On March 4th-6th and March 11th-13th, hundreds of wineries participated in the 33rd Sonoma County Annual Barrel Tasting Weekend. This is the largest wine tasting event of the year in Sonoma County.
This event is unique because it enables people to taste wine straight out of the barrel. Although wine that’s still in barrel isn’t completely mature, these two weekends provided a glimpse into its aging process . With several different vintages side by side, comparing different years and barrel samples was the name of the game.
Many wineries even offer “futures,” which enable people to purchase the wine in barrels at a discount and pick it up once bottled.
I stopped by several wineries to check out their barrel samples, including the Kendall-Jackson tasting room in Healdsburg. On Saturday the 11th, 861 people crowded into the small tasting room throughout the course of the day. On Sunday it rained all day and 269 people still managed to stop by. Many people came from the city in busloads to get a preview of our future releases.
While the Sonoma County Annual Barrel Tasting Weekend is a lot of fun, it also gives people a chance to learn more about the aging process and the different styles of wines. I was impressed by the amount of younger people that stopped by the tasting room. I was happy when I learned that quite a few of them were very interested in the quality and sourcing of the wine.
The most popular item in the tasting room was the new Avant Chardonnay. Walking through the doors of the Healdsburg tasting room, customers were greeted with samples of Avant. One of our tasting room manager says that the Avant Chardonnay is the most popular Kendall-Jackson release of the last 10 years.