This was vastly different from my other trips up to Napa/Sonoma Wine Country in that it wasn't a back to back race from winery to winery. Instead, E and I visited only 3 wineries: Peju, Frogs Leap, and Ravenswood.
I wanted to restock some wines from Peju so we headed down there and were lucky enough to see Alan, the rapping, yodeling, representative of Peju. Luckily, I had called them ahead to let them know I'd be showing up so they were expecting me. I don't know how we did it but we walked out of there with a CASE of various wines. Personally, I think it was the rapping that sold me.
E brought up Frogs Leap so I called to see if we could come in for a tasting. $15 got us a flight of 5 wines and a cheese plate. Frogs Leap is one of the original pioneers of organically grown grapes and ecologically sustainable farming techniques in Napa. Please note that there is a difference between organic wines (which do not have a long shelf life) and organically grown products used in wines - the wines can't call themselves "organic" probably have sulfites that have been added. The staff there were extremely friendly, knowledge and helpful - we had a great time learning about the valley, relaxing on the wrap around porch and enjoying the tasty nibbles!
One experience that I had planned in advance was a wine blending class at Ravenswood with Peter Griffith. Peter got back to my email right away and noted that I was a dying breed (an employed CMP). He normally only did the class for groups with a minimum of 6 but he kindly offered it out to me - I only hope that I can get a group back out there soon!! It was a fantastic experience!
Peter managed to dumb this down enough so that even I could understand it. The Zin provided the fruits, the Carignan provided the acid, and the Petite Syrah the body. Not so surprisingly, I really liked it heavy on the Petite Syrah. We started out to with the knowledge that whatever we "mixed" together, it needed to add up to 20ml. Problem number 1: i can't add. It took me a few tries but with the help of my fingers and toes, I somehow managed to get it done!
We used the pipettes to measure out each of the 3 types of wines to blend the perfect wine for each of our palates. It was a lot like perfume making in that the sense of taste (like the sense of smell) got tired after 3 - 4 tastings. Problem 2: After a while, I just got tired of trying to figure out which i liked so I went with my best last tasting.
One thing I was excited about was doing a barrel tasting - never got to do that until that day. We sampled a barrancia 2008 (YUM!). Problem 3: We were strongly encouraged to spit. I never spit because I just find it a waste of good wine. We did enough tasting where this was actually a good (and valid suggestions, after I was informed that if I were intoxicated while riding a bike, I would still get a DUI. *SIGH*) We also had the opportunity to taste other wines, including some of the wines from the library collection. It was a great experience, one I highly recommend to give you a broader understanding of wine structure!
Peju Province Winery
8466 St Helena Hwy
Rutherford, CA 94573
8815 Conn Creek Road
Rutherford, CA 4573
18701 Gehricke Road
Sonoma, California 95476
firstname.lastname@example.org (to sign up for the blending class!)