Tuesday, May 29, 2012

An Afternoon of Wine-Tasting

My friend Sarah has made the decision to move to Knoxville, Tennessee to finish her master's degree.  She's not moving until August, so she has made an "Arkansas Bucket List" of things to do before she leaves the state.  Sarah and I were excited to help her check off the first item on her list:  winery tours and wine-tasting in Altus!

We began the afternoon at Post Familie Vineyards, the largest winery in Arkansas.

"Since 1880, five generations of Posts have cultivated and harvested their grapes to make Post Familie wines. The founder of our wine heritage and Altus viticulture was Jacob Post, a German who arrived in America in 1872. From his cellar, he sold the first Altus wines to passengers on the Iron Mountain Railroad, when the train stopped by his farm for fuel and water."

We began with a little wine-tasting with Barbie--she was really fantastic!  We were given a list of all their wines and were allowed 5 samples to try, but Barbie was really nice and let us try one extra : )

I ended up getting 3 bottles.  My favorites were their Moscato, Sherry, and Blue Parachute (one of their new ones).

I was sure that I would leave with a bottle of the Altus Port, but I ended up opting for the Sherry.  It had this terrific, nutty flavor.  They also have a very good strawberry wine, if that's your thing.

Our wonderful guide Sherri led us on a tour of the winery.  It was a lot to take in......

Standing in front of the "Crusher."  Step 1 of the wine-making process.  
Also on the tour, was Chew-barka.

Chew-barka was there with his vegan, wine-loving owners (a very interesting pair), and they joined us for the tour.  By the end, they had passed out their "cards" and had offered Sarah B. a "special business opportunity."  We're not exactly sure what that means--we're waiting on Sarah to report back to us.  I've got a few ideas though.....

We just so happened to show up on a lucky day--the Moscato (I believed Sherri called it "Moscat" because the carbonation hadn't been added....or something like that) was ready.  And we got to be some of the first to taste it!  From the "giant keg," no less.  People who actually know some things about how wine is made may know the official name, but I shall refer to these as "giant kegs."

I don't have to say much about the Wiederkehr Winery.  The staff members were obviously not thrilled about working that day.  They weren't friendly, and they left us waiting for the tour....and then forgot to take us.  They also charge $3 for tasting 5 wine samples.  You can taste 3 of their standard wines for free.  I already knew how their Chardonnay and Beau Noir tasted, so I opted for the Blush Niagra.  I really liked it and ended up buying a bottle of it, even if their customer service was not up to par.

We finished the afternoon with a traditional Swiss dinner at Wiederkehr's Weinkeller Restaurant.  Adam and I came here two Christmases ago and shared their Swiss fondu. Love love love it!  The subdued atmosphere of this restaurant makes it perfect for date nights.  Or an afternoon with the girls.   We each had the German Feast:  your choice of two sausages, sauerkraut, and potatoes.  Nom nom nom!

Sarah B. told us about Free the Grapes.  Arkansas is just one of many states that prohibit wineries from shipping....they can't even ship directly to customers in Arkansas.  Visit the Free the Grape website to learn more about this petition and write your local representatives.  You can also like Free the Grapes on Facebook.  Check it out!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Let's Rock-n-Stroll!

I have been so motivated after completing the Women Can Run 5K a few weeks ago.  The director of the Maumelle WCR clinic sent an email after the graduation 5K with lots of information and motivation for those who want to continue their new-found "love" of running.  I definitely took her suggestion about Hot Legs, a running club here in central Arkansas.  I've already been to my first meeting and hopefully I can meet up for a run with some of these fabulous ladies later this week.  Arkansas Runner is another great site, which is how I found out about the Rock-n-Stroll 5K at Riverfest.  Adam and I bought our tickets to Riverfest a month ago, after he heard Third Eye Blind (one of his very favorite bands) was playing.  This was my first year to take part in Riverfest, so I figured I might as well do the 5K.

If you check out the Rock-n-Stroll registration page, it is advertised like this:  
Two words – Fun and Fitness!! Where else can you dress up as your favorite rock ’n roll star, cartoon character or just anything fun and run a 5K? In addition to prizes for runners there will be prizes for the best costumes and some great rock ’n roll music at the race conclusion.
To be sure, I google-searched images for this event to make sure other people would show up in costume.  The evidence was there, so I showed up like this.....

I almost backed out.  Adam went with me, and we got there about 45 minutes prior to the race.  As we were sitting in our car, I was getting a little scared.  Everyone else that I saw was pretty serious about this race....they were dressed in their very best running gear.  Not costumes.  Yikes!  I was almost too embarrassed to leave the car, but I finally decided "what the heck?"  It's not like I would know anyone there.

I really felt like a freak when I was headed to the starting line.  Adam, being the awesome hubby that he is, had gone back to the car to get my ear buds.  I was left there standing alone in my tutu.  A teenage girl stopped and asked if she could have her picture taken with me.  It reminded me of those people who dress up in Vegas and other touristy areas for people to take pictures with for tips.

I was soooo relieved to find "Katy Perry" and "Stevie Nicks" at the starting line.  Yay other crazy people!

Turns out these ladies are also members of Hot Legs.  Hopefully I'll have the chance to run with them again : )
I finished this race in 39:30--but we're not sure how exact this time was.  This race was much smaller than the WCR 5K, and they didn't have the little tags to track your time.  But I figure this time is pretty accurate.  Considering the hot sun and humidity, a 12:37 pace is about where I expected to be.  

Adam was such a good sport about tagging along with me....even if I did look ridiculous.  Later that night, we got to cross an item off his bucket-list:  Third Eye Blind Concert!  It was such a good show. 

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Running Progress

Saturday, I ran in the Women Can Run 5K for the second time. You may remember me talking about last year's experience here. The past few months have been a little chaotic with getting married and moving and adjusting to the commute....I wasn't able to attend the training clinic regularly (only made it 3/10 times. I get the worst-attendance award!).  I did most of the training on my own. I wasn't very consistent with my running until the end of April, but I was worried it was too late to really make much progress and that I couldn't improve on last year's time. (But I did!) I'm going to try to keep training this time, even though the WCR clinic is done until next Spring 2013. If I'm not mistaken, the whole point of the training clinic is to help women achieve a healthier lifestyle by getting them STARTED....and I should continue running on my own. That's what I neglected to do last year. Here's hoping I do better this year!

So how did I do? I completed the race in 36:36, beating last year's time, which was my ultimate goal. I started the race in the 13:00/mile group, but I actually had a pace of 11:49/mile. What surprised me the most is that I didn't take a single walk break! Even last year, I had to walk every 8 minutes or so. Here are some pics of the big day:

Just before the race.  I'm one of the red dots in the back :  )

Crossing the finish line.
The Russellville team one best T-shirt design.  Our "Runnersville" shirts were a hit! 
Yesterday I registered for the Rock-n-Stroll 5K at Riverfest in Little Rock. Participants are encouraged to dress up in costumes as their favorite rock and roll stars. Or just dress up as anything! I'm not sure yet what costume I could come up with. Any ideas?