At one point or another, every wine lover has had the crazy desire to make their own wine. Of course, very few actually take the plunge as the romantic dream of making wine is one of the most difficult jobs in the world, not to mention highly, highly expensive. But, what if you could craft a bottle of wine to your palate, adjusting the blend to create a wine to your exact specifications. Sounds intriguing, right.
Several years ago Napa Valley’s Raymond Vineyards agreed with this idea, wanting to give guests visiting the winery the opportunity to create their own bottle of wine, complete with custom name and label. Their Rutherford AVA tasting room created a blending room for visitors, offering guests the opportunity to create their own Bordeaux-style Napa Valley wine. Thanks to the popularity, the experience was quickly developed in several of the other Boisset Collection wineries, including the historic Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma.
With our stay-in-place Covid-19 quarantine, the Napa Valley tasting room has been quiet, as has much of the region with travel restrictions keeping members and guests away. So, Raymond Vineyards has created a “Winemaker for a Day” at-home kit to allow you to have this unique blending experience in the comfort of your home. The kit includes four 750ml bottles of Napa Valley wine, including an unoaked and oaked Cabernet Sauvignon, a Merlot, and a Cabernet Franc, along with beakers and pipettes, tasting mats to note your blend and a handy how-to instructional pamphlet transporting you to wine country.
The timing on this is ideal. We have all completed every puzzle in the house, baked bread, made pasta, and played a thousand hands of gin, Uno, and Monopoly. And, we are enjoying more wine today than ever (face it, we know we are.) Here is a fun activity (to do with your adult children) allowing your creativity to flow. You have the chance to produce something that is completely your own, a signature of who you are, and your palate. As with any wine, the only, the only thing that matters is that you drink something you like.
The kit includes plenty of wine to allow everyone in your household the chance to make several different blends. If you like your blend enough to have it bottled, the winery will create your Cuvee to your specifications, with name and custom-designed label, for $50 bottle/minimum 6 bottles. Bonus, Raymond owner, and overall Bon vivant, Jean-Charles Boisset, will personally lead blending sessions with guests who have purchased the kit via a serries of live Zoom calls, the first occurring on May 31. The kits are available via the website, here, for $200 ($160 for members.)
Gary and I did the blending together on a Zoom call with Jean-Charles earlier this week. Our blends were completely opposite to each other. Mine much more Right Bank Bordeaux style, leading with Cab Franc and Merlot; Gary’s was a much bolder Cabernet, with a good amount of the oaked Cabernet Sauvignon, but also a healthy dose of spicy Merlot. We blended in the morning, created our final selection, and poured it into a glass to enjoy later in the evening. Over the course of the day, Gary’s blend softened a bit, making it a little more approachable for my palate. Mine remained delicious, perfect for pairing with a spicy bowl of Tom Yum soup.