I got to enjoy a really unique experience on Saturday evening. I belong to the Cellars of Sonoma wine club. They represent a number of smaller Sonoma County wineries. One of the wineries they represent, Mengler Family Wines, decided to give wine club members a unique opportunity to be part of the wine-making process. Twelve of us got to play winemaker for a night, and create what will become the 2016 Rita’s Block ‘Luke’s Reserve’ wine. This was a very special honor (and a great responsibility: their 2015 Rita’s Block recently won gold in the SF Chronicle wine competition).
As I walked in, I saw the tables set up with several bottles of wine, and some graduated cylinders for measuring (I had some flashbacks to my college & grad school chemistry days). I had expected that we would have bottles of a number of different red varietals & get to blend those, but it turned out that all the wines we had available to mix were the same blend of 18 (if I recall correctly) varietals, aged in different types of oak barrels.
We started off by tasting our 4 different blends (I was surprised by what a difference the different types of oak made in the flavors of the different wines). Then we got to play around with blending them in different ratios to figure out what the best combination was. The woman I was paired up with & I both had the same least favorite of the 4, so our first couple blends we just used the 3 that we liked. Once we had one that tasted good (to us, at least), we tried a wild card blend that used some of the wine we liked the least, and, surprisingly, this ended up being our favorite blend & our final submission.
Unfortunately, we our blend was not the winemaker’s favorite for the evening, but it was a fun experience for sure. I consoled myself with dinner at Chalkboard afterwards, which was absolutely delicious.