Why I Didn't go to the 33rd Annual Northern Sonoma Barrel Tasting
» posted by Rich on 2011-03-15 11:38:58
Sonoma's 33rd annual Barrel Tasting Weekend just ended, and no, I didn't attend. People often ask me about these ticketed weekend wine road celebrations that take place in every wine region, and I always say, "if you like more traffic, crowded tasting rooms, and fighting for a taste, then it could be fun". But you'll get a better experience on almost any other weekend, or better yet, on a week day.
The Wine Road Northern Sonoma County is an association that puts together annual wine tasting events, and I don't want to disparage their great work, nor do I want to discourage folks from attending. In theory these events are a great idea because they offer things that WinoTrippers love; special barrel tastings, meet and greets with winemakers, and even opportunities to buy "futures" in wineries and wines. But I just read a great post by Beth, a Wine Road rep, on the Wine Road FB page. The name of her piece is "Barrel Tasting: Good vs. Evil", and it goes into all the reasons why the weekend was a blast for at least 99% of those involved. But, she acknowledged, there is that nagging 1% that can ruin the whole weekend, like 1% of bad grapes will certainly spoil a bottle of wine.
I've belly-ached about rude behavior in tasting room as recently as last week when I re-posted our piece Wanted: Tasting Room Bouncers, but Beth's "evil" takes it to the next level. Beth writes, "This small percentage of folks thinks that buying a ticket, then stealing, throwing up, cussing out winery employees with every trashy name you can imagine, flipping off winery staff, picnicking with their margaritas on winery property, urinating in the cellar (behind the barrels...seriously,) is acceptable behavior."
Listen people, drunken bar crawls are for the pubs, not for the beautifully winding roads and tasting rooms of the wine country. People go to wine country to be romantic, and learn about wine... to appreciate the work of the winemaker. Yes, we go to have fun, but it's not the drunken disrespectful kind of fun that most people seem to be after. Like Beth says, many of these wineries are "small producers who live on their winery property, so during events, they are literally inviting you to their home", so be fucking respectful.
Unfortunately, for me the evil outweighs the good at these big wine road events. Once you add the overcrowded tasting rooms and busy roads to the 1% asshole factor, there isn't much for me to appreciate. That said, the wine road that runs through the Russian River/Dry Creek/Alexander Valley is one of my favorite places in the world, and I'd go there 99% of the time.
What do you think? Have you ever attended a big wine road weekend thingy? We'd love to hear from folks who went to the Barrel Tasting in Sonoma last weekend.
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