Posts Tagged ‘Wine Road’

Tracy's Wine Road Itinerary: Geyserville in Two Fun Filled Days & Nights

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Post by Tracy Logan

Here are my recommendations for a fun-filled two days/two nights in Geyserville:

Day One

Arrive in Geyserville and relax around the pool at Hope-Merrill House, your lodging. Walk to Diavola for dinner, a local favorite with great pizza, fresh salads and panini to tempt every palate- great wine list, too-

rustic, comfy décor. After sleeping peacefully in this Victorian mansion, start your day with their inspiring, complete breakfast.

Head out viagra tablets for sale the door and south on Geyserville Avenue- first stop is Route 128 for tasting in one of the original Henry Ford Auto supply shops. Great wine and fun are found here along with some great historical photos. Then trek to Mercury Wines, for as they say, “tiny lots of everything, at prices you can afford”- winemaker Brad is truly a mad scientist and quite the host in this white-on-white, open, modern tasting room.

Now it’s time for lunch a couple blocks north at Hoffman House, healthy and delicious, a favorite with locals and visitors alike. After lunch wander back south to Locals where you can taste flights of wine. This is such a treat to sample wines side by side! Don’t forget to visit Meeker, in the old BofA Bank Vault and, then check out W2 Williamson Wines, where the wines are featured in a beautiful, cool modern tasting room.

Walk back up to Hope-Merrill for more pool time and rest- on the way back, check out the incredible potpourri of items that are available in the historic Bosworth Hardware Store.

Dinner tonight is within walking distance of your lodging, too- favorite, Catelli’s.

Day Two

Next morning, stroll over to Alexander Valley Bikes and rent some wheels- head north to Geyser Peak and then south to check out the tasting menu at Trione, Clos du Bois and Trentadue.

Then it’s a short bike over to RUSTIC, Francis’ Favorites, the new restaurant at Francis Ford Coppola’s Winery for lunch. Food, service and views (sit on the terrace) are all proving to be a winning combination! Great wine list available here. You can even stroll through the winery for a bit of Hollywood glamor with the Coppola Oscars, costume and prop displays- including the Tucker automobile- and a great gift store. The family pool with rent-able individual pool “Cabines” are also a great way to pass some time.


Here’s looking at you, kids.


Wine Road Northern Sonoma County – New Regular Featured Column

Hey- this is Tracy Logan, writing my inaugural post for “Simple Hedonisms”.  I am the Member & Guest Concierge for Wine Road Northern Sonoma County, a cooperative winery organization of 180 wineries and 56 associate lodging members located in the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys of Northern Sonoma County.  Beth Costa (our Exec Director), Lynn Thomas (Wine Road Office Manager), and I, no prescription viagra sale work with our Board of Directors to promote our area as a year-round destination and help you, our guests, plot your course here.

From left, Tracy, Lynn and Beth, Barrel Tasting 2011, photo by Kevin & Ivy.

We organize and produce three annual events: Winter Wineland, always Martin Luther King Jr's Holiday Birthday Weekend in January; Barrel Tasting, always the first two weekends in March; and A Wine & Food Affair, the first weekend in November.  We also produce the free, amazing Wine Road Map.

From time to time, I will include a piece on some of our Wine Road Lodging members and perhaps add some adventure showing other fun things to do along Wine Road, including restaurants, canoeing, biking, museums, golf….

Here is a little jaunt out Wohler Road and River Road, just outside of Healdsburg, near Forestville:

Heading in a north-easterly manner, I soon arrive at Wohler Bridge- one lane, yield to oncoming traffic- beautiful span across the Russian River- I make like a tourist and inadvertently block a few impatient locals from accessing the bridge as fast as they seem to like to!  The River looks so GREEN today- good old Slavianka rolling towards the Pacific Ocean….

Wohler Bridge.

And here I am at The Raford Inn Bed and Breakfast where I am to see Dane and Rita, fabulous innkeepers!  What a stately building this is with its imposing, expansive aspect on the hill overlooking the vineyards, surrounded by porches, gardens and palm trees.

RRV Winery Signpost Crossroads @ Raford corner
Raford from the bottom of their driveway
Miraculously transported, the exact opposite view of preceding photo: from the Raford porch towards the crossroads!

What an incredible view from the porch and from the gorgeous, lush gardens, currently being manicured by gardening staff.  Romance, romance, romance–and, true to my personal pursuit of favorites, Adirondack chairs!:

My favorite, Adirondack chairs, on the lush lawn looking back toward the Raford front porch.
Ah- the romantic Raford

Garden arch- wouldn'

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t this is be lovely for a wedding processional? And Rita is a minister!

Full-breakfast, wine & cheese reception, Dane makes wine, staff makes music, rooms are romantic, people are warm and gracious: I would like to stay- but you know how the Wine Road commands me- so, off I go!

Next stop: Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant where I am to meet Meilani, Catherine and Miss Charlotte, the Saucy Black Cat.

Welcome to the incredible Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant; what a choice spot!

Following my favorites, here is my Adirondack oasis at Farmhouse on the lush lawn- feels like a million miles away from everywhere!


The Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant also has a spa on site and a pool. In the Guest Reception they have a very intriguing bath products bar to “build your own”- ditto great snacks to chose from.  They do Tiny Weddings (no more than 10 celebrants) on site partnering with Iron Horse with the Wedding Cuvee sparkler signed by Joy Sterling-and sometimes using the site at Russian Hill Winery– could anything be more romantic?  They also do Baby Moons, Girlfriend Getaways- heavenly on all fronts.

Meilani took me on quite a grand tour– I had not been by since before the addition of what is called The Barn, an amusing rustic name for such an incredible addition to the property with the Barn Suites being amazing!

The Barn- my photographic skill, or lack thereof, cannot do it justice!
Farmhouse bungalow
'smores, anyone?? Here is where you can make them- and look! More Adirondacks!

Chef Steve Litke (he wrote the foreword for our Tasting Along the Wine Road Cookbook for our Wine Road A Wine & Food Affair some years  back) came through and I also met Catherine’s brother, Joe.  All staff were so friendly and helpful!  Meilani also introduced me to Miss Charlotte, the Farmhouse Cat.  I had a wee bit of trouble photographing her as you will see in this sequence:

Miss Charlotte: “I do not much care for TR- see my face and attitude!”
Miss Charlotte on the prowl: look out wall lizards!

Nov 5 & 6 is the North Sonoma Wine Road "Wine & Food Affair" a Simple Hedonisms Favorite.

The Wine Road Wine & Food Affair is one of my favorite events in the County and of the year. It features over 100 wineries from Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Alexander Valley offering their great wines, paired with some of the very best food to be found, from some of Sonoma Counties best chef's and caterers.

Oh and pssst, listen close. TICKET SALES END TODAY. No exceptions!

The Cookbook Alone is Worth It

Admission includes this years stunning 308 page cookbook. I love this event viagra online sales so much I have sought out and bought almost all of the years bound copies in existence – and what an evolution over 13 years. Gorgeous full bottle shots, amazing recipes, of course paired with wine.

Each winery has two pages.  On the left is a bottle shot (each one shot just for this cookbook)  and some background on the origin of the recipe. This one from Mounts Family Winery, a personal favorite in Dry Creek, describes Lana Mounts family heritage and tie in to the dish, created by Jude Affronti, of Affronti Restaurant.

What is also amazing to me is how much this book has evolved. An early fan of the Wine Road, in the stint I left the Bay area for brief sojourns in Seattle, Denver, and Baja Mexico, I acquired used copies of previous years on to keep me company.  Shown here side by side is the 2011 308 page cookbook, compared to the softbound, black & white, 160 page bound version from 2000. (Which is when I had started working for a Petaluma startup known as Calix.)

No Ticket Sales At the Door

Tickets are $70 in advance AND include this $35 cookbook. Even without the cookbook, $35 a day for the best of this regions food and wine is the least expensive, high quality entertainment you'll find. Try getting a bottle of wine and a good dinner for two for much less than that!

Ticket sales end this Monday Oct 31st. , if they don't sell out prior. (Which many years they do – so don't wait!)

There is also a Sunday only option for $50. Are

you a foodie more than a wine-o? DD tickets are $30.


1. Make A Plan.

Every year when I write about this event, I have the same primary suggestion plan. (See Don’t Miss! The Wine Road’s 11th Annual Wine & Food Affair. (tips inside))

This event is one to savor and enjoy, not racing around guzzling wine. As of this time, the downloadable guide is not yet available (I will add when it is) but you can go to , click “Program”  and look at the pairings each winery is offering – this event is as much about choosing the food as it is the wine!

2. Map Your Route Around Traffic Times, Patterns

Some areas and wineries get VERY BUSY. Others that are new, or off the beaten track will be more manageable. Saturday afternoon is typically the busiest, especially in downtown Healdsburg and Dry Creek Valley. Consider saving those for Sunday, or doing first thing in the day. Many Russian River Valley wineries (downloadable map) , because they are more spread out, don't get quite as heavily traffic.

Seek out some new wineries you haven't been to before. Also remember not all Wine Road wineries participate, so it's a good idea to again check the list of participating wineries.

3. Dump or Spit

This concept is as much about being able to properly appreciate the wines, as it is being responsible. After tasting at 2 wineries, if you have swallowed everything poured, you will have consumed enough alcohol to limit your sensory abilities. Essentially you have migrated from wine tasting and appreciation to drinking. And hey, if you have a DD and thats your thing, power to you., but for those of you looking to expand your wine appreciation consider this: Dump a wine in your glass you don't love, or try the experience of spitting – the standard 16 oz plastic disposable cup is the standard weapon, and some wineries will have these out. Taste like a Pro, and you may get some special pours to boot.

4. Support Your Local Artisans: Take Home Some Wine

Yes you did pay for these tickets – but most of that money supports the event, and perhaps some of the food costs. These wineries, the vast majority of whom are very small family businesses, make money one way: WHEN YOU BUY WINE.

Buy a few less Starbuck's lattes and/or that grocery store mass produced wine  – if you like a wine you taste, buy a bottle. It will help you appreciate and remember the event, and you show your support for a local business and artisan, as well as have something great to take home.  (ps put a cooler in the car – we often have nice weather for this event, always better to throw it one.)

Come Back Next Wednesday for Wine Sales Incentives Articles

Some of the wineries will offer sales incentives this weekend  on new releases, other inventory for single bottles, case purchases, and more. I will publish a list of special promo's sorted by region. This has been a popular article in the past as its a great chance to stock up – holidays are coming! Come back next Wednesday for this list AND a special announcement.

Follow the WineRoad on Facebook & Twitter, and “Live Broadcasts” via Twitter Hashtag

The Wine Road Executive Director is one of the best I know in Winery Social Media, and will keep you well informed. Follow the Wine Road on Facebook and on Twitter . To follow Tweets during the event follow Hashtag #WAFA11 or click here.

See you on the Wine Road – Heaven Condensed! (Love that old slogan!)

Related Articles

Don’t Miss! The Wine Road’s 11th Annual Wine & Food Affair. (tips inside)

The North Sonoma Wine Road launches their iPhone App: Review & User Tutorial


The North Sonoma Wine Road launches their iPhone App: Review & User Tutorial

I have repeatedly given kudos to the Wine Road organization – in my opinion one of the leaders in Wine AVA marketing, innovation, and social media integration. Despite the economic downturn, their events continue to sell out and show year over year growth, no small feat in these last few years. Beth Costa, the Executive Director embraces tools and media, old and new, giving their 190 members a voice that is consistently heard.

The Vision of the App – More Timely, Updated Information in the Hands of Consumers

Launching an AVA (region based) wine app isn't new.  But bleeding edge isn't always leading edge and early release of an app that has minimal value in today's crowded world of iPhone apps means you risk losing attention after a poor first impression. The Wine Road app is a great example of 'measure twice, cut once.' Premature launch can be the death of a product or concept.

Beth said she is thrilled to finally have this option to tell guests about when they are planning to visit the Wine Road.

Historically we have been known for our printed winery map, but in the past few years more and more travelers rely on their phone for directions and information. We are also seeing more last minute travelers, who don’t have time to order a map in advance. We needed to address the changing needs of our guests and this app  hit it right on the head. The Twitter feed is also a great way for folks to join in the conversation with all of our winery and lodging members and I know customers are going to appreciate our Wine 101.

Are you an Android user? Not to worry, Beth  confirmed that a droid version is in the works!

Getting It Right

This app gets it right in a several key functional themes.

First – much of the reference information is available without Internet access. This is critical as Internet access, via phone or WiFi, is not assured when in many wine regions, and Wine Road has its dead pockets, just like any other.  (Although I can't encourage wineries enough to put WiFi in their tasting rooms.) North Sonoma is full of small, non palace wineries, off the beaten track.

A online only map to your next location,or a directory, isn't a lot of good if you don't have 3G access on your phone. Yes, even Verizon has pockets of spotty coverage.

This core benefit isn't  by accident, the developer is Darwin 3D, the brilliant husband and wife team who have designed apps for Hospice du Rhone and Paso Robles to name a few. The former being the best based event app I have used, the latter representative of a wine region who has a fair number of wineries who also have no 3G coverage.

Sorting and filtering is a another key feature. In the first release you can tell the app to filter by the 5 'regions' in the Wine Road maps. (Russian River, Dry Creek, etc.) Thus you can tell the app to only show you the venues in say, Healdsburg.  In the second phase, due shortly additional criteria will allow for very specific information filtering, such as varietal, picnic areas, tours and more.

Mapping – Online & Offline

When you open the app, it immediately wants to know your geographic location, and requests permission. This allows the app to hone in on wineries close to you. You can of course over ride this, and choose between maps one of two ways: (1) Google based maps or (2) Wine Road Maps (offline) by clicking the 3rd button 'Maps.'

Google Maps

This can actually be used if offline, but it's best functionality is when connected. Like many iPhone apps, you can 'pinch' with two fingers to zoom in and out. In my opinion the best 'wired' mapping integration comes from clicking the second button 'Wineries' then “Distance' and then a list, in order of distance from you, is displayed. You can then click a winery and see all its details. Then you can click on its address, and go to the Google Maps app, which will give you turn by turn driving directions. (Note, do not drive and do this. Its obviously not safe, and if witnessed by the law, comes with a big fine, even at a stop light.)order diflucan

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Key iPhone app direction tip: If the list of wineries by location close to you is wrong, your iPhone needs a map 'nudge'. This happens frequently in my experience with any location based app. To fix it, launch the Mapss app that came  pre-installed, and let it triangulate your location. If THAT needs a nudge, click the tiny arrow in the lower left of screen.

Offline Wine Road Maps

If you touch 'Mapss' then 'Wine Road Maps' you now have the ability to view the same maps as on the Wine Road website and printed map, with the very latest updates and new members. It starts with the overall view, which is good only for reference. Too see wineries, you left and right scroll, and choose between the various sub maps like Dry Creek, Russian River, Healdsburg. You can then pinch to zoom in and out as desired.


The last button of the app, Settings, allows you to filter wineries, restaurants and lodging by the 5 Wine Road sub regions. Simple touch which ones you want in or out, and thats all you will see. Very useful to unclutter the app and just focus in on where you are. As mentioned earlier, the next release will expand upon this theme greatly.

Other Key Features

If you start at the home page of the app, you can see a number of features.  Some, (the Buy Tickets, Book a Room, and WineRoadWine101 buttons) launch to external website. Others are completely integrated such as Lodging, which like wineries supports and lists lodging by distance and region; and Concierge, which does the same for restaurants. There is some basic Twitter integration in Phase 1 (you must first authenticate the app) with more coming in Phase 2 and beyond.

Phase Two of the App, and Shiny New Wine Road Website – Coming Soon

Targeted for mid July the Wine Road is gearing up for a major new website update. Substantial effort has gone into redesign to clean up the look of the new site and really focus on the pages that  customers use frequently: events, maps and the videos.

One of the new features will be a “Wine Road on the Road” link where wineries will be able to post all of the special tastings they are participating in throughout the country. If you live in Phoenix and can’t get to here, you can see who will be pouring in YOUR area.

The site will offer an expanded photo gallery, more videos and every member will have links to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Wine Road also wanted to make it as easy as possible for visitors to share any and all pages with their friends, so they have  included “share this” buttons on most pages, and have updated to Google maps.

Other useful features like lists of new wine releases and an easy to use “book a room” feature with Wine Road lodging members.

iPhone App Phase Two

The new web site release then triggers Phase 2 of the iPhone app which will offer more search features for the

wineries, such as varietals, tours, wineries with picnic areas, and their tasting fee structure. Annual event information streamlined along with their full event calendar and a small version of our photo gallery… so you can see what you are missing, if you’re not here along the Wine Road. New members, events, release etc will be updated in real time –  every time they update the website, it will automatically update the information on the app!

Download the App  – Its Free – and Give it a Whirl

You can search in the iTunes store for Wine Road or simply click here. Don't forget these work on iPad and iPod Touch as well!

I am pleased to have been able to personally help with its progress and criteria. Wine Road Executive Director, Beth Costa reached out to me for input for suggestions and design criteria, knowing my technology background, combined with my social media and marketing integration focus. The Wine Road and its members are dear to my heart, and after using too many Wine apps that didn't hit the mark, I was happy to assist. I think the end result is excellent, and Phase 2, only weeks away, even better.

Please feel free to post comments, questions, and suggestions here.  Thanks for reading – and if you find the article useful, take a second to share it with your Facebook and Twitter friends, cheers!


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This Saturday – Don't Miss 'Taste of Olivet – Follow the Olivet Road' Russian River Valley event. (Ticket Contest too!)

Russian River Valley – Home is Where the Heart Is  – So Now its Home

The Russian River Valley holds a special place in my heart. Not just because I now live here and am establishing a small farm and vineyard (sheep, chickens, apples and grenache, who knew!) but it was my first real love discovered about ~13 years ago. Like many, wine country started for me as Napa, which I still appreciate. Then it was downtown Sonoma aka Sonoma Valley, which is also a special place.

But it was the winding tree covered roads, sleepy towns like Forestville and Graton, plethora of small non castle like wineries,and an early love of Pinot Noir that sung to me most, and I always knew in my heart I would live here. Despite the world recognition of as an AVA, its still down to earth and sleepy.

During the Wine Road recent Barrel Tasting when people were Tweeting about hordes in Dry Creek and Healdsburg on  a Saturday afternoon, I was able to get a barrel sample and shake the hand of the winemakers at most stops.

Follow the Olivet Road – Inaugural Event – Taste of Olivet

Recently seven of the wineries on Olivet Road in RRV got together to work more closely together, starting a group “Follow the Olivet Road” – this one seems lined with great wine instead of yellow bricks.

Participating wineries are Deloach, Harvest Moon, Hook & Ladder, Inman Family Wines, Inspiration Vineyards, Pellegrini, and Tara Bella.

This Saturday they will open their doors, hearts and bottles, and extend wine club privileges all day to ticket holders:

  • Complimentary tasting at all seven wineries
  • 20% discount on all current wine releases
  • Tasty hors d’oeuvres
  • Passport contest ~ visit all seven wineries to enter to win
  • Music and entertainment
  • Olivet Road hospitality

Tickets: $20 wine club, $30 general public, designated drivers $5. Tickets may be purchased online here.

Follow the Olivet Road: Facebook Page, Twitter, Website

See further below for additional details by some wineries.

Contest – Win a Pair Tickets One of Two Ways

Enter in comments below:

“Tell us your favorite winery of the Olivet Road Wineries, and why. OR

If you have never visited any, which would be your top choice to visit, and wine(s) to try.”

Entries will be drawn at random Thursday at 2pm. That’s in 48 hours, don’t delay!

Second Chance to Win: We will be drawing for a pair This Thursday night at our monthly meetup. This month its in Healdsburg – 530-7330. Details here.

Follow For Live Coverage

Unless I am hit buy viagra online order by a truck or a rabid sheep, I will be there broadcasting live as I did for the Rhone Rangers event last weekend. Attendees will be Tweeting under the hash tag (a sorting mechanism) of #FTOR.

To follow along simple go to and under the search window type #FTOR or click here. If you want to focus in more narrowly you can simple follow my Tweets, type in (or click here)  @sonomawilliam to follow along.

I will also be uploading some pictures and updates as I go on the blog Facebook Page:

Highlighted Winery Offers:

Hook & Ladder: Food catered by Sarah’s Forestville Kitchen -created  to pair with the wines we’ll be pouring that day. A special treat  a chocolatier here from XOAO Chocolatiers has made chocolates to pair with our wine, and chocolate flavored with one of their wines Live music as well is planned.

Inspiration Vineyards: Pouring from their new location at 3360 Coffey Lane, Suite E – look for the golden balloons!  (Same location as Carol Shelton)  Only 8 minutes from Olivet Road.  Ruby Slipper Specials  will be 20% off 1-11 bottles, 25% off mixed cases (excluding  Old Vine Zinfandel which  has a 3 bottle limit.) Also featuring  live entertainment – Classical / Blues Guitarist Bruce Klein. Food to pair with the wines as well.

Harvest Moon: Is offering live music from “Mr December”, a stand-up bass and ukuleilee combo.. They’ve played at Harvest Moon before and they rock!  Also,  showcasing their elegant 2008 zins paired with a “Harvest Salad”.  Yep, zin with salad and it’s pretty tasty. Also be tasting the Estate olive oil and discussing how olive oil is produced.  Fresh flat bread and garden veggies from the wood-fired oven will be on hand as well. AND, there’ll be some smokin’ bottle sale discounts too!

Will be pouring  –  Estate Dry Gewurztraminer, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Estate Zinfandel, Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, Late Harvest Zinfandel and Dessert Gewurztraminer, plus we wil be opening up some oldies….2003’s? 2004’s?

Tara Bella: (first visit for me!)  – ‘Dorotea en las zapatillas rubis’ will be featuring sultry Flamenco rhythms from David Brewer. Sample their 2009 Reserve and Estate Barrels. Serving ’08 Reserve Cab with little beef skewer tapas, and the ’08 Estate Cab with yummy chocolate brownie bites.   Weather permitting will be in the Outdoor Kitchen, heaters will be stoked and a small fire will be blazing




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

Week One of Wine Road Barrel Tasting was a big success, based my observations and talking with a fair number of wineries. This organization continues to amaze me with what does with transformation of industry events. Spoiler alert – read all the way through this – we are giving away 3 pairs of passes for Weekend Two!

Anticipation, and Highest Read Post Ever

There was some level of anticipation  – would the negative perception of this as a drunk-fest persist? Would the actions being taken by the Wine Road have any impact?  Or would it be a big success and continue its gradual transformation of a serious event focused on futures. Read on….

To my surprise, my midweek article ‘My thoughts on Wine Road Barrel Tasting’ was a runaway success.  I do a lot of these types of articles and contests, and they typically get some response and hits, but nothing spectacular. This post got 20+ comments, including after the contest was over. People wrote way more than normal.

This article is now #1 rank, surpassing my prized ‘Shipping Included’ – the Future of Direct to Consumer?’ which was a featured blog and #2 read by (and still ranks #4 read in the last 30 days!) as well as my article ‘A New Beginning & Old World Renaissance? ‘ which until recently had ranked #1.

Yet this post jumped over them all, and had little  to do with the contest – I give away tickets, often more pricey, all the time.

How would it all pan out? Ticket sales were a record high, more wineries than ever were offering future sales, and consumers seemed excited, and not focused on partying. But one never knows until showtime.

Observations and Interviews

I went out on Friday afternoon and Saturday, and monitored the Twitter #WRBT hashtag heavily on Sunday. I spoke to many winery operations personally, as well as Facebook and Twitter updates.

Here were the general trends:

Friday: Traffic and sales were much higher than many wineries expected, especially new participants. I actually expected this a bit, at least the sales part. People going on Friday are taking a day off, hoping to avoid the crowds and are serious wine buyers. Wineries reported greater than expected sales, both of finished wines and futures. Most I talked too were very pleased.

Saturday: The Weather held out and people were out in droves. By mid afternoon people were reporting Healdsburg and Dry Creek to be extremely crowded with tons of cars, busses and people. This is normal, see my suggestions for itenary planning a bit later. Most wineries reported lower sales than Friday, but were pleased, and year over year results seemed good. I made it back to Russian River Valley for the afternoon to avoid the masses. Crowds were good at all wineries, but not so much to impact my experience in any way.

Sunday: It did rain as predicted, and the impact seemed to be mixed. Russian River Valley wineries again seemed pleased. Some new participants had expected Sunday to be the busiest day, but my observation for many 2 day events is that Sunday is typically slower, and for most this panned out. Several Healdsburg and Dry Creek wineries were complaining on Twitter about lack of people, and had the time to be scouring for people to invite. Smaller RRV wineries still seemed quite pleased with people and sales. A very large winery did report sales about as a regular weekend, but agreed to the possible merits of exposure and the difference this event might be for small versus a large national brand.

Consumers Feedback

Consumer notes on the blog post and Wine Road Facebook page were ecstatic and mirrored what wineries reported. Many great comments including this one that I loved from Jason Klafter:

Barrel tasting is the main wine tasting event my wife and I attend. We have been going for about 5 years now. Each year it gets better and better and I love all the things I have learned and still learning. Our group has evolved to about 12-15 so we had stuck to the bigger wineries. Last weekend was an absolute awesome time. We found some smaller wineries that would accommodate our group and finally made my first “future” purchase.

Money has been tight over the past few years so buying a future case of one wine had never been really option. Like many, we would buy a bottle or two from different places. I’m so excited to have gone to Old World and they allowed a future mixed case which was perfect for my wife and I, as she is not a big red drinker. So I order a mix and can’t wait to pick it up when it’s ready. For our group, This year was had the most amount of futures that were ordered. We ordered 12-15 cases of futures and took home close to another 7 between us all!!!!

Can’t wait to go next weekend with a small group of 4!!! Finally going to hit up all the wineries we haven’t been able to go to.

Love it! And Kudos to you Jason, and your friends, for your support and openness.

My Prediction for Next Week:

Being the second weekend, traffic should dip some, but similar patterns predicted.  Friday will be less busy than previous Friday, but again be a good sales day to serious buyers and enthusiasts, Saturday a good traffic day but more looky-loos, and Sunday slower but decent sales. No rain is forecasted for all weekend, so that should help. Let’s hope too many people didn’t give up wine for Lent. (If you spit it doesn’t count.)

I want to add a quick comment about buses. I got an email from a reader who was perhaps offended (they won’t reply) about my previous article and comments on people drinking in buses. I by no means meant to imply that all people on buses are drinking on the bus. I heard from a number that, like this person, come from a remote location, and are serious buyers. If any are offended by that implication, my apologies. Its broadcast everywhere that buses aren’t welcome at many wineries  – that’s more from a lack of ability of a tiny winery being able to handle 30 extra people at once. Kudos to a number of buses I heard call in to ask permission, and were usually accommodated because it was scheduled. That’s far superior to the other tactic, ‘hide’ around the corner, unload on foot.

My Visits, Strategy Suggestions

I get asked a lot where I plan to attend. I typically don’t reveal that for a number of reasons. I try and visit new members, places I haven’t been, with a mix of the wine styles I prefer, and some old favorites thrown in to balance. This weekend I intend to go Friday afternoon, and hopefully both Saturday and Sunday. I am out of space and time here, so I will summate my two weekends of visits in a future post.

My strategy tip for the Wine Enthusiast: Hit busy areas like Healdsburg, Dry Creek, and bigger name wineries on Friday, or start of the day Saturday, or possibly Sunday. Use your Wine Road map – there are lots of clusters of wineries in less traveled Alexander and Russian River Valley – more then enough to fill up an afternoon, and while a tiny bit further apart, less people and less traffic. Driving a mile between stops may save you hours.

My Suggestions to Wineries

With only one exception, I was very impressed with the service, attitude, and experience at each winery. Hats off the hospitality staffs. Two (personal) suggestions for this or future events.

  • Put out spit cups. Its hard for consumers to spit in a bucket. Even I rather a cup. Kudos to wineries like Sheldon, Windsor Oaks and others, who do. In my opinion, this should be standard practice. People CAN learn this.
  • Food has been de-emphasized by design, and perhaps to a lesser extent cost. Some wineries jumped in with catering on site at a cost with some pretty awesome choices. I had terrific BBQ sliders at Longboard I was happy to pay for. Mateo had food at others. Food trucks are an option. There is nothing wrong with ‘pay to play’ and personally I’d rather eat at the winery.

Finally – The Contest

Thanks for staying with me – now here is your chance to win. Tomorrow night (only 24 hours) we will draw 3 pairs of tickets. To win, tell the Wine Road and I in comments either:

What varietal (wine grape) did you try that is NEW to you, last weekend. Where was it, was it a barrel sample or current release?


What varietal would you like to try, or learn more about this weekend.

Get ready – go!

Cheers, thanks for reading Simple Hedonisms Wine Blog – spread the word!


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Wine Road Barrel Tasting Begins! Featured Winery's Promotional Sales (finished wine)

While barrel samples and futures are the main focus of the Wine Road Barrel Tasting, as discussed earlier this week; but its also a great time for Wineries to introduce new releases, and offer sales to visitors to incent you to take some of their work home with you. Many of the Wine Road wineries are small, family owned – this is a business for love, not wealth. Support these small artisans with your purchases, instead of your local grocery store.

The list is too long to link to each winery, so use the Wine Road  maps and event program to find each one. The Wine Road website is an amazing resource. Remember not all wineries participate both weekends, and some are doing Barrel Tasting on Friday as well, so CHECK the program!

Sales Promotions

Sausal Winery

$199.00 for any full or mixed case of 2007 Private Reserve Zinfandel and 2005 Sogno della Famiglia, or  10% off any 1-5 bottle purchase and 20% off 6 or more bottles.


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Offering a special 20% of 6-11 bottles and 25% off a case (35% for Club members.)  Futures of the 09 Sangiovese and 09 Axiom Syrah are available in same discount volume.

Old World Winery

10% off the 2005 Zin (Chronicle Double Gold) or buy 3 and get the 4th on them.

Futures: 30% off 2010 Pinot Gris, 2009 Pinot Noir, 2009 Zin, 2009 Abouriou

Moshin Vineyards

Is offering the 2007 Moshin Vineyards Zinfandel – Dry Creek Valley. Regularly $30.00/btl., this weekend it is $15.00 when you buy a case at $180. This wine will be available for tasting and you’ll agree that this tasty little gem of a balanced Zinfandel will become your new favorite “House Wine” at this price! Only 475 cases made!

Robert Rue

Special sale on their ’07 Wood Road Reserve Zins and our 2009 Sauvignon Blanc. 3 bottles 10%, 6 bottles 15% .  35% off a case of the ’07 Zin and ’09 SB. (Additional discounts for Club members.)

Longboard Vineyards

Offering 3 ‘quick picks’. 

  • The $60.00 Bundle ($68 retail)

2009- Sauvignon Blanc RRV….$20.00 90pts. ~ Wine Enthusiast-Editor’s Choice, 2008- Point Break Red,  2008- Dakine Merlot

  • The $80.00 Bundle ($89 retail)

2008- Chardonnay,  2008- RRV Pinot Noir,  2007- Russian River Syrah, Gold~Sonoma County Harvest Fair-2010, 91 pts.~Wine Enthusiast

  • The $90.00 Bundle ($105 retail)

2008- RRV Pinot Noir, 2008- Dakine Merlot, 2006 – Syrah Dakine Vyd, 92 pts~Wine Enthusiast

Longboard is also offering futures for the first time: 20% (25% for Wine Club) : Barrel Selection is all single vineyard lots, first single vineyard Pinot Noir from Red Rooster, Sonoma Coast, Ballistic Zinfandel, Chalk Hill and Redgrav Cabernet, Alexander Valley.

J. Keverson Winery

06 RR Pinot is on sale $15/bottle or  $144/case. Their  06 sangiovese $12/bottle or 120/case.

Balletto Vineyards & Winery

Visit  Balletto Vineyards & Winery for March Madness! Every visitor will receive a basketball necklace to start off the games. Taste 7 wines out of the barrel then rebound to the tasting room where they will have some smokin’ wine deals! The more you purchase the more you save; up to 50% off on 08 Pinot Gris, 07 Teresa’s Chardonnay and 08 Gewurztraminer.

Sheldon Wines

offering: 2009 La Naris:  Retail $28/btl, SALE $23. 20o6 Kendric Pinot Noir: Retail $42/btl, SALE $37. 2006 Petite Sirah:  Retail $32/btl, SALE $27

Barrel Samples will be the: 2010 Vinolocity Blanc (AKA La Naris), 2009 Weatherly Cuvee,  25% off for public 30% off for wine club members.

Inspiration Vineyards

30% closeout discount on 12 bottle cases of the 06 Pinot & 06 Zinfandel.

Futures  save 40% from their release price next year.  Must buy in 12 bottle case increments – can mix or match cases.

  • 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley – $48 / $28.80. 2009 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley – $32 / $19.20. 2009 Syrah, Dry Creek Valley – $36 / cheapest cialis $21.60
  • 2010 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley – $24 / $14.40. 2010 Viognier, Russian River Valley – $32 / $19.20. 2010 Zinfandel, Alexander Valley – $25 / $15.00


Mix and Match Discounts on ten wines: 10% off 6 bottles,  15% off 12 bottles, 25% off 18+ bottles – click here for the list and order form. (Has Barrel future offers as well.)


Offering this sale while supplies last:  2007 Syrah Hommage A Ampuis, 2007 Petite Sirah-Grenache.  20% off single bottles, 30% off cases mix-and-match.

Futures: 2010 Grenache and 2009 Petite Sirah. Half and full cases. 20% discount, 40% for club.

Michael Bernard

Orsi Papale will have a case special on the 2005 Dry Creek Cabernet for $180 and the 2005 Russian River Pinot for $150 a case.

Mounts Family Winery

Are running a special on the 07 Estate Zinfandel – $150 for a case – only 25 cases left! Also special event discounts: 10% on 6 bottles and 20% on 12 or more, wine club ; 15%, 20% or 25%.

Futures – featuring the 2010 Viognier for the first time! Plus Old Vines Zinfandel, Malbec, Grenache & Petite Sirah.  Discounts on futures are 15% on a half case and 25% on a full case (half & half  = full case discount).  Wine Club members get even bigger discounts!


10% off  2008 Zinfandel, Dry Creek and 2008 Barbera, Nevada County, and  no charge  shipping of 12 bottles or more.

Futures: 6 bottle minimum purchase for Future’s pricing.
2009 Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley. Release Price: $30; Future’s Price: $24; Appassionato Price:

$20 2009 Barbera, Mendocino County. Release Price $36; Future’s Price $28; Appassionato Price: $24

Amista Vineyards

Buy six 2006 Zins, and get six on them!

Inman Family Wines

20% off the Terroir Trio – OGV Estate. This special 3 bottle vertical of OGV Estate Pinot is a chance to taste the recently re-released 2006 from  library and the soon to be released 2008 alongside the 2007 vintage.

Futures: 30% off the 2009 Thorn Ridge

Davis Family Vineyards

10% off all current released wines & 15% off all current released cases

Stephen & Walker Winery

Is offering 50% off full or mix and match cases of their 2009 Patrona and 2007 Monterey County Pinot Noir.

Enjoy your weekend(s), be safe, responsible and courteous, and have fun!

Watch for my broadcasts ‘live’ on Facebook and Twitter (hashtag #WRBT)

Cheers and thanks for reading Simple Hedonisms Wine Blog !

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

This weekend (this Friday actually at select wineries) kicks of the first of two weekends of Wine Road Barrel Tasting.

19,000 advance tickets have been sold (a new record), so clearly the event is growing in popularity. If for some reason you didn’t purchase (shame on you) or would like tickets for a second weekend, at the end of the article you can read how to very easily win a pair! (Jump ahead if you are impatient.)

Barrel Tasting Explained

I will provide a short overview here. For more detail, you can read my previous article Barrel Tasting Insights – What am I Tasting & Do I Get Splinters? What should I buy?

More and more  wineries and consumers are warming to the idea of Barrel Tasting.

This is basically the concept of buying futures. How far in future can vary, but most wineries are tasting stuff that will be bottled this year and in your hands no later than fall. The consumer’s reward: – big discount, ranging from 20-40% plus. The winery’s benefit – cash flow. Cash is king, and I know small wineries who work on such a tight budget they sometimes are counting pennies to be able to bottle or label, and this become a key part of generating capital. Others have completely integrated it into their business model and have a large following.

What Barrel Tasting Isn’t

A drunk-fest. Each year the Wine Road has made progress towards this goal. Wineries and serious consumers alike are fed up with drunks rolling off a bus after pounding drinks, acting like idiots and worse. This has decreased dramatically over the years – the welcome is worn thin. These people aren’t buying wine generally, and are not a loss. Expect less than warm welcomes at more venues, and being denied service. If that’s your goal, go to Happy Hour. I will spot you a drink. Unfortunately these people aren’t likely reading a wine blog but just putting the widespread sentiment out there.

My Two Cents on Barrel Tasting

Whether you are interested in saving money via futures, or just a fun educational weekend tasting, Barrel Tasting is an excellent weekend to taste, learn and explore. You don’t even have to Barrel Taste if don’t want to. All wineries are pouring finished wine, some new releases. For $30 at the door for two days, its a great opportunity. I encourage those new to wine to try a few barrel samples, but remember, as the detailed article explains, this is unfinished wine. Try 1-2 and then perhaps focus your experience on learning and tasting regular wines.

For those a bit more exposed to tasting wine, try barrel samples. Where you can, compare them to the currently bottled finished wine, if offered. (Not always possible.) This is an excellent way to see how much a wine can change.

Again its important to remember, even if going to be bottled shortly, wines, especially reds will be bottled aged for 3-12+ months before release, and will continue to evolve. I watched consumers struggle with this at a recently blending seminar, when they were frustrated they couldn’t blend 3 varietals from barrel to compare to the finished wine that had a year in bottle. It won’t.

If you aren’t very experienced with futures, buying something that will not be bottled by summer maybe risky. The wine could change a lot.

If its a wine release you have had over multiple years, like it, buy it regularly, and the barrel sample tastes good, this is probably a good investment, saving money for a wine you’ll buy anyway.

The future I always buy is a varietal (grape) not common here (a surprise I know), I have loved the last 3 releases, and the winery aggressively discounts the future, 5% over industry. Unless the vintage had some significant  change, this is a no brainer repeat for me. It also assures me I get sufficient quantity of a wine I really like, before it sells out.

Ok, How Do I Win Tickets Already?

EASY! And thanks for sticking through. There are TWO ways to win – read carefully, you can do BOTH!

Answer any of these:

1. Tell us what you like about Barrel Tasting. Do you buy futures ever? Why or Why Not? We will draw 2 pairs of tickets from answers.

2. Subscribe to Simple Hedonisms via Email. Receive new articles one time a day (max, usually less) so you never miss one. All email is secure and never used or shared. We will draw a winner from all subscribers. If you can not attend, we will send a Wine Road cookbook or alternate item.  NOTE! you must confirm your subscription to be eligible – you will receive a confirmation email immediately, you must open and click. Unconfirmed subscribers are not eligible.

Drawing is 330 pm Thursday!

Come Back for Our Regular Sales Incentives Article

As we do for all Wine Road events, Simple Hedonisms will run an article highlighting special sales of finished wines, as a supplement to Barrel Tasting. This is very handy to print out, and stock up, saving a few extra dollars to boot. Watch for it!


Cheers and thank you for reading Simple Hedonisms Wine Blog ! We are delighted and honored by continued growth – February was another record month with over 6700 readers and 250,000 hits!

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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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