Wine lovers rejoice, tickets for Barrel Tasting go on sale this month on January 23rd! Save the date, and buy your ticket to one of wine country’s most magical events. And while Barrel Tasting isn’t until March, this will give you plenty of time to plan what’s sure to be, a glorious weekend.
Let’s Start Off With - What in the Heck is Barrel Tasting?
I’ve already told you that it’s magical, so let me explain why. It all starts with the wristband. You wear it all weekend (unless you go with a one-day ticket) and it opens the door to 50+ wineries in the Dry Creek, Alexander Valley, Napa, Sonoma area. The organizers post a laundry list of participating wineries, and then you get to plan a route and try places you’ve never been to before.When you arrive, you get to sample wine after wine after wine… You can sip on futures, talk to winemakers and get a sense of what you like.
So if you’re on the hunt for a new wine club, or looking for your new go-to Pinot, this is one of the best ways to check out lots of new places.
How Do I Make My Experience Extraordinary?
1. Put together your wine tasting dream team, with no more than 6 people!
This rule kinda stinks and it’s a newer rule that they probably put in place because a bunch of rowdy kids from Sonoma State used to roll up in 30 person party buses, be way too drunk, and cause some ruckus… oops!!
They’ve since put a rule in place and some wineries do not allow groups of 8 or more. I think it comes down to the fact that some of the tasting rooms aren’t equipped to handle large groups, but I’m also pretty sure they’re trying to keep the 30 person party buses to a minimum. So before you make your route, review the list of participating wineries and check to see if your itinerary has an wineries that won’t allow big groups.
Have a big dream team and can’t leave anyone behind? No worries, just be prepared to get turned away from some wineries and plan for bigger spaces like Family Wineries.
2. Pack FOOD… lunch, snacks and beverages!
For the most part you’ll be drinking your lunch. Food isn’t provided and when you’re on Wine Road there are not a ton of places to visit. Pack a big lunch and also include snacks like a cheeseboard, Cheetos, Chips, loaves of bread… Get ready to Instabrag because most spots have picnic tables and we know those vineyards make great backgrounds.
Some wineries will have little noshes but for the most part, you’re on your own. (Pro tip: if you go to Wilson, they used to serve up a tri-tip… not sure if they’re still doing it this year)
Don’t forget to hydrate, the wine will be free flowing. Also, remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint! They’ll have water on-site, but speaking for a friend… a little wine goes a long way, so be sure to stay hydrated between stops.
3. Make a weekend out of it!
Your magical wristbands works for 3 days, which means you don’t turn into a pumpkin until 4pm on Sunday. So if you can, try to book an Airbnb and stay up there all weekend long. We try to pick up bands on Friday, do a chartered car all day Saturday, and then in a sightly hungover state, hit up a couple of wineries on the trek back down to San Francisco on Sunday.
I’ll be sure to keep you posted on preferred routes once the list of wineries is posted. Would love to hear any of your tips and tricks!