Archive for the wine blogs Category


Posted in Uncategorized, wine blogs with tags , on January 7, 2011 by ballymote

When I first started this blog I was determined it would not become like so many others where prolific posting would soon be replaced by sporadic efforts. For the first 18 months at South Jersey Wine and Dine I was able to consistently turn out  what I felt was a commendable effort and I was rewarded with the only currency that matters in the blog world, increased readership. The last two months I have slipped up with too much time between reviews and constantly falling behind in posting. If I were going to make excuses I would be blaming my computer and the multitude of “glitches” that have occurred in the last 60 days; primarily, my loss of Picasa  ( the Google photo storage app),where I stored thousands of my photos, and my inability to have it restored.

As we begin 2011 I resolve to overcome all of the day-to-day posting difficulties and get back to consistently offering new material. Thanks to all of you for hanging in there and continuing to visit. Have a Happy, Safe and Productive New Year!


Posted in Favorite Wines, Info on Wine, Stefania Wine Party, wine blogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2010 by ballymote

A year ago, I had never heard of Stefania wines. Fellow blogger, Mark Jahnke, who writes the entertaining and informative Jersey Foodies blog, along with his lovely wife, Pam (link is in the column on the right)would post glowingly on the wines whenever he opened them. After reading several of these rave reviews I signed up on the mailing list. Stefania wines are not available in the local wine shops and can be purchased only thru the mailing list, which is currently filled, but has a waiting list.

Paul Romero is shown answering questions from a couple of male wine-lovers while Stefania does the same for two interested female guests.  The Romero’s, who make both their home and their wine in San Jose, California, are both passionate about their craft. As with any daring venture, becoming successful winemakers involves overcoming a great deal of obstacles, and both Paul and Stef enjoy telling the stories that brought them to where they are today. From those first 50 vines planted next their hot tub (Haut Tubee to Stefania fans), they now have an array of wines that are priced well below wines of comparable quality. I had tried most of their varietals prior to last evening but this was my first time sampling their very tasty Pinot Noir with it’s nose of garden flowers and sweet cherry cola. Get on that waiting list!!!

In addition to the great Stefania wines, all of the guests brought a bottle from home and later in the evening, Mark generously opened some fantastic wines from his own collection. I was thrilled to once again try the 2005 Lillian, Whitehawk Vineyard, Syrah and this was followed by a 2007 Sine Qua Non, “The Raven”. So many wines that it was hard to keep track of them but I do know we started in the late afternoon with one of Mark’s magnums of 2006 Sea Smoke, Chardonnay and later I had a small glass of the wine I brought with me, a 2006 Kongsgaard, Chardonnay. Both of these whites were crisp and delicious but none could ever replace a really good red wine. I know there was a 2007 Lafond, Pinot Noir and that my last wine of the evening was a 2005 Andrew Murray, Oak Savannah Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley, Syrah.

Was there any food you ask? I’ll just say that anyone who left Mark and Pam’s charming backyard bistro hungry has no one to blame but themselves. There was a veritable orgy of food available including some the tastiest sliders with beef from Flannery’s, I believe. A terrific brisket prepared in Mark’s new smoker and rubbed with Pam’s super-secret seasonings, barbecued chicken and plate after plate of side dishes to go with the meats.

As with any party of 40 people it’s difficult to meet everyone but in addition to the guests of honor, Paul and Stefania Romero, I enjoyed having the opportunity to meet another dynamic duo of food bloggers, John and Lisa Howard-Fusco who do a fantastic job on their very popular “Eating in South Jersey.”

John and Lisa put a lot of effort into their blog and have some great interviews with chefs (i.e. Paula Dean, Ted Allen), restaurant owners and others involved in fresh food and produce throughout the area. There is always something new on their site and it’s a great way to keep up with what’s going on in the Jersey food world from the seashore to the city. It’s obviously a labor of love and I totally enjoyed having the opportunity to spend some time with both of them in a great setting.

One other couple that deserves mention, simply because they were charming, would be Tom and Denise DeBiase. These Central Jersey wine-lovers will be out in Sonoma next month at the same time as my wife and I and two other couples who will be joining us. It would be nice to meet up at some point with Tom and Denise whose son is out in California pursuing his dream of becoming the next Paul and Stefania. From what I hear, he is off to a good start.

Paul and Stefania’s east coast trip took them to Washington DC on Thursday and Friday and they will be in New York City tomorrow. They had a great dinner the other night on the banks of the Potomac and I’m certain NYC will provide another super backdrop. Last night’s garden party, hosted by Mark and Pam, was a first-class affair and hopefully will provide the Romero’s with fond memories of the new fans they have made for themselves and their wines when they return to the Santa Cruz Mountains. Thank you, Mark, for the invite.


Posted in Info on Wine, wine blogs with tags on August 8, 2010 by ballymote

Normally, a blogger replies to a comment on his/her post by adding another comment under the original. This time I am writing the comment as a post because I am so impressed with the comment and the commenter.

I do not know Patrick McKee. I do know that he works at Hops n Grapes in Glassboro, NJ and that every time I mention his place of employment, within hours, he has an intelligent response on my blog.

In my last post, prior to this one, I talked about internet marketing strategies employed by three random wine sellers. Patrick is the guy behind the marketing e-mails at Hops n Grapes.  You can see by what he writes that he takes a great deal of pride in what he does. He accepts responsibilities when it doesn’t work and keeps trying until he gets it right. It doesn’t seem to me that an employer can ask for much more than that. His comments after my post on Internet Marketing styles has more good points on the topic than does my original post.

Finally, let me say that although not everything I say about Hops n Grapes is positive, I DO like the store. It has a nice selection, reasonable prices and a group of dedicated employees who are helpful without being pushy. In short, it’s a place you can shop for wine, cheese, beer and spirits and feel comfortable.

I really enjoyed Hops n Grapes when Max and Felipe owned the place. They treated me very well. I do not know the new owner and that’s probably my fault as I never introduced myself during my many visits. I do know that every staff person I have spoken with like working for the guy so he must be doing something right.

Patrick, keep up the good work! If this doesn’t get you a raise, I give up. 🙂


Posted in Uncategorized, wine blogs with tags , on July 4, 2010 by ballymote

The country is celebrating our 234th birthday and my blog is crawling quickly now as it celebrates it’s very first birthday. Hopefully, the country has several thousand more good years to look forward to while my blog learns to walk as it heads into its second year.

Tom mark this first year of blogdom I am going to list in the next few days, the Five Best Things I Have Eaten in the first year of dining reviews. The Five Best Restaurants and the Five Best Wines that I have enjoyed since last July will also be featured.

It’s been a great first year and I think all of you who brought the visitor total to 13,000. There are certainly more frequented blogs but I never imagined that 13,000 of you would be stopping by to read what I wrote. Remember that you can comment on any of my posts by clicking on the “Comments” section at the end of each post. You can also SUBSCRIBE to my blog by simply adding your e-mail address in the area provided in the column on the right hand side. You will then receive an e-mail whenever there is a new post.

Finally, remember that freedom isn’t free, and that hundreds of thousands of our citizens have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can enjoy all that we have today!


Posted in Uncategorized, wine blogs with tags on June 13, 2010 by ballymote

My few faithful readers may have noticed that I have not had a new post in two weeks. It seems a very potent virus had invaded my computer and would not allow me to even access my blog page. The good web doctors at my friend Jerry C.’s “hospital” worked for a week and were able to cure my machine. Tonight it was removed from “life support” and appears to be functioning well. I hope to catch up on some reviews and other notes in the next few days. Thanks for your patience. It’s nice to be back!!


Posted in wine blogs with tags , , , , , on February 26, 2010 by ballymote

 Since the very first post back in early July of last year a great deal has happened to my South Jersey Wine Blog. We have had a name change to South Jersey Wine & Dine, a ton of restaurant reviews with plenty more to come, and most gratifying of all to me, a steady and consistent increase in readership. That first month of July there were 147 visits. I am thrilled to say that if the present trend continues we will reach 10,000 visits before our 1 year anniversary. This doesn’t even include my own visits!! A toast to all of you who have made the efforts I have put into writing this blog totally worthwhile.

 As any of you who live in the Philly/South Jersey area already know, February was a horrendous weather month with record snowfalls. This may have reduced the number of dining opportunities. March will be better as I already have reservations for Blackbird in Collingswood, ModoMio, in Philly and Creed’s Seafood and Steakhouse in King of Prussia, and those are just in the first 8 days of March!

 Please continue to add your “comments” in the section at the bottom of each post. Remember, you can subscribe to South Jersey Wine & Dine by simply inserting your e-mail address in the section provided in the column on the right side of the blog. You will then be alerted whenever a new post is published.

 It’s been fun sharing these first 100 posts with all of you and I just wanted all of you to know that I appreciate the fact that you find the information I provide on BYOB dining and wine possibilities in this area interesting. Thank you!        Slainte!


Posted in Info on Wine, wine blogs with tags , , on February 15, 2010 by ballymote


That’s the blog home of F. Scott and Zelda who cover the food and wine world of Central Jersey with style and class.

To those of us in South Jersey, the area that makes up Central Jersey has always been a bit of a mystery. It’s been easy to define North Jersey, the land of Yankee and Giant fans, the mortal “enemy” of the South. Central Jersey is much more complex. It’s not even likely you could get two South Jersey folks who would agree on what towns comprise Central Jersey. Here’s a little quiz to prove my point.

Place each of the following locals in North. Central, or South Jersey:

A. Great Adventure                                  

B. Woodbridge

C. Princeton                                

D. Asbury Park

E. Monmouth

F. Bordentown

G. Exit 8A on the NJTP

H. Rutgers University

I can’t even tell you if you chose the right regions because I’m not totally sure myself! Anyway, my point of this post is to direct you to another blog that I think you will enjoy. F. Scott does great reviews on restaurants big and small. His descriptions of some of the wines that he and Zelda enjoy will having you searching for those special bottles.

Do yourself a favor and wander over to their blog. You’ll thank me for the heads up.