How Do You Blend?…

Blending (dictionary definition): To mix (different types of the same substance, such as tea, coffee, liquor, etc.) together so as to make a product of the desired quality.

So how do you blend? This is a mystery too which I received a little insight on Friday at a “Taster Series”. Though this isn’t technically part of my job, I still believe that it is important to educate myself in as many ways as I can in the wine industry so that way I know how to better market for said industry.

It was my first visit to Hells Canyon Winery and Zhoo Zhoo Wines in Caldwell, ID. This winery is owned by the same family with two separate wine labels and “winemakers”, the parents own the Hells Canyon label and their daughters own Zhoo Zhoo.

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During this event I was flooded with information, but the two things that stood out the most about this winery is the family atmosphere and the passion that goes into the wine. The family aspect was one of my favorite things because it reminded me of my own family. Stephen, the Father and owner of Hells Canyon, kept getting interrupted by his wife Leslie all the while their daughter, Hadley was trying to keep the event on track. It was phenomenal, to me, there is no better experience to have at a winery. The fancy is nice but the family is where the real heart and soul of the wine lays.

Then my second favorite thing about this winery was the passion. It was everywhere! How Stephen talked about wine and the history and genealogy of certain grape varietals. I also loved how transparent they all were about their knowledge of wine, and how even though they have been making wine for 35 years they are still learning things all the time! And that is the real truth about the wine industry, which is why I wanted to attend the Taster-Series event in the first place, we are ALWAYS learning something new.

About the actual event now, it was something I had never experienced before, even when working at wineries. When we first arrived they welcomed us with a glass of wine and said that we would be moving the party down to the barrel room shortly, when we moved down to the barrel room they had a few intimate tables set up with three wine glasses, a note pad at each place with a communal dump bucket (very common at tasting events), and a few snack items.

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It took but a few moments before the party got started! As soon as we were seated, Stephen started talking. It was explained to us that tonight we were going to be doing a blind tasting of three 2016 wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot and we were going to guess through tasting and smelling which of the three were which. We were going to be given assistance throughout the process by being told what the identifying smells and tastes each wine is known for and then we were to guess.

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I have to say that I still have a lot to learn, I got one of three right, my friend who attended with me got all three…I have more drinking to do 🙂

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These wines we were tasting though were not ready for bottling they still had a while longer left to age before they were ready for public consumption. After we had guessed the three wines, and tried our hand at blending the three varietals, Stephen had brought out a small portion of 2017 wine to share with us. When tasting the 2017 vintage wine I had the image of kids playing hopscotch in my head, it tasted “jumpy”. A little later we went back upstairs to the tasting room where we were able to try finished wines of different ages so we could taste the difference between how age in bottle can change the taste of the wine as well.

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Throughout the entire event there was a constant string of wine industry questions that strung off to major topics of discussion. If you ever have a chance to partake in an event like this at a winery near you, I highly recommend it! The experience will change your whole world!

Vintage Vine Marketing and Traveling Photographer Out!

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