What exactly does “field blend” mean?
First, let’s talk about blended wines in general. For the longest time the term “blend” has been thought of in negative terms in the hearts and mouths of Canadians. A lot of the blame can be assigned to the mass-market, big-box output of national industrial wineries that combine local juice with an equal or often overpowering amount from a foreign source and label what comes out of the tanks using a European-sounding name.
While they sell well, these so-called International Canadian Blended (ICB) wines still undermined the true sense of the word blend in its association with what a blended wine really is: that being an artful combination of single-varietal grape juice squeezed out of one vineyard or multiple vineyards (which can be geographically teensy-weensy or biggy-wiggy).
So enough debate about definitions.
If we all agree that a true blend is all about an amalgamation of locally grown grapes (and not the juice from a number of countries) then, as you ask: what is a field blend? Well, for starters, they’re not that common anymore. Back in old-timey days many wineries would grow a variety of different varietals together in the vineyard, harvesting them all at once, co-fermenting them in one vat and creating what would come to be known as a field blend.
Problem is, grapes that grow together don’t necessarily ripen together so the majority of original field blends were more dodgy than delectable. The philosophy of harvesting individual varietals when they are ripe for the picking, fermenting them separately and then blending them together before aging has, short of a few wines made by boutique wineries for sentimental reasons, made the unpredictable idea of field blends all but obsolete.