Goodbye.

Six years ago I embarked on the journey of sharing my thoughts, emotions, and life with you across the vast blogosphere. You have been beside me through broken hearts, questioning my future, career transitions, rediscovering my faith, lost friendships, the joys of milestones, and planning an entire wedding. You have witnessed me fail. You have lifted me during my lows. You have cheered my successes, and you have encouraged my growth.

Uncorking Peonies, once Peonies ‘n Mint, began as a method to express my feelings and muddle through some of my darkest moments. Throughout the years, I have cried many tears as I typed the words kept within the digital confines of this blog. Then it became a fun endeavor of tracking our wedding planning and entering the newlywed lifestyle. Now, though, I struggle to find a direction for Uncorking Peonies to focus.

Additionally, as a new year comes and goes, I have taken into account the priorities in my life, and — being the anxious person that I am — the weight of wanting to write consistent posts has laid heavily on my mind while the busyness of life continues around me. With increasing work responsibilities, home obligations, personal development goals, marathon training, and the desire to find stillness every day, some past passions must be let go. The spark for my most in-depth pieces has been snuffed by a stronger flame of happiness and contentment. Life is good, but sharing my mundane daily habits was never the purpose for this blog. Its purpose, I believe, has been achieved. In its own little right, Uncorking Peonies paints a picture of loss and grief, and the various avenues it took to overcome those dark places and the people who and methods which assisted me along the way.

With this consideration, the time has come for me to say goodbye to this beautiful little reminder of God’s grace and His bigger plans (and sometimes unanswered prayers) along the way of becoming who I am presently.

So to all of you who have stopped by my little corner throughout the past six years, thank you for your valuable time, thoughtful words, and sweet messages during this journey. I am forever indebted to you for allowing me to escape my shell and share the sporadic thoughts of a wine-loving Michigan girl stumbling through her twenties.

With all my love, cheers, my friends,
Ashley

What Is A Michigan Fruit Wine?

We haven’t talked wine in awhile, have we, friends? I guess I should set aside my glass and start typing instead…

I’ve had a lot of talks with customers at the Winery lately on fruit wines, specifically cranberry fruit wines. Since the grape crop season fared very poorly this year, alternative fruit choices have been a talk among locals on how to produce some product. Though I don’t necessary agree that other fruits should be looked upon yet as there is plenty of time for vines to succeed in 2020, I do enjoy discussing different options that can be found across the tasting rooms of Michigan’s Great Southwest. And though the wine region is steadily gaining prominence in the wine industry as an area that grow numerous, successful varietals of grapes, it is no one’s surprise to see a fruit wine pop up on a menu here and there — it is tradition after all.

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Downtown Indy Exploration

G has been working eleven hours a day, six days a week since December, and in his “free” time has been putting some serious sweat equity into our home. Memorial’s long weekend was the perfect excuse to request him asking Saturday off work and stealing him away from the house. No work. No housework. Just the two of us. We packed one suitcase, shuffled Copper’s cage to the in-laws, and escaped to Indianapolis for a weekend of exploration.

I had initially planned to keep our destination a secret until we rolled into our AirBnb, but as G grew up near the city and I had never visited before, I ended up telling him and asking if he had any excursion requests that may require tickets. Memorial Day weekend was, after all, Indy 500 weekend and there were some awesome events happening throughout the city. So over the course of two weeks we eyed some opportunities, but ultimately decided to spend the weekend in organic exploration — and it was absolutely marvelous.

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Wine Pairings For Your Easter Brunch

It is about time for another Wine Wednesday, isn’t it!?

Easter falls late this year meaning you have plenty of time to find the perfect wine combinations for your holiday meal. With thousands of wine choices to choose from, finding that perfect pairing can be difficult! Fortunately, creating a friendly and delicious wine menu to pair with your celebration can be made easier when enlisting the help of others. Spring into the season with these foolproof menu options:

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Wine 101: Residual Sugar

Following my post on icewine, I received a few emails on what I meant by “residual sugar.” As someone who is a “dry winer”, I typically stay away from wines over 0.3% residual sugar, but let’s talk a bit about it today! It is Thirsty Thursday after all…

You probably know that wines come in a variety of sweetness. There are your dry wines, off dry, sweet, dessert and a number of other known descriptors. If you are out on a wine-tasting adventure do not fear asking the sweetness of a wine.  Most wineries train their servers to educate guests on wine and want to lead you to their wine selections which best meet your palate. This means you may hear the residual percentage of a wine while it is being poured. Something along the lines of, “This traminette is an off-dry wine with 2.1% residual sugar.” But what does this wine jargon actually mean?

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Silver Beach, A History

Alright, in all honest’s truth, I wrote this short piece on the history of the Silver Beach Amusement Park when I first began working at Shadowland in May 2014. Today I met a group of my girlfriends for lunch on the bluff of St. Joseph this afternoon though, and took a walk around the familiar stomping grounds. I absolutely loved my time at Shadowland and am now feeling extremely sentimental. I feel it is only appropriate to share with you a bit about the beginnings of the wonderful place I was able to call my work environment for awhile, as well as my hometown.

The town I grew up in is surrounded in whimsical history and entertainment. Once named the Most Romantic City in Michigan, St. Joseph also was home to the Silver Beach Amusement Park years ago. The lakeside town is centered in the Lake Michigan Wine Trail and offers a number of attractions for explorers, couples, and families. If you’ve ever wanted to experience small-town life in Michigan, look no further than St. Joe on your next vacation!

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Christmas In Chicago

For Christmas this year, my in-laws took G and I on a weekend trip to the Windy City. Only two hours away from our quiet little country town, Chicago is a quick drive to experience city-life every now and then. It was a quick weekend full of memories and festive attractions. A big thanks to “Ma and Pa G” for this great Christmas present! It allowed G and I to get out of the house, away from work, and spend precious moments with his parents. We are incredibly blessed.

If you are visiting Chicago for a weekend around Christmastime, there are a lot of places to visit and things to do in the city. Though we couldn’t squeeze every attraction into our schedule, here is what we were able to see and do:

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Wine 101: Icewine

This past weekend I was invited on a wine tasting adventure with six other wine influencers (hailing from Chicago, Miami, Florence, and Brazil!) I visited three wineries with them and was treated to a behind-the-scenes look into the wine-making process. We visited Lake Michigan Vintners, Domaine Berrien Cellars, and Dablon Vineyards. Though I have experience in Southwest Michigan’s wine industry, it was amazing to learn more from the owners and winemakers of some of the area’s premier wineries as well as talk with my group’s attendees. I have a lot to learn still — especially when it comes to international wines — and I am excited to do so during my free time.

Moving forward on the blog, I’ll be sharing some of the things I learned from this collaboration as well as tidbits I’ve picked up during my travels and past work experience. Perfectly fitting with the season and weather, I want to talk a bit about icewine. This unique wine was always questioned in the tasting room and comes with a wealth of history and flavors. So it is a great topic for today’s wine discussion!

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5 Wine Touring Tips For Beginners

Yesterday I was invited into a collaboration with a fellow wine friend I met on Instagram, and I am SO EXCITED! I miss the wine industry, and any excuse I have to participate with it, I take. I’ll share more information in a week or two once the planning comes to a close, but until then you can be sure I will be educating myself even further on Southwest Michigan’s local wine scene.

One key component I will share about this collaboration is that it will involve wine tastings and tours. The question of how many and which wineries will be on the tour is still up in the air. However, as I continue to prepare for this new event, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to share some of my wine knowledge with you. As someone who worked in the Michigan wine industry for over four years, I gained a few gems of information on the topic. Welcome to one of my passions: wine!

Southwest Michigan has become a focal point for any wine connoisseur. It is nearly impossible for visitors in the area not to pass a sign mentioning a local winery and allowing passers-by to, quite literally, taste the countryside. With the lake effect off Lake Michigan, Southwest Michigan has earned the privilege of having its own signature varietals, expressing the particularities of the local soil and climate. With a specific vocabulary and wide range of flavors to master, wine can be an intimidating subject. Do not let this daunt you though! If you’ve never been on a tasting tour, here are some basic tips to keep in mind as you sip your way along the lake shore.

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