WhiteMoon Winery

Kathleen Byrne

Kathleen Byrne

What is the definition of a good wine? It should start and end with a smile. ~William Sokolin


Greetings from central Kentucky, readers!

I spent a very pleasant afternoon yesterday sampling wine, learning and laughing with the congenial owners and operators of WhiteMoon Winery, Bert Poston and Alex Payne. If you are in the area, stop by.

Alex told me she became a vintner somewhat on a whim. Fifteen years ago, she and a friend looked at a hillside, and thought it would be a good place to grow grapes. After a two hour span of research on the internet, she ordered 3200 grape plants. Alex began her new future and. definitely, has not looked back.

WhiteMoon Winery is on fourteen acres; the tasting room, on top of a hill, has one wall of windows that looks out over a lovely verdant pasture and valley.

Grapes grown here include Chardonnay, Concord and Triminette. Other grapes come in from California and Oregon.

Eight wines are offered at WhiteMoon; some quite sweet and others dry. Right now all are straight varietals but a red blend is in the works, as is a Sangiovese.


The 2014 WhiteMoon Chardonnay is made from California grapes. This is a rich, refreshing fruity wine. It is full of a mild tart apple aroma and taste, with a hint of almond and buttery oak. Alex recommends pairing this with roast chicken.

Just last week (third week of October 2015) the WhiteMoon Chardonnay won a bronze medal in Louisville at the Governor’s Cup Wine Competition. Very Good!


Triminette is Indiana’s State Grape. However, WhiteMoon serves Triminett from grapes grown at the winery. The grape was new to me: Alex explained it is a Gewurztraminer hybrid and can grow on its own root stock.

WhiteMoon’s Triminette is a semi-sweet white wine. It has a nice balance of apricot, cinnamon and rosewater. A bottle of this would complement a Thai or Vietnamese dinner.


The Muscato is made from Oregon grapes and done in an Italian style. Not made as sweet as one normally associates with this wine, it has a pleasant aroma and taste of pears, sweet apples and golden raisins. Go ahead – try it with a seafood pasta.


The 2013 MoonedWhite is made from Kentucky grown Chardonnay. This is intentionally a bit sweeter; in fact it is described as a peach infusion. It is very peachy. This wine be a perfect companion on a hot summer day. Sit on the patio and enjoy with a shrimp salad or shrimp cocktail. Yum.

Alex suggests another use for the MoonedWhite; pour a bottle in a bowl, add some club soda and lots of fruit and you have a delicious Sangria. Remember this wine next summer.


The 2012 Merlot was an incredible surprise. Light in color, this wine has flavors of ripe plums and black fruit, with a slightly spicy finish. It seems more like a Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel than Merlot. This is a big wine, so pair it with a good steak.


The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon is from Alexander Valley fruit and one can tell that. Only two weeks in the bottle, this is already a wonderful wine – rich with black cherries, blackberries and coffee. Alex is still waiting for labels to put on these bottles but they will be very popular and instant sellers. She recommends a hearty steak with this wine.


The Mooned Red is a big and grapey Concord. The Concord is very much an American grape, full of juice and with a distinctive, but pleasant, taste. I enjoyed the slightly tart cranberry essence of the glass and I am not the only one; in 2014 the Mooned Red won a silver medal at the Kentucky Derby Wine Competition.


Alex and Bert get Damson plums from Michigan for a specialty wine: Plum. They say it is messy to make and they need a lot of cane sugar and distilled water to get the brix to the correct levels but this is their biggest seller and a joy to drink.

This wine starts sweet at the front of the mouth and finishes quite tart. Alex perfectly describes it as a plum tart. It literally does have an extreme change somewhere over the tongue but a very pleasant one. This brought home the Gold Medal in 2013 from the Indy International Wine Competition in Indianapolis.

Serve it with an Oriental dinner or just enjoy it as dessert.

A tour of the barrel room proves Bert and Alex are very hands on winemakers. All the work is done by them: barrel cleaning, bottling, corking and putting on labels is done right there. All the tanks are stainless steel; American oak chips are used to season the reds.


They were proud to inform me their wine sales tripled in the past year, so their distinctive brand is catching one. Kentuckians, seek this place out.


WhiteMoon Winery hosts a yearly barbeque with a live band and a wine and paint night every few months. Two tall fireplaces in the front lawn add to the down home feeling and would be a fun place to sip on a chilly afternoon.


WhiteMoon Winery is located at 25 Arthur Mattingly Road outside Lebanon, KY. For more information visit http://whitemoonwinery.net.

As always, drink responsibly.

Ardon Creek Vineyard and Winery


Tasting Area

Tasting Area


Go, little book, and wish to all Flowers in the garden, meat in the hall, A bin of wine, a spice of wit, A house with lawns enclosing it, A living river by the door, A nightingale in the sycamore! ~Robert Louis Stevenson

When you think of Iowa, do you think of wine? Likely not, but you should. This great Midwestern state is burgeoning with nearly one hundred distinctive wineries and three fun wine trails exploring wineries in the Eastern, Central and Western part of the state. And, in case any beer drinkers are reading, there are more than sixty handcrafted breweries are out there, too. Iowa is my home state and it has changed a lot in the many years I have been gone.

Most recently, though, I lived abroad for a year, so it is great to be back at wineries and the keyboard. And what better place to re-begin than in my home state at the winery of a friend and neighbor? Ardon Creek Vineyard and Winery is the place.


In eastern Iowa the Furlong family has been farming the same acreage since 1855. This area of Irish immigrants have many century farms (farms worked by the same family for more than one hundred years, my own family included) but Mike Furlong and wife Diane decided to do more with theirs than the usual row crops of corn and soybeans.

In 2004, they set aside a little over 4 acres and began planting grapes for their future winery. By 2008, all the grapes were in. 2009 saw their first bottling. With some juice as needed from the New York Finger Lakes area, they are producing about 40,000 bottles per year.

Unlike the West Coast, which I have exclusively written about before, this area needs grapes that will survive winters of up to -40F. Brrrr!


Mike and Diane have five varieties native to North America that are able to do that: two whites, Edelweiss and LaCrosse and three reds, Concord, Noiret, and Chancellor.

With winemaker Josh Glasson, a graduate from Missouri State University with a Master’s in Plant Science and Enology, they have turned these five varieties into incredibly rich, tasty and award winning wines.

The one I sampled on my most recent visit to Ardon Creek was the Noiret Reserve, direct from the barrel which will not ready for sale until spring 2016. This is a dry wine, with a full palate of Bing cherries, blackberries and a hint of smoke. With a blend of oak chips and ageing nine months on the lees, this wine should be very complimentary with the Easter roast or lamb dinner.

It was a bit surprising to tour the facility and see no oak barrels. Arden Creek uses only stainless steel and smaller, fifty-gallon polytanks. Josh explained the polytanks ‘kind of act like oak in the they allow oxygen in and we can achieve the taste we want by adding oak chips or staves for selected reds’.


Typical hard-working farmers, Mike says there is ‘no down time’. They are present at approximately six to seven local Farmers Markets each week during the summer months and offer tastings at grocery stores throughout the winter. This method of reaching the public has increased their market share by 14%. Hard work pays.

From the end of May to mid-September, Arden Creek Vineyard and Winery hosts fun Friday night socials with a variety of live bands. Bring your own picnic, blanket and chairs and enjoy wine, music and dancing under the stars.


I mentioned awards and this winery has them. In just three years, Ardon Creek Vineyard and Winery has amassed twenty-five major awards. 2015 has brought them:

Chancellor – Gold at the Finger Lakes International Competition

Commission Man Red – Gold at the Mid-America Wine Association Competition and the Best Dry Red at the same competition.

Concord Red 52 – Double Gold at the Iowa State Fair.


Ardon Creek Vineyard and Winery offers fifteen wines, essentially half of them considered sweet and half dry. They have a wine club and ship to twenty-two states. Arden Creek wines are found in stores everywhere throughout eastern Iowa, as well.

With expansive rural views, friendly staff and an intimate outdoor tasting area, anyone in the area should stop by and enjoy a new taste experience.

Raise a glass to new wine pioneers, Mike, Diane and Josh.

Ardon Creek Vineyard and Winery is located at 2391 Independence Avenue, Letts, Iowa. That is actually out in the country so for precise directions, questions or more information you need to go to information@ardoncreek.com. Enjoy!

As always, drink responsibly.




“Wine… the intellectual part of the meal.” — Alexandre Dumas, 1873



Hello, everyone,

Excuse my absence from the WineTramp column but I have a really good excuse; I moved to Ireland for a year. It is, as expected, a great country with so much going for it, but no wineries that I found.

I spent time there as a student at the American College Dublin, plugging away towards an MFA in Creative Writing. So far, so good! The thesis is in and I am just waiting to hear when the graduation date is – sometime in late October or early November, I think.

But, I am back and ready to sample and write about wines again.

As always, drink responsibly.


Terra Savia/Olivino





Hippocrates called olive oil “the great therapeutic.” ~ Anonymous


Terra Savia, or Wise Earth, is a must-visit if you are in Hopland, CA. Sitting on one hundred sun dappled acres, Terra Savia has a relaxed, down to that wise earth feel about it.

The tasting room is a warehouse-like structure, filled with magnificent, one-of-a-kind furniture made of recycled wood and reclaimed old growth redwood.  Tables full of knots and holes, which would hold all your Thanksgiving guests, plus the turkey, ham and all the side dishes.  No need for a kiddies table with this in the house.

The accompanying benches, chairs, bookshelves and fun, unique artwork is made by a talented local artist, Ben Frey. Yvonne, the owner/operator of Terra Savia will be happy to give you his number.

Speaking of, Yvonne is pretty talented herself. In addition to the wines she produces, Yvonne is a master at olive oils. Her olive press takes up a significant corner of the tasting room and a demonstration of how it works is impressive.

Paul Evans was pouring in the tasting room.  He had only one wine open, but suggested I try the olive oils (the Olivano part of the title).  With his help, I can give a decent report on a subject way over my head.

The Fontaio, an extra virgin oil, has a rich taste of green apples, hazelnuts, almonds and a touch of pepper.  This oil is a lovely bronze color and would do just fine as a light salad dressing.

Leccino has a mild fruity flavor of green apples and mint. It is a delicate oil that could be used as a salad dressing or as an appetizer with fresh bread. YUM.

Maraiolo is bold. This oil is quite spicy, fragrant and a definite peppery finish.  Paul recommended it be used as a meat marinade.

The Meyer Lemon is made of olives and Meyer Lemon peels.  It is very lemony and light. This would be a perfect fish marinade.

The left over olive pumice and skins is made into soaps and moisturizers.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Terra Savia also produces Wildflower Honey.


The one wine I sampled was the 2011 Chardonnay.  This was a treat: made with organic grapes and unoaked, the Chardonnay was fresh with green apples, tea and grass.

Other wines produced at Terra Savia include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, a Meritage and Petit Verdot.


Any Terra Savia product can be custom bottled and labeled.  Time to think Christmas!


Terra Savia produces 2000 to 4000 cases a year. The fruit is all organic and estate grown. Meticulous detail is given to producing top notch wines with the least environmental impact.


As if the wines and olive oils are not enough, Terra Savia has a rental home at the back of the vineyard that I can personally assure you is the most relaxing place in Hopland.  Isolated, quiet and serene, this place is both dog and child friendly.  With a big front porch overlooking the vineyards, a swing set for the youngsters, an above ground pool and perfect-for-star-gazing hot tub, you may end up like me: telling Yvonne she needs to start filling out eviction papers.

Hopland is great place with many fun tasting rooms.  Terra Savia is a good winery to start at.  But don’t just take my word for it.  Make it your destination, soon.


As always, drink and drive responsibly.



Wine at Sunset

Mendocino County — the Wine Place


Absense makes the heart grow fonder”

~Eleanor RooseveltA Beautiful Bunch

Hello, all,

I have out of touch a bit and sorry for that.  It was necessary to take a break in order to get a vacated rental house back in shape.  But, now that is done, I am back and just spent a pleasant few weeks in Mendocino County of northern California.  Put this on your to do list!

The sign welcoming visitors to Mendocino County states the county has Wilderness, Waves and Wine.  Nothing could be truer!

This gorgeous place, approximately 100 miles north of San Francisco, can fulfill the wants of anyone, guaranteed.  For those with a serious yen to get away, take Route 162 (off Highway 101) to Covelo and the Round Valley.  This is area time has left alone.  Fresh air, fabulous stars, groves of conifers and oaks and the pristine Eel River – the Round Valley is a special, almost sacred feel.  Originally settled by Native Americans, the valley is the jumping off spot for the Yolla-Bolly Wilderness Area and the Mendocino National Forest.  Both areas offer numerous hiking and primitive camping opportunities and a chance for real solitude.

The northernmost region of Mendocino County is home to the treasured Smith Redwoods State Reserve.  To drive through these incredible groves of trees is to know beauty.  Do yourself a favor, take some time and hike through history.

Mendocino County’s western side is one of California’s most dramatic coastlines.  Dotted with darling towns, from artsy Gualala to up-scale Mendocino and Ft. Bragg, the coast is the perfect spot for whale watching, to experience a winter storm or a peaceful beach stroll.  Many beaches and lodgings gladly welcome pets.

The towns along the Mendocino Coast may be small in size, but they are big on comfort.   They love the tourist and cater to our needs.  Fine dining and extraordinary lodgings can be found in every port.  Naturally, fresh fish is a daily offering.

There are lots of options in the coastal State Parks for either RV’ers or tent campers, as well.  Enjoy a weekend of kite flying, beach combing and relaxation by the waves.

Last, but not least, Mendocino County is a burgeoning wine area.  Approximately sixty wineries (and a handful of breweries) grace this county.  Most of these are centered around the tiny town of Hopland and along Highway 128 to the coast.  The Mendocino County AVA’s are blessed with lots of sun and heat, but cooled down by coastal breezes at night, similar to neighboring Napa.

This combination of forces allows both Rhone and Bordeaux varietals to flourish.  The whites are floral and fruity, the reds big and bold.  Wine lovers should definitely give Mendocino County a try.  They will not be disappointed.

Vintners in Mendocino County are cutting edge, as well.  This is California’s “greenest” wine area.  Many grapes are grown organically or bio-dynamically; many wines are bottled that way, too.

Mendocino County is an unforgettable spot.  A serene, scenic, and sacred area that transcends time, Mendocino County is a place to slow down, re-commune with nature, and make memories.

I come often and enjoy the area more with each visit. Over the next few weeks, you will get a article on some special people, wineries and events!