For over 15 years, Sara Fowler's barrel experiment has been well-known among her fellow winemakers in Napa Valley. Sara has always had an interest in studying how barrels with different toasting styles and from different coopers impact the flavor of her wines, and she has used her barrel trials as a learning tool - and a teaching opportunity. Every year, Sara ages 100% Cabernet Sauvignon in anywhere between 30-60 different types of oak barrels that all have unique flavor profiles. In addition to experimenting with different toasting styles, Sara works with barrels from a variety of coopers so that she can study products from different producers.
So, what does all of this mean? Each year Sara invites her fellow winemakers from throughout the valley to come and taste the wine aged in the different barrels, turning her experiment into a collaborative educational opportunity. During this tasting, winemakers are able to compare the samples and determine the flavors and textures that come from each oak treatment.
While she has always thoroughly enjoyed the barrel trials and sharing the experience with others in her field, in 2014 Sara decided to take the best of her experiment, blend it together and bottle the wine for our Peju guests to enjoy. In 2015, we released the first vintage of The Experiment, a 2013 vintage comprised of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that quickly became a favorite among our guests and club members. When she saw how well-received The Experiment was, Sara knew that this was a wine we needed to continue to bottle. Today, we are proud to release our third vintage of The Experiment - a 2015 vintage created with 33 barrel toasting styles from 20 coopers.
The Experiment is not only a unique expression of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape - as it will always remain 100% Cabernet Sauvignon - but it is also an ode to the spirit of Napa Valley and Sara's unique vision.