Meeker Wine & Bin 82, Punta Gorda, Fla.

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October 2, 2011 Note: Bin 82 has since closed. The restaurant became Tapas One, relocating from Port Charlotte, and is now called TRABUE. The restaurant serves locally inspired dishes and implements the farm-to-table concept when possible.

Handprint Merlot, Meeker Winery

Handprint Merlot, Meeker Winery

“Blah, blah, blah.” When attending wine tasting and visiting wineries, that’s pretty much what I hear. “Blah, blah, blah.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of sampling wine and touring vineyards and wineries. I plan vacations around touring wineries. It’s just after about five years trying to learn about wine, I still don’t taste the “hint of pear” or “bold black cherry.”

I taste wine. I either like it or I don’t. To me, wine tastings should be as easy as that.

Meeting Meeker Winery

Earlier this week I visited Bin 82 Tasting Room in downtown Punta Gorda, Fla.,  for a wine tasting with Meeker Winery (Sonoma County, Calif.). Here’s a brief history of the winery:

  • Owned by Charles and Molly Meeker who purchased the winery in 1980s;
  • Charlie was the winemaker until 1990 when another winemaker was brought in;
  • Charlie was the president of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for two years.
Lucas Meeker with "Handpring Merlot", March 2, 2010

Lucas Meeker with “Handpring Merlot”, March 2, 2010


Drink to the Hand…Print

The winery’s signature wine is called “Handprint Merlot” because the bottle has a…can you guess? A handprint! Now, this isn’t a label of a handprint like Barefoot wine. It’s an actual handprint. The three winemakers spend 50 days out of the year (or 1/7th of the year) dipping their hands in paint and imprinting them on a total of 16,000 bottles of wine. They spend $40,000 a year on paint which is probably why the wine is $49.82 a bottle.

The three winemakers have their own signature color for the thumbprints. Pink and green indicates Lucas Meeker, son of Charlie and Molly and also a Sales and Distribution Manager for the Meeker Winery. Yellow and orange indicates Charlie. Not sure what the other winemaker’s colors are.

Why drink to the hand? According to Lucas, the winery had several Merlot “shiners” – bottles without labels – and needed a gimmick to sell the wine because at the time, the winery wasn’t known for Merlot. Painted handprints on the bottle was the successful answer. The wine has a strong, bold flavor (did I just sound like a wine expert?) without that acidic aftertaste.

What’s Resting on My Wine Rack?

It was a lovely evening with Lucas and a whole new group of Punta Gorda people I haven’t met before. For me, it’s always a bit scary meeting new people but after realizing they didn’t bite, all was well. Lucas introduced four wines: “Lobster Cove Chardonnay” (no oak), “Roller Coaster Red”, “Handprint Merlot” and “Frozin”, which mimics ice wine with its sweetness. Unlike ice wine, he juice is frozen rather than the grapes, then processed into wine. It is 16.5% sugar and doesn’t have that strong alcohol taste.

Before saying goodbye to my new friends (who named me “Jenny Chardonnay”) I picked up a bottle each of the chardonnay and Roller Coaster Red. Looking forward to sharing with old friends.

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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7 Comments

  1. I’m with you on the wine education. Even though I work in a wine shop, I can’t recognize all the flavors in a wine–I don’t like a lot of the wines the managers like.

  2. I thought those in wine shops were experts! I always listen to people in wine shops. Oh, well. It’s all about personal taste, that’s why I like the pink stuff 🙂

  3. How can I order a bottle of this wine?

  4. Hi Mandy.

    Thanks for dropping by. Not sure where you live but you can order the wine from Meeker Winery (such as the Handprint) online: http://www.meekerwine.com/Store/index.php?p=catalog&mode=search&search_in=all&search_str=handprint&x=0&y=0

    Meeker can’t ship to Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Utah because these are all states where shipping wine is banned.

    Hope you find a bottle!

  5. Just a little FYI, I just chose the Meeker Roller Coaster Red for an event in Louisiana. It may not be available for direct shipping, but it’s being distributed in New Orleans.

    BTW, five years is a long time to taste and not get the “hint of pear,” etc. Everyone’s palate is different but you should be getting some of those flavor notes. Do you suffer with sinus problems? Are you a smoker? Both these things can screw up your palate.

  6. Hi Chanell.

    Hope you enjoy the Meeker Roller Coaster Red. Yes, have major sinus issues – actually, have sinusitis right now! (I’m not a smoker.)

  7. Hello, I really hope that you can read this message soon. My step-daughter is going to college and I want to buy this wine for her and sign all the family so when she graduates open the wine and celebrate. ( This is a tradition in my family. I’m from Peru, and I really want to have a nice gesture for her). My question to you is If I go to Punta Gorda, can I buy the wine there. ? I live in Fl so I can go to Punta Gorda anytime. I don’t want to wait a shipping thru internet.
    Thanks for your help,
    Fiorella Brindani

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