Best Barrel Tasting Wine Events
Spring is in the air, and for some that means flowers, a little more daylight, and windows opening up to the sounds of springtime. But for wineries all over the world, it is time to dip into barrels, taste the wine and predict its outcome. If the wine is good, some sell futures; wine that is sold before bottling or release. Futures are sold young, not quite ready, and because of that are sold cheaper.
To test a future, you must barrel taste them at a winery with the winemaker. The winemaker sticks a glass instrument called a thief into the bung hole on the top of the barrel and suctions out the wine into a glass. Young wine can taste, raw, “grapey,” harsh, and overly acidic or tannic. It will not have all the complexities and balance that time will give sitting in a barrel. If you are barrel tasting, look for A) fruit flavor, B) acidity to keep it lively C) tannins to help it age and D) depth of color. If the wine you taste in a barrel has all of these benchmarks, then you may have a winner!
In Bordeaux, at the end of March, the top Chateau in the world hold En Primeur week. The “who’s-who” in the wine world travel to Bordeaux to taste and review last year’s vintage and predict if it will be thumbs-up or thumbs-down. These reviews have incredible weight in the wine world, especially on pricing. Selling en primeur wine is two-fold; the cash flow brought in helps maintain the high level of care required of these very expensive wines and in return, the customer gets the opportunity to secure wines that are less expensive and in very limited quantities. Sometimes, the top Chateau sell all their wine before it is even released! But, there is always a risk, and some vintages can lose value over time.
In the United States, wineries celebrate barrel tasting a little differently. Winemaker’s enjoy sharing their upcoming bounty and bypass the stuffy tastings. Instead, they make a party out of it and invite all out to come out and taste! Throughout the year, wine regions across the country hold “Barrel Tasting” weekends where ticket holders can travel from winery to winery, enjoying the venue, listen to music, eat great food, and taste delicious wine. Listed below are some top barrel tasting experiences that happen every year. If you plan it right, you may be able to taste some great wines almost every month of the year!
Northern Sonoma County Barrel Tasting Weekend
Two weekends in March. More info: www.wineroad.com
Livermore Valley Barrel Tasting Weekend
Held at the end of March. More info: www.lvwine.org
Russian River Valley Passport to Pinot Noir Barrel Tasting Weekend
Held the beginning of June. More info: www.rrvw.org
Temecula Valley Barrel Tasting Weekend
Held the beginning of November. More info: www.temeculawines.org
Yakima Valley Spring Barrel Tasting
Held in mid-April. More info: www.wineyakimavalley.org
Walla Walla Washington’s Holiday Barrel Tasting
Held the first weekend in December. More info: www.wallawallawine.com
Spokane Wineries Spring Barrel Tasting
Held over Mother’s Day Weekend. More info: www.spokanewineries.net
Grand Valley Winery Association’s Barrel into Spring
Held two weekends in the end of April and mid-May. More info: www.grandvalleywine.com
Bring out the Barrel in El Dorado Wine Country
Held at the end of January. More info: www.eldoradowines.org