Like most independent winemakers, Art+Farm co-founder Rob McDonald spends a lot of time pitching to potential buyers. That’s why he recently found himself describing one of his newest wines to Stephan Turon-Barrera, the general manager of San Diego’s Poseidon Del Mar restaurant.
“His face contorted when I told him about it,” says McDonald. “So I took a guess and said, 'Do you like jalapeños?' And he said, 'Not at all.'”
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Why was this question even relevant? McDonald was pitching St. Mayhem, his winery’s new line of wines steeped with botanicals like chile peppers, dried ginger and, in the case of his 2013 Merlot, fresh-cut jalapenos and cold-fermented Costa Rican beans from Ritual Coffee Roasters. This approach is unorthodox, to say the least. Though aromatics are often added to beer and spirits, the traditional idea behind wine is that it has one, unadulterated ingredient: grapes. Especially to a wine pro, a flavoring-infused red isn’t the easiest sell.