Oct 15 2009

Just Grapes takes you from grape to barrel

By Maggie Smith

This is the second year that Just Grapes has operated the “Make your own Barrel” program. What we do, as a group, is tour the entire wine making process, from grape to bottle. Whether you are the total wine geek that wants his or her wine customized to suit their palate, or the person that has no idea what goes on in the winery and would love to explore that road, it is a fun and informative experience for everyone.

With each group, Don Sritong–owner of Just Grapes–picks a vineyard where great wines are made.  This ensures that that our wine will be of a high quality and be comparative to a bottle you would pay upwards of $75 for. To try and decipher what style of wine we like as a group, we get together monthly to blind taste wines from all different parts of the globe to see what we agree on. We get to make all the decisions on our wine, from what type of oak is used, to how long it stays in barrel, to labeling, and every geeky step in between.

Not only does each group member receive their own case of their customized wine, but we travel to Napa Valley or Santa Barbara, wherever our vineyard is, and walk the vineyards, where we will have tour guides (sometimes winemakers) let us know what they look for on the vine, farming decisions they make and whatever else we want to ask them.  Don sets up very personalized winery tours—for example, taking four-wheel-drive vehicles to literally tops of mountains to see where mountain fruit is grown and how the grapes are different there. Recently, he set up luncheons with Jack Cakebread and his wife, where we had a gastronomic experience any foodie can appreciate. I never see Napa Valley the way I do as when Don Sritong sets up the tours; it changes your outlook on wine and travel forever. These are just some of the events that you can expect when you “Make your own Barrel” here at Just Grapes.  It is truly a unique and exciting experience that you will relive when you’re drinking the wine that you had a hand in creating and the stories that you will share with friends for years to come.

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