Meeker Wine & Bin 82, Punta Gorda, Fla.
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.
“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.
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.