Strey Cellars

Author Archives: Katie

We’re Still Here

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Hi Strey fam! I miss you guys so much! It’s been a month and a half since we had to close the tasting room, and somehow it feels like a lifetime ago. In case you are living under a rock, I’ll give you the lowdown. Firstly, if you DO live under a rock, and you are wondering why we had to close the tasting room, STAY THERE, things are crazy right now. We are in the middle of a world wide pandemic. Never in our lifetimes have we seen anything quite like this. In order to stop the spread of this pneumonia-like, super contagious, and deadly virus, our CA governor made the decision to start closing down “nonessential” businesses starting with industries like wine tasting rooms, and bars. This quickly escalated to closing the doors to thousands of businesses. In many cases, some workers are able to work from home, but this has resulted in an unprecedented amount of mass layoffs.

While this has been a devastating and exhausting situation for many people, small business owners are taking a huge hit. In our county of Ventura “social distancing” has been strictly enforced, meaning people who do not live together are obligated to stay at least 6 feet apart. Places like Strey that rely on face to face customer interactions in order to sell our product are struggling to find a niche that supports social distancing, and can be lucrative.

It has been a whirlwind of restructuring. Our wines are now available on our website for purchase (text orders also accepted at 551.404.4044) and we have shifted to “contact-less” curbside pickup for wine. Katie has mastered this ninja skill. While wearing a mask and keeping her distance, she will place your order directly into your trunk. You don’t even need to leave your vehicle. There are two main struggles with this system, firstly, Katie misses hugs. And more importantly, Tawny doesn’t understand social distancing, and is feeling increasingly neglected by her wine family. When this is all over, Tawny needs “more belly rubs” (extra point is you get that reference).

In addition to contact-less curbside pickup, we just launched Take Home Wine Tastings! And you guys, I am so excited! With pick up month commencing, we were at a loss on how to showcase our new wines. Oh, did I mention that the first week of April we had a massive bottling? I know a lot of you were looking forward to helping, but due to certain restrictions, we could not open this experience to the public. Strey bottled 1,604 cases with only 8 hands on deck, well I guess 16 actual hands, but a job that normally requires closer to 16 people, was completed in two days, by only 8. Normally, we would have released a few new wines during pick up week, and you all would be able to come in to taste, and pick up. Instead, we created in-home tasting kits!

We are pretty obsessed with them! We now have a white wine flight and very soon, a red wine flight! This is the first time we have had white wines available, which I know makes a lot of our moms and grandmas very happy. I was looking forward to being able to say yes when customers inquired about a white flight! Alas, they are here now, and you can take it home!

Our flights include 5, 50ml bottles (which is a little bit more than a typical 1oz pour), tasting notes, and you can add on a remote wine maker tasting video with Scott to expand the experience! I am equally excited for each flight (sign me up, Katie!), while I generally prefer red wines, I have a really close relationship with our white wines. Not only was I intimately involved in harvest, but I was able to help Scott rack the white wines when they were just weeks old, and have been tasting them periodically throughout their life cycle. I was given the privilege of writing most of our labels this year, so I spent a lot of extra time with these wines. In fact, I was writing labels while Scott was creating our unique and delicious white blend, Inclined! I can see Inclined quickly becoming a favorite for day drinkers! (We are all day drinkers, now right? Welcome to the club!) I was about to write that I cannot wait to “see” you all tasting these new wines, and then I realized that I don’t get my usual front row seat to your reactions to our wines! Well, in that case, please tag @streycellars (and me!) on social media when you taste from home to let us know what your favorites are! I love sharing the wine tasting experience with our members, so don’t let me miss out completely! I am counting on you.

Our red flight is rumored to include our 2017 Petite Syrah, which is phenomenal! It is one of my absolute favorite wines, next to our 2015 Cabernet Franc, which is also included in the red flight. I believe that Triple Z, our new blend of 3 Zinfandels will be included as well! For those of you who love that big fruity flavor with a hint of sweetness, I know you’ll be drooling over this one! It’s juicy and aromatic, I cannot wait to hear* your responses!

My girlfriends and I are planning a Zoom tasting of these new wines, partially so I can have the satisfaction of seeing their faces when they taste, but also because I really miss their faces. It’s such a trip that this is our new normal, but I am also extremely impressed that we have been able to roll with these new restrictions, and face this challenge head-on. Not one day has gone by that we have not been brainstorming, creating, and planning our next moves. Strey has always prided itself in being innovative and creative. We are confident in rolling with our contemporary energy, and riding this wave, wherever it takes us.

Remember that May is pickup month, so be sure to order your take home tastings, so that you can place your orders for pickup! You can order online, or email or text Katie with your preferences. We are so sad to miss having a pick up party this month. We had such a fun theme planned, “Spring Swing”! Katie, Natalie, and I were looking forward to playing dress up with all of you, and showing off our skills on the dance floor! I’m going to try not to mourn that loss, but instead look forward to the future. At least there is still wine.

*I wrote hear but wanted to write see. So the asterisk is to highlight my bitterness at missing out on “seeing” you taste our new wines.

Author’s note: My name is Justine and I have been working in the tasting room at Strey Cellars for over four years. We are a small family owned local boutique winery. If this is your first visit to my blog, you’ll notice that I write as if we are old friends, because this is the energy of our winery. Come visit sometime, and see for yourself. If you enjoyed this blog, please share it with a friend. Cheers!

To The Rescue

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You know that moment when you are at a friend’s house, and you brought a bottle of wine to drink, but when you go to open it you realize that your friend isn’t a wine drinker, so they don’t have a corkscrew? This happened to me enough times in my early twenties that I just started keeping a corkscrew in my bag at all times. This didn’t always work out for me, because TSA isn’t a fan of sharp objects in your carry-on. And courthouse security wasn’t impressed, either… Oh, Disneyland security also didn’t appreciate it. I never really considered my corkscrew to be a weapon because I have only ever used it to pop bottles, but upon reflection, I suppose the corkscrew has dual purposes. *Places it back in my purse, you really can never be too careful* But let’s get back to that house party, what do you do? Obviously you want to drink the wine, so how do you open the bottle?

In my experience it was always easy enough to push the cork into the bottle. Doing this means you are committed to finishing it, which is pretty much the only way I drink wine anyway. I have had success using the handle of a wooden spoon. If you’re camping or someplace outdoors without a corkscrew, you can use a stick that’s a similar width. I know it’s not ideal, but beggars can’t be choosers. Next time, bring a corkscrew! 

If you really want to be impressive, or you’d like to save the cork, you can use your basic household screw, or screw hook. This works much better if the lining of the screw is wider, because it creates a better grip. Simply twist your screw into the center of your cork, and use the back of a hammer, or even a fork to gently pull the cork up. You might need to wiggle it a little and use your fingers to help pry it up, but this should work with just a little more effort than you’d use with an actual corkscrew. If the screw isn’t holding the cork well enough, screw it in at an angle.

There is always the blowtorch method…I would assume that if you have a blowtorch, you probably have a corkscrew, but then I’d be wrong, because my dad is a chef, and he’s sober. He definitely has a blowtorch, but has no use for a corkscrew. I still say that the blowtorch method is purely for fun, though… And it is super fun! All you need is a blowtorch! First, remove the foil so you can see the space between the wine and the cork, then turn on the blowtorch and direct the fire to the neck of your bottle, just underneath the cork. The idea is to heat the air between the wine and the cork, causing the air to expand, pushing the cork up and out of the bottle. You will need to turn the bottle while you’re heating the neck. It really should not take more than a minute for the cork to begin moving. Do not point the bottle at anyone because once it’s ready, the cork shoots out very suddenly.

If you are very patient, and don’t mind seriously disturbing your wine, there is the shoe trick! Place the bottom of your unopened bottle in a shoe, hit the heel of the shoe against a wall repeatedly until the cork is pushed out far enough for you to use pliers to pull it the rest of the way out. I know, it sounds so weird and random! But it does actually work. I am very curious to know who figured this out. Whatever the case is, if you do not have a corkscrew, but you do have a shoe, or a screw, all is not lost! 

As you know, my favorite daytime wine is sparkling, usually, it’s easy-peasy to pop a bottle of champagne, but I want to give you a few pointers on opening bubbly. First, CAUTION! Once you remove the cage, the cork can, and might go flying. People have lost eyesight, and even died from flying corks, sooo my very first point is this: keeping your face away from the cork! Remove the cage, and keep a hand over the cork, so it can’t fly. Then place a napkin over the top of the bottle. Wrap your free hand around the neck of the bottle, over the napkin while you remove the hand covering the cork. This serves a dual purpose, if the cork flies, you have it trapped, and now you can firmly grip the cork over the napkin, gently twist the cork away from you, it should pop right up at this point.

If you have a very stubborn cork, you may need better grip. My go-to is the rubber lining that I put on the bottom of my cabinets and drawers. I keep an extra strip in my utensil drawer to help me open jars and bubbles. I have also had success with oven mitts. I cannot stress enough to point the bottle AWAY from your face, but also away from any valuables, especially people.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “OK Justine, I know how to open bubbly, teach me how to saber champers!” Well, here’s the thing, I have not actually ever used a sword, or knife to open bubbly, and I don’t have a huge interest in it. I know, I am so lame. However, legend has it that Napoleon and his troops drank a lot of champagne, and they used their swords to open their bottles! There is a lot of lore surrounding Champagne, and I can’t say that Napoleon “invented” this method, but it sure does sound like a fun story! Since I am not an expert at Sabering Champagne, I thought I would share this fantastic video of Alton Brown, (one of our tasting room girls, Darcey refers to him as “Our lord and savior, Alton brown”, and now that’s all I can think whenever I use his cookbooks!) demonstrating “proper” sabering technique. Enjoy.

Disclaimer: Don’t try any of the unconventional techniques at home. They are very dangerous, and there is literally a tool to help you to open your wine bottle… it’s called a corkscrew, and they cost like $6. If you choose not to heed my warning, I am not responsible for missing limbs.

EDIT: Upon learning that I had never tried the saber method, Katie insisted on having me open bubbly at our staff meeting! Check out our Instagram story highlights for a peak at my sabering skills! @streycellars

Author’s note: My name is Justine and I have been working in the tasting room at Strey Cellars for over four years. We are a small family owned local boutique winery. If this is your first visit to my blog, you’ll notice that I write as if we are old friends, because this is the energy of our winery. Come visit sometime, and see for yourself. If you enjoyed this blog, please share it with a friend. Cheers!

Move Over White Claw!

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I have found wine fascinating from the beginning of my wine journey. I could not have told you then that ten years later I would be embarking on my second year writing a wine blog. I could not have told you then that ten years later, I would be a few months shy of celebrating my fifth year of working at a tasting room in Ventura County. Not only that, but that I would consider a winery my home away from home. I could not have told you then, that one day I would like red wine, in fact, I would prefer red over white. And I definitely could not have told you then, that I would love sparkling wines. I never really liked bubbly drinks, even as a kid. I didn’t like sparkling apple cider, or soda. In fact, I remember being 18 years old, I was friends with these guys in a band, and they snuck me and my friend into The Roxy, LA CA. Long story short, someone bought us beers. Well, my friend and I tried to drink them, but we hated the taste, so we poured them out in the bathroom. That’s how much I did not like carbonation! After all that, I dumped out my illegal beer!

Things have changed quite a bit since then (I like beer now, for one). If you follow me on social media, you know that my favorite drink is champagne. In the morning, I pour myself a flute of bubbly alongside my coffee, open my laptop, and get to work. I have grown to love sparkling wines so much, that I have this dream of one day making my own. (It helps that I know a winemaker who can help.) But full disclosure, I have no immediate plans to do so, because unlike Scott, I am not ready for my life to revolve around grapes. Not to mention, making sparkling wine is quite the process! Besides doing everything you normally do for wine making, plus temperature control, then you work on the carbonation process, which is equally delicate, time consuming, and requires a lot of equipment. I don’t know if it’s obvious, but a lot of wineries that offer bubbly, don’t actually make their own. Even if their label is on the bottle. Sorry to “pop YOUR bubble” but more often then not, that sparking wine you’re drinking was purchased as a “shiner” (label-less bulk bottled beverage) and then sticker-ed with the pruchaser’s logo. You may have even drank the same bubbles at two different wineries and didn’t even know it.

At Strey, it means alot to us to actually make the things we sell. While making champagne style wine is not in the cards for Strey right now, Scott has been playing around with a fun concept that you may have never heard of before. This last harvest a winery in Paso was selling Cabernet Sauvignon grapes for a ridiculously low price because they were on the vine too long. The deal was too great to pass up, especially since he had been considering trying his hand at Piquette. Piquette is a style of wine traditionally made from the leftover grape skins. Historically, Piquette was the wine used for slaves, and field workers. It has a low alcohol content, and it’s effervescent. Piquette has been made all over the world for centuries because it served a few purposes: There was less waste, your workers weren’t drinking your best wines, and with it’s low alcohol, the workers weren’t drunk or sluggish after taking breaks. While it may seem to be “the poor man’s champagne” it actually is still made to this day, and is extremely popular in France and Europe.

Scott knew that this was just an experiment, and has no intention of selling his Piquette, but mind you, we will have no problem drinking it! The grapes we bought were older, they were a super dense Cabernet Sauvignon, so we did whole cluster fermentation and re-hydrated them. After pressing, we used the grape skins, that would normally be thrown out, added water, and fermented them again for two days, then pressed again. Right now our Piquette is in a steel barrel, and we plan to bottle within the next month or two. We will bottle it champagne-style, using thick glass bottles. When we bottle, we will  add a sugar solution, called liqueur de triage to each bottle, seal them, and allow them to go through a secondary fermentation that will cause that refreshing fizz. I am soooo excited to taste the finished product. I have never had a Piquette before, but I am told that it is reminiscent of a sour beer. 

So, it’s not Champagne, but it’s a really fun experiment, and just might become a new favorite. The hippy in me absolutely loves the concept of Piquette because it’s basically up-cycling! Rather than throwing out the grape skins, and wasting them, we are able to create an entirely new product! IF you know me, you know that reducing waste and honoring Mama Nature lights me up. I have been a vegetarian for over a decade because I have a problem with factory farming, so, seeing these realistic, and potentially lucrative ways to use byproducts is makes this entire situation a no-brainer to me. And, even more compelling, this is an extremely old practice. This takes us back to the days when we nurtured what we created, when we respected all parts of the process, and used every last bit of goodness. This is something that is missing in this day and age, and a big reason Strey chooses sustainable vineyards to source our grapes. Also, did you know our wine is vegan? A fun fact that we don’t talk about often, but I believe is an important part of being the change. There actually is a bit of a “pretentious” energy that people assume when we use words like “vegan”, or “sustainable”, while Strey Cellars is FAR from pretentious, I’ll be honest, I don’t think Scott intended to make vegan wine. That’s okay, because the fact is, we make vegan wine, which does make a difference in the grand scheme of things AND it helps me and my conscience.

On a personal note, I wanted to thank each and every one of you who reads this blog. You have no idea how much I love to write, and you have no idea what it means to me when you tell me that you loved my blog. I hope I am able to open a window into Strey that makes you feel connected. If anything, the Strey Cellars family wants you to know that you are a huge part of our winery, and we do what we do because we want to bring you joy. Making you happy, makes us happy.

Author’s note: My name is Justine and I have been working in the tasting room at Strey Cellars for over four years. We are a small family owned local boutique winery. If this is your first visit to my blog, you’ll notice that I write as if we are old friends, because this is the energy of our winery. Come visit sometime, and see for yourself. If you enjoyed this blog, please share it with a friend. Cheers!

To Judge OR Not To Judge

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They say, “don’t choose a book by it’s cover” but how many of us are guilty of choosing a wine by it’s label? Not gonna lie, I am a sucker for a cool label. Particularly the more artsy ones, is there a scantily clad goddess with wind tousled hair and a crescent moon? I’m sold. Humor? I’m in! If the label has managed a fantastic pun, or clever tagline, I want it. I also tend to be disappointed. While eye-catching labels are super fun, they can definitely lead to an anticlimactic wine drinking experience. I am not saying all wine with a fun label isn’t good, it’s just not the best way to shop for wine.

I thought I would give you a few tips on choosing the perfect wine, by navigating the label, and not being bamboozled by advertising. The label IS very important, but legally, you don’t need any of the bells and whistles. The absolute basic information that is required to appear on a wine label is all you need, IF you are familiar with specific regions. Otherwise, it’s safer to choose a wine that has a more comprehensive label. Like one that includes tasting notes, although that’s not actually a requirement. However, a wine label is federally required to disclose a few facts:

  1. The producer (the brand)
  2. The region the grapes were grown in
  3. The vintage (the year the grapes were harvested)
  4. The varietal (the type of grape)
  5. The ABV (alcohol percentage)
  6. Contains sulfates
  7. Net contents (how much liquid)
  8. Name and location of bottler
  9. And the good ol’ government warning

Why are these specific things important? Well, mainly because of liability. It is important for everyone nationwide, not just our local Ventura County consumers to be fully aware of what they’re purchasing. Knowing things like the ABV for example, can make an impact on how much you choose to drink. If you have a sensitivity to sulfites, (although, you probably won’t be reading this if you do, because you probably don’t drink wine) there is a line specifically meant for you! Sulfites, not to be confused with sulfates, are a preservative that isn’t harmful, however, 1% of the population is sulfite sensitive. It’s not an allergy, though, so no, it’s not the sulfites that give you a headache. If you get headaches when you drink wine, it’s more than likely the histamines that cause the headache… or, you didn’t drink enough water and you’re dehydrated… I’ll let you be the judge.

I never paid attention to labels on anything until I was in a relationship with a guy who had PKU (Phenylketonuria, which is a genetic disorder that effects a person’s ability to process phenyylalanine, an amino acid that appears in a lot of foods) and he had to read labels religiously to be sure he wasn’t ingesting anything that his body was unable to process. One of the wild things that I learned to pay attention to was gum labels. If you have a package of gum, you’ll notice a rectangle that says “Phenylketonurics: contains phenylalanine.” Learning this habit changed the way I shopped, and I began noticing things like warnings on labels. Just because there is a warning, or simple a fact stated, does not mean it’s dangerous. Labels are here to inform the consumer. So, be not afraid of labels, for they are our friends! This being said, submitting labels to the TTB, can be super tricky.

Recently, Strey has had a label revoked several times because the wine, Torrontes, is not “recognized” by the TTB. Yes, these grapes are real, yes Torrontes exists, however, there are thousands of grapes in existence, and evidently, not all of them are recognized. This is quite conundrum for us because legally, there is information, such as the varietal that must be stated, but it would be like me writing “Unicorn” on the label… the TTB says there is no such thing. I will update you on how we manage to figure this one out. I am done pulling my hair out over the ridiculousness.

Another time wine labeling has been a pain for Strey was in our early days. Our 2010, 2011 and 2012 wines were made (meaning fermented; juice to alcohol) at another winery, because Scott started making wine long before opening Strey Cellars. Federally you need to disclose where wine was produced and bottled. This is important for consumers to know. It seems unrelated, but what if there was an issue with one of the wines? What if there was a problem with the facility these wines were stored and produced in? While this has not been an issue, it’s imperative to know what the products you have been consuming are exposed to. Well, opening your own business comes with learning curves and that detail was missed, unbeknownst to us we had the option and should have put “Cellared And Bottled By” hence the short lived label exemption stickers we had to use limiting our sales of those vintages to CA. We wised up in 2013…by 2014 we had our first harvest at 951 N Rice Ave and opened the winery. As frustrating as it all was, it’s somewhat comforting to know that these regulations are in place for our safety.

With wine, there are specific percentages that must be present in order to claim where the grapes came from. If you see a label that says, “California” but doesn’t specify where in California the grapes are from, it’s because percentages of the wine came from multiple AVAs. (In the last blog I talked about blending, and “legal requirements” for the name on the label.) Now, seeing “California” on the label, may or may not be helpful depending on your tastes, which is why most wineries strive to be more specific. If you love Lodi Zins, then you’ll be looking for a label that says Lodi, or Temecula, or Napa. Knowing the region helps you to make an educated guess on whether a specific wine is going to be appealing to your palate. I know this is not the most popular opinion, but personally, I LOVE a Sauvingnon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand. In my early wine drinking days I would buy the same varietal from three different regions, just to taste the differences, and learn my preferences. If you are a wine, lover, I recommend doing this yourself. You will open your taste-buds to a beautiful and fascinating world.

You may also have a preference towards a certain winemaker’s style. We hear this a lot at Strey, our members LOVE Scott’s style. His wines are California big, fruit forward and oh so juicy. This is where knowing the winery, or winemaker’s name is important. Usually, but not always, the winery has a style that is somewhat consistent. The winemaker makes wine that he or she likes. If you have been wine tasting, you can usually sense a bit of a uniformity in the flight. Each wine will taste different, of course, but there is something familiar. 

Vintages are important because you can use them as a reference when you’re shopping for wine. I have liked just about every 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon I have ever tried. 2012 was a great year for California wines. If you are holding onto any 2012 California wines, I’d say that now is a good time to pop those bottles! I have noticed my affinity to 2015 wines as well. while they are younger, they have a beautiful fruit pop on the nose that makes me want to dive face first into my glass. (2015 Cab Sauv, 2015 Tempranillo, I’m looking at you!)

Looking at wine labels should not be overwhelming, the important information is there. You probably have a phone in your hand, meaning you can google the winemaker, and your questions can be answered easily. Even faster, get the app Vivino. You take a picture of the label, and then reviews of the wine will appear, like magic! If you happen to be drinking a wine that isn’t on the app, or doesn’t have reviews, you can review the wine yourself, and make it easier for others to choose a wine. Remember that the wine world is like a community. We help each other out. When you share your experience, you can help other people find their favorite wine. I don’t love naked Chardonnays, but when I come across one, I take note because I know people who do. I think this is one of my most cherished parts of working in a winery is that we don’t have to prefer have the same wine. We can all find something we love. And based on your preferences, I can direct you to your next favorite bottle of wine. But if you don’t have me to hold your hand, at least know the regions you love, the years you prefer, and the style you like.  

Author’s note: My name is Justine and I have been working in the tasting room at Strey Cellars for over four years. We are a small family owned local boutique winery. If this is your first visit to my blog, you’ll notice that I write as if we are old friends, because this is the energy of our winery. Come visit sometime, and see for yourself. If you enjoyed this blog, please share it with a friend. Cheers!

Blending

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In the past, I have talked a lot about single grape varietals. Strey Cellars initially focused on these solo red varietals, since they tend to be our favorites, however, here we are approaching our sixth anniversary and things have changed. While initially, it was really important for Strey to make a name for itself in Ventura County, CA with wines that were 100% single origin; whether it be Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, or Syrah. We have been proud of our big California style wines and have enjoyed sharing them in the tasting room. In 2013 our winemaker, Scott tried his hand at a blend, you may have heard of it? Slanted… at the time we weren’t sure how our customers would react to a blend because some people have a very “snooty” attitude towards wine blends. You see, there is this idea that it’s “easy” to make a good blend and it takes more skill to create a great single varietal. I can see why this idea is popular, however, it is important to note that wine is good, if you like it. There certainly are different expectations and bars to reach, as well as specific tasting notes that correlate to certain varietals, but ultimately, you should like what you’re drinking. Strey wines have been awarded many times with gold, silver and bronze medals in various wine competitions, we still urge you to taste and make your own decisions.

Often when you are drinking a wine that has a label with only one varietal listed, that isn’t entirely true. Legally a winemaker can add up to 25% of another varietal to enhance the color, nose or mouthfeel. Over the years I have come to appreciate the way Scott knows which flavor profiles compliment each other whether it’s choosing the tasting lineup, food pairing, or blending. Scott trusts his palate, and so do we. When we released our 2013 Slanted, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, Syrah, and Zinfandel, we blew our own minds. I think that’s when I started to become a believer in blending magic. In fact, thanks to such a widely loved wine, Scott began to experiment with other blends. Remember Cynder? That stacked, packed Barbera Blend? We also released a GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) with a little twist, the Mourvedre was a Rosé. It was such a lovely light GSM, and I personally held a place in my heart for it because during my first harvest at Strey, I helped out with the Grenache. That’s when I learned not to wear cute clothes to work during Harvest. Since our GSM, we created Slanted 2.0, and had our first “blending party”.

What is a blending party, you might be asking yourself? It’s when the winemaker invites wine club members, employees and friends with wine knowledge to taste different varietals that have not been bottled yet. We also blend some of these wines together to make blends that we think are worth bottling. With Harvest over, Scott’s next project is prepping for a massive two day bottling scheduled for the first weekend in April. That means everything gets racked and adjusted, we create Slanted 3.0 and also a handful of limited edition blends that we don’t even plan on bottling. A few months ago we installed a tap system in the tasting room. So during OUR blending party we were tasked with creating blends that we can pour by the glass as small production tasting room exclusives! Eventually we will introduce a growler program so you can take these blend gems home. Scott gave us each a few pages to write out our tasting notes, and a few bottles of wine he had just pulled from barrels… I think there were 8 or 10 wines. Scott walked us through the rules of blending so we weren’t just pouring random wines into glasses. We were tasting, meticulously blending, and recording our experiments. Scott had an idea of the types of blends he wanted, gave us a few guidelines, and let us get to work. He wanted a Zin Blend, a Zin/PetiteSirah Blend, a Bordeaux Blend, a Cab/Syrah Blend and our best creative concoction.

After many trails (and so much math you guys!), we bottled the top contestants and let them settle for a couple weeks. Over the next month or so, Scott, Katie and I took some time to open the blends, and taste them blindly (which means we numbered the blends, but none of us knew who had created which blend) to decide which blends were going to make the cut.

Since last harvest we focused solely on white wines, we decided to create a white blend that we will be calling Inclined (the perfect compliment to Slanted). This was such a fun day for me because months before I had helped Scott rack the whites, and tasted them when they were just weeks old. This time, while we tasted, I was able to take notes in order to write the labels for all the bottles, and weigh in on blend options. I can’t wait to share these wines with all of you! It is so satisfying to be a part of each of the stages of wine making, and winery life. While my true love is writing, I am giddy about the opportunity to introduce you to these creations in the tasting room.

Author’s note: My name is Justine and I have been working in the tasting room at Strey Cellars for over four years. We are a small family owned local boutique winery. If this is your first visit to my blog, you’ll notice that I write as if we are old friends, because this is the energy of our winery. Come visit sometime, and see for yourself. If you enjoyed this blog, please share it with a friend.