How is Wine Made? In Vino Veritas!

“In 2016, Arizona consumed 17.5 million gallons of wine.” 

National Institutes of Health

Our neighbor to the west consumed the most wine in the country at about 148 million gallons in 2016. California has the largest population of any state at around 39 million people so it’s not shocking that they lead the nation in wine consumption.

Per capita is perhaps a better measurement of alcohol consumption and Arizona led California in the beer category, but still fell behind the Golden State in wine consumption.

We were fortunate to interview Jason DiFrancesco, CSW. Jason is a local Phoenix resident and vintner of Leverage Wines. As a Certified Wine Specialist, Jason took the time to answer some of the questions you had in the wine world.


How wine is made?

JD: By fermenting any fruit, but typically grapes of the species vitis vinifera.

What is rosé wine?

JD: A blush colored wine made either by directly pressing a darker skinner grape with minimal juice and skin contact or saignee, a French term meaning literally “to bleed,” or bleeding off juice from the must, (skins and liquid) with minimal skin contact results in a lighter colored wine.

Leverage Wines has a reputation for your Red Rhône blends. Why did you decide to create a Rosé?  

JD: We created a rosé because it’s a great expression of a summer wine. It’s bright, fresh, and goes great with most dishes or all on its own by the pool.

Which wine is good for health?

JD: You know no wine can make those claims, it’s ridiculous.

You’re going to need to elaborate.

JD: Some folks say the resveratrol (grapes and berries) in red wine has some health benefits.

But what fun is that?

No one invites you over to celebrate life’s great events or lament its trials with a bowl of berries.  

Jason DiFrancesco

Therefore, have the glass of wine in moderation, and don’t rely on this humble vintner for your healthcare recommendations.

What wine is sweet?

JD: Wines made from more ripe grapes can be sweet if not fermented fully dry. This leaves residual sugar that isn’t converted to alcohol in the finished wine. 

Therefore an example of sweet wines are late harvest wines and Eisweins.

Where should you store wine?

JD: Ideally in a cellar.

Is there an ideal temperature?

JD: 55 degrees.

Wine and Cheese?

JD: Fun to pair.

What wine goes with lamb?

JD: I like a Grenache-based blend like our Trajectory GSM from Paso Robles or a Chateauneuf du Pape from the Southern Rhône. 

Wine with duck?

JD: A general rule is to pair like with like – what grows together, goes together represents a cultural aspect of food and wine or wine and food. Prior to the global economy, winemakers made wine that reflected the food within a region. There are different ways to pair wine with food but what grows together goes together is a good starting point when experimenting.

Will wine freeze?

JD: Try it.

When does wine taste best?

JD: When you’re with the right people.

PN: We thank Jason DiFrancesco for sharing some of his insights and urge you to follow him on Instagram: @leveragewines or check out their website www.leveragewines.com


Here’s what’s on my mind:

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism published a report in 2018 with some fascinating statistics:

  • Per capita consumption for all alcoholic beverages in 2015-2016 was much higher than the year before.
  • Not the highest historically but higher than before and significantly higher than the goals set by Healthy People 2020.
  • This increase has been the trend since 1995 with a slight retraction during the 2008 recession. 

There were 33 states that had per capita consumption increases and only 12 states with decreases, more importantly, Arizona was one of the decreases.

The published report separates ethanol consumption into three categories: beer, wine, and spirits.

We found it interesting that beer consumption is at a 50-year low and spirit consumption is at a 30-year high.

Wine consumption has never been higher in the 56-year study than it was in 2015-2016.

National Institutes of Health

Therefore, it’s a good time to be in the wine industry!

The 2018 Leverage Rosé is a dry Rosé blend reminiscent of wines from the Southern Rhone region of France. Made from premium fruit from vineyards in west Paso Robles – Willow Creek and Adelaida District AVAs. Beautiful pink, light salmon color in the glass, nearly all grenache with a touch of syrah, presents white flowers, zesty grapefruit and wild strawberry on the nose. Red and white wine drinkers alike can enjoy this on its own or with a wide variety of dishes. Lively, fresh, dry, and medium-plus bodied on the palate makes a very versatile wine on its own or with food. By the pool or paired with food, works for us either way.

Rosé wine

Awards: Gold Medal – 2016 International Rosé Wine Competition

Vintage: 2018

Varietal: Grenache

Appellation: Paso Robles

Alcohol %: 14

“Go, eat your bread with joy and drink your wine with a merry heart, because it is now that God favors your works.” Ecclesiastes 9:7


Do you drink beer, wine, or spirits?

Has your consumption increased or decreased in recent years?


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What is Indie Pop?

Phoenix Indie Pop star Ashley Cosgrove answers your questions and shares her insights into the music industry. #indiemusic #indie #indiepop #phx

What is Indie Pop?

Remember Napster and the impact it had on the way we listen to music? Turns out Napster is still a thing and a pretty good thing for indie musicians.

We went from tapes to compact discs, to downloading and streaming in what seemed like a blink of an eye.

Currently, I have, on my phone (think about that if you’re 40+, it’s a phone), Amazon Music, Pandora, and Spotify and I’m still bewildered that Napster is still a thing!

Phoenix has a vibrant Arts & Music scene and we had the opportunity to interview local indie musician, Ashley Cosgrove.

Ashley is a fast-rising singer-songwriter who is quickly making a name for herself with her exciting brand of pop music that mixes catchy hooks and melodies with strong storytelling.

What is Indie Music?

AC: Indie music is music put out by musicians that aren’t signed by a label.

How does an Indie Musician make money?

AC: Well, they definitely aren’t making money off of online streams. If they ARE making money, it’s most likely through merchandise sales.

How much does an Indie Musician make when someone listens to their music on a streaming service?

AC: Not much. Basically, they make less than a penny per stream of each song.

What’s the financial difference between streaming and purchasing a song?

AC: The financial difference between streaming and purchasing is pretty huge for artists. As I said, artists get less than a penny per stream of each song. However, buying and downloading a song usually costs between $0.99 and $1.29–and the artist gets to keep almost all of that. So if you really want to support the artist, you’re much better off buying their songs or albums than streaming them.

What is the biggest benefit of being an Indie Musician?

AC: The biggest benefit is the creative freedom you have. You are more in control of your music, image, and career, and don’t really have to answer to anyone else.

What’s the financial difference between streaming and purchasing a song?

AC: The financial difference between streaming and purchasing is pretty huge for artists. As I said, artists get less than a penny per stream of each song. However, buying and downloading a song usually costs between $0.99 and $1.29–and the artist gets to keep almost all of that. So if you really want to support the artist, you’re much better off buying their songs or albums than streaming them.

You’ve toured internationally before. Any touring plans in the near future?

AC: Touring is more challenging than people think. It’s a lot of fun but you don’t really make as much money as you’d expect. I’m keeping things local for now, but would be open to the right opportunities in the future.

What’s your favorite instrument?

AC: My favorite instrument is the piano. It’s the easiest for me to write songs on.

What’s your favorite song you’ve written?

AC: It changes all the time but my current favorite would be the single I just released called Not Today.

What’s something your fans don’t know about you?

AC: I’m a really big introvert. You wouldn’t think that’s the case with someone who regularly performs onstage, but I totally am.

We thank Ashley for taking the time to answer some of your questions and urge you to follow her on Instagram at @theashleycosgrove

Listen to her latest single Not Today on Apple Music.


Here’s what’s on my mind:

I mentioned Napster above, and that it’s still a thing. In fact, for indie musicians, it might even be one of their best options for streaming.

Allow me to explain.

Using the federal minimum wage and adding to that a little extra since 29 states have higher minimum wage than the federal and you get approximately $1472 a month.

That’s what an average full-time worker earns making minimum wage.

The 2019 US Federal Poverty Guidelines for eligibility to certain federal programs qualifies a household of 1 at around $1,040 a month.

Ashley explained she receives less than a penny per stream

Well, research shows more detailed numbers where less than a penny actually means less than half a penny in many circumstances.

According to 2018-2019 numbers, Spotify was paying less than half a penny, at .00437 per stream. This means in order to make minimum wage every month a musician needs to stream approximately 336,842 times.

We all have days where we listen to that one song over and over again because we’re in the mood for it, but 300,000 streams? That’s a lot.

Amazon pays even less, and YouTube is atrocious at around 0.00069 per stream.

However, Napster pays the highest!

At .01900 per song stream, artists certainly aren’t raking in the money, but it’s much better compared to the other services. Of course, there is some debate online on exactly how much each of these services actually pays but most of the number crunchers agree that Napster pays the most. 

What about touring?

Ashley mentioned touring and the financial challenges faced but there are plenty of stories of artists who broke even and even lost money while touring.

Indie band Pomplamoose wrote a detailed account of a 28-day tour where they hit 24 shows in 23 cities around America. Their bottom line was $135,983 in total income with $147,802 in expenses.

They lost $11,819!

An analysis by Alan Krueger, a Princeton University economist, showed that sixty percent of all concert-ticket revenue world-wide went to the top 1% of performers but in 1982 the top 1% of musicians took home just 26%.

One of the reasons this discrepancy exists is in large part to ticket prices. In 1981, the average ticket price was $12 but in 2017, the average ticket price was $69.

In his book, Rockonomics, Krueger states that the music industry is a leading indicator of today’s economy.

Where are my equality justice warriors at? Do we need to regulate the music industry to make it more fair to the middle class musicians that are disappearing.

Is merchandise the answer? Ashley did say that merchandise is a real money maker for artists. Some artists make anywhere between 10-35% percent of their annual profits from merchandise. 

 If merchandise is the only real money an artist gets to keep,

When’s the last time you bought merchandise from a musician?

What did you buy?


In mid-2011, Ashley was chosen to be the lead singer for Skylark, an international symphonic rock band that has sold over 200,000 copies, played hundreds of headliner gigs and festivals, and supported major acts like Royal Hunt, Running Wild, Virgin Steel, Edguy and platinum stars like Nightwish and Dream Theater. The first Skylark album featuring Ashley was released in Japan on January 11, 2012 and featured “Sands of Time”, one of Ashley’s original songs.

The album saw incredible success in Japan where it stayed on the Japanese Amazon rock/metal chart for 30 days, occupying position number one for 10 days and position number two (only behind the new Van Halen release) for another 10 days. The album also reached the top 100 global chart remaining there for 15 days, reaching its peak at number 12 and ending 32nd in the second week of January (best western act ahead of artists such as Adele and Lady Gaga). 

What is an Occupational License?

Over the past few years, women have been setting records in job creation. The main question in college business courses isn’t what am I going to do but rather how do I do it? Once you are past the initial startup steps you get into deeper details like how to get a business license or occupational licenses.

“I’m inspired, I’m motivated, 

I’m ready to start a business!

Where do I begin? Do I need a business license?”

I have met many business owners in the City of Phoenix that have told me about the redundancy and challenges they face from local, county, state, and federal government regulations. 

We were fortunate to interview Shoshana Weissmann from R Street Institute to answer your questions regarding Occupational Licenses.

Shoshana works on occupational licensing reform and has written for various publications, including The Wall Street Journal and USA Today and we thank her for taking the time to answer some of the questions from our community.  


What is an occupational license?

SW: In every state, you need the government’s approval to work in different industries. This is for every profession from doctors to hair braiders. 

Usually, the government requires the applicant have completed some specific or accredited training beforehand. Accreditation is good, but making it illegal to braid hair without a license is not good. This is where the market can decide. 

Is there an industry where an occupational license would make sense?

SW: Yes, of course – Doctors, Nurses, and Healthcare Providers. Prescribing medication without a license can be dangerous. Many would argue lawyers as well, although there is some debate there.

Braiding hair without a license is not necessary. And of course, there are many professions in the middle area in which there can be a reasonable debate. Unfortunately, the underlying debate is too often about economic protectionism – people who want the government to protect them from the competition, rather than protect people from actual harm. This is not an exhaustive list, but a brief overview!

Arizona recently made the news with occupational licensing. Why this is such a big deal?

SW: Governor Ducey is the best and really cares about this issue. He understands the harm arbitrary and excessive licensing can cause – that people can’t work, other people can’t use the scarce services, and others aren’t able to afford the higher prices resulting from less competition. The new law fixes another part of the problem – licenses don’t transfer across state lines easily, if at all. This law makes it so people can move to Arizona and work. Otherwise, people are less likely to move there if they can’t work. Or they move there and can’t work in the profession they know best. Licensing notoriously restricts mobility, and Governor Ducey’s efforts ought to be duplicated by every state!

What is a Phoenix occupational license? Do I need a City of Phoenix occupational license?

SW: A lot of localities have additional licensing. For example, maybe a plumber is licensed by the state, but a locality has its own license she must obtain. It’s silly but harmful. This restricts mobility within a state and adds additional burdens.  

Do I need an occupational license to sell on Etsy?

SW: Nope! THANKFULLY. 

Should we just have a federal department for occupational licensing?

SW: Some people think this is the answer – it’s not. Imagine if the federal government licensed hair braiders or florists (Louisiana, come on) – it’s bad enough that a few states do. 

If every state did, it would be much more unjust. Not to mention dubious constitutional authority to do so! 

Instead, it’s important to support state reforms.

We thank Shoshana for her insights and highly recommend you follow her on Twitter: @RSI or @SenatorShoshana

Here’s what’s on my mind:

The City of Phoenix has a website you can go to to read about the different types of licensing you may need to start a business.

“How do I get a business license?”

“The City of Phoenix does not have or issue a general business license. Only certain activities are regulated and require a license or require a recommendation/approval from the City.” – City of Phoenix website

See what types of “Activities” require licensing HERE IS THE LIST.

I was surprised to see things like Coin Operated Games where you “pay $1.50 per-machine, per-month OR other fees with the Penalty of ten percent (%) being paid on any coin-operated game machine monthly fee that is not received by the City of Phoenix by the due date.

Other surprises include Game Centers, Pool Halls, Teenage Dance Halls, Auction Houses, Auctioneers and my personal favorite, Curb Painters.

Curb Painters:  A person engaged in the business of painting street addresses on curbs within the City of Phoenix. The word “curbs” includes driveway access for motor vehicles from the street to private property.”

So those curbs that have different military branch logos, the American flag, or your favorite sports team emblem on it, the person that did that, needed a license.


What industries do you think should require licensing?

Should it be local, regional, state, or federally regulated?

PINTEREST:

Do you need an occupational license or a business license to kick off your business? Looking for a City of Phoenix business license?

#business #businesslicense #braidinghair #braiding 

Does a Florist need a license?

What is an occupational license and do you need one to do your job? 

#florist #business #flowers #businesslicense #occupation #phx #phoenixnarrative

What is an Occupational License?

Do you need an occupational license or a business license to kick off your business? #business #businesslicense #phx #phoenix #plumber

Do You Need a License to Braid Hair?

Do you need a license to braid hair? What is an occupational license? #businesslicense #braidinghair #braiding #occupational #phoenix


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Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Phoenix

I interviewed a doctor who specializes in caring for pregnant and parenting women with substance use disorders. She is on the front line of the opioid crisis and has decided to share some of her insights with us.

#opioids #opioidcrisis #addiction #phx

The opioid crisis has exploded in the media over the past 5 years. In fact, two years ago today, Governor Ducey declared a state of emergency regarding the opioid epidemic in the state of Arizona.

I’ve visited many organizations in our city that deal directly with the opioid crisis, and the good news is Phoenix has many resources. The bad news is there is an unfortunate lack of knowledge of those resources in our community.

During this time, I was fortunate to be able to interview a doctor who specializes in caring for pregnant and parenting women with substance use disorders and is on the front lines of the opioid crisis–Maria Manriquez, M.D., FACOG.

What started the opioid epidemic?

MM: In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured physicians and other providers that patients wouldn’t become addicted to opioid pain relievers.

As a result, healthcare providers began to prescribe them at increased rates to comply with addressing the “5th vital sign” and improve patient satisfaction.

This lead to more patients becoming dependent on opioids as well as more opioids available for diversion. In 2017, an estimated 2 million people suffered from opioid use disorder–both prescription opioid and heroin use disorder.

What’s the difference between being an opioid dependent versus being an opioid addict?

MM: Let’s use nicotine as an example. A person may use nicotine and find themselves needing more than the original amount to have the same positive effects. This is defined as tolerance.

When the person doesn’t use nicotine they may have negative side effects, this is defined as withdrawal.  Wanting to have nicotine and it being on your mind is defined as craving.  Using the money you may have saved for something else relates to the compulsion associated with addiction.  

So when an individual uses a substance and then misuses or abuses it, that leads to dependence or addiction.

Once the neurobiology of the brain has been altered secondary to misuse or abuse a person may have a chronic lifelong addiction or use disorder.

Is long term use of opioids indicative of dependence or addiction?

Opioid pain medication is best for acute pain like a broken bone, just after a surgery, or in terminal (end of life) circumstances.  

MM: Regular use of opioids increases the chances of being dependent or addicted. This is why doctors are discouraged from prescribing patients opioid pain relievers for chronic pain like headaches, back pain, or pelvic pain that hasn’t been evaluated by imaging or other diagnostics.

In some instances, it only takes a person a week or two to become dependent.

Maria Manriquez, M.D., FACOG

What are the main differences between Oxycodone and Hydrocodone?

MM: Oxycodone is made by modifying Thebaine, an organic chemical found in opium. Hydrocodone is semisynthetic, made from codeine.

How long does hydrocodone stay in your system?

Hydrocodone has a longer half-life than oxycodone, so it stays in your system longer. For instance, hydrocodone can be detected in your system for 2-3 days after ingesting. Of course, taking either for a long period of time may result in developing a “physical dependence” on them.

What is Norco?

MM: Norco is the brand name of the combination drug that has hydrocodone and acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Is Pentazocine, or any other mixed opioid agonist/antagonist, being used or investigated for opioid dependence applications, like suboxone/buprenorphine?

MM: Pentazocine is an opioid agonist and when combined with naloxone, an antagonist, you have the brand name medication Talwin NX.  Talwin NX is used to treat pain–not for opioid dependence.  

Pentazocine is an agonist at the K-opioid receptor unlike most of the other opioids which primarily act at the mu receptor.

What are the main differences between suboxone, subutex and methadone for severe opioid dependence?

MM: Opioid use disorder is classified as mild, moderate or severe depending on the number of criteria met. There are 11 criteria that are evaluated if 2-3 are present that would be considered mild, 4-5 moderate and 6 or more severe.

Maintenance agonist therapy (MAT) is appropriate for treating any classification.

Maria Manriquez, M.D., FACOG

The current MAT is Methadone, Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) and/or Subutex (buprenorphine alone) which is really only used during pregnancy.

Suboxone has naloxone added to prevent the medication from being tampered with and used intravenously.  We use Subutex in pregnancy because of the concern that the naloxone could stimulate withdrawal in the pregnant patient and cause untoward effects in the fetus.

All three of the MAT medication work well. Methadone is a full agonist and as a side effect has the same ability to decrease respiratory effort as any other opioid. It can only be obtained from a methadone clinic.

Suboxone is a combination drug, including the partial agonist (buprenorphine) and antagonist (naloxone).  The buprenorphine has a greater affinity for the mu receptor but does not have the same ability to decrease respiratory effort or symptom relief. This is called a ceiling effect.

As a result, this has rendered the drug safer than methadone.

A lot of research is being done in the space of pregnancy, opioid use disorder, and the effects on newborn babies.  Current literature suggests buprenorphine has earlier and shorter neonatal abstinent syndrome (NAS) than methadone.

Buprenorphine can be prescribed by doctors with an X waiver on their DEA registration. This is often more convenient for patients especially when they are far away from a methadone clinic.

How do you use methadone to help with opioid dependency in pregnancy?

MM: I am waivered to prescribe buprenorphine, both Suboxone and Subutex. If the patient prefers to take either of these medications I am able to prescribe these medications and work with them to manage their continuous care both during and after pregnancy.

If they have been on methadone and are stable then it is recommended that they continue to use methadone. Patients on methadone would see me for their obstetric care and obtain their prescription of methadone from a methadone clinic.

We thank Dr. Manriquez for her time and expert advice on the opioid crisis and encourage you to follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.


So this all being said, here’s what’s on my mind:

We all have our own unconscious biases.

Our biases towards drug addiction have blinded us to the opioid crisis that’s unfolding right in front of us.

Most women who smoke or drink STOP when they find out they’re pregnant.

However, most of the women Dr. Manriquez cares for CAN’T STOP when they find out they’re pregnant. It’s not a choice for them. It’s a disorder.

Our community needs to understand there is a difference between abuse and addiction. Many of the ills in our community are due to the abuse of substances–whether it be sugar, carbs, alcohol, or drugs. There is a line that gets crossed where abuse becomes addiction and we are quick to pass judgment on addicts, equating them to abusers. One in five high school students reports misusing prescription drugs. Most first time abusers of painkillers obtain them from a friend or relative.

We, as a community, need to destigmatize our biases against opioid addiction.

People who take prescription painkillers can become addicted with just one prescription.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Drug addicts are our neighbors, our friends, our students, and our children. They need help and there are resources available but we need to stop thinking of the addict strictly as an abuser.

We will follow up on this interview and topic because we’ve only scratched the surface of this important issue.

I encourage you to watch a few minutes of Chasing the Dragon, a documentary from the FBI and DEA on opiate addiction with real people and real stories.

How can we remove associations of shame or disgrace from people who suffer from substance use disorder?


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