Story by Neal Fasula: As part of our Business Development Internship, Claire and I will be making a barrel of wine. As you would expect, the first step is to decide which wine to use. We began by taking barrel samples from 2013 adoption barrels. We were able to narrow our choices down to a single vineyard and varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon from Rutherford Bench Vineyard, which offered 4 barrels to choose from. Believe it or not, the difference from one barrel to the next is uncanny.

Claire and I worked our way through the samples one by one. The first barrel was well balanced and had gorgeous aromatics. However, we were seeking a bit more muscle. The second barrel in the flight had an explosive fore palate and nice fruit notes, but the tannins in the finish we’re a bit too polished for the style of Cabernet we are trying to create. The other two barrels, were quite similar. During a second side-by-side comparison, barrel #2773 proved more to our liking with “Big Cab” flavors, a round mouthfeel and lush, dark fruit flavor. Such characteristics will give the winemakers a great canvas to work with as we get closer to bottling.