Blending In

Posted by Shane Finley, Winemaker


Blending is the culmination of decisions made during the growing season, harvest, and barrel aging. It is the time when a winemaker has the opportunity to reflect on the past and capture the unique elements of the vintage.

One of my first tasks as Lynmar’s new winemaker was to assemble the blends for the 2011 vintage, one where nature gave us our smallest harvest ever. With 14 clones and over 50 sub-blocks (each farmed, harvested and barreled separately) blending was daunting to say the least and I was both excited and anxious. To prepare, I tasted through previous vintages, walked the vineyards with our vineyard manager Jason, and had extensive conversations with Lynn.

Afterward, I spent a few days evaluating clones, barrels, and press and free-run wines. I started out broadly and then began to narrow the scope of my tasting. I was impressed by the level of complexity in the wines as well as the diversity in the cellar.

After assessing each lot (a specific section or clone within a vineyard) as a whole, I began ranking the barrels individually. Once these evaluations were completed, I started creating my first blends.

I began with Quail Hill of course. I immediately fell in love with the Old Vine Cuvée, Block 10, and Bliss Block. To me, they expressed the heritage as well as diversity of Quail Hill and Lynmar. Tasting the Old Vine Swan clone barrels was like stepping into a time machine and imagining the Russian River Valley landscape during the mid-1970s. The intensity and depth of the Block 10 clones (667 and 777) demonstrated the deft match of classic Russian River Valley soils and Dijon clones. The texture and dimension of the organic Bliss Block was my first foray in massal selection (planting multiple clones together in the same rows). I was amazed at how complete the wine was at such an early stage; I look forward to watching it develop.


As I moved through each blend I discovered something new. I was impressed at how distinct each block was and how the components accentuated each other nicely. The final step was sharing the blend decisions with Lynn and Anisya and Jason and making adjustments.

I believe the 2011s will continue to distinguish Lynmar as a leader in the Russian River Valley. Now, I can’t wait until 2012!

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