Wines & Vines Home
Welcome Guest

Winemakers Blind Taste Each Other's Trials

Unusual event in Napa Valley shows dramatic results regarding techniques

by Jim Gordon
the winemakers tasting
Napa Valley winemakers get instructions from Elizabeth Van Emst, West Coast operations manager for Cooperages 1912, before blind tasting one of 21 trials during The Winemakers Tasting at The Culinary Institute of America, Greystone.
St. Helena, Calif.—Rarely do winemakers get the opportunity to blind taste other winemakers’ experiments with wine quality, particularly examining the effects of various winemaking techniques in a controlled, peer-reviewed environment.

A recent event called The Winemakers Tasting helped fill that vacuum for members of the Napa Valley Vintners. About 60 winemakers came to The Culinary Institute of America, Greystone, to blind-taste 21 trials involving harvest methods, yeast selection, fermentor type, extended maceration, oak types, closures and more.

The results were dramatic in some cases. The winemakers’ votes favored machine-picked Cabernet Sauvignon over hand-picked by a 3:2 ratio in one trial. And they preferred hand sorting almost 4:1 over optical sorting for the same Cabernet grapes when they were all hand picked.

In a trial of barrel-fermented Cabernet with six different extended maceration times from 15 to 135 days, the sample with the shortest time got the most votes as No. 1, and the sample with the longest maceration got the lowest marks. Full results of all the trials were sent to participants.

Kristin Belair of Honig Vineyard & Winery is one of six winemakers on the advisory board for The Winemakers Tasting. “We know these wineries are keen on camaraderie,” she said. “We decided that if sharing the wines from various trials we’ve done could help us make better wine, we would do it.” The other board members are Sara Fowler, Peju Winery; Kimberlee Nicholls, Markham Vineyards; Ted Henry, Jarvis; Joe Shirley, Trinchero Family Estates; and Jeffrey Stambor, Beaulieu Vineyard.

Cooperages 1912 sponsored the venue, food and other logistics. “We know that winemakers love to experiment,” said Jason Stout, sales director. “But few wineries have the resources to do all these trials themselves. By pulling them all together in one place The Winemakers Tasting provides a new way winemakers can learn from each other in addition to learning from us suppliers.”

The all-day tasting May 10 was by invitation-only for area winemakers to ensure the wine trials were relevant and the peer review was valuable. Stout said the tasting went well enough to consider expanding to other California regions in the future.

Posted on 07.09.2013 - 07:10:52 PST
If you are planning/willing to do some trials this harvest that could be used for The Winemakers Tasting next year we would love to hear from you. Please contact Jason Stout at
Teri Smith

Posted on 07.09.2013 - 11:53:31 PST
I'd love to see this with happen with Pinot producers in Sonoma Co.
Evan Pontoriero

Posted on 07.09.2013 - 10:20:15 PST
More detailed reporting is needed in order to understand the machine picked outcome in 'one trial' and the hand sorting vs optical sorting in another.

It would be particularly interesting to know what kind of sorting went on after the machine harvesting operation and the hand picked reference operation where machine harvesting was shown to be quite acceptable.
Jim Bullis

Wines & Vines Home
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
Wine Industry Metrics
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
June 2015 $602 million
$8,101 million
June 2014 $571 million $7,676 million
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
June 2015 $92 million
$1,901 million
June 2014 $87 million $1,669 million
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
June 2015 366
June 2014 300 220
MORE » Released on 07.15.2015


Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
Download full report »

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
Search the PWV archive »

  • July 20-31
    UC Davis, OIV marketing program
  • July 31 - August 2
    West of West
  • August 1
    Urban Wine Xperience
  • August 7
    International Cold Climate Wine Competition
  • MORE »

Article: The Spiciest Wines You Have Ever Tasted »
There are some wines from New Mexico are infused with pepper flavors. Also, The Wine...
Reader: Guest
Article: Does Red Blotch Affect Wine? »
I have a grapevine in my polytunnel in east London which is showing signs of...
Reader: Guest
Article: Central Coast Wine Harvest Begins »
Here at Flying Goat Cellars in Lompoc we harvested last week the Bien Nacido Pinot...
Reader: Guest
Article: The Spiciest Wines You Have Ever Tasted »
I'm curious as to how 'guest' defines wine and their rational for claiming this is...
Reader: Rob McDonald
Article: The Spiciest Wines You Have Ever Tasted »
This is not wine. This is aromatized drink. Like vermouth.
Reader: Guest

2015 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
Wines & Vines Magazine
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
Latest Job Listings
 Part Time Tasting Room
 Yountville, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Area Sales Manager-Ora...
 Orange County, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Tasting Room Associate
 Sherwood, OR
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Accounts Payable Speci...
 Napa, CA
 Office Manager / Compl...
 Healdsburg, CA
General Administration and
 Sales Representative
 Phoenix/Scottsdale & Northern Arizona, AZ
Sales and Marketing
 Sales Representative
 Vail Valley, CO
Sales and Marketing
 Wine And Olive Oil Edu...
 Geyserville, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Part Time Tasting Room...
 Newberg, OR
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Production & Capacity ...
 Santa Rosa, CA
Cellar, Lab and Production
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:

Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
Copyright © 2001-2015 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.