How to love your wine even more

Think of one of your favorite wines. Ever. The way it sings with a steak off the grill. The deep color in your glass when you’re toasting friends. The wistful joy of the last sip.

Now imagine the unbelievable chance to actually pitch in and make that magic happen – in a very, very, very small way, but still…

Many thanks to Andy, Frank and Tim at Eight Bells Winery for letting me help de-stem the last of the 2015 harvest. Volunteering with small urban wineries gives you a unique perspective into winemaking and a new appreciation for the ruby happiness swirling in your stemware.  It also helps keep small volume winery costs managable. A win-win.

2010_Cabernet_Sauvignon_David's_Block_front_COLAI enjoyed  David’s Block with the first taste. I fell in love when I learned how it is made. The grapes come from an old world “field blend block” designed by Mike Sauer and David Lake in WA state’s Red Willow Vineyard.  The goal is to manage this vineyard block  so that all the fruit can be harvested at the same time, allowing the winery to co-ferment it for an integrated blend. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Verdot grow side-by-side, destined for a pleasant harmony.

Elbow deep in grapes, you can ask all the questions that pop into your head;

a. what difference does a cool or warm year make?

b. Can you tell what a wine will be like just by tasting the grapes?

c. Um…what’s that moth doing in there?

a. A warm year usually produces a pronounced fruit, but a winemaker often has to rush. A cooler year gives the winemaker time to work with the specific character of that particular year’s yield.

b. Some folks claim they can taste the vintage in the grape. Eight Bells winemakers aren’t among those folks. They know when a grape tastes good and it informs the path they’ll take to make the wine they want.

c. According to Andy (deadpan): moths “go in the special reserve, over there”.

To love a bottle of wine even more, go to see how it’s made, meet the people who craft it and maybe even roll up your sleeves, grab a pitchfork and toss stems into the compost pile.

For the record, the moth was fished out and flew free.


Eight Bells Winery David’s Block  Alc: 14.2%. Retail price: $35/bottle. 

Read more about what makes Eight Bells Winery “David’s Block” on their website:…/winep…/_/19/2011/Davids-Block/


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