Archive for the ‘Wine Road’ Category

Tracy's Wine Road Lodging: Avalon, A Luxury Bed & Breakfast

A Post by Tracy Logan, Wine Time TR, Wine Road Northern Sonoma County.

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I believe!

On my recent visit to Avalon, A Luxury Bed & Breakfast, seemingly magically tucked away in an untamed, virgin redwood forest just 10 minutes from Sebastopol or Occidental, I learned that at the complimentary wine and cheese offerings in the

evenings, Innkeeper Hilary asks the six guests just what varietals they are interested in and then serves the appropriate, delicious, high quality Wine Road wines to educate and enjoy.  The full breakfast can accommodate any special dietary needs.  Romantic, special, unique- all these come to mind as I cross the delicate wooden bridge in the redwood forest and there, all of a sudden, the unexpected Tudor inn is revealed.  The Inn has just three rooms- so special attention is paid to all guests.  I imagine

that staying at Avalon is like staying with good friends who just happen to have luxurious accommodations, concierge knowledge, and everything I need to feel pampered.   Guest rooms are private and tucked away with views of pristine redwoods and gardens. There is a garden hot tub, an Exercise Room, sale viagra wi-fi and a grand piano in the living room.  Click HERE for Avalon specials.

The Enchanted Forest Room.

Avalon Luxury Inn: Entrance and Garden Hot Tub

Here’s looking at you, kids.


Tracy's Wine Road Lodging: Vintage Towers Bed & Breakfast Inn

Post by Tracy Logan, WineTimeTR, for Wine Road Northern Sonoma County:

Historic Vintage Towers Bed & Breakfast Inn is nestled in the little town of Cloverdale, at the very northern top of the Alexander Valley.

Vintage Towers Bed & Breakfast Inn, stately 1901 Queen Anne Victorian, which is also included on the U.S. Historic Register, has had incarnations as a hospital, private home and is now a lovely, garden-wrapped inn, featuring seven antique-furnished rooms, including four elegant suites with fireplaces with all the modern conveniences. Innkeepers Don and Mary Stuart prepare a fantastic three-course gourmet breakfast and afternoon refreshments. Check their specials!  You can relax on the wisteria-covered wrap-around veranda with swing,  in the gazebo, by the Koi pond or stroll the  extensive flower and vegetable gardens.  It seems like you have taken a step back to a quieter era, and yet you are only one block to the Cloverdale plaza, dining, shops and spa- there is even a movie theatre and the impressive Cloverdale Performing Arts Center.  Don & Mary are your female viagra australia very hospitable,  personal concierges and are very knowledgeable about the area.

Welcome to Vintage buy cialis online canada Towers!

Ahoy, you Koi….

The back….

The front….

The closeup, Mr. DeMille….

If visiting during the summer and fall months, be sure to check out the Friday Night Live at the Plaza and Cloverdale Certified Farmers Market,

an easy walk from Vintage Towers and such fun in this charming, small town affectionately known as The ‘dale.

Lots of close-by wineries to the south- like Valdez Family Winery, Silver Oak, and all the gang along Chianti Road, then towards DCV, or AV– or head into Geyserville.    And of course, there is always the Russian River, too!  (Good old River Slavianka…historical, just like Vintage Towers!)

Here’s looking at you, kids.



Wine Road Barrel Tasting – First Friday 2012 (by Tracy Logan)

A post by Tracy Logan, Wine Road.

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@ Rafanelli- by Marta Hayden. Particularly popular BT spot.

I hit the Wine Road with Chicago journalist Jerry Nunn for a whirlwind day- do not attempt! Remember, Jerry and I are professionals! (I have always wanted to say that….)

Jerry and Tracy at Bella Villa Messina by Jerry Messina

I pick Jerry up at his lodging, the lovely Bella Villa Messina, and off we go!

First stop: Dave Coffaro WineryDave & Pat: experienced and knowledgeable King & Queen of Barrel Tasting:

Jerry Nunn, left, and Dave Coffaro Himself….

The Coffaro BT Setup – The Big Picture. Lots to sample- great Futures opportunities!

The Specific, Little Picture.

Next stop, Pedroncelli Winery , where we meet up with Ed and Julie Pedroncelli St. John- along Wine Road, it is all about owners, winemakers, proprietors- THE folks here for you, the visitor:

Winter vines….

Pedroncelli TR.

Jerry Nunn, left, and Julie Pedroncelli St. John.

I learned @ the Barrel, that Julie and Ed are Underdog Experts, entertaining us mightily, though Jerry was too young to remember….Polly Purebred rules with Julie- she thought it would be an excellent Little Sister Name….

Voiced by Wally Cox.

From left, Underdog, Polly Purebred and Jerry Nunn in the Barrel Room at Pedroncelli.

Romantic Pedroncelli: When you have their wines with your dinner, the bottle will be empty before you know it….

Next stop, downtown Geyserville:

Route 128 and Lorna Opatz:

Route 128 sparkling in the winter sun!

Jerry and Lorna!

Off down Geyserville Avenue south to The Meeker Winery where we are greeted by Charlie Meeker:

Charlie Meeker and Jerry….

Heading now to Mercury Wines ….

Grady and Brad Beard- Mercury Wines!

Next up, W2 Williamson Wines:

Jerry Nunn at the TR Bar at W2

Those wacky Williamsons- ALWAYS pairing their delicious wines with food!

Now it is time to drive out 128 over to Jimtown for lunch with Carrie Brown:

Carrie Brown and Jerry Nunn.

What a

great lunch….I LOVE the Olive and Brie on the sourdough….

Next, Starlite Vineyards all set for BT with their amazing viognier and zinfandel, and statue by Peter Crompton:

Wow- right there in the vineyards….

Starlite TR.

We drive through the Alexander Valley, through Chalk Hill and over to the RRV to Joseph Swan and Rod Berglund, another Wine Road King of BT:

Designs by Lynn Swan Berglund....a Queen of BT.

Designs by Lynn Swan Berglund….a Queen of BT.

Jerry and Rod.

Volunteer womanning the barrels at Joseph Swan.

Rod is always ready to offer up visuals to

explain exactly what is going on with the wines- here a soil display, totally geeky, totally endearing- Jerry and I learned a great deal….

Rod and Lynn are ready for BT: give us a place to BE THE SPITTING IMAGE!

Jerry and Rod- BT!!

Wow- lots of professional ground covered! We head back to Healdsburg and Bella Villa Messina- Jerry had an incredibly early flight out of SFO- so, off we go to dinner early at Scopa:

Amazing; completely delicious with wonderful ambiance!

Scopa- exquisite food, wine, service, atmosphere: amazingly delicious!


Lots of ground covered- great Friday #1 #WRBT 34th Annual- where were you in ’78? (Please excuse, Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucaswhere were you in ’62?)

Here’s looking at you, kids.


Here are some amazing non-winter blossom shots I took today:

Ornamental Cherry tree on Matheson Street in Hburg- ready to pop since last Sunday!

The hounds of spring are definitely on winter’s traces- but let it pass, let it pass.


Barrel Tasting Weekend Feature Winery Sales on Bottled Wine

Yes, Barrel Tasting is all about futures, but many wineries are offering sales on finished wines as well. Take this list with you and stock up!


Russian River Valley

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  • 20% off mixed cases. 30% for wine club.

Desmond buy generic viagra Wines

  • Wine: Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 3 pack Vertical, 2007, 2008, 2009 (2007 Library)
  • Retail Price: $121.00
  • Special Pricing: $89.00


Not “participating” the second weekend but will be pouring barrel samples in our tasting room.

  • Wine: Foppiano Vineyards 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley
  • Retail Price: $18
  • Bottle and/or Case Promotion discount: 30% off during Barrel Tasting Weekends: $12.60 per bottle or $151.20 per case

Kendall-Jackson Wine Center

  • Wine: 2007 Jackson Hills Cabernet Sauvignon, Knights Valley and 2006 Highland Estates Trace Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon, Knights Valley
  • Retail Price: $40 and $70
  • Bottle and/or Case Promotion discount: Single bottle 20% off (25% Wine Club) Case Sales 30% off, 35% wine club

Sheldon Winery

  • 15% Off any purchase of 4 bottles or more. (An additional 5% off for Sippy Wine Club Members)
  • 25% Off a 4-pack of the 2003 Sheldon Tawny Port (Still in barrel, we will bottle/label/wax dip for you to take with you). One time offer, only two barrels made. The Future is now!!

Windsor Oaks Vineyards & Winery

Futures made easy! Mix & match any of our 6 futures – 6+ bottles. 25% off. Plus, buy any futures and get 25% off any current release wines.

  • Wine: Reserve Chardonnay 3 vintage 2007-2009 Vertical Box Set with Lobster Bisque Recipe.
  • Retail: $125
  • Special: $89 Only 60 sets available. This wine & food pairing is featured in our Reserve room all weekend.
  • 2009 “Vin Gris” Rose of Pinot Noir
  • Retail price $19
  • Case Special $175 (25% discount), Half Case $99 (15% discount)

Hop Kiln

  • Proprietary blend Big Red for $150 a case. White wine blend Thousand Flowers for $120. per case. 40% savings on both!


Alexander Valley

J. Rickards

  • Wine: 2008 Zinfandel, Ancestor Selections
  • Retail Price: $22
  • Discount: 30% off (40% off for our Wine Club), no minimum
  • Wine: 2010 Kizmet, White Bordeaux Blend
  • Retail Price: $18
  • Discount: 30% off (40% off for our Wine Club), no minimum

Sausal Winery

  • Wine: 2008 Private Reserve Zinfandel, 100% Estate Zinfandel from 95 year-old vines
  • Retail Price: $24.00/$288.00
  • Promotion: viagra buy 25% OFF full case purchases only


  • Bottle Discounts on all wines: 2-5 bottles are 10% OFF, 6-11 bottles are 15% OFF
  • Case Discounts: Full or mixed 20% OFF

White Oak

  • Wine: 2006 Napa Valley Merlot and 2006 Napa Valley Syrah (91 points Wine Enthusiast) – OK to mix & match!
  • Retail Price: $26/bottle or $312/case
  • Bottle and/or Case Promotion discount:
    • 1 bottle – $16.00 (your savings – $8.00!)
    • 6 botttles – $60.00 (your savings – $84.00!)
    • 1 case – $99.00 (your savings – ($189!)
    • Wine Club Pricing– Join for FREE @
      • 1 bottle – $10 ( your savings – $16.00!)
      • 6 bottles – $48.00 (your savings – $108!)
      • 12 bottles = $72.00 (your savings – $240!)

Dry Creek Valley

Amista Vineyards

  • Wine: 2005 Estate Syrah, Morningsong Vineyards
  • Retail Price: $30.00
  • Bottle and/or Case Promotion discount: Single bottle $5 off, Case Sales 30% off, 50% cases for Wine Club members


  • Wine: 2010 PoiZin
  • Retail Price: $300/case
  • Case promotion: $198/case



Hawkes Winery

  • Wine: 2010 Red Winery Vineyard Cabernet, 2010 Stone Vineyard Cabernet, & 2010 Pyramid Vineyard Cabernet
  • Retail Price: $70
  • Bottle and/or Case Promotion discount: 20% discount for non-wine club members (50% discount for wine club members) with 4-bottle minimum purchase, 12-bottle maximum purchase

Manzanita Creek Winery

  • Wine: 2010 Foothill Vineyard Chardonnay
  • Retail Price: $22.00
  • Bottle and/or Case Promotion discount: Single bottle 25% off (30% Wine Club)
  • Wine: 2007 Alfonso Old Vine Zinfandel, Russian River Valley
  • Retail Price: $28.00
  • Promotion: Single bottle 50% off (55% Wine Club)
  • Wine: 2008 Melange, Red Table Blend (Merlot, Zinfandel & Syrah)
  • Retail Price: $33.00
  • Promotion: Single bottle 50% off (55% Wine Club)


Have a GREAT Weekend. Be safe, spit or dump, support your local producer with purchases, and if on Twitter, use Hashtag #WRBT when you Tweet & Check in on Foursquare.



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Thoughts from Wine Road Barrel Tasting Weekend One. Share Your Thoughts & Win Tickets to Weekend Two.

Wine Road Barrel Tasting – The Premier Wine Buying Event of The Season. Learn, Share and Win Tickets! (4 winners!)

Barrel Tasting Insights – What am I Tasting & Do I Get Splinters? What should I buy?

My thoughts on Wine Road Barrel Tasting. Tell us yours and win tickets.

Observations of Wine Road Barrel Tasting Week One; Suggestions & Ticket Contest for Week Two


Thoughts from Wine Road Barrel Tasting Weekend One. Share Your Thoughts & Win Tickets to Weekend Two.

Last Friday-Sunday was the first of two weekends of Wine Road Barrel tasting, the 34th anniversary of this event. Last week’s article “The Parenting Aspergers Resource Guide

and Win Tickets! (4 winners!)” href=”../archives/7023″ rel=”bookmark” target=”_blank”>Wine Road Barrel Tasting – The Premier Wine Buying Event of The Season. Learn, Share and Win Tickets! (4 winners!)” was a huge hit, propelling the blog to it’s highest readership ever, just shy of 10,000 unique readers and 300,000 hits for the month. The first two days it garnered 38,000 hits. (Spoiler – we’ll be giving away 4 more pairs of tickets, so make sure you read to the end! )

I took a slightly more controversial approach than I normally do with the “stop the whining” and instead of garnering negative complaints as I was fearful of, we had dozens of exuberant responses.

The local Press overall did a positive job as well with several good articles:

The one true Wine Writer the PD has, Virginie Boone, did a nice article with “Barrel Tasting weekends are here” and there was a nice follow on piece “Learning about wine, one barrel at a time” by Mary Callahan.

Unfortunately that didn’t stop the PD Blog from writing in the same vein as last year with its “Frat Party” post with this weeks “Peculiar wine glasses at barrel tasting?(EDIT and a second article in the same vein on Tuesday “Revelers add sour taste to Wine Barrel weekend.”)

I will leave my comments at the post – but this is sensationalism writing looking for views, not investigative journalism, and its time to step up, or drop the topic. Looks like at least one other blog agreed. Millennials: The Next Generation.


Come Back Thursday For A Special Article

Of course all wineries offer special discounts for barrel futures, but many also have finished wine sales as well. Come back Friday for a list sorted by Russian River, Dry Creek, and Alexander Valley. (Wineries, read your Monday memo. Still have some spots.)

My Experiences

Unfortunately with my new job, and a side ‘project’ I could only attend one day this year, unlike all 6 last year. I had my friend Andrew Healy, the Wine Marketing and Social Media of Guru of Napa in tow, so I stuck mostly to wineries I knew, unlike my normal mix of experimentation. There were so many more wineries I wish I could have visited!

First stop was neighbor Robert Rue, who produces Russian River Sauvigon Blanc and Zin. Oddly, there were almost no barrel or tank samples of whites, something I’d recommend wineries

consider more, especially since whites are so close to being bottled, if they haven’t already. Robert Rue was the only winery we visited that did. I am generally not a Zin guy, but like cool climate Russian River Zin. Their new 2011 Sauvignon Blanc was stunning – a great change from the overdone New Zealand, grassy, cat-pee style. The secret in part is the “Musque” clone of Sauv Blanc, which is catching on as consumers get fatigued with the overwhelming amount of traditional Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is bright, with great fruit and minerality, more French Sancerre style. I will be buying this weekly I can see. Watch for a review soon, and grab some futures this weekend!

Next we headed north to Dry Creek – I wanted to get in and out before Saturday afternoon traffic went crazy. I am a regular at Quivira, and was seeking there futures of Mourvedre, which I buy every year if offered. Wine club members get 40% off, better than industry, its

a great deal on what I think is the best Mourvedre in Sonoma County. Granted, sadly choices are also few, but as someone who tastes/buys Rhones from all over, its one of my favorites. Quivira also released their new 2011 Rose’, which generally doesn’t last long.

We headed across the street to one of my long time favorites the Mounts. I hope to do a full story on them soon – watching them progress over the years has been a delight. Mounts continues to expand their Rhone portfolio, and lean towards more minimal winemaking techniques. They had 4 red wine barrel samples, all native yeast fermented, my favorite being the Grenache, and to my surprise the Malbec. I say to my surprise mostly because I have fallen out of love with most Malbecs as they are generally now made New World – big, extracted and oaky. This barrel sample was all about the grape itself.

Traffic was starting to pick up, so we headed back to Russian River, as was the plan.

Two quick stops: Joseph Swan (loved the 2011 Carignane( Cotes du Something) and Woodenhead, then onto Benovia. Benovia only featured one barrel sample, but had the widest pouring of finished wines, of which I am becoming quite a fan. We tasted through 2 Chardonnay’s, 4 Pinots, of which the Anderson Valley was my favorite, a Grenache, and my favorite of the day a Rose’ of Pinot Noir. At $18 a bottle, another recommended buy.

We squeaked into Krutz & Sheldon right in time. Patrick Krutz was tasting his new Ceja Chardonnay and his usual (incredible) Napa Stagecoach syrah. Sheldon was pouring their new Ceja grenache. All excellent wines from two great vintners, who were also pouring their current releases.

I didn’t take the SLR out that day, but here are a handful of pictures & recommendations you can see here.

Overall Summary

Most Wineries I spoke to (some on Sunday) reported Friday as the best day for serious buyers and tasting. Most reported a good Saturday, although almost every Russian River winery I spoke to reported the same, it got slow around generic viagra usa 130 Saturday afternoon. Not sure if people were headed North, but for those wishing to avoid crowds, I stick to my recommendation of go to less trafficked places Saturday afternoon if you want a better tasting experience.

This event attracts 18-20,000 people from 47 states, many on wine buying missions. I witnessed no drunkenness, bad behavior, or any of the sensationalism frat party attitude the aforementioned article was digging for. I am sure out of 120+ wineries and 18k people, a few examples exist. The law of large numbers will give you that, especially if you target feedback from a busy winery like Armida that is known for its younger crowd drawing. I witness far worse at any bar on a Saturday night. Lets focus on the 99.95% positive – shall we?

Wishes for 2012

I thought winery hospitality was outstanding. I’d like to see two things: more white wine samples. And more food trucks like the Rossa Pizza oven at Carol Shelton.

Barrel Tasting isn’t about food, and the wineries shouldn’t provide food, BUT I’d love to see more of them partner up with a food truck and offer food for sale. I’d happily pay to eat, not have to lose an hour in a restaurant. If I was an food truck entrepreneur, I’d park one right at the entry to Dry Creek, if allowed. Wineries – if you do offer a food truck next year, and are allowed, put it in your writeup, you increase the chances I’ll be by! (On that note, wineries who put in the program that they were tasting ‘futures’ with no specifics, you were skipped. Please tell us what you are offering, there are many choices besides you.)

Lastly, I applaud the increase in ticket prices. At the door, the most expensive option, a 3 day ticket is still only $40. This is a wine buying event, and I feel this helps weed out the partiers. Any slight decrease in attendance is made up by the higher price – and most wineries will tell you – there is a saturation point ratio of bodies to sales – sometimes smaller groups


OK – Time to Win!

Winning is very easy – simply in comments below tell us:

(1) Did you attend Barrel Tasting weekend one? What was your favorite and/or what did you buy.


(2) If you didn’t go Weekend one – what winery would you most like to visit and why?

We draw 4 pairs of tickets Thursday night – good luck!


Related Articles

Wine Road Barrel Tasting – The Premier Wine Buying Event of The Season. Learn, Share and Win Tickets! (4 winners!)

Barrel Tasting Insights – What am I Tasting & Do I Get Splinters? What should I buy?

My thoughts on Wine Road Barrel Tasting. Tell us yours and win tickets.

Observations of Wine Road Barrel Tasting Week One; Suggestions & Ticket Contest for Week Two

Events for This Weekend and Two Routes for the Wine Road Barrel Tasting

Guest Post by Fred Swan

This weekend’s events look a little sparse on the surface. But one little line item portends barrels of adventure. Hundreds of barrels. Full of wine. canadian viagra

tle=”The 34th Annual Wine Road Barrel Tasting in Northern Sonoma” href=”″ target=”_blank”>The 34th Annual Wine Road Barrel Tasting in Northern Sonoma.

There have already been excellent articles on this site about the barrel tasting. I don’t want to repeat what has been said. But, the list of more than 120+ wineries makes it hard to know where to start. So, I’ll offer a couple of itineraries for you to consider:

(Editorial note by William, for those of you who listened to me on KRSO tonight and are looking for the Tips & Ticket Contest, see Monday’s Post Here: Wine Road Barrel Tasting – The Premier Wine Buying Event of The Season. Learn, Share and Win Tickets! (4 winners!) )

Route 1: Get it While You Can — Wineries Open This Weekend Only

Saturday, focus on wineries west of Hwy 101. I might start at Moshin. Their Sauvignon Blanc will ease you into tasting. Follow it up with vineyard-designate Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.

Next, head up Westside Road to De La Montanya. They have five different wines for you to sample, starting with Pinot Noir and closing with a late harvest Sauvignon Blanc. The dessert wine will lead nicely into lunch. You did pack a lunch, right?

Head north on Westside Drive as it turns into West Dry Creek. Pull in at Quivira. Eat your lunch near their biodynamic gardens. Then enjoy their Mourvedre and Petite Sirah.

From Quivra continue on to A. Rafanelli Winery which will be pouring 2010 Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. Their wines are always very good. And they age well.

On the second day do an eastern route. Rodney Strong will have a tasty assortment. Chalk Hill Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Dry Creek Zinfandel.

From there, go to Stryker Sonoma. See how the Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from their estate differs from the Dry Creek wines you tried on Saturday. The’ll also pour Merlot.

Stay on the Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon path by going to Trentadue. They’ll let you try their reserve, the La Storia Cabernet Sauvignon. The La Storia Zinfandel and La Storia Cuvee 32 blend will also be available.

For a taste of a completely different Cabernet Sauvignon AVA, head back across Hwy 101 to Ridge Vineyards. They’ve got a barrel of 2011 Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon from the Santa Cruz Mountains. (Ridge is open the 2nd weekend too, but why wait?)


Route 2: Que Syrah — There’s more to Sonoma than Chard, Zin, Pinot and Cab

Formulate an itinerary from among these excellent Syrah producers:

Joseph Swan (Forestville) will be pouring not one but three vineyard-designate Syrah. Give them a try and see how the terroir of the different vineyards shows through in the wines. The winery will also have Zin, Tannat and more.

Vintoteca in Santa Rosa will be featuring six different wineries. Among the wines will be Olson Ogden’s Dry Creek Syrah. Before you dive into that though, try the Pinot Noirs from Bjornstadt and Baker Lane.

Krutz Family Cellars (Santa Rosa) Cabernet Sauvignon from the Stagecoach Vineyards of Napa Valley was one of Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Wines for 2011. They’re opening a barrel of Syrah from that same vineyard, which excels with that variety.

Lauterbach Cellars (Windsor) has acclaimed Syrah fruit, but makes wine in tiny quantities. This is your chance to try some. They’ll have the 2009 Syrah, but will start you off with Pinot Noir and their Syrah Rosé.

Red Car (Sebastopol) is un-bunging their Estate Syrah. But first, enjoy Heaven & Earth and their estate Pinot Noir.

Dutton Estate Winery will be pouring My Father’s Syrah. …I didn’t even know my dad had Syrah! I’m sure it will be good though. They’ve also got Pinot and Chardonnay on tap wine thief.



Lake County

Six Sigma Ranch Pro & Amateur Pruning Competition —Lower Lake: March 3, 10:00am – noon
Learn pruning from the pros and try your hand at it, too!


Napa Valley

Cab Release Weekend at Velo Vino — St. Helena: March 3 – 4, 11:00am – 6:00pm
A special Vertical tasting of our 2006, 2007 and 2008 kit’s killer cab.

Charles Krug Winery Celebrates Charles Krug’s 187th Birthday — St. Helena: March 3, 6:00pm – 9:30pm
Imagine the light the birthday candles will put out! There’ll be appetizers and three-course wine dinner.


Sonoma County

34th Annual Wine Road Barrel Tasting – Northern Sonoma: March 2 – 4, 11:00am – 4:00pm
144 wineries open their doors this weekend, many will be offering futures. Advance ticket sales are over, but you can buy tickets at the door.

Inspiration Vineyards Winemaker Dinner — Santa Rosa: March 2, 6:30pm – 9:30pm
There are still a few seats available for this dinner and the menu looks great!

Music at Vino di Amore Tasting Lounge — Cloverdale: March 2, 7:00pm – 9:30pm
Unwind after work, or barrel tasting, to rock and reggae played by Oscar Caleron.

Hanzell Vineyards Winemaker Dinner at Santé — Sonoma: March 8, 6:30pm
Join Hanzell winemaker Michael McNeill for a delicious four-course dinner paired with past and current vintages of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.


A Quick Plug:

The Wine Advocate will soon be releasing Antonio Galloni’s report on Sonoma County Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. You can learn levitra viagra online more about him and what he looks for wines by reading my in-depth interview with him. It’s being published in daily doses this week at

Enjoy your weekend!


Wine Road Barrel Tasting – The Premier Wine Buying Event of The Season. Learn, Share and Win Tickets! (4 winners!)

Barrel Tasting – an event in North Sonoma rich in history. In fact this is the 34th anniversary.

I look forward with great anticipation to the six days of Barrel Tasting

, across two weekends, as do many of the 20,000+ attendees, many of whom fly in from all over the country to taste and stock up on wine, both bottled and futures.

At the end of this article is a chance to win a pair of tickets – 4 winners – so read on!


Barrel Tasting Is For Serious Wine Lovers

I have written numerous articles about Barrel Tasting over the last 3 years, and will admit I am a staunch advocate.

It’s an event that can garner complaints from some locals, jaded hospitality staff, and the occasional cheap Media sensationalism title to get a reader, but the reality is it’s a serious wine tasting & buying event for many, not a party.

The few stories that are bound to happen when 20,000 people go wine tasting, shouldn’t be overshadowed by the people who drive & fly in, from all corners of the US to taste & buy wine. Lets focus on those.


Toss Away Your Stereotypes & Get Some Perspective

Last year, I wrote two articles with dozens of people posting their positive comments on this event, and many who wrote to me as well. Generally, other than inter-industry chatter, consumers are quiet on blogs, but in this case over 40 came out to say something.

Everyone has a bad story about this event, but sadly what’s not shared enough are the many great ones, which last years comments highlighted for me, including one reader who wrote me, asking I not stereotype ” ALL buses as bad.” She was part of a group that every year rents a bus and drives several hours North, and everyone on the bus are serious tasters, all of whom leave with cases of wine. I stood corrected, and perhaps lost a regular reader.

These letters and comments made me realize just how many people really enjoy this event, with comments like:

“I LOVE Barrel Tasting, it’s a chance to get together with friends, who have varied experience with wine”


“This was our third year barrel tasting and we pretty much have it down to a science with strategic routes for Friday and Saturday, while Sunday is more relaxed meandering around downtown Healdsburg.”


“I had an excellent experience during weekend one of Barrel Tasting. The future wines were fun to try and then comparing them to a finished product was an experience that led to the purchase of so many cases of wine that my hybrid was doing a wheelie on the drive home to Berkeley!”


“Barrel tasting has become an annual event for my friends and I. In fact, we collectively have several wine club memberships as a result of Wine Road events.”


“I haven’t missed Barrel Tasting in years. I started going when I was a student at SSU. I got so hooked on the event that I decided to invite my cousins and make a weekend out of it. We use it as a bonding weekend to try fabulous new wines and taste old favorites. I love Barrel Tasting because it brings wine lovers together for one reason. I always come away with new stories, great memories, and a great new wine collection. I never leave a winery empty-handed and often come home with cases. I have also purchased futures and especially love going back when they are ready to try my favorites again!”

Just a small selection of the 40+ comments received.


Stop The Whining About Wine-ing

I love the wine business and wineries, but some it seems are never happy. “Its been dead for weeks.” “This event had no traffic.” “Oh my GOD, There were TOO MANY people.”

So which is it? It’s interesting for me to observe, often first hand, wineries that make a huge success, year over year, of the Wine Road’s three events, including this one, and those that decline every year, and bitch & moan in the process.

Having worked closely with some, (and been on the other side of the barrel) its all about attitude, preparation, and outlook. Is every person who comes into your tasting room an opportunity to join your wine club, or just some pain in the ass who drank too much that is in buy viagra without rx your way until 5 pm comes? You decide. I can tell you those who view it the former, always lead in sales results.

I have written repeatedly about the importance of the tasting room experience and its impact on wine sales. It’s as important (if not more important) than the quality of the wine. The winery with a great hospitality experience and mediocre wine will outsell the winery with the reverse, every time.

Locals, yes Healdsburg can be a bit crazy Saturday afternoon I know. Our hotels, shops, and restaurants are also all full. If you can’t

appreciate what this does for our tax base and smile just a bit, consider it a great weekend to get out of town.


What Barrel Tasting IS:

  • A chance to taste some great wines.
  • A chance to learn about wine that isn’t done yet, and the wine making process.
  • A chance to buy great wine and save some dollars, both in futures and finished wine sales.

I have more detailed information and suggestions in articles: My thoughts on Wine Road Barrel Tasting and Barrel Tasting Insights – What am I Tasting & Do I Get Splinters? What should I buy?

As always, I suggest you print out the Wine Road program, and make a plan. Some wineries participate early on Friday, this is an EXCELLENT opportunity for more attention and less traffic. Some wineries also only participate the first weekend.


What To Bring:

  • The program guide, with your plan:
  • A cooler to put your wine purchases in. Yes its going to be 70 degrees. Bring a cooler. Heat kills wine.
  • Some food items. Since much of Dry Creek and Russian River is sparse in dining options, bring a picnic, a blanket and take a meal break. Or make your plan around dining somewhere in Geyserville, Healdsburg, or Santa Rosa. This is a day to be enjoyed, stop and smell the roses and eat lunch – its will enhance your day and experience. Its not a contest to see how many wineries you can visit.
  • Common sense. If you hate crowds and/or want to visit popular wineries, make your plan accordingly. Go to less busy areas like Geyserville & Russian River during peak times, and hit Dry Creek, Healdsburg, and popular wineries on Friday, first thing Saturday or Sunday morning.

Ok, Can I Win Tickets Already?

This Thursday Mar 1st, at 6 p.m. we will draw 4 pairs of winners for the Second weekend (March 9-11).

To win one of two ways (enter both!)

(1) Tell me in comments any one of the following:

  • Have you attended Barrel Tasting before, and what is your favorite part of the event? OR
  • Have you ever purchased futures before? Where? OR
  • If you won tickets, what winery do you want to go to most, and why? (Please make sure the winery you pick is participating, the list is here.




(2) Sign up for Simple Hedonisms email updates in the top right corner.

Its secure, private, and simply emails you when we have new articles. Nothing else. (Important – you will receive a confirmation email to complete your subscription, you must finish that step to be eligible.)


I look forward to hearing your thoughts and giving away some tickets! See you on the Wine Road – Heaven Condensed!


Related Articles

Barrel Tasting Insights – What am I Tasting & Do I Get Splinters? What should I buy?

My thoughts on Wine Road Barrel Tasting. Tell us yours and win tickets.

Observations of Wine Road Barrel Tasting Week One; Suggestions & Ticket Contest for Week Two


Tracy's Wine Road Lodging: Belle de Jour Inn

Post by Tracy Logan

Back in Healdsburg today, first stop is with Tom and Brenda Hearn at Belle de Jour Inn; their

Inn is located right across the street from Simi Winery.

A lovely, restful spot so beautifully kept by Brenda and Tom for the past 25 years, the Belle de Jour Inn is incredibly romantic and private- the Carriage House is one of my favorite accommodations- I would like to live there!

Brenda and I discuss innkeeper inside info-

like drying sheets, folding sheets, turning over rooms (she and Tom work as pharmacy the perfect team)- I knew them back in 1982 when I was the innkeeper at the Grape Leaf Inn. The Inn is very close to the happenings in Healdsburg, but far enough away that it feels like a step into the quiet countryside. This place is choice!

My Carriage House!
Manzanita Creek Winery
Jordan Winery
Bella Villa Messina
Here’s looking at you, kids.
Wine Time with TR Blog.
My Twitter.

February and Valentine's Day: Super Romantic Along The Wine Road

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By Tracy Logan

February and Valentine’s Day are almost here and I note that there are a number of cool, romantic events at our Wine Road member wineries and lodging specials to celebrate the Most Romantic of All Months & Holidays. Book a trip here and your wintertime blues will disappear; with something fun to look forward to, the grey days will slip by…and if, perchance, you do not currently have a Romantic Someone, coming up here will introduce you to new opportunities, fun and people. After all, Wine Road IS the most romantic place I know- roaring fireplaces, cozy nooks, brisk-snappy-breath-misting air, wine, great food, comfortable accommodations at lovely properties, friendly wineries, wine, world-class and Healdsburg-class restaurants, wine, scenic vineyards, open land and spaces, wine….and some cool specials and spiffy events!

The Rodney Strong Wine & Chocolate Fantasy 2012 comes your way 2.4.12:

The word fantasy describes best this event. If you love wine and/or chocolate your fantasy will come true! The barrel room is transformed into a beautiful series of halls and rooms, featuring wine and chocolate and chocolate and wine! Our three single vineyard cabernets will be featured and the live music and savory appetizers are sure to please. This is a “bucket list” event not to be missed.

The photos from past years depict a Bacchanalia for chocolate and wine lovers:

Austin Power's Bed Chamber at Rodney Strong....yeah, Baby!
Austin Power’s Bed Chamber at Rodney Strong?…yeah, Baby!
Mardi Gras? Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland? NO- It is the fantastical Rodney Strong Wine & Chocolate Fantasy!

How’s about the Amphoradisiac Dinner at Amphora:

February 11, 2012: 5th Annual Amphoradisiac Valentine’s Dinner

Join Amphora Winery for a romantic evening in the cellar as we enjoy a multi-course feast prepared by Chef Martin Courtman accompanied by gems from the Amphora wine library. White tablecloths, candlelight, roses…you get the idea!

A Zin Affair To Remember at DeLoach

Schmaltzy, lovely film on its own, spun out in ditto “Sleepless in Seattle”….

Six Romantic Wineries: Sweet 116

Or how about beings sweet (1) 16 all over again?


Or Geyser Peak’s romantic Crab Feast…..You will LOVE it; crabs fear it!

Or Corks at Russian River Vineyards Valentine Dinner….


And what says “romance” better viagra uit india than the Kendall-Jackson Gumbo Smack-down?



Skewis– always planning for romance:

We’re planning to offer a special tasting from our library over Valentine’s weekend, 11th and 12th. The flight will be $20, four wines, single vineyard Pinot Noir.


Valentine’s Weekend at Truett- Hurst:

1) Release of the 2011 Zinfandel Rose! 2) Live music by Bobbie Jo Valentine, 3) Chocolate and Savory snacks paired with the wines

Topel’s Fourth Annual Love & Meritage Blending Party with Winemaker Marcus Topel, Ziggy the Wine Gal, you and your sweetie for a true affair to remember…. 2.12.12, 1pm- reservations required.


And now, perchance to dream…where are you going to stay? Romantic Specials!

Vintage Towers Valentine Special!

February 10 and 11 ONLY — Book any room and receive a free bouquet of fresh cut flowers for your sweetheart FREE! This promotion must be mentioned at time of booking to be valid.


And what about the romantic power of President’s Day?! Hail to the Chief, Dawn Ranch:

Dawn Ranch President’s Day Weekend Special
Stay two nights and get the third night free! Poolside, Roadside, or Redwood cabins are $249 or upgrade to a Chalet with a sitting room & gas stove fireplace for $50. Package includes a $50 gift certificate for dinner at the Agriculture Bar & Kitchen as well as a $20 gift certificate to use for breakfast on Saturday & Sunday. Valid February 16-20, 2012


Romance your Valentine at the Jenner Inn
Stay at the Jenner Inn and enjoy all that west Sonoma County has to offer, walk on the beach with your loved one, relax in one of our rooms with a hot tub while you absorb the magnificent view of where the Russian River and Pacific Ocean meet. Have Champagne and a box of chocolate waiting in your room on arrival – $60 over room rate. This is good from Thursday

February 9th through Monday February 21st


Camellia Inn– Chocolates and Romance!

The Camellia Inn Un-Valentines Day Package – Celebrating Girlfriends for Valentines Day
Well, not all of us can have a special someone every Valentines Day. Why not get away to the Wine Country to celebrate with your other significant: your girlfriends. Package price includes two bottles of wine, microwave popcorn and hot chocolate, foot fizzers and bath melts, chocolates and movies and board games. This package is based on two to seven girlfriends. An accommodation at the Camellia Inn’s All Seasons Vacation Suites cottages for $309 per night – a savings of more than $100.

Chocolate Covered Valentines Getaway at the Camellia Inn
A chocolate adventure at a great price from Sunday, Feb. 12 to Tuesday, Feb. 14. Chocolate afternoon treats, evening chocolate port, gourmet chocolates, chocolate for breakfast (other things too), chocolate and wine pairing adventure, self-guided chocolate shop tour, a romantic dinner for two with chocolate dessert, chocolate soap, a gift each night including a bottle of wine and three nights in a King room with fireplace and two-person whirlpool tub. $950 including taxes – Savings of more than $150.

Here’s looking at you, kids.


My Wine Time with TR blog.

My Twitter.

If you don’t like it, don’t even bother….

Tracy's Wine Road Lodging: Vine Hill Inn

Post by Tracy Logan

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Vine Hill Inn, an award-winning and beautifully restored @ 1897 Victorian farmhouse, my canadian pharmacy online not only delivers romantic accommodations, but also brings it with great breakfast, lovely grounds, cool pool, vineyard views and a small menagerie including Boots the Inn Cat, pet chickens, goat and mini-horse.

The warm and helpful concierge/innkeeper/proprietor/chief cook, Kathy, will make your stay memorable and assist with dinner reservations, touring and visiting local wineries, spas and attractions.

Breakfast, with a bit of advance notice, can not only accommodate special dietary needs, but can also be served at a time that works best for the guest. Weddings- and other special events- for up to 125 guests- can be done here, employing the porches, grassy garden areas and back by the pool, all bordered by vineyards and softly undulating landscapes.

Vine Hill Inn Wonder Mini-Horse.
Swimming, sunning, relaxing, rejuvenating.
Gardens and old-fashioned porch for sitting, reading, chatting.


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four differently-themed rooms have private baths and either a private or shared porch. Though in a country setting, Vine Hill Inn is convenient to wineries, restaurants, the charming, distinctive little town of Sebastopol, and the Pacific Ocean.

View from the Inn- VERY Russian River Valley AVA characteristic.

Check out nearby:

Dutton Estate Winery

Red Car


Merry Edwards

Graton Ridge Cellars

Here’s looking at you, kids.



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