Wednesday, February 27, 2013

SoCo Barrel Tasting 2013

Over the next two weekends, Sonoma County and the Wine Road in particular will celebrate one of their most successful events, Barrel Tasting. Two full weekends of wineries opening their doors for this passport-style event and have options to taste current vintages still in the aging process. If you are so inclined, many offer great discounts on “futures,” purchasing and committing to wine that has yet to be released. However, this is also one of the most controversial events in Sonoma County.

Barrel Tasting Weekend draws hundreds, if not thousands of visitors from all over the country. Many visitors return ever year to their favorite winery to purchase deeply discounted wine and stock their cellar for the coming years. Unfortunately, the relatively inexpensive tickets ($30-$50 for a weekend) can also attract many visitors who take advantage of the passport style event and over indulge while being transported to and from each winery in a bus or limo. This is, however, a small percentage of those who go to enjoy the weekend, yet they get the most publicity.
Last year, I wrote some heated posts, directed at Santa Rosa Press Democrat (SRPD) writer Peg Melnik who year in and year out criticizes the Millennial generation and their attendance at this event. Without acknowledging the money spent by the Millennials or the fact that the Millennials are the future of the wine industry, it never fails that the SRPD’s coverage of the event is more negative than positive. Seriously....check back after this year's event and you will see virtually identical posts from previous years.

I was unable to cover the event last year but this year will be out in the field reporting live for WestToast and getting to the bottom of this. While I have no doubt that some young people take advantage of the event and drink way too much, I contend it is not just the younger generation doing this. I also argue that regardless, wineries must find ways to embrace the younger generation because they are the up and coming wine consumers.

This year, the event is over March 1-3 and March 8-10 and with over 100+ wineries participating each weekend, this event is something not to be missed. Not only will there be plenty of fun and games at the wineries, but what a great opportunity to get a glimpse of what the future holds for Sonoma County wine. Advance ticket sales have ended but be sure to check out how to still get your hands on some tickets, maps, and a list of participating wineries.

If you can’t attend, surely check out the WestToast Facebook page and/or follow me on twitter at @jesserandrews and @westtoast.



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