A Vastly Different Holiday-Don Melchor

{The wine was sent as media sample. I received no other compensation. Thoughts, opinions are my own.}

The tree was trimmed while Harry Connick crooned.

The stockings were hung, the nativity set in place.

But this year there were a few major changes.

For one, my children had asked THE question. They’ve been surmising for years. They’ve asked if he was real. I’d promised myself I’d never make a big deal about the big man in the red suit but, of course, he made himself a staple in our house. I’d also promised myself I’d never lie about him so, when asked, my answer was always, “Saint Nick was real.” And then after a brief tribute to his generosity, I’d deflect. But this year, they brought the heavy.

“Tell us the TRUTH, Mom!”

“Do you really want to know?”


An then I launched into my carefully prepared speech about the history of St. Nick and that they were now able to show that same spirit to others, and the real meaning being Christ’s birth and how the wise men brought gifts…

None of it seemed to really soften the blow. Which surprised me because I thought they already knew. And I think it surprised them too. The jig was up. Or so I thought.

While I was feeling a bit of relief, they were feeling a bit of denial.

So they did what I’ve taught then to do when something seemed off. Check your resources. Do your own investigating. Gather evidence. They did what any kid would do…right?


Hair samples, fingerprinting, a notebook of clues. They had no problem believing the ’round the world gift delivery system. No problem believing one man could eat that many cookies in one night. No, they had a problem with the story that he wasn’t real.

“Who takes a bite of the cookies then?”

“Why are some presents wrapped in paper that we don’t have?”

“Where are all the presents the night before?”

Can you imagine when they’re teenagers? I think I have a lawyer or two on my hands. But I digress.

There was another big change this holiday.

As I mentioned in the last post, my husband gave up meat. No roast beast in Whoville this year. So I stretched my creative muscles and found ways to take traditional favorites and make them vegan. And for some dishes, I made two versions.

At least he didn’t give up wine, amiright?

I should’ve told my daughter that there was indeed a “Santa” for wine bloggers. They send presents via Fed Ex and UPS and they come in brown boxes and require an adult signature. Apparently, I was a good girl because I unwrapped this gift this holiday.

A Christmas dinner deserves something merry and bright. The 2014 Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon took the meal certainly shone. Can a wine be both youthful and mature? Sturdy and silky? Big fruit and complex secondary notes? It can if it is this beauty from the Puente Alto Vineyard in Chile’s Alto Maipo Valley.

92% Cabernet Sauvignon, the remainder Cabernet Franc. Saturated color, deep purple, nearly opaque. Black cherry, blackberry, cedar, tobacco, graphite, a touch of mint. Elegant tannins and an expanding finish. It spent 15 months in French Oak. It could spend 15 years on your shelf. Or twice that long.

Due to crazy schedules and health hiccups, we had a small group this year. Just my parents and my family for Christmas Eve and a casual Christmas lunch. We paired the appetizer with a Rhône blend (more on that soon) and dinner with Don. (Menu below)

Did I miss staying up late stuffing stockings and getting presents wrapped on Christmas Eve? Nope.

Did I miss the magic of Santa? Well, yes.

Did I miss having our traditional meals at Christmas? Kind of.

Did I enjoy discovering new traditions? Yes, indeed.

If you’d like (loose) recipes on any of the dishes below, feel free to reach out.

And if you ever need to hire a Santa Investigation Team, I’ve got you covered.

Christmas Eve dinner:

Caramelized Onion and Swiss Chard Tart

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with cranberries and toasted hazelnuts

Portobello Pot Roast

Filet Mignon (for the meat eaters)

Roasted Potatoes

Eggnog Tres Leches (vegan and regular)

On Christmas Day we began with mimosas and:

Vegan Pumpkin Muffins (adapted from Minimalist Baker)

For lunch:

Fig, Walnut, Brie (on half) pizza

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Kale Salad with apples, cranberries





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Being a stay- at-home mom can leave one thirsting for a taste of the outside world, a world in which sentences are composed of more than three words. Being an educator means one is always seeking an opportunity to explore and learn. Being a woman with a need to connect can be a challenge when adult conversations are rare. In wine, I find the marriage of art and science, agriculture and storytelling provides limitless areas to explore. But it is the people that keep me engaged. The tenacity needed to keep the family dream alive, the risk to start anew, the trials and principles. I love the history of the vine, the impact of a season, the sentiment in the bottle. That is why I write. I write to tell their stories, to share a piece of mine. I write to learn as I teach others. I write to connect with new friends, to disconnect from the world. I write to celebrate what makes each of us unique, and that which ties us together.

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