The Wandering Wino Blog

R Stuart & Co

Pinot Noir Wine Blending


Have you ever wanted to blend your own bottle of wine? Blending my own wine is something I have thought a lot about over the years, Pinot Noir in-particular. Wine blending has been a frequent topic between my wife and I, to the point that despite being untested or proven, my wife believes I could blend well. I on the other hand am not so sure.


WIne Bloggers

While attending the Wine Bloggers Conference in Oregon last August, I was honored to receive an invitation to join about 25 others by our very gracious hosts, Maria, and Rob Stuart of R.Stuart & Co.

Once the conference ended, we were greeted by Maria with a welcoming smile. We were taken to the R.Stuart winery in (Willamette Valley) McMinnville, OR where we were all welcomed with a lovely glass of bubbles!

R Stuart Sparkling Wine

R Stuart Rose

A beautiful lunch was offered with the fantastic wines of R.Stuart including the Big Fire Rose that was so refreshing. While the lunch was paired with great quality foods, walking by the blending tables felt a lot like being a kid on Christmas morning coming out to Santa's splendor

Blending Tables


I was reminded of passing the stuffed Christmas stockings and needing to wait for everyone to join before the fun could begin. The excitement jumped off me like a like a grass hopper caught in a sprinkler. 


Rob Stuart

Handling the excitement was eased with Rob at the helm, leading a barrel tasting. Each barrel laid out were from different vineyards and a mix of PinotNoir clones. Some of the clones included 2A, Pommard, Dijon 115, 667, 777, amongst others.

Wine Theif

Wine Barrel Tasting

Rob Stuart

As we tasted each barrel, Rob shared the vineyard detailssoils, locations, and what types of characteristics we might expect from each. Some had more tannin, while others more acid and each displayed some fruit variation. Simply put, Rob described the puzzle pieces and it would be up to each blending group to determine how their final picture (wine) might look. 

Frank Morgan

Everyone really wanted to ensure a fairly good understanding of the "good stuff" we had to work with including a great VA wine blogger Frank Morgan (pictured above).

Cuvee Corner Wild Bill

As this entire group was what I would consider to be full tilt winos, I knew many would have their own preferred Pinot Noir style. My good friend, and very knowledgeable "Wild Bill" (as seen above), AKA Cuvee_Corner like most everyone had his style dialed in. He and I have agreed on many things, including an appreciation for R.Stuart wines, however, we were in different Pinotworlds when it came to blending. For that reason Bill and I opted to create our own masterpiece Pinot Noir.

Rob & Maria

It may be my preferred style was a bit seductive compared of others. My friend Kim, AKA D'Vine Wine Time and I agreed we'd join forces in the production of the greatest bottle of Pinot Noir ever blended. Well, that was the plan.

We were joined by another couple that quickly expressed their interests. Mattie quickly called shot-gun or in this case team leader. His girlfriend was given the task of our measurements, and Kim was our mathematician. None were easy tasks with constant adjustments in the blend. I was quickly dubbed an "acid head" based upon my interest for a more acid driven wine, while others were more inclined for a more tannin based Pinot Noir. Balance of course is where we were in agreement.


There are no losers in the game of I get to go home with my own bottle of wine made by Rob Stuart and blended by a group of winos. I'd say it's a bit like getting to pick second in a giant chest of treasure. It doesn't really matter because you go home with great treasure. Any complaints would be like saying your "diamond shoes are too tight." (Chandler Bing quote)  


Group Blending

Bloggers Blending

Rob and Maria were on hand like a parent with their child riding a bike for the first time. Rob shared a good approach to blending is to start with a base wine and then build around that wine.

Rob Stuart

Pinot Noir Blending Wine

Elkhorn Vineyard

There was no shortage of options, as we had six different Pinot Noirs to make our selection. Our group agreed on our base wine to be the Elkhorn Ridge Vineyard which ended up being 50% of our blend. The remaining blend included:  


  • 20% Weber
  • 15% Daffodil Hill
  • 8% Courting Hill
  • 5% Temperance Hill
  • 2% Hirschy


I honestly do not recall why we elected to use each of the six Pinot Noirvineyard selections, maybe we wanted the most complexity, diversity, an Oregon collective, or simply didn't want any of them to feel left out.

The time flew by in blending, tasting, calculations, negotiating, naming our wine/AVA, then asked to add tasting notes. Our tasting notes were no doubt rushed, but at the time came up with: "Cherries, ginger, plums on the mid palate. Medium acid up front, full mouth feel, with a short finish.

Not exactly spectator status type notes we put together, however we were given great tools, wines, and instruction. The final result of our wine was a bit like an exciting roller coaster climbing with anticipation to the top, doing well then you brace for the fall and the ride is over. Based upon our skill set (or lack of,and time) I think this wine goes maybe 60%-75% the distance of being a solid wine. A little more time and maybe our group could have worked out those kinks. I will gladly drink it with humility, and a hint of pride.

This exciting and fun exercise really gave a glimmer of the challenge in blending wine. Kudos to Rob Stuart for blending really nice Pinot Noir for everyone. It is in their tasting room if you haven't had it. No matter how any given bloggers blend might turn out, there is confidence in knowing where a really nice bottle of well blended wine can come from in R.Stuart & Co.

Bloggers Blend

Mattie in our group suggested our wine name: "Half-Assed Red," I believe maybe based upon our efforts. I had suggested "Ghetto Wine" which we reversed to use for naming the AVA.

Drink What You Like Frank

Bloggers Stuart Photo

Rob Stuart Wine Lorie

Mrs Cuvee Rene

(Mrs Cuvee with some of the provisions)

Wine Harlots Nanette Eaton

The most entertaining parts are up for debate. Might I suggest, Nanette AKAWine Harlots (shown above/below) ensuring all were cared for on a bumpy bus would likely land on the short list of entertainment. 

Wine Harlots


This photo just so happened to catch one of the bumps, but hey, it's a bus of winos and gracious Nanette wanted our cups to runneth over.


Kim & Bill

Wine Harlots Cuvee Corner D'Vine Wine Time

On Tuesday April 23, 2013, the bloggers with Maria and Rob Stuart will reconvene on Twitter to open our blends and tweet #bloggersblend.

That very same excitement I mentioned earlier is beginning to come back in anticipation of this event. I cannot wait to hear how others blends turned out and see how the fruits of our labor came together in these bottles we will all be cracking.

Wine Bloggers Bus

I would like to extend a toast to our amazing hosts Maria and Rob Stuart for an amazing experience and great wines! To my new friends I had the pleasure of meeting along the way, it truly was a pleasure and I hope to see you all again soon. 


  • Pat Ray
    Posted Wednesday 24 April 2013 02:39
    I think I want to join this club! Looks like so much fun. Wine all the time. How bad can that be???

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