This is our first ever BC Field Blend Special.
What is a field blend, who makes it and why don’t they put the words on the label?
Over thirty different opinions in this one hour.
One week after our feature interview on Unsworth Vineyards in The Cowichan Valley it has been announced that the winery has been purchased by California wine royalty.
Involved were The Turyk Family at Unsworth, Barbara Banke, the widow of Jackson Family Wines founder Jess Jackson who is Chairman and Proprietor. The Flagship winery is Kendall-Jackson. She has been involved in winery purchases in Oregon, France, Italy, Chile, Australia, South Africa and now Vancouver Island.
And her daughter Julia, who is very much involved in the Jackson Family team.
This is a very important moment for The Cowichan and BC Wines. We have been studied and found to be worthy of high profile investment.
We start the show with a quick chat with last week’s guest Chris Turyk.
A couple of years ago a gaggle of winemakers from Portugal came through Vancouver.
Our interviews always ended up in the same place..their famous field blends.
In the Duoro Valley they plant, grow, harvest and bottle 20-30-40 different varietals. All Together! It’s a true field blend. What’s in the field IS the blend.
I was fascinated by the process and the final results.
These wines were complex, elegant and surprisingly balanced.
True Field Blends are still made in Germany and Australia.
Over the course of a year, the questions I asked over 30 winemakers were..
What is your concept of a field blend?
Do you make a field blend and what’s in it?
If you do make a field blend..do you put the words on your label?
If not, why not?
The answers were passionate, surprising and highly opinionated.
Most wines we drink today are made of grapes harvested from various vineyards throughout a province , state, or even country, fermented in separate lots, and then blended together into a finished wine. Field blends are single-vineyard wines whose grapes are grown, harvested, and vinified together—the blending is done in the vineyard, not in the winery.
Field-blended vineyards are interplanted with multiple grape varieties—sometimes all red or all white, and sometimes both red and white—without apparent rhyme or reason. A zinfandel vine might be growing with carignan on one side and petite sirah on the other. The whole field is then picked at once. Timing is crucial and calls into play the winemaker’s skill and artistry. All of the grapes are fermented together.
Some old World winemakers or growers may have no idea what the exact blend is.
I don’t expect everyone is going to have the same interest as I do but the winemakers here all have a very strong opinion (all except my pal Dell Halliday who’s answer was “Meh”).
The responses were really good and just kept getting better and better.
Especially about the question Why do you not put the words Field Blend on your bottles? Are we, the consumer not trusting of the term?
(Several winemakers here actually believe in field blends and some years have put the words on their labels
Michael Schindler from A Sunday in August
Grant Biggs from Kitsch (Block Party)
Brent Rowland from Joue at Averill Creek
Mike Nierychlo from Emandare)
Here’s the Guest List for the Field Blend Special
(Yes, some were asked twice over the course of a Year)
Rhys Pender – Master of Wine
Kurtis Kolt – Wine Writer and Judge. Co-Organizer of Top Drop in the West.
Val Tait (Bench 1775) and Senka Tennant (TerraVista)
Brent Rowland – (Joue and Averill Creek)
Mike Nierychlo – (Emandare)
Stephen Arnason – (Poplar Grove and Monster Wines)
Richard da Silva (Da Silva and Misconduct)
Rhys Pender – (Little Farm Wines)
Ann Sperling – (Sperling Vineyards)
Larry Gerelus (Stags Hollow)
Paul Gardner – (Pentage)
Andrea Sartori – (Sartori Family Vineyards. Verona Italy)
Jeff Hundertmark – (Rust and Mt Boucherie)
Michael Schindler – (A Sunday in August)
Ann Sperling (Sperling Vineyards .many months later)
David Gouge – (Sea Star)
Ike Seaman – (Wine Director at The Wickaninnish Inn)
Grant Biggs – (Kitsch Wines. Makes Block Party as a field blend)
Kelsey Rufiange – (Echo Bay)
Senka Tennant – (TerraVista)
Joe Luckhurst – (Road 13)
Galen Barnhardt – (Monte Creek)
Kathy Malone – (Hillside)
Lindsay O’Rourke – (Tightrope)
Gustav Allander – (Foxtrot)
Garron Elmes – (Lake Breeze)
Jeff Martin (La Frenz)
Nikki Calloway – (Laughing Stock)
Riley Hollenback – (Red Rooster)
Bob Ferguson – (Kettle Valley)
Dell Halliday – (Elephant Island)
Gavin Miller – (Upper Bench Winery)
Gordon Fitzpatrick – (Fitzpatrick Family Wines)
STORIES WE’RE WORKING ON:
Kitsch – Winemaker Graham Pierce
Kendall-Jackson/Jackson Family Wines – Wine Master Randy Ullom
Anthony Buchannan Wines – Winemaker Anthony Buchannan
Sandra Oldfield – Trouble with a Capitol T
Lock and Worth