More Barrel Tasting Ticket Winners & Some BT History
We were thrilled that so many people logged on and asked questions for our Barrel Tasting ticket contest. I didn’t seem right to only select one. Although William Allen, one of our favorite bloggers (Simple Hedonisms) did a fantastic job selecting one to answer, we wanted to pick a few more. William’s answer was very informative and in-depth, but I’m going with my standard, brief/quick, answers. But hey, we’re still going to send each of these people two tickets to Barrel Tasting!
This will be the 32nd ‘Barrel Tasting’ event on the Wine Road. This year there are more than 160 wineries along the Road, and well over 100 are participating in the event. How many wineries were there thirty-two years ago, and how many participated in that first Barrel Tasting event?
Well John, I did manage to find a dusty old filing box in our warehouse, with some great info to help me answer your question.
So, here’s the scoop…the Russian River Wine Road was formed in 1976. At the time these were the founding wineries…
- L. Foppiano
- Cambiaso Winery and Vineyard
- Geyser Peak Winery
- Nervo Winery
- J. Pedroncelli Winery
- Simi Winery
- Souverain Alexander Valley
- Trentadue Winery
- Pastori Wnery
Their mission was to work together to promote the wineries that literally were along the Russian River, thus the original name, Russian River Wine Road. Their first order of business was to produce a map, which would be for visitors, hotels and visitor centers.
As you can see here, after a few months of brainstorming the first map was designed and it also listed, Johnson’s Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Vineyard, and Sonoma Vineyards, so 12 wineries all together.
By the time Barrel Tasting was launched there were about 16 wineries involved and it was promoted by word of mouth, which drew about 100-200 people, mostly locals. Since it’s inception Barrel Tasting has been the first full weekend in March.
Beginning in 2007 we extended the event to the first TWO weekends in March and as you noted, we now have over 100 wineries that participate each year.
As much as the event has grown, the initial objective has not changed – Barrel Tasting is designed to give visitors a unique experience of visiting wineries and getting into the cellar. Just as the early days, wineries gear up to sell “futures” of their barrel wines.
Most of the wineries I have spoken to about the early days of Barrel Tasting say it was pretty a low key event. Most rolled out one or two barrel to pull samples from, along side their current release, bottled wines. With just a few hundred attendees, it was a festive weekend, but not crowded. Wineries had plenty of time to really talk with visitors and build some long lasting relationships.
Every year we hear from one or two customers who have been attending for 25 or more years. Most of those folks love the event because they enjoy buying “futures”. Many wineries plan their bottling so that if you buy “futures” this year, they will be ready for you to pick up the following year during Barrel Tasting.
I loved this question so much, I’m going to do some more research and make our Wine Road history an ongoing post.
What exactly is Tannin? I would like to know also how Tannins affect a wine’s taste and how it pairs with food.
I always hear people using the term “tannin” when talking about or describing a wine, but I’m not sure everyone really knows what it is.
Here are my “beginning to understand wine” answers: Tannin is phenolic compounds extracted from the skins, stems, and seeds of grapes. They also contribute to the taste of wine. The longer the wine stays in contact with the skins, stems, and seeds the more tannin that is absorbed.
I wouldn’t say there is a specific taste to tannin, but more the feeling in the back of your mouth when you drink red wines…sort of a dry feeling on your tongue and mouth. When you swallow, that’s typically when people will say, “there is so much tannin in that wine”. It’s the mouth feel. For the most part, wines without enough tannin are described as flat. Wine without enough tannin may taste more like fruit punch than a great wine. If you’ve ever sampled a wine and felt your cheeks suck in and your lips pucker, you know instantly – too much tannin!
Since tannin can be extracted from the seeds of the grapes – experiment. Bite into a grape seed and you’ll know what tannin is!
Tannin is an astringent that occurs naturally in grapes and acts as a natural fining agent. Proteins combine with tannin to form heavy solids that sink to the bottom of the barrel or bottle. This process is called flocculation and is a natural clearing process in wine. Wine that is cloudy is often in need of tannin.
For a full-blown, more detailed chemistry lesson on tannins, you should check out this article: http://www.wineanorak.com/tannins.htm
When you’re trying to pair your wines with food, some simple rues of thumb;
- Sweet foods taste less sweet with tannic wines
- Salty foods emphasize tannins
- A wine high in tannin, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon matched with a tannic food such as tomato sauce will produce a very dry and astringent flavour.
Courtney Paige Bransford
What country did the varietal Zinfandel originally come from?
When I began in the wine industry about 20 years ago, I learned that zinfandel originated in Croatia. Other research connects it with southern Italy’s Apulia region, where the genetically related Primitive variety is grown. Now most researchers agree that the roots of Zinfandel (as well as Primitivo) are most likely in the Dalmatian province of Croatia (in the former Yugoslavia) where DNA matches have been made with a variety locally known by the name of Crljenak Kasteljanski (also Pribidrag or Tribidrag). The genetic linkage and similar origins of Italy’s Primitivo and California’s Zinfandel has been supported by the work of both Croatian and UC Davis researchers.
I’m confident if you were to pose this same question to various zinfandel growers throughout our Dry Creek Valley, you would get a variety of answers. This is my answer, and I’m sticking to it!
Thanks to everyone who wrote in with questions – this was fun!
Cheers – Beth