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Wine Down and Chill with Leslie Frank

The world is still unsettled and all of us behind wine down and chill are trying to help you through it by doing our part. We decided that it was time to mix things up a little. Grit Daily News has always been a champion of women, female founders, entrepreneurial efforts that help women and marginalized groups, Black lives matter and other efforts in addition to being a leader in live journalism. So, it seemed like the right time to mix things up a little with our wine down and chill column for the next few weeks as we celebrate “Women in Wine.”

Theme: All Things Frank

It was such a pleasure to zoom with Leslie Frank, purveyor of Frank Family Vineyards in Calistoga, CA. Like me, she’s Canadian so that’s always a hoot! She shared some insights into how they’ve shifted their efforts to engage consumers and how they’re dedicating their philanthropic efforts to helping restaurants – and restaurant workers – through the COVID crisis. Leslie, who pivoted her career after two decades of television journalism, also had some wonderful coaching tips to inspire other women who are seeking careers in the wine-making business.

Listen: Podcast Wine Down and Chill

We also did a special feature-length wine down and chill podcast (11 minutes which is about three times our normal broadcast) highlighting what’s trending now in wine.

Learn: Women in Wine

Grit Daily: Tell us what’s trending right now in wine.

Leslie Frank: COVID has impacted our business regarding how we engage consumers. For months, our winery has been closed (although we’re slowly and safely reopening according to local health guidelines) so consumers haven’t been able to come to us. We’ve had to go to them. Our virtual wine tastings offer personalized education experiences with our knowledgeable staff and consumers are enjoying their virtual tastings.

wine down and chill with Leslie Frank, purveyor of Frank Family Vineyards

GD: How have the roles of women in wine changed over the last 15+ years since you’ve been in the business?

LF: Women have been in the wine business for a long time, but mostly limited to sales and marketing roles. Over the past few years, there’s been a shift to women taking traditional male roles such as sommeliers, winemakers, winery founders, general managers and so on. Another interesting trend is that women are getting profiled more often and featured prominently in key industry magazines and books so that’s been really nice to see.

GD: What advice do you have for women in wine?

LF: Conversations like these, with women supporting women, have definitely been on the rise. It’s through that support that we all benefit. If you follow your passion, success will follow you. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and step into the role: I took classes and courses on winemaking at UC Davis to learn more about wine and the business. Some of the classes were challenging but I learned so much from them.

GD: What do you wish people knew about Frank Family Vineyards?

LF: My husband, Rich Frank, founded our winery around the notion of family values and the importance of philanthropy which was instilled in him by his mother, Edythe, for whom we’ve named our special 2011 Lady Edythe Reserve Brut after. Some of our staff have been with us since the beginning which was more than 25 years ago. They’ve worked their way up from stocking boxes to going to college and leading customers in wine educational programs. It’s been wonderful to see their growth and for us to grow with them. That definition of family extends beyond our staff and into the community of restaurant owners and sommeliers who have supported us for years, and, of course, extends to all the consumers who have been part of Frank Family Vineyards for many years.

Frank Family Vineyards

Wine: Frank Family Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

The Frank Family Napa Valley 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is medium bodied with expected notes of black cherry plum along with some unexpected notes of roasted espresso and earth which make this wine drier and less jammy than most Cali Cabs. This is the signature wine of their vineyard and has been rated 90 points by Wine Advocate. Although it is priced higher than our weekly wine down and chill suggestions, it’s worth it. You know me – it’s Cabernet Sauvignon, after all. Plus, Frank Family Vineyards is donating a portion of every Cab sold to aid restaurant workers so get out there and do you part by drinking some!

“If you follow your passion, success will follow you.” ~Leslie Frank

Dine: Gourmet Franks

Taking a page out of Leslie Frank’s efforts to help restaurants and restaurant workers through this pandemic, “Gourmet Franks” are independently owned restaurants around the country that take America’s hot dog to new levels. Order some take-out from one today! Or, if you’d rather wine down and chill at home, select your favorite franks (plant-based, turkey, pork, beef or whatever you like) and get ready to get creative with toppings.

  • Buffalo Franks: smother in BBQ hot-wing sauce with crumbled blue cheese and thinly sliced green onions and celery.
  • Cali Franks: top with roasted corn, red onions, guacamole and chipotle sauce.
  • Hawaii Franks: top with grilled pineapple, sweet’n’sour sauce and red onions.
  • Chicago Franks: top with diced red apples, jalapeño peppers, shredded coleslaw and spicy brown mustard.

Watch: Being Frank

Even though the movie is anchored around spring break, the whole theme echoes summer with pool parties and barbeques so it seemed like the perfect escape for a wine down and chill movie night. The 2018 indie comedy, “Being Frank,” is also the antithesis to what Frank Family Vineyards are all about: the vineyard wholly embraces “family” and “loyalty” as corporate values whereas the characters in this film are not exactly model citizens. Indeed, extortion and bigamy aren’t practices generally welcomed in society. But it’s got a few laughs!

You can wine down and chill all week long

If this week’s theme didn’t float your boat or fill up your glass to wine down and chill, no worries. We’ll continue to offer affordable suggestions for music, wine, dinner and movies with a different wine down and chill theme each week. You can also follow me on Instagram for wine art and photography @WineDownAndChill. We’re here to help you sit back, wine down and chill. If you missed an article, fret not! You can find every article here.

If you like podcasts, well, wouldn’t you know, we’ve got those, too! Three of them, in fact: 1) Like a Boss with snappy insights; 2) wine down and chill; and 3) Monday motivation. All three are available on all streaming channels including Apple, iHeart Radio, Spotify and more. Tune in!

It’s the weekend. Time to wine down and chill. Cheers and thank you to Leslie Frank and the crew at Frank Family Vineyards!

Lead photo by JJ Jordan from Pexels. Other photos supplied by Frank Family Vineyards.