Napa Valley's BEST Winery Experience: Conn Creek Barrel Blending
Every trip to Napa should have at least one BIG adventure, the winery experience that caps off your wine tasting vacation. Take the Sterling Tram? Tour the castle at Castello di Amorosa? Visit the caves of Del Dotto? Yes, all good options but for me the BEST Napa experience is the Conn Creek Winery Barrel Blending Experience. And yes, I have a discount but that comes later.
What I love about Conn Creek's Barrel Blending Experience is that how it makes you define what you like in your wine. I mean, I drink a lot of wine and I know what I like but if you asked me to describe it I get all befuddled. Umm, tar? Leather? Plums? Yikes, my cover as a self proclaimed wine expert is shattered.
But not anymore. That's because I went to the Conn Creek Barrel Blending Experience, a 90 minute "class" where you taste 6 different cabs grown in different areas of Napa. Like a good student I took a few notes and honed in on what I liked and what I didn't like in each, which was a good thing because before I knew it I was taking my little eyedropper and mixing up a glass like I was some sort of scientist. And then after some tweaking I was kneeling in front of the barrels and carefully measuring out quantities of each to make up my own blend. I call it Local Wally Reserve Cab. It's limited - very limited!
Conn Creek's blending seminar is super cool, a quick way to get a wine education that's valuable to everyone from newbie wine lovers trying to understand what they like to industry insiders who want to further their knowledge. And it's fun - no stuffy classroom setting - and afterwards you go straight to the tasting bar to try all of their wines. You like wine, you'll love this experience.
30 Days Later......
After waiting a month I invited my wine blending group over for a blind tasting. Will our wines hold up? Will we still love them? And who made the best? We wrapped the wines in foil to hide the labels and surrounded ourselves with wine glasses and sipped like the experts we had become. Surprisingly, all four bottles tasted very different from each other.
My wine started off as big, bold and nearly over the top but as it sat open and we tasted more I noticed that the LW Reserve was the one we all gravitated to., Well, at least that's how I remembered it. In truth I think all of us could defend our wine blends to the end, just like real wine makers. The winner - the one we all secretly thought was our own - started off soft and drinkable and remained complex without going over the top. It wasn't mine. Damn!
The tasting party continued as the rib eyes were tossed on the grill and our wines were so good that all four bottles were gone by the end of the night :-)
Local wally recommended
Everyone needs to do this. I mean, everyone! It's fun, it's educational, and the wine tasting competition a month later lets you bring home the Napa experience for your friends and family. And won't everyone be so impressed when you say things like how you wanted a bit more boldness so you added a drop of Petite Verdot and how the Cab Franc really sends the aroma over the top. Oh you wine expert you.
TIP: Save your cards with your measurements on it because if you LOVE your wine you can have Conn Creek make you up a custom case. Now that's cool!
Discounts for Conn Creek Blending Experience
Get a $50 discount with a Priority Wine Pass. Get your pass here, it's $39.99 per couple so the card already more than paid for itself. And remember, get the pass and I'll build you a stop by stop agenda to make sure you get your money's worth. OK, sure, it's still $100 per person after the discount but figure you get to take home a bottle of Napa wine that you made - most Napa wines are at least $60 - $75 per bottle these days - and you got to taste at the bar (normally $25 per person) - and you got a wine education that you just can't get anywhere else - so a hundred bucks is really a bargain. Highly recommended for my readers, skip the tram ride and the crowds at the touristy wineries and do the Conn Creek Blending Experience!