Barrel Wine Tasting in Sonoma

Barrel Wine Tasting in the Sonoma Wine Country    First 3-day weekend March 1st – 3rd, 2013

This past week my husband and I attended Sonoma County’s  35th Annual Wine Road Barrel Tasting.  We enjoyed this event with five other couples who attend this event every year.  We were the “Newbies,” but we were in good hands!  This barrel wine tasting event featured the northern Sonoma county wine appellations of Alexander, Dry Creek, Russian River valleys.  The event is for  two weekends – March 1st – 3rd and March 8th – 10th.  This year 122 wineries participated as well as many wine bars in Geyserville, Healdsburg, and Santa Rosa.  My husband and I had an absolute ball!

Over the weekend, we followed the lead of our seasoned friends who brought us to Rafanelli Winery, Quivira Vineyards & Winery, Mietz Cellars, VML Winery, Davis Family Vineyards, Hart’s Desire Wine, Kelley & Young Wines, Shippey Vineyards, and Sapphire Hill Winery.  We picked up our pre purchased tickets at Williamson Wines in Healdsburg ($43 per person) and comemorative wine glass before heading off to barrel taste.  At this time each year, wine makers tap into their barrels and taste what they have created from last fall’s harvest which have been quietly resting in oak barrels.  Wine makers will then decide when they will bottle the wine.  Some wine makers told us the wine would be going into bottles within weeks and some said in a year from now.  “Futures” are offered for purchase for these wines.  Futures are purchase options for the barreled wine which will be ready for shipment in the future – the benefit is a discounted purchase price which is usually about 20%.  In addition to the barrel tasting, the wineries were pouring their older vintaged for tasting.

Many tourists participated in this event this past weekend.  Every winery we visited were brimming with very happy wine tasters!  We met some wine makers too.  We met Keith and Nancy Mietz from Mietz Cellars, Patty Rafanelli from Rafanelli Winery, and Jinny Lambrix from VML Winery.   It was very interesting to discuss the future of the wine with the wine maker and hear their plans for the wine we were enjoying together.  I like to ask wine makers to describe the taste notes of the wine, how they perceive the wine to age, what changes they envision for the wine with maturity, what food do they see the wine pairing with, and how many years they think it will take for the wine to peak.  I keep notes on my purchased wine and add them to my notebook when I get home.  It is impossible for me to remember this information about my wine purchases.  My notebook is something I can constantly refer back to which enables me to drink my wine at the right time and with the right foods. There is nothing worse that opening a bottle of your cherished wine, taking that first savored sip, and realizing it is past its prime……bummer!

Many of the wineries were serving food too.  We sampled beef burgundy, mac and cheese, pulled pork, cheese and crackers, salumi, fruit, and chocolate.  In addition, many wineries are growing their own estate extra virgin olive oil….all for the tasting and purchasing of course!

There is one more weekend to participate in this event if you have this coming weekend available (March 8th – 10th).  To learn more about Barrel Tasting in Sonoma visit the organizer’s website at:

I will definitely be attending this event next year…and I won’t be the newbie any more!

Dyptch 1

Dyptch 2

Dyptch 3wine maker and partner Jinny Lambrix of VML Winery

Dyptch 4Mietz Cellars close to Healdsburg, CA

barrel 9Sonoma Valley in March around the Russian River Appellation

Dormant vines with wild mustard greens everywhere!

Dyptch 5

Barrel tasting at Rafanelli Winery


  1. Hello readers! Do you enjoy wine tasting? Please tell me your favorite places to wine taste and your favorite wineries.

    • Food and Wine Enthusiast says:

      One of my all time favorite places to taste is Nickel & Nickel. Not only do they have excellent wines, but the grounds are beautiful and I LOVE the old barn in the back. Sullivan in St. Helena is another favorite. By the way, love the barn picture you posted.

  2. Karen Brunett says:

    I love Rafanelli wines, I used to drink them often in the late 90s. I’d also love to participate in this great event next year:-) I also love the Sonoma Valley landscape photo with the barn. Awesome!

  3. This was definitely an interesting and insigtful glance into barrel tasting in Sonoma county.
    Will you be setting up to write some extra during the foreseeable future?

    • Teresa Giovanzana says:

      Hi Marguerite,
      Yes I plan on continuing my travels to Sonoma county for fun and future blog postings. Sonoma is one of my favorite destinations in California. And wine tasting is on the top of my “to do” list when I am there! Along with picnicking and gazing upon the beautiful natural scenery. Great fun!

  4. Your pictures are always so beautiful Teresa! I always feel like I am right there with you. Let me know if you need any company on your photo shoots – I will go with you. My father was a photographer and I have all his slides and pictures, would love to go through them sometime. Talk to you soon.

    • Teresa Giovanzana says:

      Hi Robin,
      Thank you so very much for your kind words about my photography! I makes me very happy to receive comments and hear about how the photos and article touch others. I would love to take you on a Road Trip with me! Lets plan one soon. I will start thinking of where we can go…. Happy Easter!

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