WALLA WALLA, Wash., Nov. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Today Northstar Winery, one of the country's leading producers of high-end Merlot, announced the opening of the Northstar Blending Experience – a unique, hands-on opportunity for winery visitors to immerse themselves in the art and craft of blending world-class wine.
The goal of the Northstar Blending Experience is to give guests an appreciation for the critical importance of blending in the winemaking process, even at a varietally-focused winery such as Northstar.
"Even as a Merlot specialist, everything we do at Northstar is about blending to some degree – blending vineyards, blending barrels, and blending varietals," said David 'Merf' Merfeld, winemaker for Northstar. "The Northstar Blending Experience gives people a taste of what goes on behind the scenes here every day."
Four barrels of Merlot from four renowned appellations across Washington state, along with a barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon and a barrel of Petit Verdot, form the centerpiece of the Northstar Blending Experience. Each barrel is accompanied by a detailed description of the vineyard characteristics and aroma and flavor profiles of the wine contained inside, illustrating the role that these wines play in a blend.
After a brief presentation on Washington State's wine-growing regions and the fundamentals of tasting and blending techniques, guests taste through each of the barrels, making notes on their impressions and preferences, before sitting down to compose their own custom blend – just as professional winemakers do, through trial and error – using beakers, graduated cylinders and other blending tools.
Once a guest has settled on their final blend, they measure out a full 750-milliliter bottle of their wine, insert a cork in their bottle using a manual corking machine, and affix their own custom-designed Northstar label.
The Northstar Blending Experience occupies a dedicated space at Northstar. In addition to six full 59-gallon (225-liter) barrels, the winery has installed interactive audiovisual equipment and a custom-made table for up to 12 guests.
Northstar, owned by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, is recognized as one of the new world's foremost producers of Merlot. Part of the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates 'String of Pearls' – a collection of distinctive wine estates from around the world, each allowed to explore to the fullest extent the unique growing conditions of their respective regions – Northstar crafts critically-acclaimed Merlots from distinguished vineyards across Washington state.
"Our company's mission is to provide our customers with memorable experiences from world-class wine estates," Ted Baseler, President and CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, said. "The Northstar Blending Experience delivers on this promise."
The Northstar Blending Experience is $85 per person or $65 per person for members of the Northstar Wine Club. The full Northstar Blending Experience takes approximately 90 minutes, depending on the number of guests. Appointments for up to 14 guests can be made by calling the winery at (866) 486-7828 or at northstarwinery.com/visiting/northstar-blending-experience.
Since its inaugural 1994 vintage, Walla Walla's Northstar Winery has produced exceptional, critically-acclaimed Merlots from the very best grapes grown in the Walla Walla and Columbia Valleys. Heralded as one of Washington state's leaders in producing high-quality Merlot, Northstar has led the renaissance of the varietal, acclaimed as the "number one source for good American Merlot" by The New York Times. For more information on Northstar, please visit northstarwinery.com.