1000 Stories: Trailblazers of modern bourbon-barrel aged wines

The tale of California-based 1000 Stories winery began in 2014, when winemaker Bob Blue of Fetzer Vineyards began aging wine in used bourbon barrels to ascertain its effects on the flavor and texture of the resulting wine. Wine producers have aged wine in bourbon barrels before primarily as a cost-cutting measure. 1000 Stories is the first winery to experiment with bourbon-barrel aging expressly to determine the extent of the influence of this type of aging on the taste and structure of wine. Over the years, Bob has experimented with aging wines produced from different grapes including Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Teroldego, and Petit Syrah in both second use, and older American oak varieties that had been used for aging bourbon. The result is well-crafted red wines that are rich, bold, and complex, and emblematic of the unique terroir of California wine country. Bob retired in 2022, leaving the winemaking responsibilities in the very capable hands of Margaret Leonardi and Sebastian Donoso.

Bourbon-barrels have been employed to produce different types of spirits, as well as beer. Unlike wine barrels, bourbon barrels are charred with an open flame after being exposed to steam and toasted, before being used for aging. This treatment gives bourbon barrels a concentrated woodiness and smokiness. Used bourbon barrels also retain the flavors of the bourbon that was originally stored in them. Wines aged in these barrels can retain some of these characteristics, resulting in rich and smooth elements of cinnamon, maple, vanilla, and toffee, that blend seamlessly with the inherent qualities of the grape or grapes used to make the wine.

1000 Stories Zinfandel, 2021

Zinfandel sourced from vineyards in Lodi (old vines), as well as in Mendocino County and San Luis Obispo. Aged in French and American oak barrels and finished in aged bourbon barrels. Light to medium-bodied, with soft tannins, good structure, and notes of cranberries, prunes, and nuts, as well as caramel, and dried herbs.

Can be aged three years.

1000 Stories, Red Blend, 2019

A blend of red varietals such as Merlot, Petit Syrah, and Zinfandel, as well as Teroldego. Aged in French and American oak barrels. A portion is additionally aged in bourbon barrels before release.

Full-bodied and well-structured, with a balanced minerality, and notes of mixed red and dark berries and fruit, vanilla extract, and dried spices.

1000 Stories also produces white wines including a classic California-style Chardonnay.

1000 Stories, Chardonnay, 2021

Chardonnay sourced from vineyards located in the Arroyo Seco region of Monterey. Stainless steel and oak barrel (malolactic) fermentation, followed by six months aging in 100% medium-toast American oak.

Rich, smooth, and round, with notes of ripe apple, coconut, and vanilla, as well as toasted almond and cream.

Can be aged up to two years.

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