2020 Wood Family Vineyards – “The Captain” A Red Wine Blend

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Background On The Winery & Rhonda Wood

Rhonda Wood, winemaker extraordinaire in Livermore Valley produces almost twenty different wines. One of her favorites is “The Captain”, a “Bordeaux style blend” with a reason. Rhonda started her career as one of the first woman pilots for US Airways. For more details see a previous article: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2016/02/10/wood-family-vineyards-2/

So the name “The Captain” is for her previous career before making award winning wines.

Thought it would interesting to draw a few comparisons between the winemaker and key traits of captaining a commercial plane:

Attention to details: The Captain knowing all aspects of flight planning, aircraft operation, documenting aircraft performance & maintenance, operational compliance, adhering to government standards & regulations, manage emergencies, coordination with mechanics, ground crew and air traffic control. Rhonda Wood: knowing the vineyards for pruning, shoot thinning, cluster thinning, water strategy & compliance, cover crop management, details to county, AVA and government regulations.

Awareness: The Captain understanding optimal aircraft performance and ability for various aircraft being flown. Rhonda Wood: Knowing when and what to do in the vineyard(s) from Brix checks, ordering supplies for the winery (yeast, So2, etc.), scheduling harvest with vineyard manager, soil nutrition, timing on picking, pressing, sending juice panels to ETS, punch down timing & frequency, selecting yeasts and additives (if necessary), tank temperatures. All of these functions for each and every varietal and winery blend.

Documentation: The Captain recording all aspects of aircraft operations, fuel, temperature, oil pressure, hydraulics, weather, turbulence, aircraft avoidance and airspace incidents, noting functions outside of prescribed government regulations, flight plans, etc. Rhonda Wood: pre-ordering bottles, labels and corks for upcoming harvest and bottling, testing during fermentation, compliance and documentation for ABC laws, tasting room notes, pairing & technical sheets, shipment compliancy, etc.

The above only scratch the surface of the broad characteristics of being a Captain and Winemaker. In addition, self-confidence, humility, clear communication skills, desire to learn and most importantly, the ability to remain calm under pressure.

The Wine -2020 Wood Family Vineyards, The Captain

It is a blend of 50% Merlot, 35% Malbec, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. This is one of her favorite wines, not just because of the taste, but representing her previous profession. This is a mellower “Bordeaux style blend” with Merlot & Malbec representing such a large portion of the blend. Alluding back to the Captain analogy, perhaps appropriate for emergencies?  The wine is a nice medium to dark purple with red hues. Lots of floral characteristics and red fruit with raspberries, cherries and strawberry aromas. On the palate a soft landing (again appreciated by airline passengers) with rounded tannins with the fruits intermingling in the mouth. Still having structural integrity (again appreciated by airline passengers), with a medium length finish.  This vintage 210 cases were produced and aged 20 months in French Oak barrels. It comes in at 14.5% alcohol and pricing will be $44/bottle and it was just released last weekend. Her previous 2019 “The Captain” (2019) received a Gold Medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and many more for previous vintages.

The Food and Wine Pairing

Last night paired with a Beef Teriyaki with snow peas. Ingredients included sliced flank steak Teriyaki sauce, fresh snow peas, veal stock, Mirin, Asian red chili pepper, cornstarch, stir fried in oil, sliced cremini mushrooms and ginger. Served over brown & Quinoa mixture rice. While not really known to be a “match made in heaven with a Bordeaux style wine” and Teriyaki dishes,  the mellower blend with a large percentage of Merlot and Malbec, served its purpose with both a quick takeoff and soft landing last evening!





* special note of thanks to Susan Tipton, owner/winemaker at Acquiesce Winery on the responsibilities of a winemaker.


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