I’ve been working for weeks on a watercolor painting for one of our biggest local wine events. The 34th Annual Barrel Tasting is scheduled for the weekends of March 2-4 and March 9-11, 2012, in and around Healdsburg. Although I painted the poster art in my studioâ€”it’s technically not a sketchâ€”I plan to sketch the event’s festivities from the road.
Barrel Tasting is the only opportunity to sample wines still aging in the barrel while exploring the beautiful Sonoma County Wine Country. Winemakers are present in the cellars and caves of many wineries, ready with as little or as much information as any wine lover could desire. What excites most about Barrel Tasting is the opportunity to make “futures” purchases on wines sampled. This means that the speculating taster pays much less now for wines still in process. After bottling and any further aging, the wine becomes available for pick-up or shipping later in the year. Many wines are in such limited supply that buying futures is the only way to enjoy the finished wine.
Even though Barrel Tasting falls in the midst of our rainy season, the sun often favors early March. Starting at 11:00 a.m., tasters can easily be spotted around town, wine glasses in hand, as they make their way from winery to winery. By afternoon, large grins and teeth stained purple from wine make tasters even easier to spot. Hopefully by the end of the day, everyone’s had a good time, a bit of sunshine, and wine for next year’s picnics, parties, and patio sipping has been secured with futures purchases.