Our Grenache, Mourvedre and Cinsault have been happily sitting in steel tanks for their second fermentation (with a few rackings to clarify out dead yeasts). This weekend, it was their time for the destination of all good wines: oak barrels. We had the further ambitious plan to develop a few Southern Rhone style blends from our separate varietals. Or at least get as close as we could to a Southern Rhone style blend, given that we haven’t yet planted that key Rhone varietal, Syrah. And we don’t have half the dozen or so other grapes that go into a true Rhone wine. But, baby steps.

The first step was to pull samples of all our varietals from the steel tanks.

Then set up a blending station.

Then set up a blending station.

Yup. There’s no fancy blending at Two Terrier Vineyards. We just think of a possible mix and adjust and take notes until we think we have a combination we like. We started with a couple of classic Southern Rhone blends like Chateauneuf du Pape. Well, we got as close to Chateauneuf as we could given that we don’t have the thirteen or so grapes they use. But hey, their blends are mostly dominated by Grenache and Mourvedre with half a dozen other varietals at 1% of this and that, so we thought we could get close enough for amateurs. So we developed a Grenache dominant blend and a Mourvedre dominant blend.

Once you have the formula for your blend, it all becomes a matter of, not shutes and ladders, but hoses and pumps.

You need really long hoses. And lots of them.

You need really long hoses. And lots of them.

See you have to pump the wine in the tanks...

See you have to pump the wine in the tanks…

into oak barrels in the wine cave. With a short stop in a carboy for measurement purposes.

into oak barrels in the wine cave. With a short stop in a carboy for measurement purposes.

This is a complicated and time-consuming process. So note to self: start early. Which we didn’t.

Instead we hot rodded down to Sonoma for lattes in the morning.

Instead we hot rodded down to Sonoma for lattes in the morning.

And took a hike around the property.

And took a hike around the property.

And activated Mole Patrol.

And activated Mole Patrol.

So by the time we were at the messy, wet clean-up stage, it was dark and cold.

So by the time we were at the messy, wet clean-up stage, it was dark and cold.

But we did get to see this wonderful sunset.

Which was still amazing even while viewed cold and wet.

Which was still amazing even while viewed cold and wet.

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