A New Intern’s Discovery of the AJA Vineyards World of Wine

February 8, 2023

Hey Winos! Happy Wine Wednesday!

Today we’re going to do something a little different. I’m excited to introduce our newest and brightest AJA Vineyards 2023 Interns! Our Interns will be working on ramping up our social whilst learning everything I can teach them about wine.

Our intern Braden joined me at our wine tasting and blending session last week where we confirmed the blends and bottle counts of our 2022 Whites and 2021 Reds. I asked him to share with you about his experience as a novice wine consumer. Just a reminder that the younger generation IS interested in wine, you just have to show them how…



Huge thank you to our winemaking team: Steve, Nate, Joey, Eli and Jerry!

. . .

Hello everyone! My name is Braden Bates. I am a senior at Columbia College Chicago studying journalism. I am currently doing a semester in Los Angeles where I am extremely fortunate to have been selected as an intern for AJA Vineyards. 

As an introduction to the wine industry Amanda invited me to the AJA Vineyards 2021-22 wine blending session. This wine tasting was an opportunity to concot AJA’s new blends of whites, reds, and roses. I can confidently say that this experience is one that has made it to my top 5 educational moments. There is nothing like being in a room full of experts who share the same passion and can share their love of wine with someone new. While some of the terminology soared right over my head at times, the crew welcomed me with open arms and were quick to explain things.

Photos of AJA Barrels at the winery

The Tasting

We began the day by taking a tour of the winery, looking at the barrels and barrels of crafted wine that are housed in specific climate-controlled rooms. Amanda then shared the process of what we were doing and what we were looking for in the wines.

We all made our way to a wooden table. In front of us were two wine glasses each standing on a white sheet of paper.

Fun Fact: I learned that the white sheet of paper is so that we can see the actual color of the wine!

After we all took our seats, the magic began. We were each given a swallow of wine to smell and taste that we then critiqued giving our feedback. After repeating this process over and over again for each of the wines, I am still amazed by the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into each of the wines that you drink.

Leaving me often speechless the group went in depth into each wine writing meticulous notes, all the while having the consumers notes in mind. This process is so special, and it takes real experts and science to get the exact flavor profile perfect in every bottle they produce.

Picture of tank and barrel fermented chardonnays side by side. (left; barrel fermented, right; tank fermented)

Braden’s Favorite Wine of the Tasting

Throughout the morning we tasted a variety of wines ranging from chardonnays to cabernets. I am already predicting that AJA’s new chardonnay, being released in April, is going to be a fan favorite and was definitely on the top of my list.

The oak barrel plays a detailed role in the production. It adds a silky taste that is very desirable. AJA wines are produced using two different fermentation processes: tank and barrel. At first glance it didn’t appear that there was that much of a difference, but when the wines were poured in the glasses, it was apparent. The color of the tank wine was slightly lighter and the flavor was more fruit forward. This compared to the barrel fermentation wine, which seeps hints of the oak that gives it a slightly brioche taste also can vastly change the color of this wine. These fermentation processes were explored with different types of wines and will be front and center in AJA’s upcoming collections. 

As my introduction into AJA Vineyards came and went, I am so honored to have joined this amazing group of people and get to learn about the wine industry during my semester in the beautiful Los Angeles. Thank you all for your support of our winery. I can’t wait for you to try the new vintages AJA is brewing up as early as this April!



One response to “A New Intern’s Discovery of the AJA Vineyards World of Wine”

  1. Amanda,
    That was amazing. What a wonderful way to get the younger generation involved in wine, the tasting and production of it. I enjoyed reading Braden’s views on everything. I think you have a new wine lover with him.
    Love you,

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