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In a world where sustainability is becoming increasingly vital, the wine industry is no exception. As stewards of the land, winemakers are acutely aware of the environmental impact of their craft. Wiens Cellars, our small, family-owned winery in Temecula, California, stands as a shining example of the commitment to sustainable winemaking practices. Our owner, David Steinhafel explains it best when he says, “Our dream as winery owners is to not only craft exceptional wines but to do so with a deep commitment to environmental stewardship. We believe in leaving a legacy of sustainability for future generations.”

In this comprehensive exploration, we delve deep into the realm of sustainable winemaking and explore the eco-conscious initiatives that make Wiens Cellars a beacon of environmental responsibility and social awareness in the world of wine.

Understanding Sustainable Winemaking

Sustainable winemaking is not just a buzzword; it’s a holistic approach to winemaking that focuses on the long-term well-being of the environment, the economic viability of the winery, and the equitable treatment of the community. It’s a commitment to balance, often summarized in the three pillars of sustainability: environmental stewardship, economic feasibility, and social equity.

Environmental Stewardship

  • This pillar emphasizes the responsible and conscientious management of natural resources and ecosystems. In the context of winemaking, environmental stewardship involves practices that protect and preserve the environment. This includes sustainable farming methods, responsible water management, biodiversity conservation, and minimizing the use of harmful chemicals. By prioritizing environmental stewardship, wineries aim to reduce their ecological footprint and safeguard the delicate balance of nature.

Economic Feasibility

  • Sustainable practices should also make economic sense for wineries to be viable in the long term. Economic feasibility ensures that wineries can maintain profitability while implementing sustainable initiatives. This includes efficient resource management, cost-effective energy solutions, and waste reduction measures. By achieving economic feasibility, wineries can continue to thrive and invest in further sustainable practices.

Social Equity

  • Social equity in sustainability focuses on the well-being of communities and stakeholders involved in winemaking. It emphasizes fair labor practices, community engagement, and ethical business conduct. Wineries that prioritize social equity ensure that their employees are treated fairly, and they often engage in partnerships and initiatives that benefit local communities. This pillar highlights the importance of fostering positive relationships and contributing positively to society.

Together, these three pillars create a balanced and holistic approach to sustainability in winemaking, ensuring that the industry not only produces exceptional wines but also operates in a manner that respects the environment, supports economic growth, and promotes social well-being.

Sustainable Practices in the Vineyard

Sustainable practices in the vineyard encompass a range of eco-conscious techniques aimed at minimizing environmental impact and promoting long-term soil and grapevine health. These practices often involve organic farming methods, water conservation measures, and biodiversity-enhancing initiatives, ensuring that vineyards thrive while respecting the delicate balance of nature.

Organic Farming Practices

  • The journey to sustainable winemaking begins in the vineyard, where every grape takes its first breath. Sustainable practices take root in the form of organic farming techniques that minimize the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. The commitment to organic farming is not just about avoiding chemicals; it’s about fostering a more harmonious relationship between the vineyard and the ecosystem it inhabits.
  • Organic farming practices nurture the soil with compost and natural fertilizers, encouraging the growth of cover crops to prevent erosion and enhance biodiversity, and meticulously managing pests and diseases using natural methods. Eschewing synthetic chemicals safeguards the soil’s health and biodiversity, creating an environment where the grapevines can thrive naturally.

Water Conservation and Management

  • In California’s arid climate, water is a precious resource. Wiens Cellars recognizes the vital importance of water conservation and management in sustainable winemaking. The winery employs state-of-the-art technology and practices to carefully monitor and manage water usage in the vineyards. Soil moisture sensors, weather data, and advanced irrigation techniques allow precise control over water delivery to the grapevines, ensuring that every drop is used efficiently.
  • Additionally, rainwater harvesting systems and wastewater treatment facilities further reduce reliance on external water sources and minimize impact on local aquifers and ecosystems. Through these efforts, wineries can not only conserve water, but also contribute to the broader goal of responsible water management in their respective region.

Biodiversity and Habitat Preservation

  • Vineyards are not standalone entities but integral parts of larger ecosystems. Wiens Cellars recognizes this interconnectedness and actively promotes biodiversity and habitat preservation in and around its vineyards. The winery dedicates portions of its land to natural habitats, creating safe havens for native plants and wildlife. These areas not only enhance the ecological balance but also provide essential pollination services for the grapevines.
  • Moreover, Wiens Cellars has undertaken initiatives to restore and protect nearby waterways, ensuring that the delicate balance of local ecosystems is maintained. By fostering biodiversity and habitat preservation, the winery not only enhances the health of its vineyards but also contributes to the preservation of California’s diverse natural landscapes.

Sustainable Practices in the Winery

The commitment to sustainability extends from the vineyards into the winery at Wiens Cellars. The winery’s eco-conscious initiatives within its walls are as integral to the sustainability journey as the practices in the vineyards.

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

  • Energy efficiency is a cornerstone of sustainable winemaking. Wiens Cellars has implemented a range of energy-saving measures, from LED lighting to high-efficiency HVAC systems. These initiatives not only reduce the winery’s carbon footprint but also result in cost savings that can be reinvested in sustainable practices.

Waste Management and Recycling 

  • Waste management and recycling are essential components of sustainable winemaking. At Wiens Cellars, a comprehensive waste management program is in place to minimize waste generation and maximize recycling. This program encompasses everything from the recycling of glass bottles and cardboard packaging to the composting of grape pomace and vine pruning. In addition to traditional recycling, Wiens Cellars explores innovative solutions to reduce waste even further.

Sustainable Packaging Options

  • The commitment to sustainability doesn’t end when the wine is bottled; it extends to the packaging. Although Wiens Cellars has yet to secure a fully sustainable packaging solution, we are constantly aware of our carbon footprint.

Our winery also encourages consumers to embrace sustainability by offering refillable and reusable wine bags. These initiatives reduce the environmental impact of packaging and promote responsible consumer choices.

The Benefits of Sustainable Winemaking

Sustainable winemaking isn’t just a feel-good practice; it yields a trove of tangible benefits. These benefits extend far beyond the vineyard and winery, encompassing environmental, economic, and social advantages. It leads to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, responsible resource management, cost savings through efficient practices, and contributes positively to local communities, fostering a more eco-conscious and socially equitable wine industry.

Environmental Benefits

  • Preservation of Soil Health and Biodiversity: Sustainable winemaking practices prioritize the health of the soil and the biodiversity of the vineyard ecosystem. Healthy soil not only benefits grapevines but also supports a diverse range of microorganisms and organisms in the soil, contributing to a balanced and vibrant ecosystem.
  • Responsible Water Usage and Conservation: Sustainable wineries carefully manage their water resources to ensure responsible usage and conservation. This includes monitoring soil moisture, using advanced irrigation techniques, and implementing water-efficient practices. By optimizing water use, wineries reduce their environmental impact and help conserve precious water resources in regions where water scarcity is a concern.
  • Protection of Natural Habitats and Ecosystems: Sustainable vineyards take measures to protect and restore natural habitats and ecosystems in and around their vineyard areas. This involves creating safe havens for native plants and wildlife, preserving nearby waterways, and ensuring that the delicate balance of local ecosystems is maintained. By safeguarding natural habitats, wineries contribute to the overall health and diversity of the regions they inhabit.

Economic Benefits

  • Cost Savings Through Energy Efficiency and Waste Reduction: Sustainable winemaking practices often result in significant cost savings for wineries. Energy-efficient operations, such as using LED lighting and optimizing cooling systems, reduce energy bills. Additionally, waste reduction measures, such as recycling and reusing materials, minimize waste disposal costs. By adopting these practices, wineries can operate more economically and efficiently.
  • Increased Efficiency and Resource Management: Sustainability in winemaking enhances overall efficiency and resource management. This includes precise water management to avoid waste and streamlined production processes to reduce resource consumption. Improved efficiency ensures that resources are used wisely, benefiting both the winery’s bottom line and the environment.
  • Enhanced Marketability and Consumer Appeal: Sustainability has become a key factor in consumer purchasing decisions. Wineries that embrace sustainable practices often enjoy increased marketability and consumer appeal. Eco-conscious consumers are more likely to support and choose wines from wineries that prioritize sustainability, leading to higher sales and brand loyalty. By aligning with sustainability, wineries position themselves as responsible and forward-thinking industry leaders.

Social Benefits

  • Contribution to Local Communities Through Employment and Partnerships: Sustainable wineries play a significant role in their local communities by providing employment opportunities and forming partnerships with local businesses. This not only boosts the local economy but also strengthens the social fabric of the region. By engaging with and supporting their communities, wineries become integral parts of the areas in which they operate.
  • Fostering Positive Relationships with Neighbors and Stakeholders: Sustainable wineries prioritize positive relationships with neighbors, stakeholders, and local authorities. This involves open communication, addressing concerns, and being good neighbors in terms of noise, traffic, and environmental impact. By fostering these relationships, wineries create harmony and mutual support within their communities.
  • Promoting Responsible and Ethical Business Practices: Sustainability in winemaking extends to responsible and ethical business practices. This includes fair labor practices, ethical sourcing of materials, and transparent business conduct. Wineries that prioritize social equity demonstrate a commitment to doing business in an ethical and responsible manner, which not only benefits their employees and stakeholders but also contributes to the overall well-being of society.

Sustainable Winemaking at Wiens Cellars

Wiens Cellars is a shining example of sustainable winemaking in action. As passionately put by our Winemaker, Brian Marquez, “We continually strive to capture the essence of the land in every bottle, respecting the delicate balance of nature with each winemaking decision.” The winery’s commitment to water conservation, biodiversity, and eco-conscious practices in the winery reflects a deep dedication to environmental stewardship, economic feasibility, and social equity.

Sustainable Practices at Wiens Cellars:

  • Precise water conservation measures and responsible water management.
  • Promotion of biodiversity and habitat preservation in the vineyards.
  • Comprehensive waste management and recycling programs.
  • Thoughtful selection of sustainable packaging options.
  • Engagement with local communities and partnerships that enhance social equity.

The Impact on the Wines Produced at Wiens Cellars

Sustainability isn’t just a noble ideal at Wiens Cellars; it’s a fundamental aspect of the winemaking process that directly influences the wines produced. The consistent goal of sustainability results in grapes that express the true character of the vineyard and the Temecula terroir. Water conservation ensures that the vines receive just the right amount of hydration, contributing to the concentration and balance of flavors in the grapes. Biodiversity in the vineyards creates a harmonious ecosystem where grapevines thrive naturally.

In the winery, energy-efficient practices and renewable energy sources minimize the winery’s environmental impact and help maintain the integrity of the grapes during production. Waste management programs reduce unnecessary waste and reinforce the winery’s eco-conscious values. Sustainable packaging options reflect the commitment to sustainability from vine to bottle.

As we raise our glasses to toast the wines of Wiens Cellars, let us also raise our awareness of the importance of sustainable winemaking. By choosing wines from wineries like Wiens Cellars that prioritize sustainability, we not only savor exceptional wines but also support practices that safeguard the environment, bolster local economies, and promote social equity. It’s a commitment to a more sustainable and harmonious future, one bottle at a time. Cheers to the eco-conscious journey of sustainable winemaking!

In every sip of Wiens Cellars’ wine, we taste the fruits of responsible stewardship and a commitment to preserving the delicate balance of our planet. So, the next time you uncork a bottle of Wiens Cellars wine, remember that you’re not just enjoying a superb wine; you’re partaking in a sustainable journey that enriches both your palate and the world around you.

In the rolling hills of Temecula Valley, a remarkable transformation takes place every year – the journey of a grape from the vine to the wineglass. This journey is not merely a scientific process; it’s a symphony of nature’s finest and human craftsmanship, a fusion that culminates in the creation of a delightful elixir we know as wine… & right now, we’re at the peak of it!

In this article, we will delve into the intricate journey that a grape undertakes, guided by the passionate hands of Wiens Cellars. Our family-owned winery in Temecula, CA, has perfected the art of turning grapes into liquid poetry, and we’re here to unveil the stages of this journey that lead to each exquisite bottle we produce.

The Life Cycle of a Grapevine

Every great journey begins with a single step, or in this case, a single seed. The life cycle of a grapevine spans across various stages, each essential in its own right. From bud break to flowering, fruit set to veraison, the vineyard’s rhythm is a dance between the elements and the nurturing hands of the vintners. These stages are the prelude to the grape’s transformation, setting the stage for the grand symphony of flavors that will be played in each bottle.

What are the stages of a grape vine’s life cycle?

  • Bud Break: Spring’s tender touch awakens the vine from its winter slumber on the trellis, and the first buds emerge with the promise of new life. This stage sets the foundation for the vine’s annual cycle, as these buds will eventually give rise to shoots and leaves that capture sunlight for energy.
  • Flowering: As the sun’s warmth envelops the vineyard, clusters of delicate flowers open & appear. This fleeting yet vital phase showcases nature’s potential for creation. Successful pollination during flowering ensures that these flowers will develop into grape clusters, encapsulating the essence of the vine’s vitality.
  • Fruit Set: The tiny green berries that emerge after flowering represent the manifestation of the vine’s reproductive success. These nascent grapes hold the promise of sweetness, acidity, and complexity. The vine dedicates its energy to nurturing and protecting these young berries, setting the stage for the coming months.
  • Veraison: With the arrival of summer, the vine reaches a pivotal juncture. The onset of veraison marks the transition from growth to ripening. Berries transform, softening and changing color as they accumulate sugars and flavors. This stage is a delicate balance between natural processes and meticulous timing, as the winemaker observes the evolution of each grape.
  • Harvest: The zenith of the grapevine’s journey arrives with the harvest, a culmination of months of anticipation and cultivation. Each grape cluster, now imbued with the terroir’s essence, is handpicked with care. The role of this stage is to ensure that the grapes are at the peak of their flavor and maturity, laying the foundation for the winemaking process.
  • Post-Harvest Recovery: After the excitement of harvest, the vine takes a breath. As leaves turn vibrant shades and eventually fall, the vine redirects its energy to replenish its reserves. This recovery period is essential for the vine’s health and readiness for the next grape growing season.
  • Dormancy: With the approach of winter, the vine enters a period of dormancy, resting and conserving energy. This stage prepares the vine for the cycle to repeat, as it gathers strength to awaken once more during bud break.

Then, it happens all over again! Each stage in the grape’s journey is a chapter in a story of resilience, growth, and transformation. From the delicate emergence of buds, to the vibrant culmination of grape harvest, the vine’s narrative unfolds with precision and purpose, offering winemakers the raw material to craft wines that encapsulate the journey of both grape and grapevine.

The Variety of Grape Varieties

Like characters in a story, different grape varieties play distinct roles in the winemaking process. Wiens Cellars boasts a diverse array of over 30 varietals, from the bold Bordeaux classics to the enchanting Italian gems. Each variety brings its own personality to the mix, contributing unique aromas, flavors, and textures to the final blend. The vintners at Wiens Cellars understand these varieties intimately, crafting wines that showcase the best of each grape’s character.

Let’s dive deeper into 6 of our more well-known varieties:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Revered as the king of red grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon delivers rich black fruit flavors, firm tannins, and a robust structure. Its aging potential makes it a favorite for producing age-worthy wines.
  • Chardonnay: A versatile white grape, Chardonnay exhibits an array of styles from buttery and oaked to crisp and unoaked. It’s known for its ability to reflect terroir while offering notes of green apple, citrus, and vanilla.
  • Merlot: Often associated with smoothness and approachability, Merlot offers soft tannins, red fruit aromas, and a plush texture. It’s a key player in Bordeaux blends and stands on its own as well.
  • Sauvignon Blanc: Sauvignon Blanc’s hallmark is its vibrant acidity and aromatic profile, ranging from zesty citrus and green apple to herbaceous and grassy notes. It’s a popular choice for producing refreshing and aromatic white wines.
  • Pinot Noir: Prized for its finesse and complexity, Pinot Noir is notoriously finicky to grow but rewards with delicate red fruit flavors, earthy undertones, and a silky texture. It excels in expressing the nuances of its terroir.
  • Syrah/Shiraz: Syrah (Shiraz in Australia) boasts bold, dark fruit flavors, pepper spice, and a range of complexities from smoky to floral notes. It can produce both robust and elegant wines, depending on the region and winemaking style.

Harvesting Wine Grapes

The turning point in a grape’s journey is the harvest. Timing is of the essence, as the decision of when to pick influences the wine’s balance, acidity, and sweetness. At Wiens Cellars, this moment is carefully chosen, respecting the grape’s natural rhythm. As our Head Winemaker, Brian Marquez puts it, “Wine is born in the vineyard, but it’s during the harvest that we set its course.” The harvesting process is a labor of love, where each bunch is handpicked to ensure only the finest grapes make their way to the press.

When should you harvest grapes?

The art of harvesting grapes involves a crucial decision influenced by a delicate equilibrium of factors. Winemakers assess the grapes’ sugar levels, measured in degrees Brix, to gauge their ripeness. Concurrently, they consider the grapes’ acidity, pH levels, and the development of phenolic compounds like tannins and color pigments. The goal is to strike the perfect balance between ripe fruit flavors and the retention of sufficient acidity, as this balance shapes the wine’s potential for complexity and aging.

What’s the process of harvesting grapes?

Harvesting grapes is a meticulous endeavor that demands the deft hands of skilled pickers. While mechanical harvesters are used for efficiency, handpicking remains a hallmark of quality for premium wines. Hand harvesters selectively choose clusters, ensuring only the healthiest and ripest grape bunches are collected. Once gathered, the grapes are swiftly transported to the winery to prevent oxidation and maintain their freshness.

How do harvesting techniques impact the final wine?

Harvesting techniques wield a profound influence on a wine’s character and quality. Early harvesting may result in wines with higher acidity and fresher fruit flavors, suitable for crisp whites or sparkling wines. Delayed harvesting yields grapes with elevated sugar levels, leading to richer, more opulent wines. Additionally, the choice between handpicking and mechanical harvesting can impact grape integrity; handpicking allows for careful selection, preserving grape quality, while mechanical methods enhance efficiency but may be less selective. The chosen technique, combined with the precise moment of harvest, shapes the flavor profile, structure, and aging potential of the resulting wine.

From Grape to Glass

With the grapes harvested, the transformation from fruit to nectar begins. The delicate process of crushing and pressing extracts the precious juice that carries the essence of the vineyard. Fermentation, the magical conversion of sugars to alcohol, is a pivotal step. At Wiens Cellars, fermentation is more than a chemical reaction; it’s an art form guided by the hands of skilled winemakers who orchestrate the process to perfection.

Crushing vs. De-Stemming

  • Crushing and Pressing Grapes: The process of crushing and pressing grapes is a fundamental step in winemaking, where the transformation from grape to wine begins. After meticulous harvesting, the grape clusters are directed into a crusher that gently breaks the skins and releases the juice, creating a mixture known as “must.” This initial contact between juice and skin extracts essential compounds like flavors, colors, and tannins. Subsequently, the must is transferred to a press, where varying degrees of pressure are applied to separate the liquid portion from the solid components, such as skins, seeds, and stems. The extracted juice, now infused with the essence of the grapes, serves as the starting point for fermentation, propelling the grapes’ journey towards becoming wine.
  • De-stemming and Pressing: Before pressing, some winemakers opt to de-stem the grape clusters, removing the stems to prevent excessive tannin extraction and maintain a desired flavor profile. De-stemming is particularly common with red grape varieties, as tannins are concentrated in the stems. After de-stemming, the grapes are then directed to the press. Here, the pressure applied varies based on the desired outcome. Gentle pressing, often used for white wines, ensures minimal contact with the skins to preserve delicate aromatics. For red wines, more forceful pressing may occur, as extended skin contact contributes to color, structure, and tannin extraction. This multi-faceted process underscores the winemaker’s choices in crafting wines that embody their vision and desired style.


Fermentation is the alchemical process that transforms grape juice into wine, embodying the heart of winemaking. It begins with the introduction of yeast into the juice, where these microorganisms feast upon the sugars, converting them into alcohol and carbon dioxide. As fermentation progresses, the juice undergoes a symphony of chemical reactions, releasing a spectrum of aromas and flavors locked within the grapes. Beyond alcohol, yeast produce secondary metabolites that contribute to the wine’s complexity, including aromatic compounds and compounds that influence texture and mouthfeel. Fermentation not only bestows the wine with its alcoholic content but also shapes its character, making it a pivotal step in crafting wines that are diverse, expressive, and captivating.

Aging and Bottling

As the wine evolves, the aging process imparts depth and complexity. Oak barrels, carefully selected by the winemakers, add layers of flavor that harmonize with the wine’s characteristics. Time becomes an ally as the wine matures gracefully. Bottling is the crescendo of this phase, capturing the culmination of years of hard work and anticipation. We’ll break it down for you really quick:

The Process of Aging Wine

Aging wine is a patient endeavor that allows the wine to mature and evolve, transforming its flavors, aromas, and texture over time. During this phase, the wine rests in controlled environments, often in barrels or tanks, where it interacts with the compounds extracted during the fermentation process. Through oxidation and slow chemical reactions, the wine’s harsh edges soften, tannins integrate, and flavors harmonize, resulting in a more balanced and complex profile.

The Role of Oak Barrels in Aging

Oak barrels play a pivotal role in the aging process, imparting unique characteristics to the wine. As wine interacts with the wood, compounds like vanillin and lignin are extracted from the barrel, lending flavors of vanilla, spice, and toast. Additionally, the porous nature of oak allows for controlled oxygen exchange, contributing to the wine’s development and enhancing its texture. The choice of oak, whether French, American, or other, influences the final flavor profile and structure of the wine.

The Process of Bottling Wine

Bottling marks the culmination of the aging journey, as the matured wine is carefully prepared for its final presentation. The wine is first removed from its aging vessel and filtered to remove any sediment or solids that may have developed during the aging process. It’s then bottled under controlled conditions to maintain its integrity. The wine bottles are typically sealed with corks or other closures, protecting the wine from oxidation while allowing for a gradual aging process in the bottle. Once bottled, the wine is labeled, and each bottle becomes a vessel of the journey it has undertaken, ready to be enjoyed by connoisseurs seeking to savor the culmination of the winemaking art.

The Journey of a Grape at Wiens Cellars

Wiens Cellars’ commitment to quality resonates throughout the grape’s journey. The legacy of the Wiens family, passed into the hands of the Steinhafel family, is a testament to the enduring values of family, quality, and integrity. Our owner, David Steinhafel explains, “In every cluster of grapes, there’s the potential for an exceptional bottle – it’s our job to uncover that potential.” Our hands-on approach, from the meticulous grape selection to the aging process, ensures that each bottle reflects the essence of the Temecula Valley terroir.

What is our process at Wiens Cellars?

At Wiens Cellars, the journey of a grape is an intimate symphony of care, dedication, and craftsmanship. It commences with the meticulous cultivation of vineyards that are sustainably managed and nurtured throughout the grape’s life cycle. The grapes are harvested by skilled hands, ensuring that only the finest clusters are selected. Once gathered, the grapes embark on a transformative path where they are delicately crushed, and their precious juice is extracted, bearing the imprint of Temecula Valley’s terroir. Under the guidance of experienced winemakers, fermentation takes place, bringing the grapes one step closer to their final incarnation as wine. The aging process unfolds in carefully chosen oak barrels, where the wine matures, absorbing nuanced flavors and textures that harmonize with its origin. Finally, the wine is bottled right here at the winery, capturing the essence of the grape’s journey from vine to glass, ready to be enjoyed by enthusiasts who appreciate the artistry that Wiens Cellars’ commitment infuses into each bottle.

How does our process differ from others?

Wiens Cellars’ commitment to the journey of a grape resonates profoundly in the final wine. With hands-on involvement from vineyard management to bottling, we ensure that each grape is treated with the utmost care, fostering a depth of character that is uniquely expressive of our California terroir. Our focus on small-batch, artisanal wine production allows for meticulous attention to detail, ensuring that only the finest grapes contribute to our wines. The result is a portfolio of wines that carry the hallmark of Wiens Cellars’ philosophy – wines that encapsulate the grape’s journey from its birth in the vineyard to its transformation in the cellar, culminating in bottles that tell a story of family heritage, passion, and a profound respect for the art of winemaking.

With every bottle uncorked at Wiens and around the world, the story unfolds—a narrative of growth, transformation, and family heritage. Through meticulous vineyard care, delicate harvesting, and the art of crushing and pressing, the essence of the land’s terroir is captured and transformed into wines of distinction. This journey continues as wines age in oak barrels, shaped by Wiens Cellars’ commitment to quality and integrity. The next time you are wine tasting, we invite you to savor not just the wine, but the intricate journey each grape undertook, an ode to the grape, the land, and the artistry of winemaking that culminates in each exquisite glass.

Welcome to a journey that uncorks the hidden magic within every sip of wine – the enchanting concept of terroir. Terroir isn’t just a French word; it’s an invitation to explore the intricate dance between nature and craftsmanship that results in the wines we treasure. It’s a term that encapsulates the unique fingerprint of a vineyard – the soil, climate, and soul of a place that breathe life into each grape.

We welcome you to the enchanting world we’ve created at Wiens Cellars, where the magic of terroir unfolds in every sip of our handcrafted wines. Our story is one of passion, dedication, and the harmonious interplay between soil and climate. As we embark on this journey through the impact of soil and climate on wine flavor, we invite you to join us in exploring the essence of terroir that shapes each bottle we proudly produce.

In this exploration, we’ll dive into the heart of terroir, peeling back the layers to reveal how the partnership of soil and climate shapes the very essence of wine. By the end, we hope to inspire the idea that terroir isn’t just a concept; it’s the spirit of the earth captured in liquid form, waiting to be savored.

What is Terroir?

Understanding terroir is like unraveling the intricate DNA of a wine’s character. It encapsulates the unique synergy between soil, climate, topography and human touch, that shape the flavors and aromas of each bottle. Terroir is the invisible conductor of a symphony played by nature and craftsmanship, giving wines a distinct identity and an immersive sense of place. In short, it is the essence of a specific vineyard site, a composition of elements that shape the grapes and, subsequently, the wines themselves.

Components of Terroir

  • Soil: The foundation of terroir, the very earth in which grapevines entwine their roots, holds secrets that whisper through the vines. Different soil types, from limestone to clay, influence the nutrients available to the vines, dictating the grapes’ flavors, textures, and aromas.
  • Climate: Nature’s maestro, climate orchestrates the daily rhythm of a vineyard. Sun-drenched days and cool, breezy nights; rainfall and humidity; these elements dictate the pace of growth, affecting grape ripening and the resulting balance of sugars and acids.
  • Topography: The lay of the land adds its brushstrokes to the terroir canvas. Slopes, altitudes, and angles of sunlight exposure sculpt the vines’ interaction with the elements, influencing the grapes’ concentration and complexity.
  • Human Influence: The hands that tend the vines and craft the wines are integral to terroir. Each winemaker’s decisions, from pruning techniques to harvesting times, interact with the environment, imprinting their artistry onto the final bottle.

In this intricate dance of soil, climate, topography, and human touch, terroir emerges – a tapestry woven with a vineyard’s history and geography. Understanding terroir is a glimpse into the soul of a wine, a journey that reveals the profound connection between the land and the glass.

The Role of Soil in Wine Flavor

From the vineyard soil to the glass, the journey of wine is a symphony composed by nature and nurtured by human craftsmanship. Amidst this orchestration, the soil beneath the vines plays a pivotal role in shaping the wine’s character. Each soil type brings unique hues and textures to the final canvas of flavors and aromas found in wine. In this exploration of the interplay between soil texture and wine, we delve into the different types of soil and their remarkable influence on the wines we savor.

The 3 Most Common Types of Soil and Their Characteristics

  • Sandy Soils: Wines grown in sandy soils often exhibit bright acidity and an elegant profile. The quick drainage of these soils encourages grapevines to concentrate their energy on producing grapes with crisp flavors and floral aromas. Examples include Sauvignon Blanc from wine regions like Australia, where the sandy soils contribute to its zesty acidity.
  • Clay-Rich Soils: Clay-rich soils provide ample water retention, resulting in wines with a robust body and well-defined tannins. Grapes thrive in these soils, allowing for longer ripening periods and complex flavor development. Bordeaux’s Merlot grapes, nurtured in clay soils, yield wines with rich fruit character and a velvety texture.
  • Volcanic Soils: Volcanic soils infuse wines with a distinctive mineral edge and a subtle smokiness. These soils are well-draining and impart a unique complexity to the grapes. The volcanic slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily, for instance, contribute to the character of Nerello Mascalese grapes, yielding wines with earthy nuances and bright acidity.

How does that affect the wines?

Soil’s influence on wine style transcends mere physical support. It’s a flavor architect, endowing grapes with distinct attributes. Sandy soils, for instance, promote drainage, leading to lighter, elegant wines, while clay imparts depth and robustness. Minerals absorbed by roots infuse flavors, yielding wines with subtle earthiness or vibrant minerality. Let’s give you three examples:

  • Acidity and Aromatics: Sandy soils, known for their excellent drainage, create an environment where grapevines struggle to find water. This stress prompts the vines to focus their energy on producing smaller, concentrated grapes. The result is wines with higher acidity and intense aromatics. For instance, the Chardonnay grapes grown in the sandy soils of Chablis in Burgundy yield wines with a crisp acidity and a pronounced minerality.
  • Structure and Tannins: In clay-rich soils, water retention is higher, leading to slower grape ripening. This extended maturation period encourages the development of thicker grape skins and deeper color pigments. The wines produced from such grapes boast structured tannins and a robust body. Italy’s Tuscany region exemplifies this with its Sangiovese grape, which, nurtured in clay soils, produces the complex and age-worthy wines of Chianti.
  • Mineral Complexity: Volcanic soils, rich in minerals and nutrients, imprint a unique mineral complexity on wines. Grapevines draw nutrients from the volcanic bedrock, resulting in wines with distinct earthy flavors and a characteristic smokiness. White wines like the Assyrtiko grape from Santorini, Greece, thrive in volcanic soils, contributing to its vibrant acidity and pronounced volcanic terroir expression.

How does that affect our wine in Temecula?

Soil isn’t just a canvas; it’s a palette of flavors that artists, in the form of winemakers, deftly paint upon. From Bordeaux’s gravel-kissed Cabernets to Burgundy’s limestone-infused Chardonnays, each wine is a testament to soil’s profound influence, etching its legacy sip by sip. To dive deeper, we’ll explain this with three of our most popular varietals:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon + Sandy Loam Soils: Cabernet Sauvignon vines rooted in sandy loam soils, like ours at Wiens Cellars, produce wines with a distinct personality. The well-draining nature of sandy loam allows for controlled water availability, encouraging the development of balanced grape flavors. Red wines from these soils often display ripe blackberry and cassis notes, coupled with smooth tannins and a hint of minerality. California’s Napa Valley is renowned for its Cabernet Sauvignon grown in sandy loam soils, resulting in wines of exceptional quality and richness.
  • Syrah + Clay-Rich Soils: Syrah vines thrive in clay-rich soils, where water retention supports gradual grape maturation. Wines produced from these vineyards exhibit a robust structure, velvety tannins, and deep, concentrated flavors. The Rhône Valley in France, particularly the Hermitage region, is a prime example of where Syrah’s interaction with clay-rich soils creates wines with intense dark fruit flavors, pepper spice, and a textured palate.
  • Fiano + Volcanic Soils: Fiano, an Italian white grape variety, flourishes in volcanic soils, infusing its wines with a unique character. Volcanic soils contribute to wines with a mineral-driven complexity, bright acidity, and distinctive aromatics. Italy’s Campania region, where Fiano thrives in volcanic terroir, yields wines with flavors of citrus, tropical fruits, and a touch of smokiness, showcasing the volcanic soil’s profound influence on the varietal.

The Role of Climate in Wine Flavor

In the ever-evolving tale of wine, climate stands as both artist and alchemist, sculpting the very essence of flavor. As we journey deeper, we uncover the exquisite dance between cool and warm climates, each producing wines that tell their own story. Cool climate wines, like a delicate sonata, often exhibit elegance and higher acidity. On the other hand, warm climate wines boast boldness, characterized by ripe fruits and full-bodied expressions.

How Climate Affects the Ripening Process of Grapes

Imagine grapevines as weathered interpreters, translating the climate’s tale into the fruit they bear. The sun-drenched days of warm climates expedite the ripening process, infusing grapes with higher sugar content and intensity. Cool climates, however, bestow a longer, gentler journey, nurturing grapes with balanced sugars and acids, resulting in a final product that sings harmoniously.

Cool vs. Warm Climate Wines

From the frost-kissed hills of Germany’s Mosel region come Rieslings that are alive with vibrant acidity and delicate aromas – the hallmark of a cool climate. In the sun-soaked valleys of Temecula, Cabernet Sauvignons exude richness and opulence, crafted by the warm embrace of the Californian sun. Here are a few more you might be familiar with:

  • Cool Climate Wine – Pinot Noir from Oregon, USA: Pinot Noir thrives in cool climate regions due to its sensitivity to temperature fluctuations. In Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the maritime influence moderates temperatures, resulting in a longer wine growing season. The cool climate imparts elegance to the wines, with bright acidity and delicate red fruit flavors. These Pinot Noirs often exhibit earthy undertones and a silky texture, showcasing the characteristic traits of a cool climate.
  • Warm Climate Wine – Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina: Malbec finds its sweet spot in warm climate regions, and Mendoza’s high-altitude vineyards provide an ideal environment. The warm days and ample sunlight lead to full grape ripening, resulting in bold and robust wines. Mendoza’s Malbecs boast rich dark fruit flavors, velvety tannins, and a hint of spice, demonstrating the influence of a warm climate on the varietal’s expression.
  • Cool vs. Warm – Chardonnay Comparisons: Chardonnay, a versatile grape, showcases distinct characteristics in both cool and warm climate regions. In Burgundy, France (cool climate), Chardonnays are often crisp and mineral-driven, with notes of green apple and citrus. In contrast, Chardonnays from California’s Temecula Valley (warmer climate) tend to be more opulent, displaying ripe tropical fruit flavors, buttery textures, and a touch of oak influence. These examples highlight how climate significantly shapes the flavor profile of a single grape variety.

As you uncork these wines, the climate becomes your companion, a silent narrator that whispers its secrets through each sip. Through the prism of climate change, we grasp the intricate dialogue between nature and nurture, understanding how this intangible force molds flavors and defines the very identity of wines.

The Interplay of Soil and Climate

In this symphony of wine we continually mention, there exists a duet that captivates the senses: the interplay between soil and climate. As we delve deeper into this harmony, we unveil a mesmerizing collaboration that shapes the very essence of flavor. Soil, the storyteller of terroir, teams up with climate, the conductor of growth, to compose wines that echo the land’s secrets. The mineral richness of soil meets the nurturing embrace of climate, and their union is a transformative alchemy.

The Impact of Microclimates

Microclimates are the intricate climatic variations that occur within a larger geographical area, often due to factors like topography, altitude, proximity to water bodies, and local weather patterns. In wine production, the impact of microclimates is profound, as they can create diverse and nuanced growing conditions even within a single vineyard. These microclimates act as natural filters, determining which grape varieties will thrive and how they will express themselves.

Spanish wine regions, for example, showcase diverse microclimates, such as the Mediterranean coastal influence in Penedès for sparkling wines, the Atlantic impact in Rías Baixas enhancing Albariño’s character, and the continental conditions of Ribera del Duero nurturing intense Tempranillo-based reds. Many factors contribute to these varied outcomes. For instance, a south-facing slope might receive more sunlight and warmth, resulting in riper grapes and fuller-bodied wines, while a cooler north-facing slope might produce wine grapes with higher acidity and more delicate flavors.

Winemakers keenly study and harness these microclimates to tailor their viticultural practices. By strategically planting grape varieties and managing vines based on these subtle variations, winemakers can enhance grape quality and flavor consistency. Microclimates also play a vital role in terroir expression, as they add yet another layer of uniqueness to a wine’s character. Consequently, wines originating from a specific vineyard might exhibit remarkable diversity in flavors, textures, and aromas, all thanks to the intricate interplay of microclimates within the broader regional climate.

Terroir and Wiens Cellars

Nestled amid the scenic beauty of Temecula Valley, our winery Wiens Cellars, emerges as a beacon of the terroir that defines our high-quality wines. The rolling hills and sun-drenched vineyards create a landscape that tells a tale of soil and climate, each element nurturing the grapes that paint our viticultural masterpieces. The soil, a patchwork of sandy loam and gravelly textures, whispers the history of the land’s ancient geology, while the warm Mediterranean climate infuses vitality into every grape that flourishes.

How does this influence our wines?

Porous and well-draining, our region’s type of soil grants the vines a unique stress that yields concentrated flavors. Meanwhile, the region’s warm days and cool nights coax the grapes into a slow, balanced ripening process, crafting wines with depth and character. The interplay between soil and climate in this instance is Wiens’ palette, and each varietal is a brushstroke of this remarkable collaboration. Wiens Cellars stands as a testament to the power of terroir – a reminder that beyond the winery’s walls, the land itself is a vital partner in the winemaking process.

An Ode to Terroir

As we raise a final glass to our exploration, the significance of terroir in the world of winemaking shines brilliantly. From the embrace of soil to the caress of climate, we’ve journeyed through the very elements that orchestrate the symphony of flavors within each bottle. Soil imparts identity, while climate conducts growth – together, they weave the narrative that distinguishes wines from various corners of the globe.

So, as you indulge in your next glass, take a moment to savor not just the wine, but the tale of terroir it encapsulates. Allow your senses to wander through the vineyards, to feel the soil beneath your feet and the sun’s warmth on your skin. Explore the nuances that terroir offers, whether it’s the mineral embrace of limestone or the crisp air of a cool climate. Let each sip be a journey, an ode to the partnership between nature and craftsmanship!

Introducing our ultimate wine pairing guide, with specific recommendations from our award-winning wines at Wiens Cellars. Let us take you on a culinary journey that transcends mere consumption. This guide delves into the intricate dance between flavors, aromas, and textures, revealing how the harmonious union of wine and food can transform a meal into an unforgettable sensory experience.

Understanding the importance of pairing wine with food goes beyond mere tradition; it’s a pursuit that bridges the gap between culture, science, and creativity. In this comprehensive guide, we will embark on a journey through the essentials of wine and food pairings. We’ll unravel the key principles that govern successful pairings, considering factors such as acidity, sweetness, body, and intensity. Beyond the basics, we’ll delve into the nuances of pairing regional cuisines with wines, understanding the impact of seasonality, and even experimenting with unconventional matches.

For the curious novice or the seasoned sommelier, our guide promises to demystify the art of pairing, equipping you with the knowledge and confidence to curate exquisite dining experiences that tantalize the senses and create lasting memories. So, let’s raise our glasses to the adventure that awaits – a journey of flavors, discoveries, and the delightful marriage of wine and food.

Basic Principles of Wine and Food Pairing

Wine and food pairing principles involve matching intensity and flavors, balancing acidity, sweetness, and textures, and considering the wine’s characteristics in relation to the dish’s components, such as protein, sauce, and cooking method, to create a harmonious and enhanced culinary experience. To further explain, let’s break it down:

  • Matching the weight and intensity
    • When pairing wine with food, it’s essential to consider the weight and intensity of both elements. Light-bodied wines, such as a Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, harmonize well with delicate dishes like salads or seafood. On the other hand, robust wines like a Zinfandel complement heartier fare, from stews, all the way to venison. The idea is to ensure that neither the wine nor the food overpowers the other, creating a balanced and enjoyable experience.
  • Balancing flavors
    • Pairing wine with food is a delicate art of balancing flavors. Look for wines whose characteristics either complement or contrast with the flavors in the dish. For instance, a slightly sweet Riesling can offset the spiciness of Asian cuisine, while a zesty Sauvignon Blanc can accentuate the freshness of a citrusy seafood dish. The goal is to create a harmonious interplay of flavors that enhances both the wine and the food.
  • Considering the dish’s main components (protein, sauce, cooking method)
    • Breaking down the components of a dish – its protein, sauce, and cooking method – is crucial for congruent pairings. Rich, fatty proteins like lamb can be matched with tannic red wines to cut through the richness. The sauce also matters; a creamy sauce may call for a wine with good acidity to provide contrast. Additionally, the cooking method matters – grilled dishes might benefit from wines with smoky or earthy undertones like Syrah/Shiraz, while poached dishes might pair well with lighter, aromatic whites, like Reisling.


Of course, before you can pair wine with food, you need a basic understanding of what you’re even pairing them with. Grasping wine characteristics entails deciphering the intricate tapestry of aromas, flavors, and textures, that make each bottle unique. The best way to do that? Wine tasting. Practice your palate frequently! In the meantime, we’ll walk you through the basics:

  • Red Wine
    • Red wine’s characteristics encompass a spectrum of body, from light and elegant to full-bodied and robust. Pairing red wines with food involves matching their body to the dish’s intensity, creating a harmonious balance where lighter to medium-bodied reds like Sangiovese enhance delicate flavors, while heartier ones like Cabernet Sauvignon stand up to rich and robust dishes.
  • White Wine
    • The acidity of white wines plays a vital role in enhancing culinary pairings. Crisp, acidic wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Vermentino brighten up seafood and salads, while the balanced acidity of Chardonnay complements buttery sauces and creamy dishes.
  • Rosé Wine
    • The diverse styles of rosé wines, spanning from bone-dry to slightly sweet, offer a versatile canvas for food pairing. A dry and crisp rosé beautifully complements light salads and grilled veggies, while a fruitier style pairs delightfully with spicy dishes, showcasing the wine’s ability to adapt and enhance a wide array of culinary creations.
  • Sparkling Wine
    • The diverse characteristics of sparkling wines, shaped by their regions and varietals, open up a world of culinary possibilities. A Champagne crafted from Chardonnay grapes from the Champagne region of France pairs elegantly with delicate appetizers, while our California Blanc de Blancs at Wiens Cellars complements seafood and rich, hard cheeses.
  • Dessert Wine
    • Dessert wines, exemplified specifically at Wiens by our rich selection of Ports, possess concentrated sweetness that creates exquisite culinary partnerships. Our White Port showcases a luscious harmony with caramelized fruit dishes, or white chocolate desserts, while the rich complexity of our Ruby Port beautifully complements dark chocolate, showcasing how these sweet wines’ distinct characteristics enhance the pleasure of similarly sweet foods.


Understanding Food Characteristics

Understanding food characteristics involves recognizing the intricate interplay of proteins, cooking methods, sauces, and spices to create harmonious and flavorful dining experiences. It is a journey into the realm of harmonious flavors, where a few key points can transform your dining experience:

  • Different types of proteins (meat, fish, poultry, vegetarian options)
    • Mastering food pairing begins with recognizing the diversity of proteins. Rich red meats call for robust wines, while delicate fish pairs well with light whites. Poultry and vegetarian options find balance with versatile wines that complement their distinct flavors, enhancing both the dish and the wine.
  • Various cooking methods (grilled, roasted, steamed, raw)
    • Cooking methods shape the textures and flavors of dishes. Grilled foods benefit from wines with smoky or earthy undertones, while roasted creations marry well with wines featuring depth and structure. Steamed or raw dishes are often elevated by aromatic whites or sparkling wines, highlighting the freshness of ingredients.
  • Different types of sauces and spices
    • Sauces and spices are the architects of taste. Rich, creamy sauces may demand wines with acidity to cut through like Chardonnay, while spicy foods thrive with off-dry or slightly sweet selections like Gewürztraminer. Bold spices can be balanced by wines with complex layers that mirror or contrast with the dish’s intensity.

Basic Pairing Guidelines

Before diving into your pairings head-first, consider the weight and intensity of both the dish and the wine, ensuring that one doesn’t overpower the other. Balance acidity – opt for wines with relatively high acidity to cut through rich or fatty foods. Think about the wine’s sweetness level, matching it with the dish’s sweetness or spice. The cooking method matters too, as grilled or roasted dishes often complement wines with smoky or earthy undertones, while steamed or raw options shine with lighter and fresher wines. Lastly, don’t underestimate the influence of sauces and spices, which can harmonize or contrast with the wine’s flavor profile. We’ll give you some recommendations from our menu, to start:

Red Wines 

  • 2020 Pinot Noir
    • A versatile and light red wine, our Pinot Noir pairs wonderfully with a variety of dishes. Its delicate red fruit flavors and soft tannins complement dishes like grilled salmon, roasted chicken, mushroom risotto, and even lighter pasta dishes.
Click to Buy Pinot Noir
  • 2019 Obscura
    • Comprised of 90% Merlot, our Obscura is consistently a great match for a wide range of foods, with its smooth and approachable character. It works well with dishes like roasted pork tenderloin, grilled sausages, tomato-based pasta, and even dishes with slightly spicy elements like Moroccan tagines.
Click to Buy Obscura
  • 2019 Kriel Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Bold and full-bodied, this high tannin, Bordeaux-style Cabernet Sauvignon is excellent with rich, hearty dishes. It pairs beautifully with grilled steaks, braised short ribs, beef stew, and dishes featuring strong cheeses or herbs like rosemary and thyme.
Click to Buy Kriel Cab
  • 2022 Vermentino
    • Known for its bright acidity and herbal notes, this Italian varietal pairs well with dishes like grilled asparagus, goat cheese salads, shellfish or ceviche, and light pasta dishes with pesto.
Click to Buy Vermentino
  • 2022 Chardonnay
    • Chardonnay’s versatility makes it a great match for various foods. It pairs nicely with white meat dishes like roast chicken, creamy pasta dishes, rich cheeses like brie or gouda, and even lobster or crab.
Click to Buy Chardonnay
  • 2022 Pinot Grigio
    • With its crisp and light profile, Pinot Grigio works well with light and fresh dishes. It’s a good match for salads, seafood such as grilled shrimp or fish tacos, vegetarian dishes, and light pasta with olive oil and herbs.
Click to Buy Pinot Grigio
  • 2022 Rosé of Malbec
    • The distinct characteristics of Malbec made into a lighter rosé can complement a variety of dishes. Try pairing it with grilled sausages, barbecue ribs, dishes featuring roasted red meats, and even spicier dishes like Tex-Mex cuisine.
Click to Buy Rosé of Malbec
  • 2021 Pink Crowded
    • Rosé blends like our Pink Crowded offer a balanced and versatile profile. They work well with Mediterranean-inspired dishes, such as Greek salads, grilled chicken souvlaki, light pasta dishes with vegetables, and seafood like grilled shrimp or salmon.
Click to Buy Pink Crowded
  • Amour de L’Orange
    • Amour de L’Orange, with its infusion of orange essence, offers a unique twist. It’s a great match for brunch dishes like eggs Benedict, citrusy salads, grilled chicken with citrus glaze, and even desserts like orange-flavored cakes.
Click to Buy Amour
  • Blanc de Blancs
    • Our Blanc de Blancs is wonderfully crisp and elegant. It pairs delightfully with fresh oysters, creamy seafood risotto, grilled scallops, and light hors d’oeuvres.
Click to Buy Blanc
  • Brut Rosé
    • Our Brut Rosé’s effervescence makes it a delightful companion for various foods. It’s great with seafood, particularly oysters and sushi, as well as lighter appetizers, charcuterie, creamy dishes, and even fried foods.
Click to Buy Brut
  • Ruby Port
    • Ruby Port’s rich and sweet profile pairs well with dark chocolate desserts, blue cheese, and nut-based desserts like pecan pie. It’s also a delightful match with berry tarts and desserts featuring caramel or toffee.
Click to Buy Ruby Port
  • White Port
    • White Port’s slightly lighter sweetness works well with lighter desserts. It’s a great match with lemon tarts, poached pears, almond cakes, and even fruit salads with tropical flavors.
Click to Buy White Port
  • Amour Sangria
    • Amour Sangria’s vibrant and fruity character with blood orange essence calls for lively pairings. Enjoy it with fruit-based desserts like citrus sorbet, mixed berry crumble, or as a refreshing partner to light summer salads.
Click to Buy Sangria


Explore the Wild World of Food and Wine Pairings

There may be “rules,” but don’t be afraid to color outside the lines with your wine pairings! Experimenting opens up a realm of discovery, allowing you to uncover unexpected harmonies and contrasts that enhance both the wine and the food. By venturing beyond traditional matches, you can create unique and delightful dining experiences that stimulate your palate and ignite your culinary creativity. You may surprise yourself with even the strangest ideas, like these ones we’ve tried:

  • Brut Rosé + Fried Chicken
    • Remember when we hinted at this earlier? The effervescence and red fruit notes of sparkling rosé cut through the richness of fried chicken, creating a refreshing and unexpected partnership. It’s for those summer picnic kind of evenings.
  • Dulce Maria + Barbecue Ribs
    • 100% Muscat, Dulce Maria’s sweetness counters the smokiness of barbecue ribs, providing a delicious counterpoint that enhances the overall experience. We know you may not believe us, but bring a bottle to your next barbeque and see the magic unfold… Make sure that barbeque sauce has a little kick to it, too.
  • 2022 Fiano + Thai Green Curry
    • Although an Italian varietal, Fiano’s aromatic qualities and crisp acidity balance the bold and spicy flavors of Thai green curry beautifully, creating a surprisingly harmonious contrast. Grab a bottle for your next Thai take-out night in.


As we bring this culinary expedition to a close, let’s not forget that the true joy lies in the exploration. From understanding the nuances of wine characteristics to grasping the intricacies of various cuisines, we’ve delved into the art of finding that perfect wine pairing. Remember, the weight and intensity of both the wine and the dish, the interplay of acidity, sweetness, and textures, and the magic of experimenting with unexpected combinations are all keys to a successful pairing.

The world of food and wine pairings is boundless and open to interpretation, inviting you to venture beyond the familiar and discover the endless possibilities that await. Whether you’re embarking on an elegant dinner party or enjoying a cozy evening at home, let your senses guide you as you craft experiences that delight the palate and create lasting memories. So, raise your glass to the art of pairing, and may your culinary journeys be filled with moments of pure gastronomic delight.

Cheers to exploring, experimenting, and relishing the magic of perfect pairings!

At Wiens Cellars, we’re regularly asked to explain wine basics to our tasting room visitors… As a California winery, this happens pretty often. So, in an attempt to properly educate those who are curious, we thought we’d give you a beginner’s guide into the world of wine tasting—an artful exploration that invites you to engage your senses and embark on a captivating journey through flavors, aromas, and experiences. Whether you’re a curious newcomer or a seasoned wine enthusiast, learning how to properly taste wine can enhance your appreciation and deepen your connection with this ancient and complex beverage. As you read through this blog post, we’ll give you a beginner’s guide through the steps of wine tasting, from observing wines like Cabernet Sauvignon to Chardonnay, all while highlighting the subjective and personal nature of this delightful pursuit. So, raise your glass and prepare to unravel the secrets that each bottle of wine holds, as we embark on a sensory adventure like no other!

What is Wine Tasting?

Although it may seem simple from afar, there is both an art and a science to wine tasting; And what better way to experiment than with a glass of your favorite beverage? Simply put, wine tasting is the process of evaluating and appreciating wine by using sight, smell, and taste. It involves observing the wine’s color and clarity, identifying aromas through smell, and analyzing flavors, texture, and overall characteristics while sipping.

Of course, practice makes for the best education in the world of wine, so you must taste often! Bummer, right? But it’s true! Wine tasting allows you to engage multiple senses and decode the intricate layers that contribute to a wine’s character. By systematically observing the wine’s appearance, inhaling its aromas, savoring its flavors, and considering its finish, you gain a comprehensive understanding of the wine’s composition and complexity. Ultimately, wine tasting equips you with the tools to discern and articulate your preferences, transforming wine consumption from a simple beverage into a rich and rewarding sensory experience.

The Five Basic Steps of Wine Tasting

Demonstrating wine tasting techniques respectively: 1 - Sight; 2 - Swirl; 3 - Smell; 4 - Taste; 5 - Savor

1 – Sight, 2 – Swirl, 3 – Smell, 4 – Taste, 5 – Savor

  1. Sight

For all types of wine, understanding the visual aspects is a crucial step in tasting, as the color and clarity provide initial clues about its age, grape varieties, and potential flavors. In addition, the “legs” or “tears” in wine, observed as droplets that form and run down the inside of the glass after swirling, provide information about its alcohol content and viscosity. Simple observations such as the hue and intensity observed in the glass offer valuable insights into the wine’s character before even taking the first sip.

When visually interpreting wine, it’s important to grasp the wine glass by its stem to avoid heating the wine with your hand, which could affect its temperature and aromas. Additionally, comparing the following components in all red wines, rosé wines, white wines and sparkling wines are best viewed against a lighter background:

  • Color: Color can hint at the variety of wine used, the age of the wine, and even its winemaking techniques. This initial visual assessment helps tasters anticipate the wine’s potential aromas and flavors, shaping their expectations and enhancing their overall appreciation of the wine.
  • Clarity: Clarity provides valuable insights into the wine’s purity, quality, and how well it has been processed and filtered. Cloudiness or sediment could suggest inadequate filtration or aging issues, potentially affecting both the visual appeal and the overall taste experience.
  • Legs: While often misconstrued as indicating level of quality, the phenomenon of legs is directly related to the wine’s viscosity and alcohol content. Wines with more prominent and slow-moving legs often have higher alcohol content and possibly more glycerol, which can affect the wine’s texture and mouthfeel.
  1. Swirl

Why do we swirl wine?

Swirling wine is a common practice in tasting because it enhances the wine-tasting experience by releasing its aromas and oxygenating the wine. Swirling also helps to soften the wine, particularly red wines with tannins, as they can interact with oxygen, mellowing the wine and making it more approachable on the palate.

  • Releasing the aromas: Swirling wine exposes a larger surface area of the liquid to the air, causing volatile aromatic compounds to evaporate from the wine and become more concentrated in the space above the glass. This process intensifies the wine’s aromas, making them more noticeable and enhancing the overall olfactory experience when smelling the wine.
  • Observing the wine’s body: Swirling wine in the glass helps us observe the wine’s body by creating legs, as previously discussed. By indicating viscosity, these legs provide insights into its overall texture and weight on the palate.
  1. Smell

The act of smelling wine, also known as “nosing,” allows us to identify a wide range of scents that contribute to the overall sensory experience. The aromas in wine are derived from various compounds present in the grapes, the fermentation process, and sometimes from aging in oak barrels. To properly smell wine and fully appreciate its aromas, try these steps:

  • Position Your Nose: Bring the glass of wine to your nose, tilting it slightly if needed, and place your nose just above the rim of the glass.
  • Inhale Slowly: Take a slow, deep breath through your nose. Try to identify the different aromas present in the wine. You might detect fruity, floral, herbal, or even earthy scents.
  • Think About Associations: As you smell the wine, try to associate the aromas with familiar scents. This can help you connect the smells to specific flavors you might encounter when tasting the wine.
  • Repeat and Reflect: Smell the wine multiple times, taking short breaks between sniffs. Each time you smell, you might pick up different nuances and layers of aromas.

Remember that smelling wine is a subjective experience, and everyone’s sense of smell is unique. Don’t hesitate to trust your own perceptions and interpretations of the aromas.

  1. Taste

    wine aroma wheel

    When in doubt, use the aroma wheel!

Now comes the part that everyone is familiar with: Tasting. While it may seem as if you have this part down pat, consider the following steps the next time you taste:

  • First Sip: Take a small sip of the wine and let it linger in your mouth for a moment before swallowing. This initial sip gives you a sense of the wine’s initial impression on your palate.
  • Taste Structure: Pay attention to the wine’s structure
  • Sweetness: Notice if the wine tastes sweet or dry.
  • Acidity: Identify the level of acidity, which contributes to the wine’s freshness.
  • Tannin: Assess the presence of tannins, which create a drying sensation in the mouth, especially in red wines.
  • Body: Observe the weight and texture of the wine in your mouth, ranging from light to full-bodied.
  • Flavor: Analyze the flavors on your palate, trying to identify different tasting notes like fruit, herbs, spices, or earthiness.
  • Aftertaste: Swallow the wine and pay attention to the aftertaste or finish. Notice how long the flavors linger in your mouth after swallowing. A longer finish often indicates a higher-quality wine with more complex flavors.

By following these steps, you’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of the wine’s taste structure, flavors, and how it evolves on your palate from the initial sip to the concluding finish.

  1. Savor

Once you taste, it’s important to pause and reflect on what you have savored. Try to focus on these aspects:

  • Balance: Assess how well the wine’s components—such as sweetness, acidity, tannins, and alcohol—harmonize with each other. A well-balanced wine will have these elements in proportion, enhancing the overall drinking experience.
  • Complexity: Evaluate the wine’s complexity by noting the layers of aromas and flavors it offers. A more complex wine will reveal a range of nuanced scents and tastes, often evolving as you sip.
  • Finish: Pay attention to the wine’s finish, which is the lingering aftertaste it leaves in your mouth after swallowing. A longer, satisfying finish indicates depth and quality, allowing you to appreciate the wine’s flavors even after you’ve taken a sip.

Considering these elements as you reflect on the wine’s balance, complexity, and finish will provide deeper insights into its character and help you form a more complete impression of the wine’s overall quality and personality.

Common Wine Tasting Terms

Of course, discussion is inevitable when analyzing the diverse world of wine. It can be intimidating, but rest assured, it’s a lot scarier than it may seem. To start you off, here are 10 common wine tasting terms that will help you navigate the world of wine with confidence:

  • Acidity
    • This term refers to the refreshing and lively sensation you feel on your tongue when you taste wine. In the case of wine pairing, wines with higher acidity often pair well with foods, as their brightness cuts through rich flavors.
  • Tannin
    • Tannins are compounds found in grape skins, seeds, and stems. They impart a drying, sometimes astringent sensation in your mouth when you sip red wine. Think of tannins as the backbone that gives structure to the wine.
  • Bouquet
    • When you hear someone mention the bouquet of a wine, they’re talking about its aroma. Bouquet encompasses the various scents that arise from the wine due to its aging and fermentation processes.
  • Finish
    • The finish is the lasting impression a wine leaves after you’ve swallowed. A long finish indicates a wine with depth and complexity, as its flavors continue to evolve even after you’ve taken a sip.
  • Notes
    • Tasters often describe the aromas and flavors they detect in a wine using specific terms like “citrus notes,” “vanilla notes,” or “blackberry notes.” These notes help paint a vivid picture of the wine’s character.
  • Oak
    • When a wine has been aged in oak barrels, it can develop flavors like vanilla, spice, or toastiness from the wood. Oak aging contributes to a wine’s complexity and texture.
  • Body
    • Wine’s body refers to its weight and texture in your mouth. A wine can be light-bodied, medium-bodied, or full-bodied. This term gives you an idea of how the wine feels on your palate.
  • Dry
    • A wine that’s described as “dry” has little to no residual sugar, meaning it doesn’t taste sweet. Dry wines are better complemented in food pairings and allow the natural flavors to shine through.
  • Elegant
    • An elegant wine is one that’s refined and balanced, with a smooth and harmonious character. It doesn’t overwhelm your senses but rather impresses with its finesse.
  • Terroir
    • Terroir is a French term (translated to “land” in English) that encompasses the unique characteristics of a specific vineyard site—soil, climate, topography—that influence the wine’s personality. Wines with a strong sense of terroir express the essence of their origin.

For more wine terms, click here to read our blog post titled: Wine Speak.

Practice, Practice, Practice

When it’s all said & done, preparation will be your biggest support when embarking on your wine tasting adventure. Here are some tips to ensure you have a successful and enjoyable experience:

How to Prepare for a Wine Tasting:

  • Research: Spend a bit of time learning about the winery, the wines they produce, and the region they’re from. This background knowledge can enhance your appreciation and understanding of the wines.
  • Hydration and Snacks: Stay hydrated and have a light snack before the tasting to keep your palate fresh and your senses alert. Avoid strong flavors that could overpower your taste buds.
  • Neutral Scents: Skip strong perfumes or colognes, as they can interfere with your ability to fully appreciate the wine’s aromas.

What to Do During a Wine Tasting:

  • Observe the Wine: Start by examining the wine’s color and clarity. Swirl the glass gently to release aromas, and take a moment to appreciate the visual aspects before moving on to smelling.
  • Use Your Senses: When you smell the wine, inhale deeply and try to identify the different aromas. Take your time to let the scents unfold.
  • Sip and Savor: Taste the wine by taking a small sip and allowing it to linger on your palate. Pay attention to the balance of sweetness, acidity, tannins, and flavors. Let the wine evolve as you hold it in your mouth.

*Bonus Tip: Do NOT be afraid to ask your Wine Specialist or Sommelier for advice. They’re there to help!

How to Document Your Impressions:

  • Take Notes: Bring a notebook or use a wine tasting app to jot down your impressions. Describe the aromas, flavors, and any unique characteristics you notice.
  • Use Descriptive Language: Don’t be afraid to get creative with your descriptions. Use words like “fruity,” “earthy,” or “spicy” to capture the essence of the wine.
  • Rate and Reflect: Assign a rating or score to the wine based on your personal preferences. After tasting, take a moment to reflect on your favorite aspects and what made each wine stand out.

Remember, the wine tasting experience is a journey of discovery, and everyone’s palate is unique. Don’t worry if you’re new to it—practice makes perfect, and with time, your tasting skills will become more attuned to the subtleties of each wine. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned enthusiast, the adventure of exploring different wines can be both educational and delightful. So, gather your friends, visit our winery, or simply open a bottle at home—immerse yourself and any other wine lover in your life in the experience. Savor each sip, and let the world of wine unfold before you in all its nuanced beauty!


As I sit in the airport writing to all of you, I am in awe of the gratitude I feel for this opportunity I’ve had the last two months. Grateful to an employer who encourages evolving creativity & was as excited about this opportunity as I was. Grateful to our amazing team of production guys back home that volunteered to pick up my slack while I was away. & Grateful to the incredible group of people here that have so quickly turned Chile into a new home for me, that I’m already eager to return to one day. Words cannot begin to express the generosity & love I have been offered while here. My final days have been spent wrapped in the warm embrace of all those that have made my time Heading South so special. We laughed, danced, ate, drank & shared memories that I’m confident will last a lifetime. There’s a few things I’ve learned while I’ve been here…

You know that kind of excitement deep inside that scares you? That’s the good stuff. The type of thing that you know will change your life and no matter what, you can walk away with a story. That’s how I felt about moving to Chile for 2 months. By myself. Not knowing a single person. Luckily I had 10 years of winemaking experience with the best team in California and I was finishing my final UC Davis winemaking class. I remember being given the opportunity and thinking: “Wow, this is something special. Let’s GO!” I’ve never lived abroad, but I have also never been afraid of an adventure. Especially at this time in my life… So I took it. Little did I know, it would change more than how I saw Chile. It changed the way I saw the world and all the people in my life!


No amount of words could sum up the friendships I’ve made here, but in total, it has been the most welcoming stay away from home I have ever had. Pilar opened her home to me and has become my Chilean mom. I will never forget the bromas (jokes) we have shared. The respect and friendship shown by Rafa, Fernando, Javier, Gabriel and everyone at my job, made me feel like I was back at Wiens. Emil and Matheu are now my brothers from opposite sides of the world. I have laughed and broken bread with so many great people, it’s truly difficult to summarize. They have made my experience here unforgettable.

Of course, work life happened to be a big portion of my time here in Chile! I’ve always found purpose in my craft and I was lucky enough to land an internship at an ultra premium wine producer out here similar to Wiens, but in the Almahue Valley. Being the longest country in the world, Chile gives opportunity for an incredible amount of soil and climate diversity. Couple that with the Cordillera de los Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean flanking each side, and you have a recipe for an extraordinary country capable of great wines. If you’re thinking this sounds similar to California, you’re right! I have gained so much winemaking insight from working here. Everything from native yeast fermentations and Carmenere cap management, to harvesting Grenache earlier to retain freshness, all the way down to aging Chardonnay in amphora clay for added minerality. All of these amazing techniques were bartered for my California winemaking knowledge, and I have to say: I am proud to have shared as much as I have gained. I look forward to enhancing our wine even more once I return! 


Sometimes, a series of events happen in life that lead you to a place you never knew you needed. You find yourself somewhere new, unsure of the experiences you will have there. More times than not, when I find myself in such a place, I have received far more than I thought I could, would or even should. Chile has been one of those places. It’s all over too fast and that’s the beauty of it. Appreciate what’s in front of you, while you’re there. I knew it would go by quickly, but it feels as though I landed here last week. What a trip. It’s been more than I could have imagined in so many ways. 

Chile siempre será especial para mí, pero California tiene mi corazón. ¡Tocando tierra pronto!

Signing off— Blake


A bittersweet final week working out here in Chile on the 2023 vintage! I feel an immense sense of gratitude for this opportunity to create alongside the skilled and welcoming friends I have made. I came here with a hope to share my knowledge, gain perspective and I have done just that! The skills and techniques I’ve acquired during my time here will help me in my continued pursuit of creating the best wine in Temecula Valley. After this Friday, I get to spend one more week taking it all in before I head north to California where my heart lies!  

Friday I was invited to dinner at a friend of Pilar’s who lives right down the street (everyone lives close in a small town). Once we arrived, the gate swung open and Gloria, Pilar’s friend, gave us a warm welcome to her home in Chimbarongo. As we walked in, the delicious aromas of her home-cooked meal warming in the oven made us soo hungry. Luckily, as great as Pilar already is, she also owns a business creating local charcuterie boards and she brought one for us to snack on while we waited. As we talked, we also enjoyed a Chardonnay from a nearby coastal region close to Pichilemu, with mineral driven soils you could actually taste! After a few glasses, dinner was ready. We ate salad, wedge potatoes and baked wild caught trout. The rest of the night was filled with good times and rock n’ roll! Haha

A slow Saturday morning was needed after a fun night, so I Face Timed loved ones back home; A common occurrence when you are 5,573 miles away. I miss them so much; SO grateful for technology! Later that night, I attended a birthday party for Gabriel’s Brother. I knew Chileans could party, but wow they really know how to have a fun time! About 100+ people flooded the yard. The party was filled with wine, beer, a DJ, food truck, bonfire, and tons of friends that just kept showing up! I found myself surrounded by so many like-minded individuals from the wine industry here in Chile. Everywhere I turned, I was greeted by a new face eager to ask questions about my visit here. One conversation led to Gabriel’s nephew, Alfonso, inviting me to his family’s newest Carmenere vineyard installation. He asked if I could give my thoughts on the soil composition and overall opinions. After talking into the evening, I decided to call it a night because I had a winery reservation in the morning. Good thing I did because I found out the party went until 4am!  

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I woke up Sunday happy I came home at a decent hour to get some rest for the day. Pilar and I made our drive to Viña Santa Cruz winery where they have a wine and automotive museum; Two of my favorite things! As I walked through the museum, I began to fully appreciate the ingenuity required to make wine in the past… Yes, wine is worth it! Haha Even if we didn’t have the state-of-the-art equipment that we do at Wiens, I would be out there smashing grapes like Lucille Ball. Once we finished with the tour and wine tasting, we made our way to another one of Pilar’s friends’ houses. It was a beautiful home in the foothills of a small town called Lolol that reminded me of my grandparents’ house in De Portola Estates near Temecula Wine Country. She grew up in Boston and spoke perfect English, so we were able to have an engaging conversation about her life and how she ended up here. Over local wine and snacks, we talked about how she purchased her home 10 years prior to use it as a B&B to meet new people. It was a perfect day!

Monday, I worked a half day, then met up with Alfonso and we headed to the Carmenere vineyard in Placilla. As we drove into the countryside, I appreciated the mosaic of landscape and microclimates found in the traversing valleys running towards the Pacific. They not only hold beauty, but also lend opportunity to discover a hidden potential beneath. After assessing the property, we had worked up an appetite, so we drove to his family’s estate nearby in Nancagua. We walked in to the smell of— you guessed it— empanadas! But these were not any old empanadas, these were handmade and baked to crispy golden perfection in a classic Chilean adobe oven! After lunch we rested until Alfonso showed me around their property with Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon planted.  

Tuesday was a pretty typical workday at the winery, but Wednesday, I woke up at 5:00 am to carpool back over to the 100-year-old Pais vineyard near Pichilemu. This marked the last day of harvest in a kismet, full-circle moment as my time comes to a close. The road was long and winding into the hills and forest that surround it. Once we arrived, the sun was just peaking over the mountaintop shining light on a vineyard that has seen more than 35,000 sunrises! I am very happy with the fruit we harvested and believe it will produce the 90 + point wines it has garnished in the past. After a long day in the vineyard, we drove the truck to the small beach village of Bacalemu to enjoy the best fresh caught Reineta fish and chips I’ve ever had; A perfect way to spend my last work week here in Chile. Now, it’s time to relax and spend the rest of my time with all of the friends I’ve made the past 6 weeks. Seven days to fill with adventure, great wine and nurturing relationships I know will last a lifetime. I’ll talk to you all one last time as I fly home, but it’s crazy to think: Just one week from today, I’ll be Going To California!

– Blake

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This week was special, I did something unique each day & fell even more in love with this beautiful country… If that’s possible! Besides the weekend with my family, this was hands down my favorite week in Chile. Starting on Thursday, I got into work & heard word from the owner that we were going to check out some other vineyards. I hurried up what I had to do for the day & we headed out around 2 pm. It was nice to spend a little more time with Gabriel on the car ride & talk about his journey into the wine world. He has a lot of experience that I’m privileged to learn from during my time out here. Our conversation gave me a lot of confidence in what I’m doing, which was a great start to an incredible day!  

Once we stepped out of the car at our first stop, I was in awe from beginning to end. We had arrived at Vina Marquis and it was the most beautiful production site I had ever seen.  Vines cascaded the sides of a massive concrete building as we walked into their eclectic collection of barrels & tanks, surrounded by horizontal iron bars intricately woven with fresh greenery from top to bottom. We walked along their elevated catwalk to see their several tons of wine from up above & talked with the production crew as they guided us through their winemaking techniques, equipment & current vintage. I got to try some tasty wine, too! After our tour, we got lunch at an amazing restaurant & moved on to check out some of our own vineyards including 100-year-old organic Pais! It was amazing to see all the land that’s creating the wine we make every day. After a long, wonderful day, Gabriel surprised me by offering his car for the long weekend. The generosity here is unmatched, I will never get over it. Of course, I said yes & I headed home for a much-needed rest.  


Friday was a great day, too! I woke up enjoying the sun & ended up joining Pilar for some wine tasting at Vina Koyle where they practice biodynamic farming. We visited a few nearby places with some beautiful cellars & amazing wine, then finished off the day with some of her delicious empanadas. Saturday, we spent the day at a nearby beach village called Pichilemu, with Pilar’s friends & picked up Emil on the way! I guess that goodbye was a little more short-lived than I realized. We enjoyed the day eating great food, drinking incredible wine & enjoying some amazing views. In between all the fun, we got closer to the water & walked along the shore of the black sand beach. I’ve never seen anything like it. The marine layer eventually took over & it felt like we were on another planet, surrounded by a thick layer of fog. Luckily, the cloud burned off & we were able to enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. We drove home & I met up with Emil again on Sunday for a beautiful waterfall hike about an hour outside of town.  

On top of that, Monday I got to work a half-day & join Pilar for some more wine tasting. This time, we enjoyed her friends’ winery & explored the vineyards by golf cart. We were introduced to their 100-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon & discussed propagation techniques for the ageing vines. All the traveling to local vineyards this week reminded me of how much wine is an expression of one’s self & the influences around us. Wine is comprised of thousands of important decisions, or as I like to call them “brush strokes,” making up the life inside the bottle. I have begun to notice how essential fermentation cap management is in directing that vision for style. The formation of a “cap” happens when the yeasts begin to produce CO2 (along with the good stuff: alcohol) & the skins are carried to the top of the juice/wine. During this time, the cap needs to be rehydrated for many reasons; The main ones being temperature control, tannin structure & color extraction. Overall, the amount of extraction needed is subjective & this is where we as winemakers have to decide the future we see for our wine. As we taste every morning during our sugar & temperature checks, we make decisions about how much extraction feels right for the wine. I have noticed they like to approach this with a less is more attitude. Most of the wines here are focused on a sense of place & purpose. To over extract would mask their beauty. It’s been refreshing to gain Felipe and Rafa’s perspectives, especially regarding their award winning Carmenere. I’m so excited to return home with techniques to make our winemaking program better than ever! 

To say I had a great week is an understatement. Of course, this rushed version doesn’t do it justice, but I’ll just say the time spent between the days was enough to make me already miss my time out here. I can’t believe it’s going by so fast, and to think I only have 2 more weeks left in this beautiful place is bittersweet. Chile will always hold a place in my heart, but California & the people there are my forever home. Won’t be long until I’m back!

– Blake

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This week was a whole lot of hard work, a lot of going through the motions and not a lot of sleep. Still, there’s beauty in the fact that I’m starting to gain a routine around here! My days usually go like this: Wake up before the sun. Grab some breakfast. Hop in the truck to work. Fermentation checks. Yeast additions. Software updates. Lunch. Fruit processing. More fruit processing. 2nd lunch. More fruit processing. Drive home. Eat dinner. Clean up. Sleep. Repeat.

Luckily, my long week made it the perfect weekend to have no plans; The first restful one since I’ve been here! I ended up doing local things around Chimbarongo (the pizza place down the street knows my name now, so you can officially call me Chileano) & enjoying the good weather before it gets cooler. The fall is starting to settle in and I’m having to layer up a bit more in the mornings. Sad to see it go, but it wasn’t the only goodbye this week. My housemate, Emil, is in a student exchange program out here in Chile and left to his new house Friday. Although the plan was to join in on the celebration of his leaving, I ended up working until midnight and had to say my quick goodbyes when I got back. He was my first friend out here, so it was definitely sad. He ended up gifting me a book highlighting his hometown in Germany that I definitely plan on using when I make it out there one day. We both have plans to visit each other in the future!

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He will be missed, but it got me thinking: It won’t be too long before I’m heading out, as well. Our house mom, Pilar, was so sad to see him go and we’ve all grown such a bond out here. I know that will be hard on both of us when the time rolls around for me, too. She has become such a special part of this experience and shown me so much kindness; I will never forget it. I’ll be sad to leave her. I’m trying to spend as much time as I can with her before I go. She has been teaching me how to cook some incredible dishes, but sometimes doesn’t even allow me in the kitchen! Haha Luckily, she let me cook hamburguesas for the house this week and I received some positive reviews. I actually plan on spending my long weekend coming up with her and some friends. We have Friday off again in honor of Good Friday, and this time, I get to visit the beach! Many pictures to come of how it compares. Overall, I’m definitely soaking up these last few weeks, but I really am missing home.

Luckily, work is keeping me plenty busy! This is my favorite time of year because of how exciting it is to nurture a wine through the beginning of elevage. This is a formative event in the life of a wine, like watching your child walk for the first time after fostering each little grape to maturity. There is so much work involved, but with compassion and attention, the return on investment can be greater than anything you could imagine. Something to be proud of.

By the time I made it to the weekend, I was exhausted from nearly 100 + tons of fruit within a 2-week span. We’re hitting points in harvest where grapes are ripening so fast, we have to pull multiple 15-hour days, working before the sunrise into the late night to ensure everything is done to the high standards we keep for ourselves. It can be maddening at times, but when you’re surrounded by a solid crew that keeps you grounded and laughing, you find purpose through the work. As winemakers, we dedicate our lives to this craft in hopes to capture the essence of passion in the bottle. In this new environment, I’m learning the wine style is distinguished, but the attitude and hospitality feel like home.  

Talk to ya next week!

– Blake 

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Another amazing week lived out here in the beautiful country of Chile & this time, I got to share it with my family! Before they made their way down to me from Santiago, I had a pretty long week at work. Thursday was busy. I topped their barrel fermented Chardonnay in the morning, talked shop & tasted with both the owner, Gabriel & winemaker, Felipe here in the afternoon, then emptied the concrete cube & crushed grapes all the way into the evening. Seriously, most days lately have consisted of waking up with the sun, working hard until 9-10pm, grabbing beers with the guys to end the day & getting as much sleep as I can to do it all again the next day. I love it.

Friday though, was an insane twist of fate. My brother & his girlfriend are travelling around the world as he gets his PhD, but their itinerary has been planned for quite a while. During a few conversations after I learned about this opportunity, we found out I’d be here at the same time as them! Of course, we made plans to make a whole weekend out of it & it’s been my favorite memory so far. I got to work a half-day, then enjoy the rest of the weekend with them.

After a very warm welcome on Friday afternoon, we hopped in the car & headed to our Airbnb in the city of San Fernando. The property was beautiful & even had dogs! That night, we stayed up late talking & sharing a bottle of an amazing Syrah; Can’t say enough about this wine— 100% grown & vinted organic, biodynamic, tastes like it was fermented in concrete, with notes of minerality & soft fruit. After a much-needed night’s rest, we woke up the next morning to freshly made breakfast where we were staying & headed out to stuff ourselves even more at the Food & Wine Festival in the nearby city of Curicó. Throughout the entire venue, live music rang proudly from the main stage as the sizzling smells of irresistible street food & a never-ending array of incredible Chilean wine satisfied all of my other senses. Plus, I was walking side by side with my brother all day. I was on cloud nine. We spent a few hours there enjoying the scenery & even ran into my house-mate! Then, we headed home to share another bottle & get some rest before another fun day.

Believe it or not, Sunday was my favorite day. We woke up to another delicious breakfast, fresh from the garden & headed out to a history museum in the Colchagua Valley. When we first bought tickets, they let us know the $2 fee per person lasted for 24 hours. We were confused, until we walked in. That place was massive! We walked around for hours & there were still exhibits we didn’t even know about. Everything there gave impactful insight into the history of Chile & South America as a whole. Truthfully, the only reason we stopped was because we got too hungry! So, we headed out to our next destination. This restaurant was next level. It reminded me so much of the wineries in Valle de Guadalupe; Beautiful views on every corner, sipping amazing wine, enjoying a meal that you dream about for weeks. I want to go back & order everything on the menu. We had such a good time enjoying each other’s company & stuffing our faces, we missed the cut for the wine tasting we had planned. After we scarfed down dessert, we headed back to the house & had our final night enjoying a bottle & laughing around the couch.

The next morning, we said our sad goodbyes & I got back to work. This week, we’ve been crushing fruit all day, every day. We’ve been having a ton of fun, too! It’s funny; The first couple weeks, I was really trying to feel the vibe & understand their winemaking style before I gave my input, but now we’re actually starting to exchange winemaking ideas. They’re taking my opinion into account as I suggest fermentation techniques, different yeast alternatives & offering equipment expertise I’ve learned from back home.

Yesterday, it really hit me that we’re in the thick of crush out here! The aromas you get during this time of year are unlike anything you’ll smell in a fully fermented wine; fresh baked strawberry pie & banana bread. If you’ve ever been in the back of a winery during harvest, you know what I mean! I realized how much it reminds me of home & how much I’m starting to miss it. That being said, the time is still going by way too fast & there’s so much more to see. I can’t wait to explore it all. Talk to ya next week!

– Blake