The power of Wine Aromas

Aroma Scent Jars

A few years ago we had attended an event at Cold Heaven in Santa Barbara. It was called “a Rhone Scent-ual Experience”.. You can visit the blog post and see the video here “Cold Heaven Cellars – Rhone Scent-ual Experience”.

I was amazed, not only at how wonderful it was to find these aromas from the jars in the wines, but also how excited everyone became.   People who had just met (or not even) were excitedly sharing the jars and asking what other people smelled. Inhibitions were gone and people joyfully bonded and shared the experience.

Cold Heaven Rhone Scentual Experience

Wine Event

We had done a small event after that with a friend and found again that people loved the scent jars. Putting together these aromas of things they were familiar with and then finding them in the wine glass made people so excited. I remember people speaking for weeks about the wet stones that we had with the Tablas Creek 2014 Vermentino. (check out the blog post on this party here   “Wine with friends – A California Tasting & Pairing”)

Tablas Creek Vermentino
Tablas Creek Vermentino
Cut Grass Scent Jar
Cut Grass Scent Jar

Creating Scent Jars

So I knew we wanted to do scent jars again for our “Crushed Grapes & Open Minds” Event and I did some further research on how other people do them. My go to for stuff like this is Madeline Puckett of Wine Folly and I found a great article here

I took her advice on the jars and I did find them at Cost Plus. I opted out of the small jars and went for one size larger (which were a dollar more), because they would give me more room for fresh fruit and better visuals. And I did not blend any wine into the jars, I wanted the fresh scents.

We did some shopping and some scrounging to fill the jars. The Champagne had some bread and yeast on the nose that we found reminded us of hamburger buns (I know, right?). And it was a mostly Pinot Noir based Champagne so you got berries and cherries. So our jars here were filled with hamburger buns, fresh & dried berries (I used sliced strawberries, blueberries and dried cranberries) and then cherries, which were defrosted from frozen, because they were out of season.

Hamburger Buns
Starbourgh Sav Blanc and Scent Jars

Starbourgh Sav Blanc

The Sauvignon Blanc had grapefruit, lime, lemongrass, stone fruit and grass. We did slices of the citrus, cut up the lemon grass to release it’s scent.  We chopped up a peach for the stone fruit and Michael headed with the scissors to the local park for the fresh cut grass.

Syrah & Scents
Syrah & Scents

Carhartt Syrah

The Syrah had jars with Black Berries, Allspice, dirt (we used a little potting soil here, since backyards in Vegas are not filled with very happy soil), tobacco (I found a smoke shop and got pipe tobacco, which worked but wasn’t exactly what I wanted), vanilla bean and beef jerky (for smoky meat).

Tobin James Zinfandel and Scents

Tobin James Zinfandel

The Zins had jars of earth, pepper (black & white peppercorns), fruit jam, leather (we hit the craft store, chopped it into pieces and added a little water to bring out the fragrance), and chocolate (we used a broken up dark chocolate bar)

Tokaji & Scent Jars


Lastly our dessert wine was a Tokaji. It was just 3 Puttonyons so on the less sweet side. We had aroma jars of dried apricots, citrus (thinly sliced lemon and lime) and a jar of honey.

You don’t have to invest in jars though, you can use wine glasses. If you are doing this with friends, it’s fun to find wines that have unexpected aromas.   We had a Magerum Rose that had Watermelon Jolly Ranchers on the nose! The important thing is to have fun with it. Which is what we did, and the people at our Crushed Grapes & Open Minds Event did.

Behind the scent jars in each of the photos you can see a bit of each of the beautiful paintings that RuBen did to pair with each wine.  More on that to come.

Check back here at Crushed Grape Chronicles for more on the details on the wines we paired with the Art and our Crushed Grapes and Open Minds Event!   You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

And you can find RuBen and his gorgeous art at Act2Art or on Facebook

Thornton Winery – Jazz, Bubbles, great food and atmosphere!

Thornton Sign


Thornton winery is one of the first wineries that greet you as you drive into Temecula Wine Country.  A Champagne house this French style chateau sits on a hill on the South Side of Rancho California Road.  Opening in 1988 they create premium wines as well as Sparkling wines done in the Methode Champenoise.

As you walk in through the entrance at the side of the complex you pass the herb gardens that will awake your senses with all the aromas and prepare you to find all those frangrances in the wines.  Past the herb garden it opens out into the Fountain Terrace where outdoor events and concerts are held.  The fountain dominates the center of the courtyard providing a soothing sound.  A large tree shades the terrace providing a quiet and relaxing atmosphere.  If there is not an event, stroll over to the stage area on the far side of the terrace and enjoy the view.   You can also enjoy the view from Café Champagne which rims most of the terrace. Café Champagne is the perfect place for lunch or dinner or brunch on Sunday.  The menu includes pairing suggestions for each dish, and flights are available.  And check out their entertainment schedule! World renowned Contemporary Jazz artists perform here on weekends throughout the summer.

The Champagne Lounge allows you to sit at a table and enjoy a flight of 4 wines or champagnes.  They have several suggested flights or you can create your own.  They also offer a Bistro menu with suggested wine pairings.

The winemaker here is David Vergari.  A native of Sonoma County who studied at UC Davis, he began his career in wine at Sonoma-Cutrer and The Hess Collection in Napa then traveled to work at Coldstream Hills in Austrailia and Covisa in Spain.  He did further work as a research enologist at Joseph Phelps vineyard and then moved to Rutz Cellars in the Russian River Valley as winemaker before joining Thornton.

We have enjoyed both lunch and dinner here at Café Champagne and were never disappointed.  When we are back I look forward to enjoying a flight and a bite at the Champagne Lounge and perhaps coming on a weekend in the summer to enjoy one of the amazing Jazz concerts.