There are prizes that people aspire to win; Olympic Gold Medals, FA Cup Winners Medals, and Nobel Prizes, but these all pale in comparison to the honour that comes from winning the Conn Creek Blending competition. A group of friends (AKA: The Winos) go to the Conn Creek Winery to blend a bottle of their own wine and then a year or so later we have a competitive blind tasting. This post describes the 2016 tasting from our 2015 blending. We will blog in detail about the blending when we do our next blending in August of this year.

The competitors

California Girl did not take part in our first blending competition but attended the associated tasting competition. She was convinced that she could blend a wine that would win and made strong assertions that victory would be hers. Eleven of us attended the blending in May of 2015. Nine of us took part in the tasting at the end of April 2016, although all eleven bottles were put into the competition.

California Girl Comments: I very modestly may, or may not, have emphatically mentioned I could do a better job than those drunkards who were competing.

The winner of our inaugural tournament made a trophy, which he was as confident of retaining as California Girl was of winning; someone was going to walk (or stumble) away disappointed.

California Girl Comments:  It wasn’t gonna be me!  Our friend who won last year was still basking in the glow of his great victory a year later and it was time for a new champion to arise.

The trophy
The trophy

The bottles were placed in brown bottle bags, mixed up, and then numbered one to eleven. We broke the bottles into three groups. We tasted each wine in a group, voted on our favourite from that subset, with the winner going through to the final. The final consisted of the winner from each group.

Each pour was small, as we needed to be able to get eighteen pours from each bottle. We did a good job, as even the wines that made the final had wine left in them after the competition. (California Girl Comments: Our contestants did way better this year than last understanding the need to pour out between tastes and not to consume everything in the glass each time. This helped our group to stay focused on the competing wines and not get into drunken stupors. After the competition ended, however, all bets were off. Also, we had a designated driver arranged to come drive the participants home. )

There was a clear winner in the final as wine number two collected five of the nine votes. Now was the time for the big reveal; would the trophy be retained, would California Girl’s boasts be so much empty rhetoric, would one of the absent blenders win, would our friend who works as a flavour chemist get revenge on her spouse for that first win? I pulled the bag from the winning wine to reveal California Girl’s bottle. She had won the trophy. The runner-up was the same friend who had finished in second place the year before.

The winning wine!
The winning wine!

There is one detail that I will try to add unless California Girl demands its removal. At the end of what is an exhausting process of tasting during the blending, California Girl had written the percentages that she needed in her blend, but felt unable to measure the wine with the needed accuracy.

California Girl Comments:  He is politely trying to say that I was too intoxicated to pour my wine without making a mess everywhere – I am not a big drinker and I was past the point of being a little buzzed.

Being the dutiful spouse I followed her instructions and mixed the bottle; it could be argued that I blended the winning wine.

California Girl Comments:  Yep, try to take some of the glory for yourself Brit, the trophy is MINE! – Not that I am obnoxious about it or anything.

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