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
Touring around sunlit backroads, breathing in the fresh country air and stunning vineyard landscape, sipping on your favorite red or white varietal — that’s a great Californian wine tour for you.
Though the journey itself is almost magical, it does take some planning in advance. You need to plan for your wine tour beforehand to book the ideal place to stay and the right reservations to sample the finest vintages California’s winemakers have for you.
Here are some guidelines to help you arrange a memorable journey.
Know your preferences before you plan
No two wineries are the same, which is why you need to know your preferences before you sign up for a wine tasting tour. If you prefer white wines, center your tour around wineries that produce and specialize in them. And while you’re in the Wine Country, go ahead and take a chance. Deviate from your plans, follow the inspiration of the moment, and try out something new if the idea strikes you.
Check up on the specifics
From reservation times to which wines are available for tasting to whether or not the venue has a picnic space, it’s a good idea to know everything about the tasting rooms on your tour. You can find this information on the winery’s website. If you are touring around with a guide, ask them.
Plan a diverse wine tasting tour
When in the Sonoma Wine Country or Napa Valley, tour as true wine connoisseurs do. Plan a wine tasting tour with a mix of old and new establishments, with traditional and contemporary styles, and red and white wines. You can stick to your wine preference back home at your house party or during a dinner out, but here you should take the opportunity to sample a broader range of tastes.
Book a chauffeur service
Have fun, but don’t forget to be safe. When you plan a day full of sampling wines, it’s not uncommon to feel … well … tipsy — not a condition in which you want to drive yourself or find your way around unfamiliar terrain. Bring along a designated driver, or book one. If your vacation rental service offers one on their concierge menu, that’s even better!
Bring an empty box with you
Most people don’t even think about this, but what happens when you need to buy a few bottles of your new favorite wine? You need an empty box to carry these in so they won’t roll around in the back of the car, jostling the contents — and your nerves.
Takes notes and ask questions
Wine tasting tour is more than just discussing the flavors in your glass. It’s about increasing your knowledge about wine itself, from how it’s produced to what foods it should be paired with. Ask all questions that come to your mind to get the most out of your Wine Country adventure!
It pays to have the experts of California Wine Country vacation rental services plan your wine tour. Let us personalize a wine tasting tour just for you, and take you on a memorable adventure through the trails of Napa Valley and Sonoma County. Call us today at 707.890.0852 for an exciting “wining” adventure!
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With breathtaking views, diverse population, great cultural experiences, and, of course, an array of wine tasting rooms, the Wine Country has all the makings for an incredible vacation destination. Napa Valley alone plays host to more than 3 million tourists, which includes lone travelers, couples, and families.
To make your visit to the Wine Country smooth and pleasant, consider these useful tips:
Check Out the Weather
If you are traveling to the Wine Country, you may want to consider a time of year when it’s reliably warm. Napa Valley faces its peak tourist season from August to October, when the late-summer weather is perfect for travel. But the Wine Country is stunningly beautiful any time of year. Just be sure you’re prepared if the weather turns crisp or damp.
Dress to Relax
The Wine Country is known for its casual, easygoing lifestyle. Casual pants or jeans are de rigueur, although a sports jacket for men and a little bling for women fit in well for dinner at the finer restaurants. Keep in mind that wine tasting tours can involve walking, so bring along some comfortable shoes. If you have planned outdoor adventures such as hot air balloon rides or horseback riding, make sure you have appropriate clothing.
Plan Your Accommodations
For the solo traveler or couple who prefers last-minute travel, a hotel is typically the ideal choice. However, if you take a little time to plan ahead, booking a vacation rental is by far the better way to go. You get more space, convenience, and privacy for less money. The Wine Stay offers several top-of-class vacation rentals — something for everyone. Plus, you can take advantage of the Concierge Services, such as custom wine tasting itineraries, meal prep at your vacation home, arranging outdoor adventures, and much more.
Don’t Overdo Your Itinerary
Don’t try to fit everything in one vacation. Pick and choose which wineries you want to visit. Look into the tasting rooms’ wine listings to help you short-list places that produce your favorite blends. Usually, three tasting rooms are enough for a wonderfully enjoyable afternoon. You’ll get more out of your time in the Wine Country if you do less. Turn down the throttle, savor the experience, and create lasting memories.
One of the keys to success for any travel is being able to go with the flow. Just not feeling like more wine tasting? Take a gourmet tasting and shopping detour, or visit local galleries and boutiques. Rent a bike or stroll through the countryside. If the sky clouds up, snuggle up at your vacation home and watch your favorite series. Your travel plans may not all be achieved to the point, and that is okay. Live in the moment to have a great trip!
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