Blend & Bottled - The Wine Studio Creating Communities
We first got to know Claartje Van den Bogaard, the Founder behind Blend and Bottled, when she was doing wine courses and pairing sessions at Apocapoc. She is a wine professional who is WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Level 3*, with years of experience after having lived in several different countries and continuously studying. Ever-enthusiastic, unpretentious and always smiling, her knowledge of wine and ability to put everyone at ease was something that made her easily recognisable when talking wine in Barcelona. Claartje is Dutch and migrated to the city almost 5 years ago. Her initial experiences of wine were witnessing her parents enjoying a glass or two at the long wood table in their family home in Holland. From then on wine was immediately paired with positive experiences and family time and this very much remains a part of Claartje's approach.
In 2017 Claartje opened her own wine concept studio Blend and Bottled, in Barcelona's lovely Born neighbourhood. It's not a wine store or a set place for tastings only, it is in fact a wine concept. A hub for all things vino. The new entrepreneur shares, "I wanted to create a community for people to enjoy wine." This is evident with the after-work that takes place once a month at her local. No fuss, just a simple sign up via her Facebook page. The last event had 85 people approximately enjoying wines. At the event, Claartje effortlessly works through the crowd, informing people of the wines served.
Wine enthusiasts can also consult Blend and Bottled if they are drawn to visiting wineries in Catalunya or are interested in participating in a wine course at her studio. There are two wine courses available, one of which is a beginner course. This course has a 5 week duration and aims to offer a real introduction to wine. France, Spain, Italy and the new world (New Zealand, South Africa, California and Australia) are featured in this course. The intermediate course, also 5 weeks, builds on from the knowledge acquired from the beginner course. There is further exploration regarding grape varieties, blind tasting and more, with a focus on Spanish wines.
'A taste of Spain' is a tasting that offers the best and most comfortable way to discover Spanish 'vinos' in Barcelona. There is also the wine and cheese tasting, where you get to taste 6 high-quality wines and 6 artisan kinds of cheese, that are produced in different areas in the world. Note that this is one of several types of tastings, as these evolve from time to time. For the latest offering check the agenda on the website. The Walk-In Wine Flight doesn't require any pre-booking. Simply turn up and Claartje will let you have three taste-size pours of Spanish wines that are accompanied with a brief description. Whichever tasting option you decide works best for you, be prepared to embark on a personal wine journey.
Blend and Bottled as a company is branching into wine picnics. Taking advantage of the fact that they are walking distance to both the leafy Ciutadella park and Barcelona's vibrant city beach, there will be an offering of items to provide a delicious fully equipped picnic in the city. Expect chilled wine, a selection of cheeses, olives and other nibbles, all inside a tote for you to take wherever. The majority of the picnic will be sustainable and easy for those wanting to eat alfresco and bask in the sun. When we asked Claartje what her preferred wine was, she paused and cautiously shared that she really enjoys Riesling white wine - she's known amongst friends for being a fan and on the lookout for her next drop. She immediately explained how it forms part of her routine and that she really enjoys it but she is also currently exploring wines from Navarra.
When you step inside Blend and Bottled, you have the long wood table reminiscent of Claartje's childhood family table and a kitchen for her to prepare nibbles. "When we created the space, it was important to invite people to share. I really wanted to create an environment that encourages a two-way experience." shares Claartje. When we asked what she'd be doing if it wasn't the wine concept, she explained it would probably be something in hospitality because she is curious and likes working with people. This is abundantly evident in her day to day work. Blend and Bottled isn't just a wine concept, it's Claartje's "home" and we're all welcome.