One of the biggest events in Sonoma County is the two weekend extravaganza (aka drunk fest) that is Northern California Wine Road’s Barrel Tasting Weekend around Healdsburg, Ca. The first two weekends in March provide visitors the chance to sample wines straight from barrel, pre-purchase the wine (called futures) before it is bottled and meet the winemakers.
Barrel Tasting weekend is a true celebration of spring in Wine Country: the mustard flowers are in full bloom, the sun is usually out for the first time and tourists & locals are running around in short sleeved shirts with red stained teeth. It is the first event of the year that the wineries roll out the barrels and open up their cellars to the sunlight.
Thea Dwelle, her mother and I headed out into the wilds of the Sonoma County wine roads with an agenda:
- To show Thea’s mom some of her favorite wines and wine people.
- To visit new wineries we haven’t been to.
- To visit our Winery Twitter friends.
Dry Creek Wineries: Papapietro Perry, Kokomo, Peterson, Truett Hurst (aka @truetthurst) and Sbragia.
Saturday morning was spent visiting some favorites including, Papapietro Perry, Kokomo, and Truett Hurst. All the barrel samples from these favorites did not disappoint. Kokomo Winery even had a delicious special “Mystery Sample” for visitors to guess the varietal. Winemaker, Erik Olsen even gave us a clue (a Bordeaux variety). Thea did eventually get it. If you really want to know the varietal, ask me in the comments.
Jim Morris at Truett Hurst made us laugh with his “X-Ray” glasses (aka polarized lenses to look into the creek for salmon), feed us some tri-tip and let us try some of their own zinfandels.
We also visited Sbragia where they seemed to not have enough people working to handle the massive amounts of people visiting the winery. We tried some unmemorable Zin and left.
Alexander Valley Wineries: Route 128, Jimtown (for lunch) Hawkes Wine’s (aka @hawkeswine) and Stuhlmuller.
Route 128 is a newly opened tasting room in downtown Geyserville. They are still very small so they were not participating in Barrel Tasting, but they poured some pinot for us anyways.
The folks from Sonoma County Tourism Bureau (aka @InsideSonoma) suggested a pairing of Jimtown General Store’s infamous chocolate pudding with one of Hawkes Wine’s Cabernets. The pairing did not disappoint. The 2007 Pyramid Cabernet Sauvignon went perfectly with the rich chocolate pudding. Good thing the two are right next to each other.
Healdsburg Wineries: Newly opened Hudson Street Wineries (Bluenose, Owl Ridge, Teira, Windsor Vineyards, etc), Holdredge, Camilla (where @Cellardiva was pouring), Sapphire Hill.
These wineries are all smaller with limited cases and I would have to say, I was not as impressed with them. It was the end of the day when we stopped by here, so my experience could have been a bit jaded because of the massive amounts of people. I would like to stop by Camilla and Sapphire Hill again.
Altogether, I couldn’t have asked for a better Saturday to spend wine tasting to experience some old favorites and new adventures.