The Wandering Wino Blog

Wine Blend Table

When it comes to wine, it is often thought to be part science (chemistry), part farmer (viticulturist), and part art (creative). Wine blending may fall more in line with the latter. Blending wine is something I have often thought about and something I have had the humbling privilege to participate in. Personal results are what can be even more humbling, but do not take away one bit from the fun experience.

Gwendolyn Alley(Gwendolyn Alley) 

Recently I was invited by my 805 local wine blogging friend, Gwendolyn Alley AKA @artpreditor. Gwendolyn put out the word with many others in social media from several different fields, including educators, writers, a comic, a wine tour guide, radio personallities, foodies, and more.

Robert Larsen(Robert Larsen) 

Robert Larsen, director of communications from Rodney Strong was our host, guide, and educator for the evening. We were privileged not only to have Robert as our gracious host, but especially appreciative for his long travels to visit with us. The evenings hash-tag was #RSVSYMM.

Tweeters(Robert Plant/Jason Hendrick)

The Sonoma based winery is widely known and available throughout the nation, however many may not be aware they are also producing fantastic single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons like Brothers, Rockaway, and Alexander's Crown. 

Alexander Valley Cabernet

One of the most famous Cabernet Sauvignon regions in the United States is Alexander Valley, and home to some of the Rodney Strong's best vineyards. Rodney Strong also happens to be one of the largest vineyard holders in all of Sonoma County which includes Alexander Valley. They even source from one of the oldest, and most respected wineries in all of Alexander Valley, Robert Young. 

Symmetry Wine

Owner Tom Klien and head winemaker Rick Sayre decided to produce what would be their flag ship wine, with 1996 as their first vintage. They would name this special wine, Symmetry. Symmetry is a Bordeaux style blend that draws from the traditional French varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. The Symmetry is generous with black fruit, cassis, and a bit of coco. Retails for $60.

Wine Blending

Wine Blending Party

As we selected our seating, each table would be composed as a team to collectively compose our own version of "Symmetry." The fun was further enhanced by allowing each team to name the wine with the final glass submission to our judge, Robert. This is where all the romance of winemaking comes into play, and a guest can have visions of grandeur. 

Quartet Ventura

(Photo above left to right - Tom Plant, Shawn Burgert, Robert Larsen, Jason Hendrick, Gary Coon) 

Unknowingly, I was fortunate to sit with the winning team, which we later named Quartet Ventura. My three teammates included Jason Hendrick, AKA "The Hungry Man" from the Tom and Sandy Show on 1590 AM (Jason and I work together, he does the food and I do the wine segment). Gary Coon from Taste and Trip, and a new wine friend, Tom Plant, AKA Winenormous. Our winning blend utilized a Malbec base (60%), followed by 20% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Petite Verdot.

Robert Larsen Wine Judge

As we all waited in anticipation of Roberts announcement of winners, he put us all on edge a bit longer as he awarded special acknowledgment to a team for their submission of a wine label (the evenings sole submission). 

Masika Mathur(Rasika Mathur photoed with their teams label) 

We had our fun, and winning blend as we strutted while others simply walked to the Pierpont Inn's restaurant to learn more about the other wines of Rodney Strong at dinner. 

Peirpont Inn Ventura

Robert shared a bit about some of the other wines that we would drink that included the refreshing Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. He went on to note that we would be tasting the single vineyard selection of Alexander's Crown as his personal favorite.

Jimtown Store

It was easy to see why the Alexander's Crown was Robert's favorite, as it quickly became my evenings favorite as well. Just 15 acres were planted in 1974 slightly southwest of Jimtown in Alexander Valley California. MSRP $75 

With a night filled with wine blending, education, food, wine, meeting old freinds and new, it was easily a 90+ point evening. As far as Rodney Strong wine goes, I would suggest to seek out Alexander's Crown Cabernet and consider it a value wine at $75. 


  • Frank
    Posted Monday 19 August 2013 16:24
    Nice article, Shawn. Looks like a great time. Always enjoy participating in blending sessions (thinking back to our time at R.Stuart last summer) - gives a new appreciation to the blends we enjoy, eh. Now only if I could convince Robert and the Rodney Strong team to come on out to Virginia for a tasting event. :) Cheers!
  • Robert Larsen
    Posted Monday 19 August 2013 17:40
    Hey there Shawn. Thanks for this. It sure was a fun evening! Frank, let's talk... ;) Have a great week!
  • gwendolyn alley
    Posted Monday 19 August 2013 18:22
    Love the photos, Shawn! Great write up too! You really capture the "symmetry" of a wonderful evening! I look forward to our next adventure in the 805--and beyond!

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