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It was such an honor to be entrusted with organizing and blending up such a fun and diverse lot of wines. It is also always a challenge to come up with a blend that might inspire fervent bidding from a simple taste from a barrel sample, while also being able to improve in the bottle. In the end, the blend is the following:


The Blend: 70% Syrah, 15% Grenache, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Mourvèdre. All from 2013 vintage, a truly great vintage in the Santa Ynez Valley.


Approximately 100 total cases of 12 bottles to be bottled.


The vineyard sources represent some of the most sought after blocks and varieties in Santa Barbara County.

Habits of Mind Wine Collaboration:  Make your donation here.

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The Process and The Story:


We all asked each other to donate the best and most expressive lot of wine possible in order to ensure the most interesting and complex final blend. We further tasked each other to pick a Rhône variety from the 2013 vintage (a great vintage in SB County). Each of the 7 vintners brought me an amazing and diverse array of wines from which to choose. It truly made my job a lot easier. In the end, the donated wines were heavy on Syrah. I had originally hoped to contribute a certain special lot of Syrah, but alas, there was already enough. All the wines fell together so perfectly. I just needed to supply a bit of “glue” to help bring it all . After countless blending trials, I centered on an addition that was just right for so many reasons, even if not exactly a variety that AMV is associated with. I ended up adding about 10% Cabernet Sauvignon to the blend, which provided some mocha and cedar notes, along with some richer tannins, that will help the wine age gracefully for years to come. It also contributed greatly to the story of the wine. The cool thing about this Cabernet is that it comes from a little vineyard that was​ planted 45+ years ago, on Figueroa Mountain Road, just down from The Family School itself. Even cooler is the fact that it was planted by a pioneering wine family that has been growing grapes for 3 generations here in the Santa Ynez Valley, the Firestone Family. And best of all, it was several conversations with Haley Firestone Jessup (among others) that spurned our original interest in The Family School. The addition of the Cabernet just tasted right in the final wine. The personal story just makes it all the better! We started attending the infamous TFS auctions even before we had kids and we have continued to attend long after our children had graduated through the last door. TFS remains a special place for my wife and me and our children. And it goes without saying that the school and its community remains important to each of the very generous winemakers who donated their precious wines. These were not castaway wines. Rather they were amongst the best that each of the vintners crafted in 2013, earmarked for this very special and unique blend, to be served on this very special evening, in honor of a very special school, TFS.


Aromas and Flavors: Syrah provides ripe blueberries, candied violets, plum and cherries. Grenache offers up wild strawberries and white pepper. The Cabernet slides in seamlessly with cedar, vanilla, and baking spices, while the Mourvedre shows off some damp earth and blackberry notes. Each of the wines separately were truly remarkable. Together, they are simply amazing.


Donations generously provided by:

Ross Jay Rankin, Imagine Wines

Larry Schaffer, Tercero

Bion Rice, Sunstone

Jim Clendenen, Au Bon Climat

Morgan Clendenen, Cold Heaven

Michael Larner, Larner Vineyard

John Wright, Standing Sun Wines

Andrew Murray, Andrew Murray Vineyards

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