One of the main reasons we chose to go to Sonoma when we did was the Wine Road Barrel Tasting event. I’ve had the Wine Road’s beautiful ad on my blog since September, and since the area truly is heaven condensed and their events are so much fun, I wanted to be there. Wondering what barrel tasting is? Well, it’s tasting unfinished wine out of the barrel. It’s pretty neat to see a winemaker or other winery staff member using a pipette to pull wine from the top of the barrel and to put it into your glass. I can picture myself doing so and spraying it all over some poor guest, but that has not yet happened to us as tasters. Barrel tasting gives you the opportunity to buy futures, to purchase wine before it’s bottled, often at a discount, and then receive it when it is ready. In the past we have done this, and it’s always fun to receive wine that you tasted in the barrel months later.
As you know, we kicked off our trip with a little Gloria Ferrer and art and spent the second day sipping bubbly and visiting Ma(i)sonry. After a Saturday night dinner with friends, we awoke rested and ready to participate in the last day of barrel tasting. First up, breakfast at the hotel, coffee, hardboiled eggs, and yogurt. I love free breakfast!
We were in vacation-land, which is far from my normal “plan every second” mentality, so we actually had no itinerary in mind as we left Sonoma and headed for Santa Rosa to Sonoma Vintner’s Square, a place that houses some of our favorite wine in all of Sonoma and Napa. You may remember we spent a bit of time there during the Food & Wine Affair. We probably never would have found this somewhat hidden gem if it was not for our fabulous host William, but we have returned to these tasting rooms, I think, a total of six times. The complex has been growing over the years, and it’s fun that every time we visit, they’ve done more work, added a new business, or somehow made the space better.
I love this wine bottle wall.
Vintner’s Square features a bunch of amazing tasting rooms, including Sheldon, D’Argenzio, and Krutz Family Cellars. Great wines and great people are here, and if you head to Sonoma County, you should definitely make a point of spending some time with them.
Sheldon’s Vinolocity Blanc is definitely at the top of my list of favorite white wines. This blend of Grenache Blanc, Rousanne, and Viognier is positively luscious. As I type this, I am drinking a smoky, lightly spiced Krutz Syrah.
D’Argenzio makes some killer Zinfandel, which we got to taste from the barrel.
The folks at Sheldon were kind enough to give us a few recommendations since we wanted to visit some new places on this trip. We made our way to Inspiration and then to Carol Shelton, where we enjoyed Zinfandel and live music. These wineries are also in a complex, kind of like a corporate park. The area where the tasting rooms are is not as scenic as some, but it provides a great opportunity to try wines from a bunch of winemakers in one place.
We finished our barrel tasting at Portalupi on Healdsburg Square, loving the barrel tasting of their Pinot Noir before grabbing an iced coffee at my beloved coffee shop, The Flying Goat and heading to our hotel for a rest.
As we walked to downtown Healdsburg later that evening for dinner at Barndiva, we stumbled upon another recommendation from the Sheldons, Cartograph, close to Healdsburg Plaza. Luckily, unlike other tasting rooms, Cartograph is open a little late, and we were able to taste their wines along with wines from Stark, a winery they share their serene, cool tasting room with.
After barrel tasting lots of reds, I was all about the whites, particularly the Cartograph Gewurztraminer and the Stark Viognier.
Cartograph owner/winemakers Alan and Serena were warm, welcoming, and a lot of fun. If we didn’t have dinner reservations, we probably would have grabbed a glass and stayed.
If you are looking for a great wine country event, the Wine Road hosts a bunch, and it is worth planning a visit to Sonoma around one of them. And if you are looking for something a little different and less touristy, the abovementioned wineries and tasting rooms all have a great story, delicious, interesting wines, and great spaces. I would recommend them all!
It’s only been about six weeks since our trip, and I feel like I haven’t been anywhere in ages (dramatic). I am ready to start planning more travel, but luckily I have too much work right now.
Do you have any trips planned?