Maybe it takes a digital and database wine marketing dynamo to pull together a group of wine and spirits writers from across North America? Whatever the case, Thea Dwelle has given me what I have needed most of all during the Covid19 situation – connection and variety.
For the first few weeks of Covid19, I was calm, even-keeled and peaceful. I figured, ‘This too shall pass. I’ll just enjoy the intensified family time while soaking up the beautiful weather we had in Vancouver mid-March.
A few weeks went by, and I felt like I was climbing the walls. Not that I didn’t want to hang out with my two favourite people in the world ALL THE TIME, but actually, I didn’t. I, Christine Campbell, need human connection, variety, physical touch and a myriad of other people to breathe life into me. There, I said it. I hope it isn’t too awful, but it is the truth.
One night, after my family had gone to bed, I was scrolling Facebook. I saw a few posts from my Wine Media Conference friends about their Virtual Happy Hour and how fun it was to connect. I thought, ‘Hey, how do I get invited to this? I like these people.’ This was in early April, and our conference set for this August had not been cancelled. There remained in me a hopefulness that we would all be together again – soon. Thinking about that conference and reconnecting with people I haven’t seen in over two years, helped me get through some pretty dark days…
I sent Thea a message asking if I could get in on the fun and conversation. She said, ‘Honey, you have always been invited – you just haven’t checked your Facebook Events page.’ Oh! Whoops! Thank you!
Fast-forward to today, Monday and Wednesday evenings have become sacred to me. That might sound intense or a tad dramatic; I don’t care. That is what they are – to me. And during this time of Covid19, I am learning about who I am – good, bad and well, cheeky.
On these two evenings, I sit in front of my computer for hours at a time. Sipping, laughing, listening, blushing, grabbing ice packs from my freezer for my burning cheeks as I connect with my mostly-American friends. I had met some of these outstanding people many times over the past eight years when I attended wine conferences. Others, I have only met on-screen during the past few weeks.
For many of these Virtual Happy Hour calls, I have been the ‘sole’ Canadian. As a Canadian, my perspective seems to be respected or at least listened to. Other times, it is slapped around faster than a hockey puck. But there you go. Poutine, anyone? Jeez!
Monday night chats focus on cocktails, and Wednesday chats deep dive into the world of wine. I have been ‘properly corrupted’ by the group. I now love Negroni’s having never in my life put my lips to this incredible cocktail. Wednesday discussions have ranged in topic from our favourite wine region, unique varietals, and, my favourite, Chardonnay. It seems we had a person in the group who just couldn’t get into the heaven that is Chardonnay. We turned him. Well, Chablis turned him, and I say, ‘Bravo, Chablis.’
But who is this Santa Rosa-based woman who had the insight to bring us all together? Born in Maine and moved to San Fransisco at the age of 3, Thea Dwelle is a cocktail diva, complete with a sparkling tiara…She is one of the most generous people I have met through the Wine Media community and has a heart of gold.
I asked Thea what made her want to start these Virtual Happy Hour chats:
I miss my friends. I miss not being able to see people. Wednesday evenings came first with wine chats. The Monday evening cocktail night evolved out of that with a smaller, more intimate group. I love wine. But, there are times when I just want a drink. I like creating and playing around with spirits. If you give me one bottle of gin and one brand of tonic, I can spin that at least seven ways with different ingredients. I so love cocktails – I have my Certified Spirits Specialist credential, and I am always making riffs on cocktails. I love crafting things that you can consume.
Thea’s best-loved spirits are whisky and gin because she appreciates the variety in mixing that they lend themselves too.
Our Wednesday evening theme for tonight is ‘Bubbles from Around the World.’ I will be sipping on champagne and feeling incredibly thankful to be a part of this lively and entertaining group. I invite you to raise a glass to Ms. Thea Dwelle.
We would not be here without you, Thea. I am eternally grateful and will always be.
Maybe we are all different versions of ourselves during this intense time. Possibly we are uncovering parts of ourselves that have been unexpressed in the past. Perhaps it does take a cocktail diva with a Zoom account in Santa Rosa to rally some pretty amazing people.
Check out Thea’s blog at www.LusciousLushes.com
Click HERE for Thea’s recipe for Everybody Loves a Ginger Linebacker cocktail.
Click HERE for Thea’s recipe for Gintonica cocktail.