Don’t miss Wine Road’s 2019 Barrel Tasting event in Sonoma County. This is your chance to sample wines from the Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River valleys. But this isn’t like your typical wine tasting experience.
Barrel tasting happens only once a year
Each spring, the grapes that were harvested the prior year, usually late summer through fall, are ready for sampling. Winemakers regularly taste test their barrels during the wine’s maturation, checking for levels of fruit, acidity, and tannins. This essential step in the winemaking process helps winemakers determine the best time to bottle the wine. Sampling also ensures the wine hasn’t gone bad or can help to decide whether the wine may be best used in a blend.
Although wine is sometimes aged in stainless steel, it is the oak barrel that really contributes to distinctive characteristics. Oak “breathes,” and the oxygen affects the wine.
A different wine tasting experience
During Wine Road’s Barrel Tasting in March, wine lovers get to experience young wines just like the winemakers do. Of course, barrel samples don’t taste like the finished wines you’re used to. These wines are still evolving, so you have to look for underlying, less obvious characteristics — hints of a soon-to-be a fine wine.
Ilona Thompson, of PalateExposure, puts it well in her in-depth article: “Barrel tasting [is] a great palate exercise. Discerning what the wine may taste like when the oak resolves itself and recognizing its subtler flavors makes you feel like a wine Jedi.” And it’s the sleuthing that makes barrel tasting so fun. There’s a gamble, and you get to wager on the winners!
Chance to bet on futures
When you find a wine you think has promise, you can buy it in advance at a discount, sometimes a deep discount. You can invest in futures. And for small-batch wines, futures may be your only chance to purchase. The risk comes when you pick up your finished, bottled wine 12 to 18 months later. Did it evolve like you thought it would?
Fortunately, you don’t have to make the decision in a vacuum. Barrel tasting isn’t just a lot of fun, it’s an educational experience. At the wineries, you will have the unique opportunity to talk to the winemakers. Here’s a chance to learn about the winemaking process and find out from the experts how they think a particular wine will evolve.
Discover new wineries
If this sounds like a fun wine tasting adventure, buy your tickets and plan out your route. You can design your tour around wineries that you know you like, but this is also a great opportunity to check out ones you’ve heard good things about. The best approach is be flexible and keep it easy. Figure on about a handful of wineries per day. Each winery offers at least three samples, while some offer twice that many. Each one-ounce sample is measured into your glass using a “wine thief,” the device that draws wine from the barrel.
You can buy your tickets at any participating winery on any day of the event, but if you want to save, pre-purchase your wine tasting pass. Advance ticket sales end February 25.
And if you want to read more about barrel tasting, take a look at one of our previous blog posts.
Wine Road’s Barrel Tasting 2019
Friday, Saturday & Sunday, March 1 – 3 and March 8 – 10
11am – 4 pm
Tickets on sale now
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If you’re feeling the need for some “away” time, there’s no better escape than to gather two or three of your BFFs and head to Sonoma Wine Country. Leave everyday responsibilities behind. Spend a couple days feeding your soul.
Make this a weekend of things you love giving your time to — deepening friendships, making memories, connecting — and of course, eating, drinking, and shopping too! Go ahead and get your hair and mani/pedi done before your girlfriends’ weekend. This way you can compare nail color, and then move on to sharing in-the-moment experiences with your besties.
To make it easy for you, we’ve created a play-by-play itinerary of what to do, where to go, and tips for keeping it close.
Girlfriends’ Weekend in Healdsburg
So you’re rolling into town Thursday evening. Start with a designer cocktail and a savory something from the bistro menu at Gallery Bar in Studio Barndiva. Enjoy a sense of belonging inside this just-right ambience where you can catch up on headlines from your friends’ “Quarterly Report.”
Next, head to your HB Experience vacation home to fully decompress. Exhale, and welcome the good life. Say your gratitude “prayers.” Take time to let your besties know how much you value their friendship.
Before you come into town for the weekend, ask the HB Experience staff to stock your fridge in advance. Let them know what you want to have on hand. Be sure to request fresh bread from Healdsburg’s Costeaux Bakery for breakfast.
This is your day to indulge in Wine Country good living! Catch up with your friends and create indelible memories, but leave the planning to us. You can arrange in advance to have HB Experience Concierge Services take care of your itinerary. Enjoy a personalized wine tour and tasting created by our expert sommelier. After meeting you at your door, the driver/wine expert will guide your wine tasting adventure!
After sipping your way through the rolling hills of Dry Creek and Alexander Valley, it feels good to relax in the comfort of your vacation home. So tonight, come home to dinner prepared by a private chef. Our Concierge makes all the arrangements for a meal that fits your tastes. Sharing this ultimate farm-to-table experience with your friends makes it even better.
Start off early, while the day’s still cool and quiet. The Flying Goat opens at 7:00 — it’s okay, though, you can shoot for 8:00. But you won’t want to wait too long for the best coffee in town. There are two Goats, just a couple doors apart from each other (that’s how good the coffee is), but go to the original at 324 Center St. Be sure to get a scone too!
Grab your Provençal shopping basket and reusable bags for fresh produce and next head to the Healdsburg Farmer’s Market. Stroll through the stalls for fresh and local food delicacies for tonight’s dinner chez vous. (Check out our blog on putting together a charcuterie board!) Taste your way through the market, sharing bites and nibbles with friends.
If you need a little extra to keep you going, stop in at The Shed on West North St, just off the plaza for kombucha on tap. (How cool is that!) Check out the gourmet kitchen and garden shop, and maybe buy yourself — or your girlfriend — a little gift.
Next, head back to your HB Experience vacation rental. Take time to chill, refresh, and regroup. It’s time for yoga with your besties — right in your home! Let HB Experience schedule your private yoga class. Take an hour to just “be” where you are.
Now it’s time to give it up to good times. Open a couple bottles, arrange a platter of yummy treats, and take it outside. Watch time slow down as the evening folds into night. Friends living life in the moment, sharing stories and laughs under the clear, starlit sky.
Allow the day to develop slowly. Savor coffee and leftover crostini while you lounge outdoors, easing gently into the afternoon. When you’re ready to get moving, put on your walking shoes and enjoy the fresh air. Check out our tips for walking around Healdsburg Wine Country.
But what would a girl’s weekend be without a little shopping? Walk along Healdsburg Ave between Mill and Piper streets, and circle the Plaza. Don’t miss One World Fair Trade for cool, global wares. Stop in at Fideaux, an over-the-top shop for pet accessories. And, of course, there are lots of clothing boutiques. No big-name stores here. Take home local, artisanal, handmade items that will remind you of your special girlfriends’ weekend.
Before you head back home, reflect on your favorite moments of this fun-filled weekend together. Make a commitment to do it again soon!
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