The Vines of Mendoza

The Vines Blending Session Experience


I’m not someone who likes to overthink my wine. Please don’t talk to me for hours about notes of blackberry and about how I should smell that Merlot more profoundly and how I should scrutinize the exact color of my Cab Franc for what seems like ages before I can even put it in my mouth. I don’t want a cold and calculated scientific experience, I want poetry. I want the laughter that accompanies a bottle of wine that is enjoyed with good company. I want to save the cork from really special moments to remind me of how I felt when I drank a certain wine – not to remind me that it was mildly astringent and should have ideally been consumed at 2 degrees warmer temperature. So with this in mind, I was a little hesitant to enter into a full-on wine blending class. I felt my time might have been better spent indulgently soaking in the Vines outdoor bathtub actually enjoying a glass of Malbec instead of creating one in a lab.

I was wrong.  By playing and learning how to personally blend not just a wine, but my wine, I learned to connect with it and appreciate it in a way that I hadn’t before.  I didn’t get stuck on tannins and body and all that – I just gave myself permission for time to feel. To be really present with the wines in a way I hadn’t allowed myself before, because I had always been a bit afraid of accidently turning into a complete wine snob who annoys everyone in the room with their non-stop, self-absorbed over-examination of a wine.

I am really grateful for the ambience that the Vines staff set from the get-go.  They put every person in the room at ease and made this not a cold science experiment, but a fun game. A game where there is no right or wrong, and everyone wins in the end, because…wine.

We paired off into teams of two, and I ended up with my Australian fiancé who was most likely simply wondering when he could just please get a cold beer and call it quits with this wine nonsense that he’d been humoring me on for our entire Mendoza trip.  He made it clear that while he would drink any wine or bread or cheese put in front of him, blending decisions were all mine. I proceeded to try each of the three varietals that we had to work with, and I refused to overthink it. I just sat with each wine, then confidently went with what I felt intuitively. I knew from the second I told the winemaker my formula that it would be on-point for my tastes.  Call me new-agey, and I’m almost cringing as these words are being put onto page, but I just resonated with the wine. I was not making science. I was writing my own poetry. And it felt liberating knowing that I did not need anyone’s approval on this project but my own.

On that note…I’m not going to lie. While I didn’t exactly need anyone’s approval, oh how I puffed up like a proud little peacock when I got it. When we did the blind tasting of each teams’ final wine, one did stand out.  Some of the comments upon tasting were “a winemaker’s wine”, and “almost too sophisticated for a commercial market”. And that’s when I really connected with my wine – because I was so proud of it. I felt like a little kid who drew a picture and they want their mommy to post it on the refrigerator.  I wanted to bottle it up and share this wine with everyone I knew, as an offering. An offering of love, of friendship, and as a way to enjoy a special moment and be able to get to know me a bit more.

In that moment I really understood the allure of having a private vineyard. This whole winemaking business was not cold and boring. It was actually the most enjoyable and profound experience I’d had with wine in a long time.


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