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The History of Fairy Tale Celebration Cuvee and Disney

by Joy Sterling | Published October 12, 2023

Iron Horse Vineyards is very proud to produce a special Sparkling Wine called Fairy Tale Cuvée, exclusively available at Disney World in Orlando and on board the Disney cruise ships – perfect for toasting Disney’s 100th anniversary.

Originally Iron Horse Co-founder Barry Sterling’s idea, this relationship began in 1995 with a limited-edition Fairy Tale Wedding Cuvée expressly for the Wedding Pavilion at the Grand Floridian Hotel at Disney World in Orlando.

In 1998, that wine evolved into Fairy Tale Cuvée and was introduced at the top restaurants at Disney World. Then came a very special Millennium Fairy Tale Cuvée which was introduced throughout Walt Disney World at 12:01am January 1, 1999.

Fairy Tale Cuvée is a unique Sparkling Wine designed by Disney sommeliers with winemaker David Munksgard.

Joy Sterling, David Munksgard, and the Disney Sommeliers

The Sommeliers Arrive

The sommeliers came to Iron Horse to blend Millennium Fairy Tale Cuvée in January 1997. They were here for three days of intensive tasting – two rounds in the morning and one after lunch. We began around 10 am, which is when professionals feel their taste buds are most alive. The process started with about a dozen possibilities that David had created in advance. The first task was to choose a vintage. And, it could be nothing younger than 1994. The second decision was on the base wine – whether it should be Blanc de Blancs (all Chardonnay), Brut (a traditional blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir), or Blanc de Noirs (all Pinot Noir). They first opted for the 1993 vintage and a classic Brut blend – 70 percent Pinot Noir and 30 percent Chardonnay, to naturally flow into the 1994 vintage as the turn of the millennium drew closer.

Then came the question of dosage, the finishing element and the ingredient X, which determines the degree of dryness and complexity of the Sparkling Wine and puts a personal signature on the wine. The dosage sets the style – rounding it out – working almost like a spice or seasoning. It may seem like a question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but it’s incredible how less than one per cent of the contents of the bottle can dramatically change the flavor of the wine – even in the bouquet. This is where artistry plays a role. Here is an analogy: the base wine needs to be as exquisite and flawless as Barbra Streisand singing accapella, while the dosage is the orchestration. It was at this level (the quantity of the liqueur de dosage) where we would split hairs. Back and forth we debated over a few milliliters one way or another: perhaps more Chardonnay for a more lemony character, or more Pinot Noir for extra fruit and spice – an older dosage to give it more of a patina of age, or one younger to add more zip. The discussion wavered between personal tastes and what they thought their customers would love most. We follow this exact same process with all Iron Horse cuvées.

The end result is truly lovely – combining vibrant fruit with a yeasty, rich, creamy quality. The dosage makes the wine infinitely delicious to drink. The label was designed by Terry Sterling (the artist in the family) to look like pixie dust.