This weekend, 75 Sonoma County wineries will open their doors for the public to taste wines straight from the barrel at the Wine Roads Barrel Tasting. While online tickets are currently sold out, visitors can still purchase tickets at the door for $70. The ticket includes barrel tastings at all 75 wineries, with some offering tastings of current vintages for an additional fee.
The majority of these wineries (58 of the 75, to be exact) will give visitors the chance to buy in on wines they like, often at a discount, via “futures”. To obtain the bottles, customers will need to return in 12-18 months when the wine is ready to be released.
Since barrel wine will taste different from the final bottling sold in stores, it is an experience normally reserved for the trade. Generally, the tannins will be rougher and less integrated with the oak notes from the barrel, which will stand out in a more dominant way. The fruit flavors may also appear more pronounced.
Another difference is that most wineries will not be offering food with barrel wines — this is an event intended purely for tasting and evaluating wines before they reach the bottle.
Can’t make it to Sonoma this weekend? A number of Napa wineries also offer barrel tastings on an appointment basis — check Napa Valley Vintners’ site here.