Leslie Bloudoff
January 3, 2022 | Leslie Bloudoff

New Year’s reflections, ruminations ‘n perceptions

I’m not a fan of New Year’s, mostly because I spend the days ‘n hours leading up to that ball drop reviewing, reflecting and ruminating about what I’ve done, where I’ve been, what I’ve accomplished, and how many “oops” moments I’ve had over the past year. Yep, it does often tend to send me into a tailspin.

After much consideration, my conclusion is that 2022 will be the year of “curiosity.” The background for this is that I select a word or phrase, something that sticks with me that I pick up during the current year, then I make a valiant effort to apply it to the upcoming year. Curiosity seems appropriate, so for 2022, I pledge to be curious, not judgmental. 

But my takeaway stems from this year’s holiday luncheon. As I looked on at all the familiar faces gathered around the table, I thought, “I am so lucky.” I work with an outstanding group of people, and we all share a passion for creating exceptional wines. Every person gathered that day brings a variety of strengths, and quite honestly, I cannot imagine doing what we do without each member of this team.

If you’re ‘curious,’ I’m going to take this opportunity to briefly share with you a little something about each of these individuals, who I have dubbed extended family.

Eloy Arroyo, Ranch Manager. But honestly, that really doesn’t describe all that Eloy does. He has the innate ability to look at any problem, walk away, and then return with a solution, and that solution is one that no one else discovered. He’s wise, thoughtful, hardworking, responsible, intelligent, and we are so lucky to have him work with us.

Frank Simko, Electrical Engineer. To know Frank, is to love Frank. He’s filled with stories, advice, and can solve any problem, electrical or otherwise. He’s the type of person that will stay longer and not charge you, just because he’s interested to see how it will all work out in the end. Loving, kind, generous, he’ll tackle any problem head on, smile while he’s doing it, and never utter an unkind word.

Anisa Keyser, Cellar Door Manager. She has been guiding, influencing, and keeping us on track since the beginning of NV. Kind, gentle, thoughtful, wise, insightful ‘n dedicated, she is the voice of reason in every situation, and always has our best interests at heart. Anisa is thorough, remembers every detail, and strives to ensure that our wine club members’ orders are correctly filled. She only relaxes once everything is done, and every individual is content.

Tim Cook, Asst. Cellar Door Manager. He’s the face that you’ll most likely encounter when you walk through the door. He’s inquisitive, friendly, knowledgeable, and easy to chat with, and knows everyone, even if they’ve only visited once. He has a ‘can do’ attitude that we all respect and appreciate.

Jan Klevan, Wine Guide. This woman understands wine, pays attention to the details, and has a razor-sharp wit. She’s the type of person that has the expertise that you need in any situation and will gladly share her prior experiences with the team. *That, and the array of delicious treats that she brings in to share keep us all happy ‘n well fed.

Chad Osborne, Wine Guide. This gentleman is charming, witty, and articulate. He is a master at keeping us all entertained and ensuring that your order is delivered in a timely manner. A connoisseur of all things delicious ‘n tasty, he loves wine and has developed quite a palate over this past year.

Katie Bloudoff-Indelicato, Sales Manager. Ahh, dedicated, driven, meticulous, personable, computer savvy, there is almost nothing that this young woman can’t do. She’s often the one that we turn to with issues, and she generally has a solution. Together with her team, she’s pushed sales up ‘n up ‘n up over the past year.

Kyle Bloudoff-Indelicato, Asst. Winemaker. We have had the privilege of watching this enterprising young man develop into quite an accomplished winemaker and manager over the past couple of years. Turns out, he is also mechanically inclined, which is a plus to a small business when your various pieces of equipment tend to take break during the workday.

John White, Sales. He is the wise voice that parses every conversation or sales pitch and always produces a superior presentation. Never one to anger, or lose his patience, he has valuable insights to share and inspire the rest of us.

Sergio Hurtado-Arroyo, Cellar Worker. Hard working, intelligent, he has keen insights, isn’t afraid to ask questions, and never ceases to amaze the production team. He never gets flustered, can look at problems as opportunities to create solutions, and has a delightful sense of humor.

Dee Mayfield, Bookkeeper. Dee came in at a time when the owners were drowning in paperwork, and calmly, patiently, learned their system, then made it better. She never loses her cool, always asks the relevant question, and brings the most delicious bread to share. 

Hayden Sparks, Sales. One of the newest members of our team, he is finding his way, quickly. Recently, he has demonstrated his dedication, determination, reliability and, willingness to take on additional responsibilities. As he begins to reach and conquer his monthly milestones, we’re excited to see where this takes him.

Miguel Fernandes, Vineyard Worker. Hard working, responsible, and dedicated to ensuring that the vineyards receive the love ‘n attention that are needed to create those exceptional wines. Quiet, Miguel is kind, gentle and knowledgeable when it comes to repairs and keeping our fields healthy.

Maria Gutierrez, Winery Worker. This young woman is ambitious and is always early for each shift that she works. She never seems to tire, and her sense of humor and laughter are infectious. She keeps us on our toes. 

Leticia Fernandes, Vineyard Worker. This young woman has a dual role. She is often out in the vineyard, but when the bottling line is going, you will see her running parts of the line with a sense of calm and authority. If there is any downtime, Lettie will grab a broom, shears, and proceed to keep busy, always filling a need.

Chris Campos, Electrician, Handyman Extraordinaire. When Chris retired, he became busier than ever, because his woodworking skills are legendary, and because he’s old school—if he tells you that something will be done on a certain day, it is, and beyond your expectations. He’ll ponder any task, go home and research a solution on his time, then astound you with the results the next time his truck pulls up into the parking lot, usually long before you arrive.

May 2022 bring you the gift of curiosity, so that you, too, are reminded as to just how lucky you are to be surrounded by people who share your love ‘n passion. Happy New Year!

Time Posted: Jan 3, 2022 at 10:01 AM Permalink to New Year’s reflections, ruminations ‘n perceptions Permalink
January 3, 2022 |

Recipe of the Month- January


  • 1 3/4 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Mise En Place:

  • Measure out all ingredients before cooking process begins

Step-by-step Preparation:

  1. Whip 1 cup of the heavy cream to soft peaks in a medium bowl (see Cook's Note). Set aside.
  2.  Add the egg, egg yolks, sugar, espresso powder, vanilla extract, salt and 1 tbs water to a medium heatproof bowl and whisk to combine. Set the bowl over a medium saucepan of gently simmering water (do not allow the bowl to touch the water). Whisk constantly until the mixture is pale, hot to the touch and has almost doubled in volume, about 4 to 6 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula. Remove from the heat and continue whisking until cooled, approximately 2 minutes.
  3. Put the chopped chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl and set over the saucepan of gently simmering water (do not allow the bowl to touch the water). Stir occasionally with a rubber spatula until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and gently stir for about 3 minutes to cool slightly.
  4. Whisk the egg mixture into the melted chocolate in 3 additions until combined. (The mixture may get very thick.) Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture in 3 additions until it is fully incorporated. It is important that the chocolate mixture is not warm to ensure that it combines smoothly with the whipped cream without seizing up.

  5. Divide the chocolate mousse among four 4-ounce ramekins and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

  6. Whip the remaining 3/4 cup cold heavy cream to stiff peaks. Top each chocolate mousse with whipped cream and serve. (For a softer texture, allow the ramekins to sit at room temperature while you whip the cream.)

Enjoy with Nostra Vita's Serendipity Demi-Sec.

Time Posted: Jan 3, 2022 at 10:00 AM Permalink to Recipe of the Month- January Permalink
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