During a recent trip to Santa Barbara, we were lucky enough to get a behind-the-scenes tour of a fantastic winery in the Santa Ynez Valley. Nico Azios, a family friend, is an oenologist (wine chemist) at Gainey Winery, and we were quite grateful when he offered to show us around after hours.
After a pallet cleansing bite of chocolate, we began with a general tour of the buildings where the different wines are processed and stored, and proceeded to taste a selection of wines at their different fermentation stages. We’re certainly not wine experts, although we love the occasional glass, so this was an extremely informative and entertaining tour. We sampled a multitude of whites and reds straight from the barrels – some barely a few months old, others up to three years aged. It was certainly amazing how much the flavors develop and evolve with time, and how differently each particular wine matures according to the age, wood, and type of barrel.
Nico had a fascinating viewpoint of the art of winemaking in that he is a pure chemist at heart. It was incredible to learn the actual chemical evolution of wine from start to finish, while simultaneously getting to sample each wine at each stage. Cheers!!!