Travel Diary: When You Just Don’t Feel Like It – Berry Park in Brooklyn

I don’t jump out of bed with the desire to spread wine love all over the state of New Jersey.

On the contrary, I can’t seem to get out of bed lately.  I’ve never had life weigh me down like this before; work, family, death.  Yeah, death.  As much as you prepare yourself for a loss, it never seems to soften the blow.  I hate to make this about me, but my senses seem to be laying on my skin, and my emotions I am putting in a jar.  We will deal with those silly emotions later. (probably with a therapist)

So what happens when we are in this state of mind – who the heck wants to get off the couch.  My couch is where I finally end the day, relax, become a child again.  It took my friend Genelle three days to convince myself and another friend to take a “road trip” to Brooklyn.

To Brooklyn.  You realize this is about an hour away.  My mind cancelled about three times, I came up with a bunch of excuses, but decided to suck it up and go.  Please kiss your friends that make you do things you don’t want to do.  Praise them, keep them close, and celebrate them every chance you get.  What a great day we had.

The intent was to see our friend compete in a Strongman (well, Strongwoman) competition at Brooklyn Athletic Club – really great box.  She killed it, we screamed our faces off in support, and then we were hungry.

Next door, literally a few steps away, was a STUPID COOL rooftop experience; Berry Park.  We weren’t looking for fancy, or a change your life culinary experience.  A few cocktails and a sandwich fit the bill.

Then the sun came out – then the beer arrived – then the laughs, stories, release of tension could happen. Why am I not exploring?  Why am I not curious about life outside my shell?  Lesson learned; get out, pack a snack pack, grab your girlfriends, and road trip the hell out of life.  Summer project; do things you wouldn’t do.  I just signed up for a crossfit competition in June.  I hate crossfit competitions.  At 45 years old, I am competing in a crossfit competition.  And, so it begins…

What we ate: Like I said, nothing fancy.  Fried pickles a must; probably the best we have ever had. (and we are experts at the fried pic experience).  Burger hit the spot, but the fries could have been better.  (not worth the calories)  Steak and eggs were on point, and an avocado BLT was well done.  Who doesn’t like an avocado…

What we drank: Great beer list; totally funky.  The wine list? Eh – ok.  I feel like they were trying to hard for the hipsters.  My friend’s sauvignon blanc was way to grassy with very little balance but loaded with acidity.  I can’t even remember the name; that’s how much I liked it.

Would I go back: Well, maybe.  Berry Park is right in the heart of Williamsburg: hipster central.  Nothing against these lovelies, and no judgement.  I just feel like I was in a episode of “The Hunger Games” where this little group of people were sectioned off and told to walk and dress the same.  Very strange feeling.


Drink This: Stop the Beringer Hate

Mood, history and feelings.  Most of what leads us into our situations.  Wine is no different.

What kicks off in your brain when I say Beringer Vineyards?  I’ll tell you- white zinfandel.  You see yourself perched in front of that huge glass door (cold box) in a wine shop wondering what jug you will choose.  It’s pink, full of gushy fruit, and will do the job.

And nothing wrong with it.  I defend blushy goodnes in this blog: if you are interested in reading: White Zinfandel – so, we don’t need to get into that.

Beringer makes a damn good White Zinfandel – probably the best in the market.  There are a few more facts you should know about the winery.  I covered a few here: The Rise and Fall of a Wine Dinner.  However, for some of the top hits:

  • Two brothers began this winery in 1876.  We can consider them some of the godfathers of California winemaking and wine growing.  Jacob Beringer’s great great (maybe another great) grandson is now leading the charge; Mark Beringer.  One of the COOLEST guys in Cali; laid back, very handsome, witty, a ton of charm.
  • Beringer Private Reserve level of wines (chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon) are the crown jewels of the Beringer line up.  Both varietals have won “Wine of the Year” in the past (the only winery EVER to achieve this status), and continue to be a benchmark of true California “wine of place” choices.
  • There is so much more to explore here.  Not only are wines produced in Napa (and who would snub their nose at that), but fruit is also sourced from Paso Robles, Sonoma…more to come.  Consistency, history, an apex of where we all began in California winemaking.

When I want to grab and go with something good, Beringer’s Private Reserve Chardonnay is on my mind.  In fact, a bottle is usually chilled and ready to go.  It is rich, classy, and complex all at the same time.  There is citrus, honeysuckle, baked apple – but not to a point where you can’t enjoy more than one glass.  Does that happen to you?  Sometimes the chardonnay is just “too much” and overbearing.  I’ve never experienced that with this wine.  In fact, this is a “all nighter” to me; I can enjoy this wine by itself, and throughout the meal.  The wine pairs well with EVERYTHING and everyone enjoys it.  That is always important to me.  If we are friends, you know I can pull out some funky wines.  However, I want you to enjoy yourself, and not wear that wrinkly face after a sip, and ask for some tequila instead.  This is a staple, and will continue to be with me.

Where do I get this stuff? – The nice answer to this question is ANYWHERE!  Shoppers Vineyard in Clifton, Wine Library in Springfield, Central Avenue Wines in Jersey City (I LOVE the owner Neil.  He rules)…I could go on.  This wine is a classic to wine buyers, and as I have outlined, a pure expression of California chardonnay.

What should you have in your purse? – Around $30.  You can buy a cheaper chardonnay, and I don’t blame you if you do.  We are moving into a heavier palette meal time – October brings lovely soups and roasts, Thanksgiving is around the corner, and I’m hungry.  You need something that measures up, and can deliver these hearty flavors to your table.  Take the plunge.

And now for something that has NOTHING to do with this blog – check out my girls back squatting.  This summer, nothing has made me more happy than working through my back squat.  If I didn’t have my posse behind me, well, is it worth it?  So impressed with what we all have accomplished!:


Obsessing Over Wine and Crossfit – Part 2

All day long I pontificate  and stress to wine buyers what their consumers will be wanting, thinking, and craving.  I’ll link in my features and benefits with what my main focus and priority product is, I’ll give my pitch, and close like the master I am.

Does anyone like this stuff in the first place?

That fact buzzes in my head.  When did we leave out the human connection to a brand, a grape, a pretty label?  In all the marketing decks I study (ok, skim), there is Nielsen data, statistics on market profitability, and so on and so on.  What I want to know is who is drinking  it and what do they think?

I’m not attracted to over-blown wine snobs; they turn me off.  I want authentic, solid, and positive people going in the same direction I am.  I also want minds that look at both sides of the coin, outside the box, and well, can tend to be eccentric.  Anyone that finds pleasure lifting a ton of weight for two hours in a hot gym after a full day of work is hired as a reviewer for Wine Girl Gone Wild.

Acacia Pinot Noir was in my wine bag that day, and I knew it would be a hit with this crowd.  Why?  Everyone loves this grape.  The wine seems to hit all the high points of flavor wine drinkers are looking for.  This Pinot Noir is from California; bolder fruit, medium body where others may tend to be lighter.  The texture is rich and inviting.  In past blogs, I discussed feeling a wine during the tasting process; where does it go on my palate, what is tugging at my senses, and how does the wine linger after I swallow it?  All elements that come alive with Acacia Pinot Noir, and reasons that attracted my reviewers.  California Pinots also give me a spice at the end; a harvesty warmness that makes me feel at home.

Go Here:  Buy Rite Wine and Liquor; 650 Shunpike Road, Chatham, NJ.  Ask for PJ.  He just purchased enough Acacia Pinot Noir to last him throughout the season. (unless you buy it all…)

Have This In Your Purse: Around $20.00.  You may find a sale, and you most likely will come October.  DO NOT BUY A BY ACACIA – this is a different wine.  The wine we tasted in this blog is the Acacia CARNEROS Pinot Noir.  Just show them the blog.

To see what really happened in the gym, check the video below.

A big shout out to Brazen Athletics for allowing me to take advantage of your members and coaches after a grueling barbell club evening.

Brazen Athletics – Brazen Athletics

Fairfield Location – 1275 Bloomfield Ave (Pio Costa Complex) Fairfield, NJ

Hoboken Location – 1317 Willow Ave, Hoboken, NJ

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Obsessing Over Wine And Crossfit

I never planned on sticking with crossfit.  I thought I would be out of that gym in 3 months; loose a little weight, be social, wear cute work out clothes.  That was my plan.

I also never thought I would sell wine.  Way to complex of a thing to understand – and who makes a career out of it anyway?

Obsession is not a proper word for both.  They fuel my lifestyle.  They have changed me; the real me talks to you now.  Call it what you will, I’m freaking happy.  Sure, ok, both are a “cult” in a way (I can’t stand when people say that), but they are my own Pajak Cult –  and honey, it serves me well.

What I didn’t know was what parallel roads they travel together:

  1. You will never know everything; I first began studying wine because every day, there is something new.  That means I can’t master it.  That may bother some people, but it motivates me to no end.  Just like walking up to the bar and knowing I am approaching a lift differently than I did last week, yesterday, 5 minutes ago!  How can I be a master of such a living and breathing activity!  What a beautiful revelation this is, and imagine where it can take my mind, my body, my future!
  2. Smart work pays off; Movement is funny in some ways; different placement of the feet, or a hitch of the hips changes everything!  It can send you in a completely new direction!  Man, I worked stupid for a long time in wine, and in movement, and it got me no where!  With proper direction, and clear thought, geez, so much comes together – doesn’t it?
  3. Mentors; I have often found the people that have effected me the most are the last people I would pick out in a line up.  Pictures in your head don’t often match what is unveiled in your life; well, at least mine.  What an attraction I have to people that are just ABSORBED with something; anything!  The commitment to learning about wine and crossfit seems to be the same; you just can’t breathe without learning.  Life can’t continue if you don’t read  about soil content in a vineyard, or how to do a muscle up.  These are the people I choose to enhance my ability, yell in my ear, and, well, just give good hugs.
  4. Beauty; There is no other way to express a painting, fresh snow, Sunday brunch, Barolo decanted for 4 hours, or watching a clean and jerk ending with a push press.  All the things in the last sentence give me chills.  That is beauty and perfection; at least for a moment in time.
  5. The most positive thing I do for myself every day; I wish I could tell you that I don’t screw things up from time to time.  I know we all do, but I seem to get myself in a jam more than I would like to admit.  Knowing that I dedicate time to something more than the white noise in my head is a blessing.  Writing this blog makes me recall my wine education, and think deeper.  Waking up at 5:30 AM to lift heavy stuff starts my day burning with possibilities…
  6. Commitment to something other than Netflix; My mother once told me, after hearing about the time spent on my wine dinners, wine trainings, and working in the market –  “Some people work 9 to 5 jobs every day and are very happy.” Well good for them Mom, but that isn’t me.  Both wine and crossfit push me to keep going – that is what makes me happy.  I can’t stop thinking of what else it out there, and if I just went a little further, what more I can accomplish.  Both have set me on a track that is never going to end.  I dream of deadlifts, and how I can teach someone about the regions of Burgundy.  Sounds a little over the top, but this is such a good place.  To know you are more than what everyone else sees is a special little secret only available upon demand.  I love that.

So pour yourself a little bubbly, practice your double unders in the kitchen, watch Jason Khalipa on YouTube and dream of how he should be your boyfriend (sorry, I do that), and enjoy life people!