Sonoma County Wine Tasting on the Wine Road

March 13, 2012

This weekend flew by. With one sunny day, a rainy day, a few hours of traveling, and a ton of wine, I must say it was a great weekend.

Have you ever been wine tasting? I’ve been many times and am a true fan of the “sport.” Wine tasting is super fun and definitely educational, but can sometimes be a little expensive. And this is why the best way to taste is by event.

Sonoma County’s Wine Road hosts many events throughout the year, every year. One of my favorites, and the fourth time I’ve gone, now, is Barrel Tasting. This event is incredible because you get to taste straight from the wine barrel. (Did I mention there are over 200 participating wineries for a SUPER low price… I love it!)

These tastings are called, Futures, where it will still be anywhere from 6 to 24 months before these wines are bottled and/or released for sale. You can taste the “youngness” and “greenness” of the wines, as they continue to age and develop in taste, complexity, and yummy tannins.

Wine is poured from a "thief" straight from the barrels into our glasses

In each Future tasting, the winery sets up their selected tastings in their wine storage room- making for a dramatic, and pretty cool, setting.

After sipping a few of the Futures, we ventured into the winery’s tasting rooms to try out the already bottled, later vintages of those Futures. It’s interesting to taste the difference just a year or two make in the flavors each wine grows into. Sometimes the Futures created an idea of what was to be bottled. Sometimes the Futures tasted nothing like their previous releases.

But the best part of any wine tasting event is the education… oh and of course the wine tasting, itself. But the information you can gather from the different wine makers, vintners, and winery staff is incredible.

For example, did you know that actually creating and then getting a wine label approved is a HUGE, highly regulated process. After a label is drawn out, it must be submitted and approved. Approval is not easy, either. The wording must be 100% correct. The size of the font and any graphics are also heavily regulated.

The appearance of grape variety (or varietal) and vintage year is also regulated by wine labeling laws. These require at least 75% of the grape variety and 95% being harvested in that vintage year in order for either to appear on the wine label.

Some bottles also have a more feminine or masculine look and feel to them- appealing to either sex more than they other. The bottles that have an hourglass shape draw the look of a woman’s figure, making it more feminine and usually appealing more to women. Wine bottles that are more boxy, or shorter and thicker, tend to be thought of as more masculine.

Interesting stuff!

Another fun thing about wine tasting [in Sonoma County- Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, Windsor], is the fooooooooood. Delicious food, to be exact.

My wine tasting tip for the day is to always bring a picnic for mid-tasting. Save money and eat well, whilst sipping wine. Purely Paleo picnic this weekend included oven-roasted chicken breast, a variety of veggies, juicy green grapes, and two types of Artisan cheese.

A dinner of Happy Hour flavors from Jack and Tony’s in Santa Rosa was impressive. I can’t really tell you JUST how good the food was but I can try to show you…

House-cured salmon Gravlax: creamy deviled eggs sandwiched between deliciously smoked salmon and thinly sliced baguette.

Chilled oysters on the half-shell complimented with tangy champagne mignonette.

[upper left] The BEST dish, ever was the Bacon wrapped sea scallops on risotto with apple cider reduction.

[middle] Shrimp ceviche tostada with toasted pumpkin seeds: like salsa with a seafood twist.

Garlic rosemary & parmesan fries served with Jax original ketchup (DELICIOUS ketchup).

I do not know exactly what flavors were involved the with bacon wrapped scallops, but the flavors rocked. They all paired extremely well together and the different textures with the slightly crisped bacon, tender sea scallops, and creamy and crunchy risotto was out-of-control-good. There’s just no other description.

And then, along with good food, good wine, comes great people and conversations. And joining wine clubs… a few too many… especially after a few too many tastes of wine. Oh well…

Tomorrow I’ll show you a few more pictures… I took a lot… 😉 (And recommend some wines to try!)

What are your favorite types of wine? Red, white, Zin, Cabernet?

Where do you wine taste?

Any fun trips you’ve taken recently??

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

amy@healthyhungryhappy.com March 13, 2012 at 9:32 PM

looks like SO much fun!! my favorite wine is definitely sauvignon blancs from new zealand..so good!

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Laura, RD @ Against The Grain March 13, 2012 at 7:05 PM

I’ve never been to a real wine tasting like this. I’ve done some wine tasting at Disney and some beer tastings at local breweries. This is just one more reason I need to move to the west coast…as if I needed another reason. My husband will be so pleased. Regardless, this is something I really need to do soon! I see a California trip in the near future.

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Pure2raw Twins March 13, 2012 at 6:12 PM

so jealous! haha
Lori looks like you had a great time! love going wine tasting! wish we could have been there with you 🙂
maybe next time, right

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lindsay March 13, 2012 at 11:08 AM

girl you know i love this! We just got back from living in NZ for 4 months. Hello wine COUNTRY! I loved every second of it.

p.s.
i have been meaning to email you and see how you are and your dad. Update me.

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Amber Shea @Almost Vegan March 13, 2012 at 9:35 AM

I wanna go wine tasting with you!!! Seriously, I think we’d have an out-of-control-awesome time. 😉

I used to be a white-wine-only girl (usually [German] Riesling or Gewurtzraminer or [Italian] Pinot Grigio), but that changed after I visited Europe a couple years ago. Now my favorites are Spanish reds (Tempranillo, Rioja, Garnacha), pretty much any Merlot or Malbec, some Bordeaux reds, and the very occasional Shiraz. Not into Pinot Noir or Cabs; don’t know why!

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Lori March 13, 2012 at 11:57 AM

SOLD. We are going when we see each other again! And I’ll be tasting some Spanish wines. Sounds delicious.

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