“We recently had a bottle of Seghesio red wine [and] the label indicated that it was ‘field blended.’ Is ‘field blended’ any different from just ‘blended?’” —Doug A. (Manhattan, Kansas)
Doug, yes, a field blend is different. Generally, when a wine is blended, different batches or lots of wine are put together. They might be different varieties (as, for example, when cabernet is blended with merlot) or the batches might be wines from different places (as when cabernets from different vineyards are blended together). But in a field blend, different grape varieties are interplanted in a single vineyard. When the grapes are picked, they are made into one batch of wine. That wine is automatically a blend because the vineyard itself was interplanted with several varieties. Field blending is how nearly all blending was done in the old days when vintners didn’t have the money, land, or winemaking vats to grow varieties separately and make wines separately, then blend at the end after the individual wines were made. Field blending is not always ideal however because varieties ripen at different rates. If you only pick once, that means some varieties in the field blend might be perfectly ripe, while others may be slightly over ripe or under ripe.