“I have an evil genius plan you’ll be interested in. But I can’t talk about it until it’s final.” These mysterious words were sent to me in an email several months ago by public relations consultant to Scotto Cellars, Bradley Gray of Gray Matters Communications. I had met Brad two years ago in Santa Barbara and knowing his personality, I was intrigued…and more than interested.

Months later, another email, this time more detailed, was sent.  I was invited by Brad and the Scotto family to come to Lodi, California to create a Lodi-designated red blend from eleven lots of selected wines from Scotto Cellars. I would not only work with two outstanding winemakers, but three passionate wine bloggers, Melanie Ofenlach, Dallas Wine Chick, and Nancy Brazil and Peter Bourget, both of Pull That Cork. Our task was to create a unique wine under the Scotto Cellars label, a wine that would be uncorked at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi in August 2016. My response? Absolutely!

“From a public relations standpoint, I’m always trying to put a story with our wines. After attending several Wine Blogger’s Conferences, it hit me. Why not have wine journalists create a commercial wine? It’s never been done, and that’s the story! I’m pleased that the Scotto family is innovative. They recognized this opportunity to pioneer Masthead!” Bradley Gray, Gray Matters Communications 
Named Masthead, to tip the (newsboy) hat to wine writing and to reflect the headline of a newspaper, we worked with two superb winemakers. Legendary Mitch Cosentino, the creator of the first official Napa Valley meritage, and Scotto Cellars’ own Paul Scotto, Director of Winemaking, guided us in creating what promises to be an exceptional wine.

However, the wine was not the only element to meld during the visit. Throughout the two days I was in Lodi, Melanie, Nancy, Peter, and I had the opportunity to spend time with Paul Scotto and Natalie Scotto Woods, Director of Operations, two intelligent, genuine people who are brilliant representatives of the family. And frankly, we were able to get to know each other much better, too.

Along with Brad Gray, and Robert Walker, Marketing Manager at Scotto Cellars, we explored Lodi. Now complete and ready for scores of wine bloggers to visit during the conference, Paul and Natalie treated us to a tour of the then under-construction Scotto Cellars tasting room followed by a sampling of wines from Jeremy Wine Company and Toasted Toad Cellars.  We renewed our love of unique cheeses at Cheese Central, visited a few local restaurants (Rosewood Bar and Grill, School Street Bistro, and Papapavlo’s) for more than satisfying lunches and dinners. Paul gave us a personal tour of the Scotto Cellars winemaking facility, where cider and wine reign. Finally, Mitch led us on a comprehensive walk among the ancient vines of Sangiovese and Zinfandel at the Mohr-Fry Ranches, where he helped us understand its history, the people, and the vineyards.

As we returned to the apartment above the Scotto family’s new tasting room in downtown Lodi, where the blending would occur, I couldn’t help but hope that we would be able to create a cuvée that was just as compatible as our friendship had become. Accompanied by Mitch, Paul, Brad, and Robert, the Masthead project began.

Our foursome of fledgling winemakers sampled, blended, sampled, and blended again and again.  During the process, we shared our thoughts about the unique components sourced from Lodi and Napa that we could possibly use.  How did each contribute, if at all, to the palate profile and structure we wanted to achieve? Did one component overpower the other?  How did the aging process in various types of oak barrels affect the blend? Was this a wine that would be food friendly?  Would people love it?

After three hours of concentrated consideration and tasting of approximately sixteen combinations with Mitch and Paul, we discovered the final blend, one that all of us easily agreed upon. Masthead is 100% Sangiovese, half of which was aged in Hungarian oak, the other half aged in French oak.  All of the fruit is from Mohr-Fry Ranch Block 433 allowing Scotto Cellars to not only designate Mohr-Fry on the label, but Lodi Rules™ as well.

You will love this wine and, frankly, I’m excited to uncork a bottle and have my first sip at the Wine Bloggers Conference in August!

Scotto Cellars Masthead
“The blending session resulted in the creation of a very good wine, which was the primary objective. Masthead was never thought of as a volume opportunity or potential profit driver. We wanted to create a unique experience for the blogging community. This is a great example of the way the Scotto Family runs their business.  They look for opportunities and unique ideas.  They’re never afraid to try something new.” Robert Walker, Marketing Manager, Scotto Cellars
I can’t think of a better way to welcome wine bloggers, members of the wine industry, and guests to Lodi, this award winning wine region, than to have some of our own create a delicious blend, Masthead, of estate grown varietals from Mohr-Fry Ranches which is (surprisingly) the location of the conference’s opening reception!

The journey to craft a delicious blend was a humbling, incredible experience. I have a new appreciation for winemakers who meticulously and repeatedly measure, pour, and taste to arrive at that perfect blend.  I hope you enjoy drinking Scotto Cellars Masthead as much as we did creating it.

We were particularly impressed at how well everyone melded together to create Masthead. It was educational, enjoyable and a positive experience. Of course, I already knew the bloggers involved, and everyone in our organization came away as impressed as I already was. I’m really excited to see the reaction to Masthead at the Wine Blogger’s Conference in Lodi. It’s going to be the rock star of the conference! Bradley Gray, Gray Matters Communications

Interested in reading more about the Masthead project? Check out the following posts written by Melanie, Nancy, and Peter. 
Operation Masthead: Four Bloggers Quest to Secretly Make Wine & Wait to Tell the Tale
The Masthead Project: The Invitation, The Idea, Getting Acquainted
The Masthead Project: Winery & Vineyard
The Masthead Project: Blending Wine from a Wine Bloggers Point of View

Cheers! Cindy

I’d like to offer a heartfelt thank you to the Scotto Family, Mitch Cosentino, Bradley Gray, Robert Walker, and my wine writing colleagues, Melanie, Nancy, and Peter, for one of the most unique wine experiences I’ve had. 

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