Barrel-Tasting Sublime: Sonoma's Wine Road Celebrates

The long-running hobnob covers two March weekends.

WHEN A SIP HAS A SEQUEL: Multi-parters and cliffhangers and sequels -- and sequels of sequels -- are the stuff of Netflix binges and summertime cinema blockbusters. But the thrilling concept of what's down the road, dun dun dun, dramatic music, finds some fun purchase every late wintertime in Northern Sonoma. That's when the annual Barrel Tasting weekends roll out along the Wine Road, and that's when oenophiles take a chance on wine futures. If you've never gone the read-the-future-route, at least with a swanky wine tasting, here's the deal: You taste the wine now, before it has been bottled, straight from the proverbial barrel -- or nearly, in some cases -- and then you purchase your favorite sips. But you don't drive away with a box of what you tasted, no sirree. This has a sequel, as mentioned, meaning you'll return to the vineyard in a year, or perhaps 18 months, after all of that liquid goodness has been be-bottled, and you'll pick up what you bought. You see the future concept? The "stay tuned" fun of it? Of course you do, and you see the fun of trying different wines, with an eye of how they might be months from now, over two March weekends: Friday, March 6 through Sunday, March 8 and Friday, March 13 through Sunday, March 15.

WINE ROAD PARTICIPANTS: A whole barrel-packed caboodle of wineries have signed on for the 2015 try-'em-out, from Collier Falls Vineyards to Mounts Family Winery to Robert Young Estate Winery. Over 100 places are participating, though not all on the Fridays of each weekend and some are only in the swing of things over one weekend, not both (translation: check the list before heading out). Are you into predicting the future? Will the wine you swished in March 2015 be your favorite wine at Christmas 2016? Better peer into the future-telling device of your choice, and pick up your tickets, stat. The weekends are $43.50 each, plus a fee, and there's a designated driver ticket available, too. That the Barrel Tasting has been around for the better part of four decades says that the futures have been good for thousands of vino fans. Are you a futurist? Then you may be in luck.

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