Tuesday, April 10, 2018

You wanted to know

Like any small business, we get a lot of the same questions over and over. Since we have our fair share of inquiries, this post I decided to clear up a few for our customers and friends. Here we go

Q. What does PDX stand for? 
Perhaps you've seen this abbreviation on one of our bottles, or on a sign, or in an article. Let's demystify the most common confusion.  PDX is short for Paradocx Vineyard. I know there is an airport in Portland with the same PDX, but in our neck of the woods, it's Paradocx Vineyard.

Q. Why the C in Paradocx? 
Maybe we are trying to confuse you or upset the spellcheck on your phone. There is actually a better reason though. You see, the owners of Paradocx Vineyard are two couples who are also medical doctors. Now look closer. Pair- Of -Docs. Paradocx. Get it? Cool huh? 

Q. Who designed the labels? 
Boy, do I get a lot of compliments on our labels. Beautiful, bright colored flowers, but who designed it? I wish I could say me, but we would probably sell no wine at all if I were decorating the bottles.  Alice Cooper, the mother of Carol Hoffman, one of the docs, painted the beautiful flowers for our wine labels. So talented. 

Q. Is there wine in that? 
If you noticed the mini cans displayed at one of our four locations, you may have wondered if they contain single servings of wine. As cool as that would be, they are actually our wine scented candles, and the smaller ones are tree ornaments, though they could be used for anything your creative self can come up with. The lid even comes off, so fill them with mints or jelly beans. Maybe a shot of Barn Red.

Q. Can I refill the cans? 
Well yes and no. We have a secret: the wine isn't sloshing around freely in that can, it's actually stored in a bladder-like pouch inside. We do reuse the cans you return, but we have to put new pouches inside and re-label the cans before they are ready for resale, and this process takes a while. So you personally can't refill your can, but we here at Paradocx will gladly reuse it for next time. Plus, the bonus for you is that when you bring the empty can back, we will give you two dollars off your next purchase. The circle of life, Paradocx style.

One Final Thought

The French Paradox

The docs may not have had this in mind when they named their winery Paradocx, but take out the "c" and you have another wine related term. We refer to this as the French Paradox.

This term was coined to explain how the French can live on heavy fats and cigarettes and still have good health.  What is the common denominator? Wine of course. The French love their wine and treat it like a food group. It's probably on their food pyramid. It's probably in their vitamins. 

Now, this has not been scientifically proven and the studies are far more detailed than my commentary, but I buy into it. Red wine has attributes that are theorized to fight off chronic heart disease. 

So let's do our own test.  Eat well and drink more Paradocx wine. Though I still recommend to avoid the smokes. Walk to the winery.  I don't care if you live in Philadelphia - get here.  Bring a picnic basket full of cheese, butter, bread, cake, salami. When you get here, run 10 laps around the vineyard. Do 100 pushups on the bar.  Join our Yoga in the Vineyard session.

Then after you have burned 10,000 calories, eat your lunch and enjoy Paradocx award-winning wine.  I assure you, you will stay fit. When you are finished, take a case of wine home. After all, you have to keep up with the French.

I forgot to tell you. Forget Uber. Walk home again, carrying a case of wine and your empty picnic basket. It may take you 8 hours to get home, but it will be worth it. Tell the French folks we have our own paradox in Landenberg, PA. Paradocx Winery, that is.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

White For Summer, Red For Winter - Why?

I hear this question often, and I admit I wonder, too. According to the secret statistical droids we employ, we sell more white wines in the summer and more red wines in the winter. 

But Why?

There are a couple reasons for this. An obvious reason would be that we serve white wines colder than reds, and it's pretty damn hot in the summer. Well at least it is here. Do you really want a warmer wine on a hot, humid day? Not usually. A chilled, crisp, acidic white will do the trick.

The opposite goes for red wine. It is served warmer, and on a chilly day, only a red will work.

Another reason? Food of course. We prefer hearty, heavier, fattier foods in the winter and a cool white wine probably won't stand up the way a medium to full-bodied red will. 

And for summer, think of crisp salads, grilled chicken, seafood, fresh vegetables and fruit. That luscious Pinot Grigio or Vidal Blanc matches perfectly. 

Even without consciously thinking it through, these choices become habit.

Calm Your Horses You Non-Conformist

Before you go a little loco on me, let me say that this is not always the case. We have customers that only drink white wine all year round, and the same goes for red wine drinkers. Also, not all of our reds and whites are created equally. Take our Barn Red for example.

A fruit forward, off-dry red with soft tannins. This is an all year round red that pairs well with burgers, pasta, BBQ and pizza. And our award winning white wine, Yield, has enough body and flavor to stand up to chilly nights and heartier chicken and seafood.

I hope that clears up the red equals winter and white equals summer mystery, but it's not really a mystery at all. Just drink whatever the hell you want. 

One Final Thought

Thinking about serving wines chilled, or not-so-chilled, made me think about proper storage, which made me think about wine cellars. My grandmother had a cellar, though she had no wine, at least that's what I thought. 

Most wine cellars are designed to keep wines at the correct humidity and temperature for proper storage and aging.

And low and behold, I couldn't help but wonder how big they could possibly be. 

So I went to the library and looked at the old dusty encyclopedias. Just kidding. I Googled it of course. What I found was less "cellar" and more "wine cellar city." 

I thought the world's largest wine cellar would be located in France, Italy, or Argentina, but to my surprise, it's in Moldova. It's called the Milestii Mici. 

Now, if you know where Moldova is then good for you, you nerd. But I had to look it up on a map. Moldova is located in Eastern Europe and borders Ukraine and Romania.

Now that I got the geography lesson out of the way, let's talk about the cellar. 

The cellar runs for about 200 km and holds about 2 million bottles. The cellar actually has tunnels and each tunnel is named after a wine grape. You can actually drive a car though the tunnels. This is open to visitors and folks from all over can stroll through the cellar. 

I would have never planned a vacation to Moldova, but it is high on my list now. I would definitely need a map. I wonder if the tunnels are on my GPS? Whatever! I would still get lost, but what better place to get lost than the biggest wine cellar in the world. I wouldn't run out of wine, would I? 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Paradocx Staff Member Series - Katie Horisk

If you follow my blog, you may get the impression I have been with Paradocx since the repeal of Prohibition. Firstly, I am not that old and secondly, I certainly would have been a bootlegger  but sadly I have no boots.

The focus on this new series is to provide you with a little glance of our dedicated crew. I will give you my impressions, whether they like it or not and then I will ask them a few questions that I may like or not.

I picked Katie to go first; not just because she has been around longer than most of us but because she is so diverse in her skills and has contributed so much for Paradocx, and her customers. When I say her customers, I mean that's the relationship and effort she puts toward customer service  as if she owns Paradocx.

Katie joined the Paradocx Team in July of 2014. When I first met Katie I admit I had no idea what she actually did. I typically saw her on the weekends when she came back from the Farmers Markets. Katie worked the outside markets as well as Booths Corner, a very large Amish Market in PA. It would be  a year later that I would finally visit, I mean work at Booths Corner myself.

Katie the Mystery Member

While I was working at the vineyard, little did I know how much Katie was rocking it and involved in so many projects. I am not going to list them, but trust me, she had her hands full . Now Katie over and nothing has changed!  The biggest, best, and most favorite part of her job is Wine Club. Katie sends the wine club 4 times a year, but is constantly educating the staff and her customers on the benefits of Wine Club.  If you are interested in the wine club, ask for more information at any of our four locations-yeah we know, shameless plug. If you are lucky, you will get to meet Katie herself. 

Katie Fun Facts!

1. What is your favorite PDX wine? 

Viva La Rosa #roseallday and Petit Verdot!  Petit Verdot is my favorite grape to harvest because they are so tiny and cute!

2. What's on your playlist? 

Mainly reggae and Latino music! 

3. When you are not drinking wine, what is your first choice? 

No judgement please...but I love bud light lime! For me, there's nothing better than getting done a hot summer time farmer's market and cracking open a cold bud light lime!

4. What was your first job? 

My first was working at coffee shops! I did it for around 9 years! I can put your name in a latte.  

5. What is your favorite place to eat at work? 

Nomadic pies at Phoenixville Farmers Market, Kaboburritos at The Market at LP and KaPow Kitchen at Booths Corner.

6. What irritates you? 

When I *finally* clean out my car and I go to an offsite event and it's either too hot/too cold and I had just taken half of my wardrobe out of my car 😞

One final thought

Quick, grab her shoe

I love unique customs, especially drinking customs, but in Ukraine, at weddings, thievery is expected. Apparently it is a custom to be the first to steal the bride's shoe. 

The lucky thief gets to demand some light hearted requests from the wedding party and friends, especially forcing one to drink from the bride's shoe. It's not as stinky as you may think. You simply strap a filled glass onto the shoe and bottoms up. 

If someone stole a shoe from a bride in America, Bridezilla would destroy the city. However, I am tempted to try this just once, though that might get me a one way ticket to Ukraine-at least they'll appreciate a good prank. 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

"Uncle Lou! Remember me?"

If you have been out of the loop or just wasn't aware, we at Paradocx Vineyard play host to PDX Wine Tastings all year-boy are they a hit. 

We have had many groups, such as birthdays, bridal showers, graduations, bachelorette parties (look out for those girls), corvette clubs, and ugly sweater parties. 

If you have had a group tasting before, then most likely Lou was your host.. Lou certainly has mastered the tasting experience and provides not only a great story, but also rocking entertainment. 

The PDX Wine Tasting experience gives you the history of the winery, the characteristics of the wine, and Lou will sure have you smiling and laughing.

Lou has captured quite a following and on social media he has been nicknamed "Uncle Lou".  I have an Uncle Lou, well more like an uncle Terry but just as fun, but I digress....

Oh, you really don't need a special event to have a group tasting, just a day out with family or friends. Just give us a heads up by contacting info@paradocx.com and we will reserve a space for you. Ask for Uncle Lou. 

One Final Word

Just this past weekend, we finally had our company holiday party. Better late than never. This was my fourth holiday party and by far the best. 

Besides the great food and great company, we played a gift exchange game. Pretty simple, one by one, everyone opens a gift and may keep it or steal from another. Most of us kept our opened gift. We're not greedy, but our GM stole mine. The nerves!

The gift I had opened was a wine by 19 crimes. Perhaps you have heard of them? The back story goes in London, in the 1800s, prisoners that were convicted for one of the 19 crimes were sentenced, not to the gallows, but to Australia to start a new life. 

Not all survived but the ones who did were able to share their story through augmented reality via the wine bottle. Just download the app, place your phone on the label and the prisoners come to life and tell their unique story.

Oh I forgot, although  my 19 Crimes wine, The next gift I opened was another 19 Crimes wine-Lucky for her. 

This got me thinking, What could we do with augmented reality? When the wine maker saw the wine label come to life, he was amazed.

You know we are known for our paint cans of wine. How about when you scan over the can with your phone, the wine maker appears, surrounded by a mass amount of grapes and juice, then dips a paint brush into the juice and paints the wall with the phrase "Paint The Town Responsibly" Paradocx Vineyard!

Well it's a thought. I am just waiting for the chance to impose a video of me at the tasting room, introducing and pouring  tasting flights while I sit at a French cafe drinking our Cabernet Franc, getting paid of course.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Beer And Chocolate - Yeah it's A Thing

For the last couple of years, we have celebrated February as Chocolate month at Paradocx Vineyard. After all, chocolate deserves an entire month. Our wine maker selects PDX wines and pairs with local handmade truffles from Nuechatel Swiss Chocolates.

Last year, as we were rolling out craft beer for the first time, I was asked to pair beer with chocolate truffles.

When I mentioned I would pair craft beer with chocolate, I got a few puzzled looks like "is that a thing"? or "I never heard of beer and chocolate". Well, I am here to tell you, not only is it a thing, but it pairs better than wine. What a bold statement-don't tell Gabriel!

Let me explain why. First, it's not just chocolate that pairs so well with beer but all foods, even those challenging wine pairing foods, such as asparagus and eggplant. Oh, and don't let me get started on cheese. I will save that for another post.

Before you understand why beer pairs so well with foods, especially chocolate is to understand a few tasting characteristics of beer. Remember there are over 100 beer styles, not to mention the ever changing amount of sub-styles. 

What difference does this make? Well, the many styles are so diverse in flavor, color, body, aroma, that for every single food, there is a beer to accompany it.

Think of the many flavors and textures of food. Take the 5 tastes. Salty, Sweet, Sour, Bitter and Umami. You have foods that are acidic like citrus and vinegar, you have spicy foods like jalapeno and horseradish, sweet foods like caramel and cake, salty foods like popcorn and chips, savory foods like mushrooms and eggplant and tomatoes,  poultry, lamb, beef, game, fish, shellfish, greens, herbs, spices, milk, yogurt, candy and potatoes, etc.

Now with beer, You can have sour beers, fruity beers, wheat beers, dark, smokey beers, creamy beers, spicy beers, pumpkin beers, chocolate beers, coffee beers, toasty beers, dry beers, sweet beers. bitter beers, light beers, strong beers, and it goes on and on. Beers that range from 3.5 % abv to 21% abv..

I am not going to get too nerdy, but here are a few good examples. 

Pair strong bitter chocolates with big strong malty beers such as barley wines and Belgium Doubles. Go with a salted caramel with a brown ale. Hoppy beers are a challenge. Try a chocolate with Grand Marnier or a citrus flavored truffle with an IPA.

Also, try a rich dark chocolate with a sweet Lambic Framboise. Here is one I like, Dark chocolate with Smokey Rauchbiers. And finally a pumpkin beer with a cinnamon chocolate truffle.

One Final Thought

You don't Say

How many times have you heard or said to yourself. "I was wrong the whole time?" well apparently I was too, or shall I say I just didn't know.

No Germans were harmed in making this 

Did you know that the German Chocolate Cake has no German (country) origins whatsoever? Neither did I. So in 1852, an American named Sammual German, who worked for the Baker Chocolate company, developed a dark chocolate for the company and later was branded as Baker German's Sweet Chocolate.  

In 1957, a homemaker, Mrs George Clay developed a chocolate cake she called German's Chocolate Cake using Baker's German's Chocolate. The recipe became a hit and Baker chocolates became a huge success.

I'm The King Of The World

Milton Hershey, the founder of Hershey's Chocolate almost met his demise aboard the Titanic. Thankfully, he and his wife had important business matters to attend to, and canceled their trip. Would that have been the end of Hershey Kisses, or would his status as a chocolate giant have secured his seat in one of the not so many life boats. 

Chocolate Love

In Mexico and Central America, Cocoa beans were so luxurious they were once used as currency. 4 beans would get you a pumpkin, 10 beans would get you a rabbit and another 10 would get you a lady for the night.

Wife: Where were you all night? You were supposed to bring home dinner.

Husband: Sorry, they were all out of rabbits. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Take Our wine, Please!

I am from Delaware but, I work here in PA. Don't worry, it's not like I am traveling two hours away, though I did that once before. In PA, there is a thing called BYOB, Bring your own bottle. You probably knew that, but in Delaware, there is no such thing, as far as a restaurant is concerned.

In Kennet Square, at our shop and bar at The Market At liberty Place, we have quite a few customers purchase a bottle of Paradocx wine to take to their local BYOB restaurant. This is great news for them, and us. We happen to be conveniently located in the center of town on State Street, where you can just stroll on down to your favorite restaurant.

I thought, in this post, I would tell you folks about some of your options. I will break this up into cuisines.

The first is the one I hear the most about, Portabellos,  located at 115 West State Street, just a short stroll from The Market. I have yet to dine there. So sad, but the menu is amazing and I love how the menu reflects the seasons. The winter menu is hearty and diverse. Oh, and expect some clever mushroom preparations as well-it is Kennett Square after all. Some sample dishes include the Beef Stroganoff made with short ribs and Crimini Mushrooms. Another offering is the Crispy Duck with French cherries and a Merlot reduction. You had me at crispy duck.

What to bring? Try our 2015 Merlot for the duck and our 2013 Cabernet Franc with the Stroganoff.

Another choice within close proximity is Lily Asian Restaurant at 104 West Street in Kennett Square, PA. Lilys specializes in super fresh sushi, but also prepares other Asian favorites, such as Pad Thai and Kung Pao Chicken. The food is incredibly fresh and well seasoned. They are also well known for their Tuesday all you can eat sushi. You may want to arrive early for that one. Take our 2016 Vidal Blanc or Pinot Grigio for the sushi.

Finally, if you're in the mood for a no-frills authentic Mexican restaurant then look no further then La Pena at 609 West Cyprus Street Kennett Square, PA. This is definitely my go to when all I crave is authentic Mexican. Now they do offer a few classic Tex-Mex dishes but this is the real deal. Tamales, beef tongue tacos, dried beef chilaquillas, etc. Take our Barn Red or White Wash to cut through the spiciness. 

One Final Thought

Say what? In English please

"Please Pass the Jelly."

Do you remember that commercial in the 80s? A bunch of people are sitting at a well dressed table enjoying a fancy meal and they continue to ask for the Polaner All Fruit Spread, but when it comes to a less posh guest, in a southern accent, he says "please pass the jelly" - Classic. 

Do you also remember when we were kids and we picked up a menu and under the entree section, it said Lasagna, 8.99, and that was pretty much it. We knew what to expect and didn't really question it. We ordered it. Maybe we liked it. Maybe we didn't. 

Fast forward to the 90s and present time, and the description of a menu item is like taking a foreign language, with a whole lot of fluff and BS.  Does work?

Tell me if this sounds familiar? 

Dry-aged and free-ranged porterhouse, pan roasted with caramelized pearl onions and served with a red wine reduction sauce, accompanied with Gorgonzola laced polenta. Say what?

Here is how it translates: Beef that comes from cattle that has been allowed to roam around on it's own, then cut by a master butcher into large portions of beef, then hung up in a special air controlled room for several weeks or months then cut into thick tender steaks.

Placed into a preheated super hot pan then finished cooking in the oven. Then we take pealed pearl onions, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper then roasted in the oven until sweet and sticky. Maybe honey was added, who knows? 

There is more. When the steak is done (Medium Rare), you remove from the pan, pour in wine, and reduce to a sauce. Maybe butter is added, maybe beef stocked is added. who cares? It sounds great. Finally, you serve it with cornmeal mush that has had Italian blue cheese added. Yummy but who knew? 

New straightforward boring description

Steak with little onions and wine sauce served with cheesy cornmeal mush. 

Which would you want?

Here are a few other over-described menu descriptions:

Roasted shallot brined pork tenderloin, grilled to perfection and topped with a chiffanade of Thai basil and sake macerated watermelon. 

Grilled to perfection? Like the alternative is to grill it to mediocre?  Duh. Brined? Fancy term for salty marinade. Macerated? That's a term for steeped in liquid. Chiffanade of basil?  Herbs cut in thin strips. I just love it.

Cold smoked salmon crostini topped with roasted garlic and tarragon aioili served along side a salad of toasted  couscous and candied orange zest. 

Cold smoked? Is that possible? It's really smoking meats or seafood at low temperatures. Crostini, what's that?  Bread slices. Toasted couscous? Couscous that has been added to a hot pan maybe with oil until lightly brown and toasty. Aioili? That's mayonnaise. And finally candied orange zest. The peel of an orange dried with sugar. Boom! 

Seared Jamon wrapped chicken breast with grilled radicchio and sage infused olive oil, topped with pan grilled local stone fruit, drizzled with a reduction of barrel aged balsamic vinegar. 

Jamon is the French word for ham, and radichio, which is a leaf vegetable in the chicory family. Very Italian, usually red leaves. Stone fruit is simply summer fruit with a large hard seed such as peaches, nectarines and plums.Why didn't you just say so? 

Reduction of barrel aged balsamic? The good stuff  (red wine vinegar) is typically barrel aged anyway, and a reduction is no more than cooking a liquid down to a thicker substance, intensifying the flavor. Forget the drizzle, just cover the whole thing.

Is all the fluff really worth it? Maybe. I like it to a point. Sometimes I find it to be a little over the top, but it does certainly sounds enticing, and as long as they are being honest, it allows us to make better choices. What it boils down to is does the food taste good or not? That's what's most important. "Please pass the mayonnaise"

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Behind The Glasses - The Character In The Blog

Behind the eyeglasses, behind the wine glasses, behind the pint glasses. Why is everyone keeping me behind glass?

So I have been asked to reveal my true myself. The one with the bad jokes, the one who keeps getting in trouble in Europe, and the one who works for peanuts-wait, don't let my bosses hear that one.

So Mr Huff, when were you born, where did you grow up, what do you like to drink, who is your favorite singer? Do you really want to know all that stuff? Too bad, though David Bowie wins hands down.

Who Are You?

I think a great way to get to know a bit about me is to understand why I work for Paradocx.

Quite a few years back I had an office desk job working at a claims processing facility, auditing claims. Snoresville. I was restless, bored, and unchallenged. Trust me. it had it's perks, but I just had a really hard time staying motivated. "Patrick, Wake up!"

At the time, I started a beer blog and it was getting pretty serious. One night, at one of our infamous Christmas parties, I asked the group how many of them loved their jobs. Only one raised their hand, isn't that sad.

Work. Work. Work.

I later found out that only about 13% of Americans enjoy their careers. Well that wouldn't be so bad if we didn't spend such a large part of our life working. 

I think about my wife who gets up at 7 am. Get's to work by 9 am. leaves work at 5:00 pm, and gets home at 5:30 pm. That's 10.5 hours a day set aside for her career. That's 52.5 hours per week. Most of us, including me, for quite some time, hate their jobs.

The reasons are varied, but for me, I just wanted my career to line up with my passions and bubbly personality. First, I am quite the social butterfly; I like people. Second, I love food and drink. Last but not least, third, I have an over-following river of  creativity.

Will You Take Me In? 

Luckily, I am able to channel all of those characteristics at Paradocx. Was I originally looking for Paradocx? Well sort of. I was building a relationship with Hard Cider.   I found a cidery/winery in MD.   I worked there for a short time but the commute was two hours one way.   The interest remained and I found myself later looking in the same industry - Wine, Beer, or Cider. 

In the meantime, I completed my Cicerone training (Sommelier for Beer), taking an endless amount of social media and online marketing courses. I have more certificates than I could possibly need. 

I sent my resume to some local wineries in the Brandywine Valley. It's all about timing you know. This was August of 2014. I stopped into The Market at Liberty Place and dropped off my resume. Luckily, they called soon after and the rest is history.

Well not quite. I worked mainly in the tasting room in Landenberg, at the winery. I loved it. The staff, the overlords, the customers, but of course I wanted new challenges, and eventually they learned about my blog and newsletter talents. I jumped right in and found my true element. 

I was soon offered a role developing social media graphics and banners. This was pretty new for me but I stepped up, put my big boy pants on and rose to the challenge. I have quite a bit to keep me busy  and absolutely love it. They allow me to put my personality into it and to wear shorts.

The winery is growing and I plan to grow along with it. Though I think I really stopped growing at 15. Nevertheless, I enjoy it here and can't wait to see what's next.

One Final Thought

Ok. I promised not to bore you with nonsense trivial matter, but that's too bad. Here are a couple useless facts about me.

Favorite PDX wine? Yield

What food are you into now? Poke. It's like sushi in a bowl.

How tall are you? Depends who I am standing next to.

What is your favorite TV show? It involves a blue police box and a doctor.

How old are you? None of your business, but there was no internet or video games at the time. Well does Pong count?

What car do you drive? A big wheel. Try fitting a keg of beer on that, but where there is a will, there's a way!

Boxers or briefs? Depends who I am standing next to.

What's you favorite gadget? Echo Dot. Alexa, How many people read my blog? 

Cheers. Find me at the winery some time. Ask for Sir Patrick. That's my official title.