INSPIRE! Melanie’s Tips For Staying Fearless & Fabulous

Melanie was featured on Voice America Radio’s “The Kathyrn Zox Show” November 6. A great show on taking charge of your health, staying positive and fit and finding your purpose. Zox-show-description

Here are Melanie’s Ten Easy Tips To Taking Care of Yourself to Stay Fabulous

1. Hydrate: Drink plenty of healthy fluids avoid dehydration. Your skin will say “thank you”

2. Gyrate: Get moving. Daily exercise is beneficial for boosting your energy and maintaining a healthy weight which is important for your overall health.

3. Masticate: Eat healthy, wholesome, unprocessed foods in small portions. Think green, lean, less fatty meat, more healthy oils, less processed foods for starters. Learn to eat well to live well. Think of food as the fuel your body needs to keep functioning and make sure that fuel is clean and healthy.

4. Drink alcohol in moderation. There are many conflicting reports: Moderate alcohol consumption can increase the risk of breast cancer in women. Moderate alcohol consumption can help decrease the risk of cardio vascular disease I women. A basic rule of thumb is this. Limit alcohol intake to one glass of wine a day if you are a woman. And if you work in the wine business (like me!) try to drink in moderation and make sure what you drink is great quality!

5. Be kind to your skin: Wear sunscreen daily. Moisturize for your skin type. Exfoliate but don’t overdo it. And don’t self treat the problem. It can worsen the condition.  If your skin has a breakout or rash, seek the advice of a licensed dermatologist rather than trying to fix the problem yourself.

6. Turn off the computer; tune out the TV and get some sleep. Sleep is one of the most inexpensive and effective beauty treatments around.

7. Don’t smoke or take recreational drugs and practice safe sex. Get your highs from exercise and better sex (safely) with the right partner. Or pursue a new passion or hobby to stimulate your creative side.

8. De-stress for success. Smiles will open doors for you.  Stress will shut you down. I truly believe stress contributed to my cancer and, looking back, nothing that stressed me out in the years leading up to my diagnosis really matter any more.

9. Be vigilant about your health screenings and checkups. Annual mammograms should start at age 40. Examine your breasts every month. If you see or feel something, don’t wait to see a doctor to examine you.

10. Make quality time for yourself and your loved ones. It’s not selfish to put your well being first; it’s smart. If you want to live a long life to enjoy with your husband, partner or children, then start with making your health and well being a priority.

MELANIE YOUNG- COLOR Melanie Young is author of the just released book, “Getting      Things Off My Chest: A Survivor’s Guide to Staying Fearless  and Fabulous in the Face of Breast Cancer” (Cedar Fort  Inc./$16.99) Available nationwide in paperback and ebook.  Follow Melanie @mightymelanie and



Wines of Crete: Modern Wines from an Ancient Land


“There is a place in the middle of the wine-dark sea called Crete, a lovely, fruitful land… “

Dolphin Fresco from ancient Crete

So wrote Homer in The Odyssey when tasked with describing the   Mediterranean island that is home to a civilization that dates back longer than any other in Europe. And while it is unknown as to whether Homer, who was from the Island of Chios in the eastern Aegean, ever set foot on Crete, his description at least is accurate when linking the island with the words “fruitful” and “wine.” For Crete is indeed a fruitful place, with vast tracts of agricultural lands devoted to grain, fruits, vegetables, and of course grapes for making Dionysis’ favorite beverage: wine.

And does Crete make wine! Lots of it. In fact, Crete makes a full 20% of all the wines produced in Greece, most shipped internally, some made by cooperatives (there are three on the island), though most are independently produced. Yet for all that volume, Cretan wines have remained strangely absent from the globally recognized Greek wine lexicon, as exports from Greece, which have had remarkable success over the past decade, particularly to the U.S., have been mostly from other winemaking regions like the island of Santorini, the Peloponnese, and northern regions like Greek Macedonia, among others.

Not to say that Crete’s wines were not good, they were, and with an investment over the last 30 years to modernize their infrastructure, spurred in no small part by a new generation of winemakers taking over the reins at their family’s wineries and injecting new ideas, money, and lessons learned through viticultural studies abroad, now certainly are.

Winemaking equipment, circa 1500 BC

Why the change in philosophy? Enter our favorite bug…

“Crete’s vineyards, the major building block of a winemaking history which we can trace back at least 5000  years, were pretty much decimated when we were hit by phylloxera in the 1980’s,” says Nicos Miliarakis, winery owner and president of Wines of Crete, the organization charged with promoting the island’s wines, “we basically had to rebuild them from scratch.”

Phylloxera’s invasion was a tragedy in the land where tragedy was invented, to be sure, but it also gave the winemakers in Crete a unique opportunity to reverse some of the unfortunate decisions made in the past, most importantly, the decision at some point that Crete’s native varietals should be pulled up and replaced with more recognizable “international” varietals. “After Phylloxera, we knew we had a great opportunity to return Cretan winemaking to its ‘roots’,” says Miliarakis, “while at the same time embracing the opportunity to move it forward,” he adds.

Those indigenous varietals, now widely replanted (on Phylloxera resistant rootstock, of course), produce excellent, vibrant whites from grapes like Vidiano. Vilana, and Plyto, and intriguing reds from grapes like Kotsifali, Liatiko, and Mandilari, that run from light to full bodied, making the present-day wines from Crete some of the most exciting wines in the country, if not the Mediterranean basin.

Liatiko Trellis at Boutari Winery

Of course, Crete still has plenty of international varietals planted, and while some are bottled varietally (most notable may be the Nostos wines from Manousakis, a winery on the island’s west end near the port city of Chania devoted entirely to Rhone varietals), they mostly show up incrementally in many of the wines made on the island, used, as in many winemaking regions of the world, to add a little more color here, a little more body there. Again, a testament to Crete’s ability to view its winemaking, see where it could be made better, and ultimately apply the techniques needed to bring its wines up to the point where they can show proudly on the world stage.  Something they are now doing, and doing well. Even though there are still few wines from Crete available in the U.S., the category is finding distribution, and the wines are being well received.

One of the many fertile valleys in Central Crete

Physically, Crete is divided into four major winemaking PDO’s (Protected Denomination of Origin), the Greek equivalent of France’s AOC system or Spain’s DO’s. Three of them: Dafnes, Archanes, and Peza, are located in the center of the island, south of Heraklion, Crete’s main city. The fourth, Sitia, is on the East end of the island in the region of Lisithi.

Most wineries are located in the three central regions, and one, Strataridakis, which makes delicious whites from a clone of Muscat locally called Spinas, has the distinction of being Europe’s Southernmost winery. Another, Karavitakis, makes a sweet dessert wine that’s aged in wood for three years before bottling. Truly unique and wonderful. Others like Boutari (yes, that Boutari), Alexakis, Minos Miliarakis (owned by Nikos Miliorakis), and Lyrarakis, among others, have made their investment in producing more traditional offerings from their vineyards.

Hilltop vineyards at Domaine Zacharioudakis

A handful of wineries are located in the island’s Western end near Chania. To date, the region is not classified with a PDO, though that will surely come soon due to it’s ever-growing number of wineries, including the aforementioned Manousakis, and others like Anoskeli (one of Crete’s newest wineries, and with a delightful rosé), Douroudakis, and Dourakis, all of which make wonderful wines from both indigenous and international varietals.

Sitia has only one winery, Toplou , part of The Holy Monastery of Panagia Akrotiriani and Agiou Ioanni Theologou TOPLOU of Sitia. Being many hours by car from Heraklion, Toplou is rarely visited, although the wines, including a wonderful sweet wine made from sun-dried grapes in the style of vin santo, but red, are quite good.

In all, Cretan wines, through painstaking dedication to make them the best they can be, along with a commitment to modernization, are finally gaining traction and are well worth searching for in stores or restaurants.

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Fresco of the Minotaur, Knossos

Or, for a real treat, go visit the island, one of the world’s most welcoming places, and tour the wineries. While there, one can also tour the ruins of ancient cities like Knossos (home of the famous Labyrinth where Theseus, with the help of King Minos’ daughter Ariadne, slayed the Minotaur), and eat the wonderful foods that were the basis for the “Mediterranean Diet.”  There are many options.

None will disappoint.


For more information on Crete’s winemaking industry, visit, a very detailed website. well thought-out, and easy to navigate.




Welcome to Eat Drink Explore Inspire, the blog by The Connected Table

We enjoy discovering and sharing stories about people, products, places and causes. With a palate for good taste, a passion for travel and a penchant for supporting inspiring causes and women owned businesses, Melanie and David look for news,  ideas, trends and people with a story to share.

Our blog covers any topic that inspires us in food, wine, spirits, travel and community.


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