Tickets Still Available: Raise Your Glass to CIS!

CIS Bay AreaA handful of tickets are still available for the Raise Your Glass to CIS! wine tasting event today at Bay Oaks Country Club in Clear Lake City, Texas. The event, which starts at 4:00 p.m. and runs until 5:30 p.m., raises money for Communities in Schools – Bay Area programs to keep at-risk students in school.


Each year, Communities in Schools – Bay Area hosts the combined Golf Tournament and Wine Tasting Event at the 18-hole golf course and country club that has been operating in the Clear Lake City area since 1988. The event is open to the public, and anyone is welcome to support this fine charitable organization through its annual fundraiser which includes 18-Hole Golf Scramble (Rain or Shine), Silent Auction, Wine Tasting event and Steak Dinner just 20 minutes from Downtown Houston, in the master-planned community of Clear Lake City through team sign up or ticket purchase.

Freixenet Cava and GoVinoAgain this year, Joe and I serve as lead sommeliers. But we have incorporated a bit of the Wine Bloggers Conference with a 5-round speed tasting, featuring wines we personally selected to showcase at the event. Our line-up for the Raise Your Glass Event will include wines from around the world. This year’s event will also highlight one of my favorite new Texas wineries — Spicewood Vineyards as well as my go-to shop for French wines – French Country Wines. Wine imported by Traubenhaus Fine Wines, the purveyor recently a hit at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa, will also be in the mix. And the ever popular Freixenet Cordon Negro will make a return visit!

Here’s the Wine Line-Up

The fun starts at *4:00 p.m. with a sparkling toast of Cava in The Grille, featuring Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut – The Black Bubbles from the Penedès region in Catalunya (near Barcelona), Spain. Guests will then move to the dining room, where somms will rotate between tables, giving guests time to socialize and chat about the wines. Here is what we will be tasting, with prices and availability for the Houston market:

Opening Reception in The Grille

Wine: Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava – Known as the Black Bottle Bubbly
Grapes: 35% Macabeo, 25% Xarel·lo, 40% Parellada
Region: Penedès region of Catalunya near Barcelona, Spain
SRP: $12.00
Available: Everywhere!
Food Pairing: Anything!

Speed Tasting Wines


Chateau Rives-Blanque label for Blanquette de Limoux

Wine: Château Rives-Blanques Blanquette de Limoux Sparkling 2012
Grapes: 90% Mauzac, 10% Chardonnay/Chenin blanc
Region: Limoux, in Languedoc (southwestern) France
SRP: $18.00
Available: French Country Wines
Food Pairing: Anything!

Crisp White

Wine: Hugues Beaulieau Picpoul de Pinet 2014
Grapes: Piquepoul (yes it’s spelled differently), one of the oldest grapes in Languedoc
Region: Along the Thau lagoon, Languedoc, France
SRP: $12.00
Available: Specs
Food pairing: Oysters and other seafood

Creamy White

Wine: Stark-Conde The Field Blend 2013
Grapes: 44% Roussanne, 41% Chenin Blanc, 8% Viognier, 7% Verdelho
Region: Stellenbosh, South Africa
SRP: $24.00
Available: Specs
Food Pairing: Smoked Chicken, Smoked Turkey

Weingut Schauss Pinot Noir
Medium Body Red Selection


Wine: Château Miraval Cotes de Provence Rosé 2014 (Perrin Family, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie)
Grapes: Cinsaut, Grenache, Syrah and Rolle
Region: Provence, France
SRP: $23.00
Available: Specs
Food Pairing: Pork, Salad, Shrimp

Medium-body Red

Wine: Weingut Schauss Monzinger Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) 2013
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir
Region: Nahe, Village of Monzingen, has been operating a winery since the year 1800
SRP: $31.99
Available: Traubenhaus Fine Wines
Also available at 13 Celsius and Vintropolis (at Wine Bar Prices)
Food Pairing: Roasted Chicken, Pork Chops, Pork belly, Austrian Food

The good Guy from Spicewood Vineyards
Bold Texas Red Selection

Bold Red

Wines: 2012 Spicewood Vineyards Estate Tempranillo, 2013 Spicewood Vineyards “The Good Guy”
– Estate Tempranillo: 100% Tempranillo
– The Good Guy: 32% Tempranillo, 32% Merlot, 16% Cab Sauvignon, 13% Graciano and 7% Syrah
Region: Texas Hill Country, Spicewood, Texas
SRP: $42.99 and $44.99
Available: Spicewood Vineyards (about 1 hour west of Austin)
Food Pairing: Steak, wild game

Raise Your Glass to CIS Sommeliers

To keep the conversation flowing and the event moving, we will have six sommeliers from the Houston area, each bringing his or her own special savoir-faire to the event.

Iris Neal Allen:

Our own favorite Urban Wineaux, Iris will be discussing the Château Rives-Blanques Blanquette de Limoux Sparkling 2012.

Iris tells us a story of how she entered into the world of wine:

“At the age of 12, I read an article on the process of how Brandy, Armagnac and Cognac were aged in a Travel and Leisure Magazine and I was seduced and lured into the world of wine and spirits.” After her initial love of distilled spirits, she has spent the last 20 years captivated with the infinite world of wine. With encouragement from many and a personal gift from a very close friend, she finally succumbed to her passion and in September of 2007 she enrolled in the International Sommelier’s Guild certification course at the University of Houston and totally immersed herself into the world of Oenophilia (Oenophile – is a lover of wine). She completed Levels I & II in January of 2008 and was awarded a certificate as a Wine Specialist with her own mental vineyard of knowledge.

In June of 2009 she completed and passed the Court of Master Sommelier Introductory Sommelier Course & Exam in Miami, FL. In 2013, she flew to Miami again, and passed the Society of Wine Educators’ Hospitality and Beverage Specialist Exam.

As an experienced and certified wine specialist Iris’ passion for wine led her to establish Iris by the Glass(, which allows her to host weekend wine tastings at innovative wine venues. Her vast knowledge and confident personality has earned her and established, local wine tasting clientele: the Urban Wineauxs. Says Iris, “I discovered a world that is immeasurable and timeless!” Never content to march in place, Iris finds that her education is perpetual as she is constantly yearning to learn more and share more.

Larry Brett

Larry Brett is no stranger to Bay Oaks Country Club: He served as its Operations Director in 2000 and 2001. An attorney, colleague and friend of ours since we met on a litigation project in 2011, Larry is a transplanted Philadelphia lawyer who enjoys wine from everywhere, while living north of the City, in The Woodlands. He tells the story of his initiation into “proper wine tasting” several decades ago, as a curious guest hosted by a couple from Napa Valley, California. On the space provided for notes for the very first wine, Larry silently and carefully wrote next to the following category…

Taste: “Like wine.”

Steve Paterson

League City Regional Chamber of Commerce President Steve Paterson, aka “The Cork Guy” is a purist. He writes a wine education column citing his passion as “the proper pairing of food with the correct wine for the ultimate gastronomical experience.” Like Iris, Joe and I, Steve’s wine travels include both domestic and international wineries and vineyards in the United States as Europe. In addition, he visited wineries in Canada, Mexico and 30 States in the U.S.A.

“Great meals are made more memorable and delectable with the proper pairing of the dining offerings with the correct wine, which will complement the acidity or the alkalinity of the food and will enhance the flavors of the meal,” says Steve.

Adam Folden

Adam Folden is the Food & Beverage Manager at South Shore Harbor Resort and Conference Center bringing his lifetime of food, wine and dining knowledge beginning at the age of 18. He entered Restaurant Management at the age of 23 with a position at Café Eccell in College Station, Texas.

“This was the first ‘scratch” kitchen that I ever worked for and really helped develop my love and understanding of the marriage between food and wine,” says Adam. He then moved back to Houston and became Assistant General Manager of Perry’s Grille & Steakhouse, honing his wine and food knowledge. To broaden his acumen, Adam worked for a couple of distributors before starting his own restaurant. Family life took precedence with the birth of his daughter in early 2015, and Adam closed his restaurant and joined the team at South Shore Harbor, excited to take part in all the exciting renovations and changes at the Hotel.

Raise Your Glass to CIS! Tickets

Raise Your Glass to CIS includes reception, over 50 mystery wines in a “Wine Pull” Silent Auction, wine tasting of six wines, and High-end designer purses including those by Prada, Fendi, Mary Frances, Michael Kors, Coach, Kate Spade and Midkiff. Following the tasting guests will enjoy a fresh-off-the-grill steak dinner with live-auction of some incredible, one-of-a-kind treasures.

Mystery Bottles valued at $25 and higher
Mystery Bottles valued at $25 and higher

*Tickets are $75 per person, and you can purchase yours by calling 281.486.6698 or visiting Reservations are requested as there are only a few seats left. After tasting steak dinner, martini bar and live auction are included in the price of the ticket. Bay Oaks Country Club in located at 14545 Bay Oaks Drive (at Pineloch) in the Clear Lake City community of Bay Oaks.

Special Thanks to Our Early Sponsors

Special thanks to early sponsors of the event including MaximGroup, Hilltop Securities, Inc, Carol Latimer, Kim Barker, Heartis Clear Lake, Baywood Crossing Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center, Gene Hollier, Emmeline Dodd, Glenn and Sara Freedman and DRDA, CPAs. Wine and auction sponsors include Banfi Vintners, award-winning author Chris Kassel, French Country Wines, Spicewood Vineyards and Traubenhaus Fine Wines.

CIS Bay AreaAbout Communities in Schools – Bay Area

Communities in Schools is an amazing and inspiring organization. Founded in 1977 by William Milliken, CIS is a 501(c)(3) charity, and national federation with over 150 affiliates in 27 states and the District of Columbia serving nearly 1.5 million students in over 3,800 schools. The organization’s stated mission is to prepare students for the future by removing barriers to school success engaging community partners and volunteers to effectively and efficiently address both the academic and human needs of students. Listen to Bill Milliken speak about empowering young people to succeed through Peace, Love and Community.

Communities in Schools – Bay Area was established in 1989 and works in 14 schools in the Clear Creek and Dickinson Independent Schools Districts to keep kids on the path to success through graduation and beyond. For more information on the program, please visit

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