something about the economy that makes it really hard to build and grow a business.
“Sometimes I felt like I was getting a pat on the head,” Kristine said. “When that happened, I pulled out the lawyer card, and it stopped.” Eric is still active duty, and when the business launched he was a First Sergeant, so the majority of responsibility was on Kristine.
“Balancing the military and a business venture is nearly impossible,” Eric said, as he still works hard to find the balance. “And the only way it is possible is with a strong partner. Kristine is the strongest partner ever.”
Over the past two and a half years, Hoppin’ Grapes has been become a very well-known establishment in the military town. It plays host to farewell parties when friends are moving, crafting nights for local groups, and book clubs, and it usually has live music on the weekends. The “come on in and relax” atmosphere is so refreshing. The entrepreneur couple is all about people feeling at home in their bar. Couches and tables can be moved around to accommodate groups, customers can bring in their own food, and new friends are always welcome.
Word of Mouth
In fact, military spouses are spreading the word about “The Grape,” as it is affectionately called, to friends before they even move here. One military spouse stationed at Fort Huachuca heard about it from a friend at Fort Carson when she found out the next move was taking them to Arizona. “You just have to try out Hoppin’ Grapes,” the friend said. “It is the best place to relax and drink wine.”
Social media plays a big role in the business’ success, and while their official Facebook page and website attract visitors on a regular basis, it is really the word of mouth from unofficial spouses’ Facebook pages that spread the word. Inevitably a new spouse arrives in the small town and wants to know of a great place to go for a date night. Boom:  Hoppin’ Grapes is at the top of the list. Its location, atmosphere, and great selection of beer and wine make it the perfect place to get to know the community.
In February of 2016, Hoppin’ Grapes won the inaugural Business of the Month recognition from the city council. “Their business has become a highlight of the West End after setting up shop a little over two years ago,” the spokesperson for the City of Sierra Vista reported.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Wine Service and How to Survive It

Wine Service and How to Survive It

   I see it a lot. A person orders a bottle of wine. Then, when the bottle comes to the table for the presentation of the wine, PANIC! Many people don’t know what to do at this point. When I pour the host a sample of the wine, some people look at me with fear. Some people will wave their hand and state, “I’ve had this wine before, you can just pour it.” Some people will simple ask another person to be in charge of the wine, because they are not “fancy” enough to participate. The goal of wine service is absolutely NOT to make anyone feel uncomfortable or silly. The goal is to make sure the wine served IS the bottle ordered and the wine is good.

   Let’s go through some steps. First, the person who orders the wine becomes the “host” (or “hostess”). The bottle will be presented to the host for approval. Make sure that the bottle presented is the bottle ordered. Servers make mistakes and sometimes will grab the wrong bottle. Also, sometimes customers will order a bottle and not completely realize what they ordered which can be remedied at this stage. For example, I had a customer order Sauvignon Blanc, but meant Cabernet Sauvignon. We fixed this before the bottle was opened, saving both of us some embarrassment.

   Next, the cork will be presented to the host. Nothing really needs to be done with the cork. This is a throwback from the Middle Ages when counterfeit wines were more common. The cork would be shown to prove that the wine coming out of the bottle actually was the wine it was supposed to be. Many people like to smell the cork or make sure the cork is intact. The host may choose to look at the cork or to ignore it. 

   The host will be responsible for the initial tasting of the wine. A small pour, usually around an ounce, will be served to the host for approval. The reason for the pour is to make sure that the wine isn’t spoiled. If you believe there is something wrong with the wine, simply tell the server. The server will remove the wine and the manager will taste the wine to determine if there is something wrong. If there is a problem, the bottle will be replaced. If nothing is wrong, the bottle may be returned to the table.

   Although the purpose of tasting the wine is to determine that is has no faults, a problem may occur if the host simply doesn’t like the wine. All establishments want people to be happy with their choice, however, each establishment may deal with this issue in a different manner. If possible, the bottle will be removed and the customer may order another bottle. However, if the bottle is pricy, the customer may still be told that the bottle can’t be replaced.

   If the host approves, everyone else at the table will be served 3-4 ounces of wine and then the host will be given an additional amount after everyone else is served. The entire bottle will not be poured, in case, the table has additional guests who arrive and would like to partake in the wine.

   Ultimately, remember that if you are ordering wine, you are already winning. If you have questions, ask the server! Feel free to talk to the sommelier or the manager on duty about wine. The wine serving process is really about protecting the consumer. We want you to be happy, enjoy your wine and most importantly, enjoy your evening.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Live Music in Sierra Vista, Arizona Presented by Hoppin' Grapes Wine and Beer Bar Sierra Vista

Live Music in Sierra Vista, Arizona Presented by Hoppin' Grapes Wine and Beer Bar Sierra Vista

We incorporated live music into our list of events, including the occasional Open Mic Night on select Thursday Evening.

We here at Hoppin' Grapes Wine and Beer Tasting Shop have always aimed to bring good times to Sierra Vista, Arizona.  With an increasing list of local artists, we hope to do just that. The shows usually start about 6:30 PM, so get here early and get a good seat.

Catdaddy and Leggs get down at Hoppin' Grapes
Catdaddy and Leggs have an amazing sound which works well in our Live Music setting at Hoppin' Grapes. They are a crowd favorite and really bring a great feeling to the 'Grapes. Catdaddy also has art work featured on our walls here at Hoppin' Grapes. So, stop in when they are playing to hear great tunes and chat with this talented artist too.

This is a show too good to miss. It is a more intimate experience with Catdaddy and Leggs since they usually play with much larger bands all over Arizona. We are lucky to have such a class act here locally with a great venue to showcase their talents. Come out and join the fun, sing along, or just enjoy the sounds of a great duet giving you a great experience.

Check our facebook page for more info on when Catdaddy and Leggs play next at Hoppin' Grapes Wine and Beer Bar Sierra Vista.

Frytown Toughs; only the finest rag time

The amazing duo known as the Frytown Toughs were meant to be here in Sierra Vista! Their rag time take on modern songs will have you tickled and happy you took the time to check them out.

They join us again at Hoppin' Grapes just about monthly.

Tin Can Tourists at Hoppin' Grapes
Last year, we started hosting the
Tin Can Tourists at Hoppin' Grapes. Here is a great blog posting about our lively venue including a review of the Tin Can Tourists! We are slowly building our loyal following and our Live Music is helping showcase great acts. The Tin Can Tourists are one of the great acts who have played all over the country but call Cochise County home.

Keep an eye on our facebook page for when the Tin Can Tourists will play agian at Hoppin' Grapes Bar Sierra Vista.

Fletch doin' his thing

A past regular here at Hoppin' Grapes is C.J. Fletcher. His finger pick blues always left us wanting more. Although Fletch hasn't played in a while, you can always listen to Fletch even when he isn't playing live at Hoppin' Grapes by downloading his CD.

Scott Muhleman and Becky Reyes
We often hosted the duo of Becky Reyes and Scott Muhleman.  Their sound is amazing. You can catch Becky and Scott in various venues around Arizona including Bisbee and Tubac. We hope to have them back at Hoppin' Grapes for a special show sometime soon.

Keep your ears open for other great acts here at Hoppin' Grapes Wine and Beer Tasting Bar Sierra Vista, Arizona.