The Art of Blending
The Magic of Blending
While the vines are dormant and the 2018 wines are resting in the cellar, the new year brings the annual exercise of blending our wines. Most people think of blending in the context of blending varieties or different vineyards: Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot, or Bishop Creek with Nysa, for example. However, putting two or three different barrels together is also considered blending.
That's because each barrel ages in a unique way: the oxygen transfer is slightly different, the number of times the barrel is opened and sampled throughout the year is different, the amount of solids from fermentation is different, and the oak itself, even when the barrel has been used three, four or five times previously is different. Some barrels continue to impart small flavor impacts for years and others become really just a vessel for oxygen transfer after two to three years. And, of course, one-year-old barrels and new barrels impart very different qualities to the wines as well.
When we think about blending, whether it’s a four-barrel blend, like Nysa, or a much larger blend, like the Willamette Valley, each barrel brings something different to the wine and the way they come together is the magic.
Sampling each barrel, as pictured above, allows us to build a wine that together is stronger, more balanced and elegant than each of the parts on their own. Blending, no matter the size of the blend is complex and dynamic and an incredible opportunity to understand what each vintage holds. We look forward to sharing our 2017 wines with you, blended in the coming weeks, for years to come.
- Associate Winemaker Tracy Kendall