Monday, September 26, 2011

Wine Blending

The purpose of our trip to Paso Robles last weekend was to attend a wine blending party at Gelfand Winery.   We were introduced to Gelfand wines (and the owner, Len) about a year ago by my father who lives in the area and makes wine -- and has gotten to know many of the local winemakers.  Gelfand makes awesome wines, in limited amounts.  He hosts a wine blending party every September to thank those of us who enjoy and buy his wines.  Usually, the weather is very hot -- like 105-110F.  We were advised to wear a hat.  Fortunately, the weekend was relatively cool with comfortable weather in the mid-80s.

My father came by the B&B where we were staying to give us a ride to the party.  His friend, and wine making partner, Mac was also along.  They were expecting 300 people at the party so we got there early to snag a parking spot close to the house and not off in a vineyard acres and acres away.

Upon arrival, we cozied up to one of the round tables with my dad, Mac, and two more of their friends.  All engineers, all well versed in wine.  Talk about intimidating.  I mean, one of the guys is flying off to South Africa next week to pick up an award -- for developing GPS technology.  And, they all know wine well.  Brett and I know what we like but we don't have the vocabularly... you know, nose of blackberries and leather, barnyard.... that kind of stuff.

Mac, my dad, and Mr. GPS
In the middle of table were the following: a carafe of water, a jar with instructions on the two blends, two graduated cylindars, and wine glasses.  They passed out bottles of four varietals: cabernet, zinfandel, syrah, and petite sirah.

We were to blend and come up with our "best" recipe for two wines.  Those were recorded on sheets of paper and turned in at the end.  From those sheets, Len comes up with the blend he will use for the two wines and then they are released.  Last year, one of them won a gold medal.  It's serious fun.

The first wine we blended was called SFR; short for Sh*t Faced Red, in honor of the first party.  This wine had to be at least 50% petite sirah with the remainder being whatever we felt was best.  We all thought the zin and the cabernet were the smoothest and that the other two were a bit too acidic -- pucker power.  The men all sipped and opined and sipped and took notes.  Brett and I sipped and nodded in agreement.   Our group came up with a straight forward mix of 50% petite, 25% cab and 25% zin.  No syrah at all.

The second wine was called Menage as in Menage a Bunch (there were four, not three wines) and we had to use all of them.  This took some negotiation.  Brett and I stayed out of it.  We went and got food; it's important to eat food and not just stand around in the heat drinking wine.

I also made a trip to the port-a-potty which I normally wouldn't mention.  However, these were like real restrooms inside -- clean, no smell, carpet on the floor, a sink with running water, paper towels and a trash can.  Port-a-potties!!

After we finished blending, eating, drinking and peeing, we headed out to the vineyards to find the car and head home.  The setting was beautiful and we had fun being wine maker for a day.  I'm sure we'll go again next year. 


  1. What an experience!

    About Christina's world...Tina is a good friend who likes to take photographs. She has no blog and occasionally sends me pictures, which I post.

  2. now that's the only way i'd go to a wine tasting or blending anything - with experienced guides to show me how it's done! :)

  3. Oh, that looks like fun! We have wineries here in NJ, but they're not quite as good as CA wineries. They tend to be a little sweet for my taste.

    Coincidentally, I had a very nice cab/syrah from Paso Robles with dinner last night. The blend was called "Purple Cowboy Tenacious Red". Maybe funny names are a Paso Robles thing?


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