Weekend Recap: Northeast Ohio Wine Country

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m relatively new to the Cleveland area and always on the lookout for cool things to do. So, when I saw this article in last week’s SCENE magazine and heard food editor Doug Trattner on Majic 105.7 talk about his trips to local wineries, I knew just what my weekend would have in store – lots of wine!

My boyfriend recently built a “buffet” (as he calls it) for our dining area, (see below) which is really a glorified wine rack/alcohol holder/etc. and is always looking for wine to fill it with.


So, after reading the article and talking with an awesome coworker who has done many a trip to the wine area, I decided to tweet to discover where other people recommended. Reason #5204 why I love twitter: people give honest, open, and quick feedback! And, as usual, the responses were amazing! twitterwine

So, taking all that into account, my trip was planned and it was decided we would visit Debonne, South River, Markko and Harpersfield. Are you making a trip to Ohio wine country anytime soon? Here are my reviews… I’ve rated the scene and the wine:


Scene: FUN! It happened to be pet day at Debonne – meaning TONS of interesting people with their pets, mostly dogs. People watching was a must here, because not only were the dogs a fun sight, but the people at Debonne were definitely the most entertaining of all the wineries I visited. Live music was just starting as I was leaving. PLUS, Debonne had tons of food options (breads, cheeses, meats, a full grill), which is nice when you’re drinking wine!debonne wine sampler

Wine: SO-SO I only tried one of their wine tasting trays ($6), but nothing impressed me too much. Not bad, but not my favorite. Also tried a beer sampler (the winery also is home to a Cellar Rats Brewery), which the boyfriend liked.

South River

Scene: BEAUTIFUL This was definitely the most beautiful place we visited. Set in a beautiful old church, the place itself is beautiful inside, furnished all in wood. You can sit indoors, on their back porch that overlooks the grape fields, or in a covered area on the lawn (complete with wooden lawn chairs!) right next to the fields.

The only downside – no food! And by this time I was hungry (and we had a good drive to the next winery), so this was a negative.southriver

Wine: YUM! I tried three wines (it was three tastings for a small fee, unless you buy something), their Karma (blend of Merlot and Cabernet) and their two ice wines (Concord and Blush), which were delicious. I ended up buying a glass of their Concord ice wine, but couldn’t stomach more than that (too sweet!). We left with a bottle of the Karma wine.


Scene: WOW Our next stop was a little different than the first two. A hike away from the other wineries, in Conneaut, Markko is set into the woods and apart from the paved road. Literally. You have to go on a dirt road to get there. When we got there, there were no cars (no parking lot either!) and a big dog sitting out in front of what looked like a big wooden shack. But don’t let looks fool you – the woman who did our tasting was phenomenal and the wine was great as well. Again, we had no food, but I’m not sure what the offerings MAY have been if we got there earlier than 5:45 (they close early, at 6 p.m. on Saturdays).

IMG_3666Wine: THE BEST The best wine by far was at Markko. The tasting was great – it was no charge to taste any reds and whites we wanted, and we were given in depth explanations of why certain wines tasted certain ways, how different wines were made, etc. We left with a bottle of the Cabernet Reserve.


Scene: VERY NICE Harpersfield offers indoor and outdoor seating and there was live music when we arrived. There were tons of people outdoors and indoors, so finding a seat was near impossible. Picnic tables, outdoor tables and tables in a covered area were scares. The indoors offered some comfy couches and more traditional wooden table seating as well.

IMG_3668The food was great – we ordered their artichoke and parmesan pizza and a starter of a cheese platter which came with sliced apple, three types of cheese and a slice of warm pepperoni bread.

Wine: GOOD The place was mobbed so we didn’t get great explanation of what we were tasting or what we should taste, but I ordered a glass of their Cabernet. It was pretty good and went well with our pizza and cheese platter – but left me no desire to buy a bottle.

All in all, a great trip. Have you been to any wineries in NE Ohio before? How do they compare to others you’ve been to in other parts of the country (or world)? Which ones would you recommend?

A disclaimer: I am not a food or wine critic. Just a young professional who likes wine and enjoys food even more. So I’m sorry if you’re offended or disagree with my opinions — they’re mine and mine alone! Feel free to let me know your own impressions of any of the places I mention.

Mom Bloggers Participate in PR Blackout

Being in PR and often working with companies that target moms and families, I’ve done my fair share of work with mom bloggers. Whether it’s providing a product to review, a giveaway, or simply building a relationship, I’ve worked with Mom bloggers on quite a few occasions.

Because we’re strategic with our blogger outreach, including researching, targeting and pitching them accordingly as you would with any media (PR 101 anyone?), I can’t recall an incident when I’ve gotten any negative reaction or feedback from the bloggers. I have noticed, however, that recently there have been more and more mom bloggers out there. Some bloggers are being paid. Some are not. More and more of them are providing product reviews and even posting “PR info” on their website to provide tips for PR pros on how to get in touch with them.

So when I saw this posted last week in MomDot, one of the mom sites I’ve interacted with before, I can’t say wasn’t surprised:

MomDot Encourages Mom Bloggers to Join PR Blackout Challenge: From August 10-16, the PR Blackout campaign will encourage mom bloggers to go back to basics.

On Friday Night Live this week we dissected and discussed what we are affectionately calling “bloggy burnout.’ After a lengthy 90 minute conversation with bloggers around the web, we came to one conclusion:

Mom Bloggers are simply doing too much.

With the allure of giveaways, reviews, and blog trips, Mom Bloggers have turned from what they love the most, their family, into working directly as public relations for their captive audience. It boils down to knowing your worth and then standing up for it.

While we adore many of our fabulous PR reps and treat them like bloggy friends, our site, and many others, are inundated with hundreds, if not thousands, of product requests each year resulting in massive obligations and deadline stress equivalent to what the General Motors CEO must feel every time he drives into work. We watch our blog friends strive for the next big review or the next big giveaway, but all the while practically losing

MomDot is challenging bloggers to participate for one week in August in a PR BLACKOUT challenge where you do not blog ANY giveaways, ANY reviews, and Zero press releases. In fact, we dont want you to talk to PR at ALL that whole week.  We want to see your blog naked, raw, and back to basics. Talk about your kids, your marriage, your college, your hopes, your dreams, your house and whatever you can come up with for one week.

We will host a linky during that week for you to link up every post you do. We will also provide some topic suggestions for each day of the week to get your blog blood flowing again.

We feel this is an important challenge to show mom bloggers that what they are doing, the stress they feel, the deadlines, the time away from their family, it has to be worth it. So grab the picture, link to MomDot for PR BLACKOUT week and COMMIT to blogging for YOU and about you for one week this year.

Let us know if you will be participating along side us. We have scheduled it far enough in advance for you to wrap up all your current obligations and look forward to meeting more of our audience, sharing more of our personal selves, and having the TIME to be much more involved with our own community.


I’m not surprised about the burnout. After all, these bloggers ARE moms, which on its own is a full time job. I WAS surprised, however, about the call to avoid PR pros. Do we really contribute to the burnout? Or is blogging in itself becoming too laborsome a task for many? I’ve always felt that PR people and mom bloggers were in some sort of symbiotic relationship — more specifically, a mutually beneficial relationship. We provide a benefit (products to review, prizes for contests, new information for their readers) for them, and they in turn help us out (promoting our products and providing an honest and impartial mom’s review).

What are your thoughts — Do you think many mom bloggers will participate? What implications does this have for the future of the relationship between mom bloggers and PR pros? What can PR people do to ensure the relationship remains a positive one and help prevent future burnout?

Man’s Wife Featured In Facebook Dating Ad

hotsinglesA man was surfing Facebook and noticed an ad on his screen (you know, where the annoying “Lose 10 lb in one week on the Angelina Jolie diet” ads are?) that said “Hot singles are waiting for you!!” This would have been normal, except for the fact that the woman pictured in the ad was of this guy’s wife!

How did this happen? Was the woman working for the dating service? Had she, herself, signed up for the dating service? Nope – it all had to do with Facebook Applications’ Privacy Settings, which are set (by default) to allow YOU to be featured in THEIR ads! That’s right — Facebook has the right to use your photo in ads unless you opt out.

Yet more proof that by default, Facebook owns everything you have ever posted….and more reason to always update your Privacy settings!

If you don’t want to appear in one of Facebook’s ads (I know that I don’t want my belly featured in one of those BEFORE weight loss ads!!), here’s what you have to do:

  1. On the top of your Facebook page, scroll over Settings. Click on Privacy Settings.
  2. Click on News Feed and Wall.
  3. Then click on the tab reading Facebook Ads.
  4. In the Appearance in Facebook Ads box, select No One.

fb ads

I just checked and sure enough, my settings were set up so that I had to opt out. I wonder if I’ve already appeared in ads for some of my friends? I guess I’ll never know!

Seller Beware: Popular Craigslist Scam

We all know that you need to be careful using social media. After last week’s announcement that Tagged.com was used as part of a big phishing and identity theft scam (see articles: 60 Million Stung in Social Networking Rip-off and Tagged.com Will Spam Your Friends and Family), it’s probably time for a reminder to be always use caution and be smart when using social media.

An rule of thumb when trying to figure out if you’re falling for a social media scam, is to ask yourself, “Would this be normal in real life?” For example, if you get a Facebook message from your stern but very articulate co-worker that says “Check out these pics heehe <link here> ;)” it probably is NOT something you should click on!

A prime example – my uncle almost got scammed from a Craigslist user last week. My uncle was selling a mattress for $300 and found a buyer who agreed to sending money via MoneyGram. The buyer sent a money order worth $1700 (with the excuse “My partner somehow overpaid you”), told my uncle to deposit the money order and then send back the remaining $1400 that they had overpaid.  Sound fishy? That’s because it is.

Here’s an excerpt from some of the conversations my uncle had with the buyer. Note: All are from the buyer, to my uncle.


How are you doing,i hope you are fine and alright.I have been busy myself but doing great.There is something i think i must bring to your notice.After a reconciliation of my account,i discovered that somehow my partner must have over paid you.The payment that was meant for another transaction was sent to you and the one meant for you was sent to another,however i want to believe i wont have a problem with you.

Please once you receive your payment,i will like you to deduct your money and send the remaining via moneygram to the manager of the shipping company that will help me with the pickup.I will provide the info you need to complete the moneygram transfer once you receive payment.Thanks once again for your understanding.

Warm regards.


After you’ve deducted your item cost you are to send teh remaining balance to the mover’s…..Keep me posted.

Morning, How are you doing?Sorry i get back to you this late have been very busy.Am happy to let you know that the payment will be deliver to you today by a ups delivery guy.The tracking # for your payment is (1Z235T732596208661) you can check the tracking # @ http://www.ups.com/us to confirm the exact time it will be deliver to you.

Immediately you receive the payment this morning i want you to take the payment to your bank and have it cashed,you will deduct your item cost and send the remaining balance to the mover’s who will be coming for the pickup at your address.

I got in touch with the moving company concerning pickup and they told me to get words with you as to know when you will be available for them to effect pickup after they have receive their fund.They gave me their information that will enable the fund gets to them via MoneyGram Tranfer and below is the information of the Account Manager where you will send the funds to after you have received the payment.Use part of the remaining balance to pay for the MoneyGram Transfer fee.

Receiver’s Full Name : Susan Chavarry.

City : Denver.

State : Colorado.

Zipcode : 80274.

Country : United States.

After making the payment,you will have to send me the following informations about the transfer so that i can forward it to them.

Money Tranfer Reference Number:
Senders Name and Address:
Total Amount you send:

I will wait to hear from you upon receipt of this email.I want the item to be pickup on before saturday.

Expecting to hear from you soon.


just want to update you that the payment has been delivered to your resident. As soon as you received it, kindly take it to your bank and cash.Once the payment as been cashed, deduct your item cost price plus the $30 for holding and send the remaining balance to the shipping company via MoneyGram Transfer to the information i emailed you earlier, deduct the MoneyGram charges on the remaining money you are sending. Hope to hear from you as soon as possible.

Have a pleasant day!

Something that immediately stands out as suspicious to me is the large amount of typos in the emails (I’ve noticed a lot of spam emails tend to do this), but the “buyer” also includes an actual name and city/state, which makes it seem genuine. Here’s a look at the actual money order checks my uncle received. They look good — good enough to fool a bank at first glance too.

craigslist money order

Luckily my uncle realized in time that this was a SCAM. Scammers send fake money orders worth more than the product, then ask the person to send the change back. Banks often will deposit the money orders at first, so you think they are real, and it is only after you send the “buyer” the money (in this case $1400) that the bank processes the money orders and realizes they are fake — penalizing you AND you’ve already lost the money you’ve sent to the “buyer.”

Craiglist is aware of this scam and even warns its users AGAINST taking money orders. See  #4 on its list of popular scams.

Again, please be careful when using social media. Don’t click on unsuspicious links, and be wary of deals that sound too good when using shopping sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.  Do you have any scams or near-misses to share?

Business Cards 2.0: Contxts

A coworker passed this along this week, and I was really impressed by how this free service looks. Disclaimer: I have NOT tried this service out.

Contxts is a free, text messaging business card service. The service allows you to text people you meet a virtual, text message business card. By doing this ou are automatically added to their online contact list AND if they have a pre-existing profile through Contxts, you’ll be connected on their social networking site.

Why do this? Who cares when everyone has business cards anyway? I can think of a few reasons – it’s relatively easy, you only need a cell phone and text messaging capabilities, it’s more permanent than a business card, etc. The site also offers a few reasons:

We all know the scenario, you meet someone (man, woman, clown) at a gathering of professionals (conference, party, Bar Mitzvah) and all goes well. You reach for your left shirt pocket which is where you keep your business cards. Oh no! You’re all out…

Are you picking up what I’m laying down? Ok so maybe that scenario didn’t pique your interest, let’s try another. You just got back from your gathering of professionals and you want to connect with all of the people that you met. So you pull out your stack of cards and you go through your social network of choice searching for each one by one. Why?

It seems easy to use, so I’m surprised I haven’t heard of it before. Simply register your phone number and username with Contxts, then customize the information you’ll want shared via text message. A la Twitter, you have 140 characters to fit your basic information, and you can add your other social network contacts for visitors to Contxts’s web site who want more info. When you meet someone you want to share your contact info with, simply have them text your username to 50500, or you can your friend’s number to Contxts from your registered phone. In return, your new acquaintance will receive all your info that you’ve set up with Contxts, and you don’t have to worry about carrying around business cards or killing trees.

Have you tried this out? Has anyone heard of this service? I’m surprised I hadn’t heard anything about it before this week — it looks great!

UPDATE: Just found this old article about the service on Lifehacker. Check it out here. Looks like the service hasn’t changed since then.

Yo Mama’s So Social… She Uses Social Media

Surprise surprise! Yet another study found that motherhood and social media go hand in hand. Last week, BabyCenter LLC, which runs several social media parenting sites and communities, released results from its latest research on moms and social media. The findings can be summed up as follows:

  • 63% of moms are using some form of social media (compared to 11% in 2006)
  • 44% of moms use social media for recommendations on brands and products
  • 91% of moms reported that they never leave their house without a cell phone and many of them are likely to use that phone to surf the Web
  • 77% of moms use the Web as their primary source of finding recipes

I know firsthand that more and more moms are using social media. In fact, I actually just signed my own mom up for Facebook a few months ago (so she can catch up with her old high school friends).

As a PR professional, I know that moms are one of the largest growing populations using social media.  I love it when studies like these come out, because it’s nice to have some statistics to back up this fact when telling clients that they need to be using social media to reach their market.

Any information about moms using social media also helps to disprove the popular (though unfavorable) myth that social media users are just young men who live  in their parents’ basements and blog in their pajamas.  Social media users are a lot older than most people realize, and I’m in favor of any statistics and demographics data that supports this fact. (Also see another related study: Facebook Users Are Getting Older)

Is your mom using social media? Are you a mother using social media? Why do you think moms are such a growing social media audience?