Our New Cellar Rat
For those of you who don't know, I'm not very tall -- about 5'4" with my shoes on. When it comes to using the wine thief on any row above the lowest I either have to drag over a stool or ladder, get one of the guys at the winery to help me, or have one of the barrel tasters help me out. If it's during a barrel tasting, this task always gets assigned to the tallest person present.
Jim Cassley, shown below emptying the wine from a thief into a tasting glass, was the new "cellar rat for the day" when his friends took advantage our our barrel tasting program. (A cellar rat is someone who does the grunt work at the winery. Think of washing tanks and barrels, testing for SO2, etc.) Jim and his wife, Lori, are good friends of wine club members Ernie and Bill Pollard (a professional photographer) from the San Fernando Valley in LA. I don't think that Jim knew that his first barrel tasting would result in actually working with the wine!
There were eight of us, including Heather and myself, and we spent about 1-1/2 hours tasting through barrels and comparing the wine in barrels to the blended wine in bottle. We typically taste about 8 wines in barrel at various stages of development. Every time I do a barrel tasting I check on how the wine is progressing, listen to comments from wine club members about their likes and dislikes, and think about blending possibilities. I truly want to know what your palates are telling you!
Barrel tasting for 2 club members plus 6 friends is a benefit of club membership. For non-members, barrel tastings are $30 per person. Reservations must be made 2 weeks in advance.