Posts Tagged ‘Barrel Tasting’

Evolve Your Wine Road Barrel Tasting Experience with the March 5th Riedel Seminar. (Special discount code for readers only)

I regularly comment on the outstanding job the Wine Road of Northern Sonoma does organizing and promoting its 3 key events for member AVAs (regions) Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley & Sonoma Coast. Apparently others do as well as membership is now burgeoning at 200 and still growing.

The Wine Road continues to evolve its annual 3 events to be more than just wine tasting or a weekend party, and into a full appreciation of food pairings, education and art.

Barrel Tasting

March  4-5th and 13-14th is the 33rd Annual Barrel Tasting. I intend to publish a few additional articles on barrel tasting and the event, but for now last year’s blog  Barrel Tasting Insights – What am I Tasting & Do I Get Splinters? What should I buy? should get you by and is still pertinent.

The event spans two weekends, and at $20 in advance (each weekend)  is about the biggest value a wine tasting bracelet event has to offer. Printable program guide can be downloaded here. FYI – Advance ticket sales end next Monday.

Riedel Wine Tasting Seminar – Saturday March 5th  – Special Discount Code only found here

If you haven’t attended one of these, they are pretty amazing. Check out Katherine Parker’s recent experience at one in her recent article.  For you naysayers on stemware making a difference – I highly encourage you to try.

The February issue of Wine Business Monthly (not available online yet), editor Cyril Penn kicks off an article by Sommelier Chris Sawyer that does an in depth analysis on stemware and wine sensory evaluation. He shares he too was a skeptic until attending one of these.

The seminar is  a unique and fascinating wine and glass tasting, and will demonstrate the relationship between the shape of a glass and our perception and enjoyment of wines. Try this mind-blowing experience that will change your wine life!

Tickets are normally $90 which includes a Barrel Tasting ticket, the seminar, and the four Vinum glasses  – valued at  $116.

Simple Hedonism readers can use code HEDONISMS (exactly like that, in capital) to save $20, making the seminar, glasses and a weekend ticket only $70.

This seminar is limited to 100 people and only 30 tickets are left – if you are interested, do not procrastinate!

More Barrel Tasting Articles to Come – Requests Welcome

We will be publishing several more articles on the event. If you have any questions or topics of interest, post them in comments and thanks for reading Simple Hedonisms Wine Blog  – cheers!cialis discount prices

What a difference a glass makes: Take your wine-tasting to the next level

You’ve seen the classy black and red Riedel cartons at kitchenware retail. They have an elite aura and great appeal as gifts. But do you know the story behind them? The Riedel name and family has been synonymous with glassware for over 250 years and 11 generations.  But it wasn’t until the 1960’s that the company began to focus in earnest on fine wine glasses.  A handmade Sommeliers series was launched in 1973, introducing for the first time a revolutionary concept: that glass size and shape directly affects the wine inside.

The current generation, Georg Riedel, took the idea further by developing “varietal-specific” glasses to enhance individual wine varietals. Today, Riedels’ Vinum glasses are machine-made, making varietal-specific tasting more affordable and accessible to wine lovers everywhere.

Riedel Tasting @Trione Vineyards & Winery

I participated in a Riedel seminar recently at Trione Winery in Geyserville, CA.  Trione produces fine wines from the Alexander Valley and Russian River Valley of northern Sonoma county. The Trione portfolio is perfect for the Riedel tasting experience. Each of vintner Scot Covingtons’ wines is true to it’s varietal character while showing consistent quality and structure. Scot makes a Trione Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet, matching the 4-glass Vinum set.

Tasting Presentation

Each place at the tasting table was set with 4 wine glasses, a water glass and a plastic “Joker” glass.  The 4 glasses comprise Riedel’s Vinum set:

  • Bordeaux/Cabernet
  • Burgundy/Pinot Noir
  • Sauvignon Blanc/Dessert Wine
  • Montrachet/Chardonnay

Through a series of tasting wines matched and mis-matched to their glasses, and in plastic (ick), the group of tasters became converts to the science of varietal glassware.

Wine Delivery System

Riedel speaks of a glass as a complete wine delivery system. The Chardonnay glass delivered the pure fruit, refreshing acidity, light oak, and warm finish of the Trione Russian River Valley Chardonnay.  The wide rim and deep bowl harmonizes these four strong characteristics into a balanced whole, with no one overpowering the others.  As a test, we poured some Chardonnay from its glass into a narrow Sauvignon Blanc glass.  The oak had no room to breathe, and the taste was completely off. Same wine, completely different taste experience. And of course, when we poured Chardonnay into the Joker glass, there was virtually no aroma, and no sense of oak in the mouth.

We went through a similar ritual with the Trione Sauvignon Blanc. The Riedel glass delivered crisp fruit and yeast directly to the taste receptors from a narrow rim, narrower bowl, tall-stemmed glass (keeping the heat of the hand away from the wine).  In contrast, the Pinot Noir glass has a wide bowl with a narrower rim, bringing the fruit quickly to the top, as in “fruit forward”.  Pinot Noir in the Sauvignon Blanc glass was a real disaster. The narrow delivery system passed the wine straight through to the back of the palette where the bitter receptors are. Hard to believe it was the same wine.

We also had a lesson in decanting and cleaning of wine glasses.  Riedel recommends using no soap, rinsing wine glasses in very hot water and drying with a non-linty towel (microfiber works well). Towels can be boiled in hot water or washed without detergent to keep fragrances away from contact with the porous glass.

Find yourself a Riedel Seminar

Varietal glassware completely changed my tasting experience and awareness. I highly recommend the Riedel Seminar, and it’s also a great way to start your collection of varietal glasses. Each Riedel tasting includes the 4-glass Vinum set. To find a Riedel seminar near you, do a google search.

Better yet, come to Barrel Tasting Weekend on Sonoma’s Wine Road. Trione Winery and over 100 other wineries open their cellars and barrels for 2 weekends in March. The March 5th Barrel Tasting weekend pass is available with a Riedel seminar (and glasses). Tickets here.

Riedel URL

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March 20-21st – Enjoy the Heart of Sonoma Valley “Savor Sonoma” – Enter to Win Tickets

Never a dull moment here in Wine Country, coming off the heels of 2 weekends of The Wine Road’s Barrel Tasting, we change to another part of Sonoma County, and a ‘cozier’ event, hosted by the Heart of Sonoma Valley Association. The 20th Annual  Savor Sonoma Food and Wine Experience features 22 wineries in the historic Glen Ellen and Kenwood regions.

This event is fun and ‘savory’ – all participating wineries are offering food and wine pairings. In addition many are offering barrel samples, selling futures, and featuring live music and local artists. The full program is available here; as always I encourage attendees to print it out, and make a mini-plan, especially if you only plan one day.

Glen Ellen and Kenwood are easily accessible from downtown Sonoma, Santa Rosa, Carneros and Napa – why not enjoy the scenery, leisurely drive, and spend one day (or both) this weekend enjoying  food, wine, art and music, with wineries large and small, new and historic.

Participating Wineries Include:
Audelssa Estate Winery, Benziger Family Winery, Chateau St. Jean, Deerfield Ranch Winery, Enkidu Wines, Eric Ross Winery, Family Wineries of Kenwood, Imagery Estate Winery, Kenwood Vineyards, Kunde Family Estate, Landmark Vineyards, Ledson Winery & Vineyards, Little Vineyards, Loxton Cellars, Mayo Family Winery, Muscardini Cellars, Paradise Ridge Winery, St. Francis Winery, Ty Caton Vineyards, VJB Vineyards & Cellars, Valley of the Moon Winery and Wellington Vineyards.

Featured Musicians include:

  • Laurent Fourgo’s Trio (Jazz) at Landmark Vineyards
  • Josh Little & his Trio (Jazz) at Little Vineyards
  • Seth Walker (Blues) at Loxton Cellars
  • The Sharks (Saturday) & The Corkpullers (Sunday) at Imagery Estate Winery
  • Sparky Thorne at Benziger Family Winery
  • The Don Giovannis (6-piece Italian Band) at VJB Vineyards & Cellars
  • John Shearer (Acoustic Guitar) at Valley of the Moon Winery.

Featured Artists include:

  • Stella and Dot Jewelry at St. Francis Winery & Vineyards
  • Leslee Maggiora Jewelry at Eric Ross Winery
  • Bella Barrels (Barrel Stave Merchandise) at Valley of the Moon Winery
  • Zaza Gallery (Stretched Canvas Photography) at Valley of the Moon Winer
  • Belgique Truffle Gateaux (Baked Truffles) at Valley of the Moon Winery
  • Twisted Sister (Local Handmade Jewelry) at Valley of the Moon Winery
  • San Tasti (a new drink to relieve palate fatigue) at Valley of the Moon Winery.

Enter “Question of the Week” to Win 2 Tickets, or Merchandise

Wednesday night we will be drawing for a pair of free tickets. To enter, go to the Heart of Sonoma Valley Facebook Fan page, scroll down to the Question of the Week posting, and submit your question.  Wednesday night will draw a winner, and answer the question.

I can’t wait to attend this event! Look for a 1-2 more posts this week, including a special article end of week featuring special winery sales incentives. Until then this recent article on barrel tasting may help as well!

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

Wine, food, music, art, Sonoma Valley, for only $55 for 2 days – and you don’t have tickets why? Available online through Wednesday, grab some, they have sold out before!

cheers!

p.s. See some of you at the Friday night Sonoma Wine Meetup in Downtown Sonoma – 75+ wine industry, consumers. Putting the social in Social Networking!


Updated: Barrel Tasting Sales Promotions

Simple Hedonisms enjoyed a great first weekend of Friday and Saturday Barrel Tasting! This was made especially fun by running around with  Wine Writers Allie and Peter of  My Wine Words. I am looking forward to this 2nd final weekend, and plan to go out all three days if I can. If you haven’t bought tickets, they are available at the door of participating wineries, 103 of the 160, participating this 2nd weekend.

For those of you going this weekend, who didn’t catch my 4 articles, check out these for hints and tips.

Planning for Wine Road Barrel Tasting – Tips Inside

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

also for Wineries:

Wine Road Barrel Tasting & Social Media – Optimizing Your Event

Since not all wineries participate both weekends, and I learned of some new additions, here is an updated list of the Wineries offering special incentives on existing inventory. (Different than futures discounts.)

New Promotions:

Special Joint Promotion at Trione and Stryker Sonoma:

“Try Stryker Sonoma & Trione Winery on for size!”  Special Social Media Promotion

  • When you arrive in Alexander Valley this weekend check in on FourSquare and/or Tweet about @StrykerSonoma & @TrioneWinery. While you are at each Winery receive a special discount of 30% on 3 bottles or more and free swag! (Architectural Rendering Shirt at Stryker) Just show the tasting room staff what you had to say about @StrykerSonoma & @TrioneWinery to receive your discount & Swag!!

Visit BOTH Wineries and Be Eligible for:

  • Visitors who check in at both wineries will be entered into a drawing for a lunch for Ten atop the mountain, overlooking Alexander Valley.
  • As an extra special treat, Secret Barrel Samples at Stryker Sonoma (officially not doing barrel tasting this weekend).AND Futures are still 15% off  (Stryker only discounts to Club Members usually.)
  • Check out Michel-Schlumberger’s crazy deals; $10 bottles and $100 cases.

David Coffaro Winery

  • In addition to their renowned Crazy Coffaro Futures Program,” David Coffaro will be offering the following for $20 each:
    • 2006 My Zin, 2006 Cabernet (Sonoma County), 2006 Petite Sirah, 2006 Escuro

Mueller Winery

  • Mueller Winery is offering Mueller Winery is offering a 15% discount on all current release bottled wines, Friday through Sunday. They are also releasing our 2007 Mueller Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir tomorrow. (92 cases produced)

Manzanita Creek Winery

  • Manzanita Creek is offering their 2006 MC2   (squared)  Zin for  just  $64 per case (SRP $14), and we have their 2005 Stealth Zin, Sweepstakes winner  at the International Pro Wine Buyers Competition at the other extreme for just $396 per case (SRP $55.)

J Keverson (revised)

  • J Keverson has a special offer: 2007 Starkey’s Court Dry Creek Zin On Friday 10 cases $99.00 Reg. $300.00. After the 1st 10 are gone $150 (50% off retail.)

Previous Weekends Offers Still Going (To best of my knowledge)

Lynmar Estates

  • Lynmar is offering Purchases including these four wines: 2004 Quail Hill Estate Chard, 2006 Russian River Pinot Noir, 2006 Russian River Chardonnay (almost gone) & 2006 Sonoma Coast Syrah are priced at the following discount: 3btls: 20% off, 6btls: 25% off, 12btls: 35% off.

Longboard Vineyards

  • Longboard Is offering a a mix-and-match discount special for your-choice combination of our Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Point Break Red.  3 bottles for $60, 6 bottles for $120 and a case for $240.”In addition Longboard has just put out a Magnums only library release with prices starting @ $100. (Club discounts apply.) Their 2005 Syrah is also on sale by the case.

Mounts Family Winery

  • Mounts is offering special discounts on its existing inventory, which includes Rose, Cabernet, Petite Syrah, Syrah and Zin.10% on half case (normally 5%), 20% on full case (normally 10%) You can mix and match for full case discount – no minimum per varietal required.

Trione

  • Trione  Is offering  a special case discount on the  2007 Sauvignon Blanc of $138 to people who mention the hashtag #barreltasting,  check in on Foursquare, or  Twitter/Facebook/Blog promotion.
  • Also, each day they will be drawing  a prize to every 100th customer who comes. The prizes will include but are not limited to hats, T-shirts and VIP tour and tasting for 6 people with a wine educator.

Kokomo

  • Kokomo is putting  2006 Dry Creek Zin on special. It normally retails for $27, but for the weekends only during the event, it will be $22.50.

Sausal

  • Sausal Winery is offering a 15% discount on any purchase of our 2006 Private Reserve Zinfandel (100% Estate Zin from 90 year-old vines) and a 15% discount off any purchase on our Sogni ‘d Oro (Italian style blend of Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Carignane, and Petite Sirah.)
  • They will also be doing a 15% off discount off any 6 bottles purchase (mix and match) or 20% off a case (mix and match).

Acorn

  • Acorn Is offering 15% off 6-11 bottles, and 30% off a case, of their 2006 Sangiovese, Axiom Syrah, and Heritage Vines Zinfandel. Mixed Cases ok.

Dutcher Crossing

  • Dutcher Crossing is offering a 4 pack special in the tasting room for 15% off.

Other Interesting Offers

D’Argenzio Winery (both weekends)

  • D’Argenzio is holding a raffle to win 2 complementary tickets to winemaker dinner at Inn at the Tides, May 21 Friday night $79.00 each, Each purchase of a case of wine earns an entry into drawing and winners at the end of each weekend.

Have a Great Barrel Tasting weekend! Be safe, stock up on wine, and let us know on our Facebook Fan site, where ya want!

Cheers!

Barrel Tasting Sales Promotions – Existing Inventory Sales

Article 4 of 4: Barrel Tasting Sales Promotions  – Existing Inventory Sales (of wine, not barrels)

In the 3rd article we discussed the basic concept of barrel tasting and how some wineries offer discounts on unreleased wines. Some wineries also take advantage of the event to offer sales incentives on existing inventory, special offers for new club members, and other limited offers.

Following are some of these offers:

Lynmar Estates (both weekends)

  • Lynmar is offering Purchases including these four wines: 2004 Quail Hill Estate Chard, 2006 Russian River Pinot Noir, 2006 Russian River Chardonnay (almost gone) & 2006 Sonoma Coast Syrah are priced at the following discount: 3btls: 20% off, 6btls: 25% off, 12btls: 35% off.

Longboard Vineyards (both weekends)

  • Longboard Is offering a a mix-and-match discount special for your-choice combination of our Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Point Break Red.  3 bottles for $60, 6 bottles for $120 and a case for $240.”In addition Longboard has just put out a Magnums only library release with prices starting @ $100. (Club discounts apply.) Their 2005 Syrah is also on sale by the case.

Mounts Family Winery (both weekends)

  • Mounts is offering special discounts on its existing inventory, which includes Rose, Cabernet, Petite Syrah, Syrah and Zin.10% on half case (normally 5%), 20% on full case (normally 10%) You can mix and match for full case discount – no minimum per varietal required.

Trione (both weekends)

  • Trione  Is offering  a special case discount on the  2007 Sauvignon Blanc of $138 to people who mention the hashtag #barreltasting,  check in on Foursquare, or  Twitter/Facebook/Blog promotion.
  • Also, each day they will be drawing  a prize to every 100th customer who comes. The prizes will include but are not limited to hats, T-shirts and VIP tour and tasting for 6 people with a wine educator.

Kokomo (both weekends)

  • Kokomo is putting our 2006 Dry Creek Zin on special. It normally retails for $27, but for the weekends only during the event, it will be $22.50.

Sausal (both weekends)

  • Sausal Winery is offering a 15% discount on any purchase of our 2006 Private Reserve Zinfandel (100% Estate Zin from 90 year-old vines) and a 15% discount off any purchase on our Sogni ‘d Oro (Italian style blend of Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Carignane, and Petite Sirah.)
  • They will also be doing a 15% off discount off any 6 bottles purchase (mix and match) or 20% off a case (mix and match).

Acorn (both weekends)

  • Acorn Is offering 15% off 6-11 bottles, and 30% off a case, of their 2006 Sangiovese, Axiom Syrah, and Heritage Vines Zinfandel. Mixed Cases ok.

J Keverson (both weekends)

  • J Keverson will be offering their 20066 Old Vine Zin Hales Vineyard on sale 50% off by the case. ($180.)

Dutcher Crossing (both weekends)

  • Dutcher Crossing is offering a 4 pack special in the tasting room for 15% off.

Hart’s Desire (first weekend only)

  • Hart’s Desire is offering their Double Gold 2004 Syrah on sale for $94 case.

Pellegrini (First weekend only)

  • Buy one bottle of the 2006 Malbec or the 2007 Merlot, and receive a bottle of the Cuvee 107 for free.
  • Also offering $1 shipping per case, mix and match ok.

Other Interesting Offers

White Oak Vineyards and Winery (first weekend only)

  • White Oak has a 20 year old tradition during Barrel Tasting – BYOZ (Bottle Your Own Zin.) of their Estate Old Vines (85 year) Zin that is available only in the tasting room, around 300 cases a year. BYOZ offers the opportunity to bottle and label your own bottle in the ‘Zin Zone’. The cost for BYOZ is $25. Entrance to the Zin Zone also offers a full tasting of all wines as well as have appetizers, meet our owner and also our cellar crew and of course experience hand bottling. It’s a fun tradition they share with fans old and new only once a year.

D’Argenzio Winery (both weekends)

  • D’Argenzio is holding a raffle to win 2 complementary tickets to winemaker dinner at Inn at the Tides, May 21 Friday night $79.00 each, Each purchase of a case of wine earns an entry into drawing and winners at the end of each weekend.

WoodenHead Vinters: (first weekend only)

  • Will be offering a 15% discount for anyone that joins the Wine Club!  Space is limited.

I will repost this next week with any updates, changes I get for the second weekend.

Have a Great Barrel Tasting weekend! Be safe, stock up on wine, and let us know on our Facebook Fan site, where ya want!

Cheers!

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

2010 Wine Road Barrel Tasting: Article 3 of 4

It’s almost here! The first weekend of Wine Road Barrel Tasting. Yes its TWO weekends: if you live in the Bay area and love wine, plan for both weekends, at only $30 a weekend, it’s the best bargain in town! (Personally I think the price is too low, but that’s me.)

What exactly is barrel tasting?

Won’t licking barrels give me splinters?

In all seriousness, consumers can benefit in understanding the underlying premise that shapes this 32 year old Wine Road event.

(For additional insight, you may also want to reference more recent article My thoughts on Wine Road Barrel Tasting. )

What Barrel Tasting Is:

The premise of barrel tasting was to let consumers have a sneak preview to an early wine still in production, and in some cases (not all) also buy ‘Futures’ or advance sales of the future release, at a discount, or in cases of allocation, ahead of release. This is a win-win; the consumer can save substantial money on varietals or brands they buy regularly. The winery gets cash earlier in the process. Cash flow has always been key to winery operations, and certainly is as important as ever in today’s financial climate.

What Barrel Tasting Isn’t:

What it isn’t meant to be: a drunk-fest. This event obtained a bit of a reputation for being a party festival (in part to the low ticket cost); which is a shame, given its deep tradition and intent. I implore consumers to have fun, behave respectably. All in all the number of incidents are few, but it only takes one to sour everyone’s experience. This isn’t charity folks – many of the Wine Road wineries are small business, family owned, working long hours as artisans to make  a living. They are here to pour for you and to ultimately sell some wine.  Stick to Happy Hour for drinking specials and parties.  Wineries shouldn’t hesitate to promptly deal with inappropriate behavior. FYI it’s a criminal offense, that can cause them to be shut down, to serve someone who is visibly impaired. There are a few extra California Highway Patrol on duty that day for the added safety of all, for those rare outbreaks of rash behavior.

Ok, What exactly am I Tasting?

Barrel samples are unfinished wine tastes, that’s why its coming from the barrel. I have heard complaints of  ‘Its not good wine’ or ‘I don’t care for the taste.’ Look at what I just wrote – it’s unfinished. It may be nearly ready for bottling and taste familiar, it could be another year+ in barrel still.  I do encourage everyone who is learning about wine (you never stop learning by the way) to try a few,  experience it, and gain an appreciation for wine as it evolves and changes. Some wineries even do interesting things, like Kendall Jackson is, to sample the same pre-release of wine, in different barrel toasts, for comparison.  Ask the winemaker questions; don’t worry about if it may seem basic – most wine makers love to share knowledge on wine making.

I think a few samples suffices for many; don’t hesitate to skip varietals (wine types) you don’t like, dump, or spit. You aren’t offending the wine maker, if anything he knows you are more serious taster then.  So then why would I be going to wineries if I don’t try the barrel samples?

It’s ok to skip a barrel sample at some stops; all wineries are still pouring something else, and many offer food pairings and other fun activities.

‘Other’ Tips

Of course there is my usual diatribe on using a Spit Cup; both encouraging wineries to hand out, and people to use. After two winery stops, your palette is now influenced by alcohol and you are drinking, not tasting. At least dump wines you don’t like; wineries aren’t offended.

You can also consider driver services like WeDriveU, where bonded drivers drive you in your car. Similar local services can be seen posted on Craigslist (check references). For that matter, press your unemployed 18-24 year old into driving you around for a reasonable hourly rate, and buy them a $10 Wine Road DD bracelet.

Buying Futures

Not all wineries participating in Barrel Tasting sell futures. There is additional work, tracking involved that some opt not to due. The reputed Wine Road King of Futures is David Coffaro Winery. If you are interested in futures, you should plan a stop here and check out the “Crazy Coffaro Futures Program.”

If you are new or hesitant on buying futures, start with wine producers whose wines you have drunk regularly, and know it appeals to your palette.  (In which case you should consider the wine club anyway.) You may also be offered to compare the current release with the barrel sample – this is a another great way to buy samples, if a winery or winemaker is new to you.

Feel free to ask the wine maker questions: has the wine changed much in where the fruit came from? Russian River zin is very different than Dry Creek. Did the vineyard source change, even in the same appellation? Have you made any substantial changes to the wine production methods; barrel program, yeast, cold soak etc etc.

Ok, decided you like the wine, want to save some money, and stock up. (Usually a minimum purchase is required.) Now what? The winery will collect the money for the purchase, and record your name, contact information, and give you a receipt. Wineries keep good records, but as a precaution, SAVE it. If you use a online or smart phone calendar for reminders, put a reminder appointment now to prompt you for the expected pick up month, so you have peace of mind you won’t forget. The winery is of course going to contact you, but this way you are double covered.

When its ready for release, pick it up, crack open a bottle to celebrate the money you saved, and the support you gave to your favorite winery – win win!

Come back tomorrow for a special article on selected Wineries offering special incentives on sales of existing inventory (aka bottled wine.) Take advantage of special pricing and stock up now too!

Cheers!

Article 1 of 4: Planning for Wine Road Barrel Tasting – Tips Inside

It’s almost here! The 32nd Annual Wine Road Barrel Tasting.  Two weekends of barrel samples, new wine releases, wine discounts, food pairings, and entertainment, for a pittance of $20 a weekend (in advance, $30 at door.)

This event is a little more complicated and unique than your typical ‘bracelet’ event, so more than ever, I encourage a little time for thought and planning.

Here’s Why You Need A Plan:

  • The event spans two weekends, but some wineries are only participating the first weekend.
  • Some wineries pour early, starting Friday afternoon, others don’t.
  • Most, but not all, Wine Road wineries participate.

The Wine Road has a comprehensive short list (scroll down first page)  and a long list of the details on above.

I always recommend printing out the detailed program, grabbing  glass of wine, and perusing the whole thing. Make a theme: New wineries one day, familiar favorites the second? Focusing on one appellation like Dry Creek, Russian River, or exploring Alexander Valley and Geyserville? Chasing down new zins or pinots? Use concepts like this to drive a plan, make it more fun, and feel like you accomplished more in your exploration of wine, and North Sonoma wineries.

This is a very busy event, at certain times of the day. If you are like me, standing in a crush of people, waiting for a pour, isn’t always an enjoyable experience, and with some planning, can be minimized.

Some basic tips:

  • Saturday is generally busier than Sunday.
  • The event gets gets busier as the day progresses.
  • Dense areas like Healdsburg get snarled with traffic, pedestrians, as an area with high concentration of tasting rooms, in a small area.

Factor that in when you are laying out your route, and don’t want to wait in line for an hour at A. Rafanelli to sample.

Other suggestions To Enhance Tasting:

Work into your agenda some of the non- participating Wine Road wineries, especially mid afternoon during the peak. There are many great wineries just open for normal business; why not stop at a few.  I am taking my out of town guests for the Wine & Food pairing at Seghesio, Saturday afternoon, as one example.

Glass and Bracelet Pickup Details:

I thought I’d help clarify a few of the check-in and pick up details, as well as a few tips on this.

  • If you pre-purchased tickets, you have to  pick a ‘check in’ winery. After 150 check-ins, a winery is taken off the list as eligible for check-in. This is to help you the consumer, and disperse crowds. What if your friends are checking in at ABC Winery and its full? Check into the one next door, both of you get your glasses, try the wines, and then connect.
  • “I picked a winery for check-in that isn’t pouring Friday, and we want to taste then.” That’s perfectly ok – all wineries will have their glasses (make sure they are open to public) and wristbands. Just go there and check-in, and then head out. Or better yet, since you are there, experience whatever their normal wine tasting experience is, sans barrel samples.

Save $10, Last chance to Win

Tonight at 9 p.m. is the last chance to get tickets in advance and save $10.

Tonight is also the final drawing for free tickets, or a Wine Road Cookbook. To enter to win, simply register for secure, no spam, email updates of new blog posts, in the top right corner. One will be chosen at random at 11 pm Pacific, tonight.

Look for more helpful articles this week, including a special edition of Winery promotions on current inventory.

cheers!

Question of the Week, Win Wine Road Barrel Tasting Tickets

Its that time again: today through Wednesday go to the Wine Road’s Facebook Fan site, to submit your wine related “Question of the Week.” We will choose a question, answer it Thursday in a blog article, and the selected person will win two tickets to Barrel Tasting, or a Wine Road cookbook.

To post your question, please go to the Wine Road Facebook Fan page, and under today’s post, write your question.  Wednesday afternoon we will pick. (And last week, Beth gave out 3 more pairs of tickets for runners up!)

Also don’t forget two more chances to win: at the end of today, and end of this month, we will have a drawing for email subscribers of Simple Hedonisms, for more Barrel Tasting tickets.

For those of you that followed our contest two weeks ago, we asked for your thoughts and prayers for winner Melissa Martin Mayorgas, whose son was about to have  a muscle biopsy at Children’s San Diego Hospital to determine what type of muscular dystrophy he has.  Melissa was concerned as little boys with MD are susceptible to malignant hyperthermia during general anesthesia. I am happy to share that her son Parker came through great!

In the next few weeks, I will be writing more articles for Barrel Tasting to help for consumer planning and enjoyment. Ultimately this blog is for you, the wine consumer. If there are any topics or areas of assistance you’d like to see, let me know in comments.

cheers!

Win Tickets to Wine Road Barrel Tasting; The Blog returns from ‘Vacation’

Where’s (Sonoma) William?

I am extending my apologies to readers for a brief absence. Those that follow me on Facebook know its been an incredibly trying 1st month of the year, with 12-16 hour office days, and cross country travel. (For now) Wine Country and Social Media are side projects, something I plan to change over time. Until then, I am doing one final push in my career as an Executive in the technology industry, focused on sales and marketing. (Partially to fund some land.)  Last October,  I joined a 3 year old software start-up, to expand the field sales teams, double revenues, and engage in field marketing strategies to rapidly increase brand awareness.

Although it’s a different industry, the experience isn’t unrelated to my beloved wine industry; with a finite amount of resources and budget, some initial success has to be quickly leveraged to grow revenues, awareness, a customer base. Creating buzz is paramount, as well as the presence of appearing everywhere. This is  achieved through a series of integrated, multi-touch and messaging campaigns to prospects, and leveraging happy customers. The brand buzz is achieved both direct , through eco-system partners, sales channel partners, and integrated sales and marketing messages. Throw in some pressure from the Board and the Venture Capitalists, stir well with blood, sweat and tears, and a dash of karma, luck, and faith.

The skills and lessons learned have translated directly into my side ‘work’ here in the wine industry, initially focused on social media, but much will equally translate into Sales and/or Marketing efforts, when I finally decide, or get recruited, to make a full time jump.

So these writings are in the spirit of networking, and to help the amazing food and wine related businesses and entrepreneurs connect with consumers, with my special focus (but not limited to) my beloved Sonoma County and her peoples. (Don’t be fooled by the ads – the blog won’t break close to even with the budget I have for it this year.)

Ok, So Get on to the Free Tickets Already

So the above isn’t totally unrelated. Besides sharing a bit of insight to the author, its a preamble to my ongoing work with the Wine Road. I have written numerous times lauding the organization of this cross-appellation (wine region) entity of Northern Sonoma, as well as their interest in embracing new ideas. In my opinion, their support of Social Media played a huge part in the last month’s Winter Wineland record success. Attendance was up significantly, but more importantly many wineries reported a substantial increase in sales, several I spoke to had Saturday sales numbers almost DOUBLE last years.

We are on the heels of the Wine Road’s next great annual event, the 32nd Annual Barrel Tasting. Contrary to some beliefs, this isn’t meant to be a drunkfest (in my opinion ticket prices are too low) but rather a chance to visit with wineries and sample wines before completed, and purchase futures, at a substantial discount. This is a great win-win, as it provides wineries with cash flow, and it allows passionate consumers to get a jump on their favorite releases, at a substantial discount.

Ok, NOW the Free Stuff

Simple Hedonisms wine blog and the Wine Road will be co-operating on a series of events, one of which is a weekly wine education topic, picked by you, the readers.

To Participate: Post your question on the Wine Road’s Facebook site. The lovely and talented Wine Road ladies (and I) will select a question, which will be answered in a blog article, published, and the selected person will receive a pair of tickets for the  Barrel Tasting event, as well as recognition in the article. (Hey its 8000 (mostly local) hits, you can be a mini celebrity for a day.)

Sign-up Now for Email Updates for More Ticket Events, and Blog Updates

I frequently hear ‘I check your site regularly for new postings, sometimes I catch them,  sometime I miss them.’ Life is busy, as much as I appreciate you trying to remember to check in – there is an easier way. Simply sign up for (secure, no spam) email subscription where it says “Get Simple Hedonisms via Email” in the top right.

When a new article is published, you get a short email, with the title, and link to click to read the article – that’s it. I will also be drawing 2 free Barrel Tasting tickets in February, from email subscribers, so  – SIGN UP!


Yours truly in wine, food, friends and life’s simple pleasures (hedonisms) – Sonoma William.
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