We live in a world of instantaneous answers, so if you do a search, you will find that our 2010 Arleyna "only" received an 89 from Wine Enthusiast. What does an 89 really mean? It all depends on who is doing the scoring, no? If the person doing the scoring has stated publicly a preference for a particular style of wine which ours proudly is not, then the higher the score, the more a repudiation of our goals, I would think.
What, after all, is the purpose and use of evaluation? To know a product is unspoiled makes sense to me because technical faults should matter and be noted regardless of wine styles preferred. But beyond that, and hopefully without cliché, what one person prefers is not going to be the same as another. We made a wine meant for food, family, and friends, one that seeks to harmonize the elements of a meal, not be the standout. If a wine is a reflection of its maker, than this is most certainly a wine I'll stand behind since that's exactly what I try to make happen daily: win-win for all involved.
Video: Josh Stein shares his story with Cellar Angels.
Let me tell a little story to hopefully illustrate my point: the label of this wine has been on my right arm, in the form of a tattoo, since 2007. There was no winery or wine company or anything then. There was just me, working about a hundred hours a week at three jobs and then coming home to be the Night Daddy because, and without putting too fine a point on it, if Momma doesn't sleep, there ain't no milk for babies. And one of those late nights/early mornings, I woke up with a picture in my head of a tall bottle with a really simple label: red and blue rectangles, geometric yin-yang boxes-within-boxes, a reflection of my kids' personalities.
It's the only out-of-body experience I have ever had, and it caused the events of the last seven years, up to and including the creation of this wine itself. If there is such a thing as a dream made real, then this is a prime example. It didn't happen quickly. It didn't happen as I would have predicted. But it happened nonetheless. And as a side note, the best, and I mean absolute best, way to make sure something gets done is to put it on your body in ink: imagine what my explanations would have had to say otherwise!
I don't think you can put a score on that story, or on the wine in question that only exists because of it. I mean, of course you can, but it's the wrong way to understand a wine, any wine. Any bottle you pick up and look at, at any price, anywhere, is the bottled dreams of at least one other person, and, generally, a hell of a lot more people than that as I wish it were really so easy a process that one person could do it alone. For that reason, we support the futures of the people who made it possible. We don't have to be philanthropically based, but we do it because we won't try to make a future for our twins--the ones that label represents--while stepping on the backs of others'. It really is that simple.
Josh Stein, Guest Blogger and Winemaker at Stein Family Wines
Experience Josh's wine on www.cellarangels.com beginning June 16th. Proceeds from your purchase will support the charity of your choice.