Everyone's A Critic -- Or, Dialogue Welcome; Dumping, Not So Much

One instructive -- and exciting -- part of making wine is experiencing it through all stages of its life. The physical and emotional work and care that goes into each bottle of handcrafted wine is something we appreciate so much, especially now that we've done it ourselves.

A few visitors now have made their way to the garage winery and tasted our very young wine from barrel. As novice winemakers, we've learned -- as with pretty much everything else that's launched by passion -- wine inspires a broad variety of opinions on how to do it right.

Our Favorite Feedback

Seasoned winemaker Matthew Rorick, our first garage-winery visitor/taster, holds a wine worldview we share. He's doing some fantastic things up in Napa. Matthew makes his wines naturally, not because he wants to be trendy -- he doesn't -- but because over his years of experience, he's found the results speak for themselves.

Matthew tasted from our barrels a few weeks ago, and to our delight, he really liked the wines. He was kind enough to mention the visit and eloquently describe his thoughts on our wines in his own blog. We're honored and humbled, and can't wait to have him back again.

Our Less-Favorite Feedback

Over Thanksgiving week, we entertained visitors from the north -- fun winery friends/harvest interns who spent the holiday at our place. In all fairness, we should have done the barrel-tasting before the all-day, multi-course Thanksgiving meal and copious bottles of wine that accompanied. (We were too busy cooking! And drinking wine!) At the point we ventured into the garage to sample, palates were dull, to put it politely. 

Karl, expert winery worker from New Zealand, tasted our precious Grenache and immediately announced we needed to add some acid. (I would like to bring Karl back on a fresh palate and give him a do-over. Just sayin'.)

Our No-More-Wine-For-You Feedback

We also hosted a chef whom we know. He smelled the Grenache for a long time. He said it reminded him of a childhood memory he couldn't quite place; something candied. Cotton candy, maybe? He took a small sip.

Then he wanted to dump the rest in the sink.

This is when I became slightly irrational.

Yes, I've spit and dumped wine samples many a time. It's smart to do when you're going to be tasting a number of wines in one sitting. But this wasn't a trade tasting, dude. This is our one barrel of free-run Grenache! Hand it over, I'll drink it; it's not going down the sink.

I realize this may sound crazy. In my defense, though: We drove through the day, woke in the night and drove through the day again just to get these grapes home. Then, processing; pickled, purple fingers, aching backs, sticky everything. We woke daily at 4:15 a.m., for weeks, to punch down the fermenting must, to check and make sure it was developing properly. We spent a long sleepless night getting the precious juice in barrel, and numerous nights since, topping, protecting; communing. 

You want to pour this in the sink?!?

But, I'm interested in the reaction of winemaker readers: What do you think? How do you feel about pulling barrel samples? The sweat and work, the sacrifice, the hours of toil; summarily pitched into buckets, down the drain, by people who may never, ever appreciate your labors. Help me! Share your stories! (And, thanks.)

Next Week: Food & Wine Pairing Returns

The double-double-blind tasting will return next week. (I like to write those stories when we don't have much winemaking news to share.)

As ever, thanks for reading. Your insights and comments are always welcome. Cheers!