Nickels and Dimes

A couple of years ago, Southwest Airlines introduced a commercial that made fun of those little fees the other airlines had begun charging their passengers. I always thought it was a funny and I'm sure did a great job for Southwest. I thought of this commercial again today upon hearing the news that both JetBlue and USAirways will begin charging their passengers $7 to use a pillow and blanket on a flight.

The continuing nickle and diming of airline passengers continues as the airlines continue looking for ways to bolster their revenue. Hard to see an end in sight...shame that all these fees continue to build up. The large majority of these fees seem targeted at the everyday traveler...not the business traveler - making air travel more and more difficult.


Virginia Wine Tasting

Virginia Wine Country - Trip ReportJuly 31, 2008
Picked up my car at DCA and made it down to the Horton Vineyard around noon. This place was recommended as a starting point by wine afficiando Gary Vaynerchuk. He circled this vineyard as exhibiting the most promise of any in the state of Virginia and with its proximity to Keswick & Barboursville it would be easy to see all three.The first thing that jumped out to me when I got into their tasting room was the 40+ wines they offered. I’ve been wine tasting all around the world and had never encountered a place (outside of a wine expo) with this many choices. Jumped right in with a couple of their white wines and enjoyed their estate Viognier the most. Horton was the first Virginia vineyard to plant Viognier grapes and after a couple years of struggling with it, it’s finally starting to take on some of the classic characteristics that are now being seen from Paso and the Rhone Valley. Amongst their reds, the Horton Norton was the most interesting to me. The Norton grape is native to Virginia, and a varietal I’d never heard of before. VERY dark, with flashes of inkiness – this was a seriously heavy wine! I learned that the Norton Vineyard sells a TON of fruit/desert wine – both of which are not too interesting to me…so I stayed away from them. Overall, I liked Norton and after having some awful Viognier’s from Virginia over the past 2-3 months, was pleasantly surprised at their effort.
We drove 1 mile down the street to Barboursville Vineyard. Adjacent to a nice restaurant, this tasting cost $4/person (but we got to keep our snazzy tasting glasses). We were offered 16 wines, and I really enjoyed their Riesling and Cab (both were, 89+ points in my book0. I was very happy however, with the overall selection of wines being offered at Barboursville. They produced un-oaked Chardonnay which I really enjoyed and a Cab Franc Reserve that was drinking very well. Their signature wine, Octogon ( a proprietary blend driven by Merlot, with elements of Reserve Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot) was tasting quite young, but is showing nice structure on the backend. We were told this would drink best after 2012. Overall, a more solid selection of wine than Horton…very enjoyable.
Last was Keswick. I’d never heard of this place before, but before heading back to DCA I searched wineries on our Neverlost console and it popped up just down the road. This boutique vineyard was set off the road on a gorgeous estate. Cost was $8 for a tasting that included their reserve wines. This vineyard was a bit disappointing as only two of their wines I found to be enjoyable. First was their reserve Viognier and next was their reserve Merlot. Both were just fantastic, and were tasting very well at this time. I ended up buying a bottle of the Viognier reserve to bring home…so I will try it again tonight.
I got a sense from speaking with a couple of winemakers that the Central region of Virginia is about to come into its own. For so long they were forcing grapes that just weren’t suitable for their environment. It sounded like over the past 3-5 years the winemakers have begun to discover the wines that will really do well and are running with those. I think we’re just a couple years away from Parker or Wine Spectator giving some big scores to one or two Virginia wines. The price is still an issue, but we were able to find a fair amount of decent wine under the $17-$20 price range which was good.
It was a great day of tasting for the two of us. My girlfriend had never been tasting before, so this was a fun learning experience for her. The drive back to DCA was miserably, and after we got home the only thing we were complaining about was the amount of time we needed to spend in the car getting down there.