Why Wines Taste Different from Year to Year

Have you ever wondered why you might love a particular Pinot Noir from 2013, but may not be as fond of the 2014? If so, you’re not alone.

The answer is complex, just like the winemaking industry. Having an understanding of these variations will give you a greater appreciation of just how much goes into making that 2013 vintage that you love so much.


Why does a wine differ in taste from year to year?
There are an endless number of variables that can have an effect on how a particular year’s yield will taste. However, there are two main factors that winemakers can confidently rely on being ever-changing.

  1. Weather and climate
  2. Winemaker’s growing, harvesting and aging process

How Weather & Climate Affect Wine
There are countless variables in nature that can have a major impact on the outcome of grapes. There are a few main factors that winemakers must pay close attention to.

  • Precipitation. The amount and timing of rainfall directly impacts a winemaker’s end product. If there is too much rainfall around harvest time, vines will absorb water, diluting the grape and causing an imbalance in flavor. Growers are looking for just the right amount of precipitation before harvest.
  • The land the grapes are grown in (soil). The soil that grapes are grown in can have an astounding impact on wine. For example, grapes that are planted in rich, fertile soil with lots of moisture will often produce light and fruity wine. However, the same grapes planted on a hill-side with broken up, dry soil cause the vines to work harder to get nutrients. This produces a more robust wine with higher tannins.
  • Temperature. The temperature that grapes are grown greatly impacts what kinds of varietals should be grown in a given region. Some grapes flourish in moderate temperatures, while others grow best with warm days and cooler nights. And some grapes grow best in extreme heat (for example, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel).

How Winemaking Process Affects Wine
To make great wine, it’s crucial to have quality grapes. But, how the grapes are harvested and processed also has a considerable impact on the end product. Among many factors, three of the most important that winemakers must consider include:

  • The date of harvest. The exact time that grapes are picked has a much higher impact on the overall taste of a wine than you might think. If grapes are harvested earlier, the wine they produce will have a lower alcohol content and higher acidity. Conversely, if grapes are picked later in the season, there will be more sugar present, which translates to a higher alcohol content and less acidity in the wine. The goal is to pick grapes when acidity and sweetness levels are balanced.
  • Aging process. Wine is aged in either oak or steel. The result? Oak-aged wine is more traditional and produces natural aromas like nutmeg, vanilla, and cinnamon. Steel barrels produce a zestier, more refreshing wine, like Pinot Gris. Wine aged in steel barrels has become more common in recent years due to its value proposition (reuse of barrels, easier cleaning, more control over oxygen exposure).
  • When it was bottled and how it was stored. What might sound like a very simple step in the winemaking process is another critical phase that demands a winemaker’s planning and expertise. Exposure to oxygen can make or break a wine during this important step. Winemakers must walk a fine line between aging (good) and oxidizing (bad) wine. This means wine must be stored at the right temperature in properly sealed bottles. Other factors include keeping the wine in a dark, consistently cool space, minimizing movement and knowledge of what wines usually improve with age.


These, among many other factors, all contribute to why that 2013 Pinot Noir was so outstanding!







5 Tips to Learning More About Wine

Whether you’re new to loving wine, or someone who has been tasting for years, there’s always more you can learn. However, the seemingly endless pages of fine wine at nice restaurants, hundreds of ways to describe wine, and varietals changing from year to year, can make wine education intimidating.

So, where do you begin?

In order to handle the wine list with confidence, discover what wine qualities you like, or simply expand your taste, we have a few ideas for you.

1. Get a wine-centric group of people to form a tasting group.

Glass in Hand 2Find a group of individuals who have the same interest in wine and plan to get together once or twice a month to taste and discuss preferences. Try to mix up the wines you are tasting to expose your palette to as many wine varietals as possible.

If you live near vineyards, have everyone meet at a winery’s tasting room (visit us at Regale!). The pourers will be able to enhance your depth of knowledge and bring new perspectives to your tasting group. They’ll be able to tell you more about each wine you taste, including where it was grown, how it was barreled, and how long it was aged, among other factors.

2. Find a favorite local wine bar. Get to know the staff. Become a regular.

Stop by the wine bar once or twice a week for a glass of wine. Become acquainted with their menu by trying different wines each time you visit. This will help you to identify characteristics that you like and dislike in wine.

3. Host a dinner party with a themed wine selection.

Pick a wine that you would like to know more about (for example, Pinot Noir). Have everyone bring a bottle of Pinot Noir so you can taste and discuss multiple bottles.


Take it a step further.
To take your themed dinner party to another level, have everyone bring a Pinot Noir from a different region. This will allow you to draw comparisons between wines produced in different types of land and soils (like the Willamette Valley and the Santa Cruz Mountains). Take detailed notes to assess your preferences and compare with your guests.

Regale-99_preview4. Taste frequently.

(Our favorite tip!) Take advantage of the resources you have around you. Find a good local wine shop and get to know the people who work there. Each time you buy wine, ask for one bottle that is full bodied and one that is light bodied.

5. Follow wine experts.

Pay attention to what the experts are doing. This will encourage you to branch out from wines you typically drink and allow you to find new wines you never knew you’d like.
To increase your knowledge of wine, your best bet is to experience as much as possible. Each of these tips will help you to do so, but keep in mind that the very best way you can learn is to taste.

In addition to making these tips part of your wine tasting routine, be sure to have a few good resources to reference. This will keep you on top of wine trends and ongoing education.

Some resources we like:

  • Calwineries.com – A guide to wineries in California with information about terrain, history and more.
  • WineSpectator.com – A leading wine resource, with information on just about anything you ever wanted to know about wine.


Taking Team Building to the Next Level

We’ve all been to the corporate event with the scavenger hunt or the escape room. And if we’re being honest, it’s not the most exciting day on the job. At Regale Winery, team building activities are planned with a goal of creating a memorable and fun experience for employees; one that is unlike the corporate “puzzles” or “challenges” of years past. The beautiful, Tuscan-inspired vineyard is the perfect location for participants to enjoy fine wine and craft food with a genuine, rewarding bonding experience. The range of activities offers something unique for everyone, no matter the group dynamic.

From wine blending to grape stomping, you can pick and choose from a number of options to create the ultimate, customized corporate experience at Regale. In addition to the variety of activities, there are multiple event spaces to choose from on Regale’s stunning grounds, one of which is sure to fit your needs.

What kind of team building experience are you looking for?

If you’re looking for a relationship-building experience, you should try:

2017_regale_aroma_teamBlind Tasting: The good news is, there’s no need to be a wine expert in this challenge. Regale will test the group’s knowledge of different varietals under the guidance of one of our wine specialists. Individuals or teams work to identify wine varieties based on three basic senses: taste, sight and smell. Each member of the winning team receives two passes to a member-area tasting.


Grape Stomping Platform

Grape Stomping: Take a step back in time and experience the art of grape stomping. Find out which team can collect the most grapes and stomp out the most grape juice. Teammates will work through clues and challenges to gather grapes for their barrel. Grapes can also be won at the wine bottle ring toss, a hole-in-one putting competition and by figuring out answers to the wine trivia game. Continuous wine service is sure to break the ice during this challenge!

*Available late April through September.

If your team is very competitive, you should try:

engineeringCork Engineering: We all live in a digital world, but occasionally it’s worth getting back to the basics. In cork engineering, each team is given a supply of corks and rubber bands and is challenged to build the tallest cork tower.

Sports Package: With a wide variety of game options, including an in-house bocce ball court, badminton, Ping-Pong, cornhole, horseshoe and Giant Jenga, your group is going to get their game on. Break into teams for a healthy dose of competition amongst each other.


 Wine Trivia: New to wine? Not a problem. Learn the fundamentals of wine and the outstanding wine regions of California through Wine Trivia. Individuals will break into teams to get a basic understanding of wine terminology, where wine comes from and how to best taste them. Participants will then need to work together to come up with the best answers for each question. A Regale wine expert will reveal answers and award a winning team.

If you’re looking for an employee appreciation experience, you might consider:

Wine Blending: Become a winemaker for a day! Teams work together to develop a winning Bordeaux-style blend from traditional varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Beakers and graduated cylinders are used to create original concoctions, tasting blends as they go.

2017_regale_profile_stationSignature Black Glass Tasting Experience: If you couldn’t see the wine you were tasting, do you think you could tell if it were red or white? Put your senses to the test by sampling wine from a line of black glasses for varietal secrecy. A Regale wine expert will guide individuals through the experience to help describe and analyze flavors and aromas. Using your sense of smell and taste, you’ll try to identify what varietal you’re enjoying.

If you’re ready to take your corporate event to the next level, schedule a visit with our events team and see firsthand how unique and memorable your experience can be.


How-to: Blind Wine Tasting

Here at Regale, we love parties – Fresco Croppedespecially one with a good icebreaker, and, even better, something involving wine!  Might we suggest incorporating a little blind wine tasting to your family gathering, game night, company team building, or throwing a whole party aimed at getting your guests interacting with a fun blind tasting.  It will get people thinking, comparing notes, and most importantly… talking! If you are looking for a gorgeous locale as a bonus, come visit us for a private event at Regale and have a blind tasting hosted by one of our wine specialists.  It make your party an event to remember and is great to add to an offsite as a team building activity!

A How-To for a Blind Tasting Party:

The Setup

  1. Gather three-five bottles of wine (definitely throw a Regale bottling in there!) – ideally single varietal bottles from different regions and vintages. Alternatively guests can each bring a favorite mystery bottle to share.
  2. Cover and number your bottles – for our team building events at Regale we have snazzy burlap blind tasting bags printed with numbers, but you can use brown paper bags, decanters, or even wrap your bottles in aluminum foil! Remember- a bottle’s shape can be a cue towards the varietal, so keep this in mind when selecting how to disguise the bottle if your guests are wine savvy.
    IMG_1252    Blind Tasting
  3. Provide tasting cards so your guests can take notes and eventually submit their guesses.  Decide if you want to provide a key of the different offerings or leave them completely in the dark.Lepori_0383











As guests are tasting, you can sound like an expert by reminding them of…

The Three Steps to Blind Tasting:

  1. Consider the appearance for maturity and other cues
  2. Consider the aroma for varietal cues
  3. Consider the mouth for taste, body, finish, overall quality

Step 1: Appearance – Color and Opacity

  • What color is the wine? Whites gain color as they age, reds are most vibrant when young and fade or take on a more brick color with an orange or brown hue.
  • How opaque is the wine? Can you read text through the wine or is it so opaque that light barely comes through it?

Step 2: Aroma – Smell and Physical Indicators

  • 1st Sniff – Does it remind you of varietals you have tasted in the past?
  • Shirt sniffs vs. long draws; swirling for aeration
  • Think about the descriptors:
    • F – Fruit
    • E – Earth
    • W – Wood
  • Physical reaction – Acidity (salivation), tannin (bitterness), alcohol (heat)

Step 3: Mouth – Taste, Texture, and Finish

  • Body – Light-medium, medium-full, full:
    • Pinot Noir                            Light to Medium
    • Sangiovese                           Light to Medium
    • Cabernet Franc                   Medium
    • Barbera                                 Medium
    • Zinfandel                              Medium
    • Merlot                                   Medium to Full
    • Malbec                                  Medium to Full
    • Syrah                                     Medium to Full
    • Petite Sirah                          Full
    • Cabernet Sauvignon          Full
  • Is the wine balanced?
  • Dry, off-dry, or sweet?
  • Alcohol – Prominent (riper/warmer region) or balanced (cooler climate region)
  • Tannins, if any- how heavy?
  • Length – Short, medium, or long (acidity and complexity)


  • What varietal could it be? Use your past tasting experiences and memory.
  •  Are there any varietals you can rule out?
  • The important part is the journey to reach a conclusion – don’t worry too much about the final guess!

The more you practice, the better you get – so cheers to that!

What’s so ‘Super’ about that Tuscan?

It is a matter of much debate who was the first to coin the now trendy moniker, although their origins are mostly attributed to the hallmark wines Tignanello and Sassicaia beginning in 1974, both marketed by Antinori. What is more clear about the history of these lovely wines is that Super Tuscans originated in Italy as wine estates aimed to make higher quality wines that didn’t necessarily fit the strict legal regulations in place for wine production as set out by the DOC.

It is hard to imagine in the relaxed landscape of California where we have some general laws about labeling appellation or varietal but otherwise are relatively free to experiment, blend, and proprietarily name to our delight. In Italy the DOC regulations mandated everything from which varietals could be grown in which regions including the strict percentages in which they must be blended (like the inclusion of white grapes in Tuscan red wine!), to precise accepted levels of alcohol, acidity, and extract as well as establishing viticultural regulations such as restrictions on yield and specific winemaking practices. These laws preserved the practices of low quality and high quantity. Wine estates that dared step outside the box were relegated to the lowest generic label of Vino da Tavola (or table wine) that had been historically the mark of bulk swill. These quality wines changed the ideology by wearing Vino da Tavola as a badge of honor, which began a revolution in Tuscan estates. With the goal of creating wines of more depth, intensity and body, estates began the previously unthinkable use of French oak barrels and blending with international varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon.

Regale Winery Super TuscanOur Regale Super Tuscan calls to mind that focus on quality that is present in all Regale Wines, and pays homage to the producers who dared to step outside the expected boundaries of the time. In classic Tignanello style, our Super Tuscan is a blend of predominantly Sangiovese with a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon. While we didn’t trek to Italy, our Super Tuscan grapes were sourced from the Napa Valley on the lower end of the Silverado Trail. With a smoky, earthy nose, ripe cherry and currant on the palate and a rich tannic finish, this wine definitely represents what you would expect from a classic Super Tuscan.

Now that you know a little more about the history of Super Tuscans, come taste at Regale to see just how super a Super Tuscan can be!