No one likes mistakes, but not all blunders are bad ones. Straying from the plan can sometimes lead to something better.\u202fThis is especially true in wine, where trial and error are essential, and so much changes during hands-off processes like aging.\r\n\r\nCalifornia winemaker Dave Phinney is one of the more legendary examples. Using an ad hoc mix of grapes, he created The Prisoner, a Zinfandel-driven red blend that proved unexpectedly popular, consistently selling out and establishing a new quality benchmark for blended wines all together.\r\n\r\nPhinney\u2019s not the only vintner who\u2019s made the most from a fluke in the cellar or vineyard, however.\r\nAn Impromptu Breakthrough\r\nFor John and Stacey Reinert of Napa Valley\u2019s Brilliant Mistake Wines, it was a fleeting impulse that brought success. In 2014, they sought to create a Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant red blend. They enlisted Maayan Koschitzky, winemaker at Screaming Eagle and Atelier Melka by Philippe Melka, and sourced Cab from two of Napa\u2019s most acclaimed vineyards. When other varieties were added, however, nothing worked.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe tried all kinds of measurements and different grapes, but it still didn\u2019t taste right,\u201d says John. \u201cThat is, until Stacey poured two sample [Cab] bottles into one wine glass on a whim. It was mind-blowing.\u201d\r\n\r\nThey changed course and chose to instead make a 100% Cab Sauvignon. Delicious already, but with structure to age, the wine earned high praise and established the label\u2019s reputation. \u201c[It] turned out to be a phenomenal wine for us,\u201d he says.\r\nAn Intuitive Vinification\r\nIn New York\u2019s Finger Lakes, winemaker Thomas Pastuszak also found fortune by chance. A sommelier and wine director at NoMad New York, Pastuszak started Empire Estate winery with Kelby James Russell, winemaker at Red Newt Cellars, in 2014.\r\n\r\nHoping to showcase the region\u2019s dynamic terroir, he set out to create a Riesling from multiple vineyards. But impressed by one particular organic site, he followed his gut and left the grapes apart from the others.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe harvested the site a month after the others and\u2026it was such a unique expression that it demanded to be on its own,\u201d he says.\r\n\r\nPastuszak believes the result, Empire\u2019s Reserve Dry Riesling, is what set the brand apart from others.