Launching a new year with ‘The Girls in the Vineyard’

Here are two of my wine resolutions for 2020:

First, to explore more of the world’s unique grapes and wines and, second, to be more willing to drink wine from a can.

As to the former, climate change is impacting the wine industry from California to Croatia. Places previously ignored on the wine map are gaining attention as favorable growing conditions help to produce quality products. Look for wines made from Tannat (Uruguay) and Touriga Nacional (Portugal) to create a splash.

The Field Blend is a delicious Rhone-style wine from Art+Farm winery in Napa Valley.

As to the latter, recent U.S. beverage industry data show that canned wine shipments increased 6 percent in 2019 and are forecast to reach 10 percent this year. It’s a matter of convenience for consumers, especially younger drinkers, and both bigger wineries and smaller boutiques are jumping on the band wagon. Look for canned sparkling and rose` wines to flourish in a category that is here to stay.

So, what’s my first surprise of the new year? From “The Girls in the Vineyard” (TGITV) portfolio comes The Field Blend, a white mix of four Rhone Valley grapes – Grenache Blanc, Piquepoul Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier – made by Art+Wine Farm co-owners Kat and Rob McDonald in Napa Valley.

The delicious, aromatic wine is selling for $19.99 at New Hampshire wine outlets and is one of five wines under the TGITV label. The others are Sauvignon Blanc ($16.99), Cabernet Sauvignon ($18.99), and Chardonnay ($16.99) – all of which are available locally. A  rose` , which comes in a beautifully designed 250 ml. can (a four-pack costs $24), is not available but can be purchased direct from the winery (

I picked up The Field Blend on a lark, intrigued not only by the traditional French grapes used to make it but also by the McDonalds’ message on the back label: “the girls are the vines.” I’m not about to debate the gender of vines – absurd as it sounds – but I probably wouldn’t have bought the bottle if the message said “the boys are the vines”.

Regardless, I tried the wine and loved it. The vintage is from 2014 – older for a white wine at this price range – and yet The Field Blend showed remarkable freshness, fruitiness, energy and balance. The ageability equates to good structure and acidity. The deepening color (hint: white wines gain color as they age; red wines lose it and turn “brick” or brownish) is a “wedding band” yellow gold.

According to the McDonalds’ website, each of the blend’s four grapes is whole bunch pressed (stems, seeds, skins) which enhances tannin, color and flavor. Each batch is fermented separately in neutral French oak barrels and aged sur lies, unstirred, for several months before the final blend is assembled for bottling. While The Field Blend has evolved over the past five years, getting softer in texture, it still holds its Rhone-style resiliency with a California terroir twist. A subtle white orchard fragrance blooms on the nose. Upfront flavors of peach and apricot greet the early palate before yielding to lemon meringue and a dry, extended mineral finish. The alcohol level is 13.2 percent.

The McDonalds source their grapes from Windmill Vineyard, one of six Dunnigan Hills organic vineyards under the direction of famed viticulturist Steven Matthiasson. While I have not sampled there other wines, I expect them to be crafted with care and precision from “the girls in the vineyard.”

Read more on Jim Campanini’s blog