In case you haven’t figured it out yet, we are passionate about wine. On any trip,we always scout out local wine regions to educate ourselves and our readers about wines, wine events and wine regions. Living in San Francisco, some of the best wine regions and events are close to home. Just two hours north of San Francisco is Anderson Valley. We recently visited in July 2019 to go to the Anderson Valley Barrel Tasting Weekend.
Over a dozen of participating Anderson Valley’s wineries opened their cellar doors for the weekend. Some wineries are normally open to visitors, but others are not normally open but were pouring wines for the event. Visitors could taste new vintage wines directly from the barrel as well as older vintages that were already bottled. Many wineries offered futures on the barrel wines at a discount. What a great way to get an idea of how a wine that you tasted from a barrel might evolve once it is bottled.
And to go with the wines, most wineries also offered snacks including cheese, homemade casseroles and homemade desserts (especially brownies).es’ currently available wines.
Anderson Valley Wines
Anderson Valley is known for its pinot noirs (which is our favorite varietal), a variety of Alsace-style varietals (such as gewürztraminer, pinot gris and riesling) and chardonnay. The barrel tasting weekend focused on pinot noirs. We stopped at the vast majority of participating wineries—some of which we have never previously been to. After all, that is what events like this are all about. We discovered many new favorites (many of which of course we had to buy) from previous and current vintages. These included:
- Meyer Family Cellars, especially for its 15-year Solera method port;
- Lichen Estate’s 2016 Estate pinot noir;
- Foursight Wines Clone 05 and Charles Vineyard pinot noirs;
- Domaine Anderson’s 2014 barrel sample 2015 Dach pinot noir;
- Witching Stick Wines for its 2016 Fashauer Vineyard pinot noir;
- Brutocao Cellars for its 2015 sangiovese and primativa, non-vintage tawny port and especially its 2013 Candelabra pinot noir;
- Husch Vineyards’ 2016 Knoll pinot noir and 2017 Old Vine Heritage (blend of petite syrah, zinfandel and carignane);
- Lula Cellars’ 2017 Alexander Valley and especially 2016 Peterson Vineyard pinot noirs;
- Bee Hunter’s 2013 Santa Lucia Highlands chardonnay, 2013 Oppenlander Vineyard and 2014 Docker Hill Vineyard pinot noirs;
- Phillips Hill’s 2015 Oppenlander Vineyard pinot noir; and
- Halcon Vineyard’s 2018 barrel sample Oppenlander pinot noir.
We enjoyed the entire barrel tasting experience and the opportunity to taste and learn more about Anderson Valley wineries and wines. It provided a welcome opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with several wineries we knew in the past, discover some interesting new ones, restock our cellar with Anderson Valley wines and to discover our particular affinity for Oppenlander Vineyard pinot noirs.
We particularly enjoyed the especially educational experience we had at Foursight Wines where the winemaker was conducting the barrel samples and explaining the origins and how each of the vineyard-designate wines was produced. We shifted back and forth between current releases and barrel samples to see how the wines would age. And even more interesting, the winery had pinot noirs with varying levels of oak, including Zero, which had no oak at all. What a great way to understand what aging in oak barrels does to wine.
We also stopped at some non-participating wineries and particularly enjoyed Handley Cellars. Here we especially enjoyed their 2017 unoaked Water Tower and 2016 Burgundian-style Estate chardonnays; their 2016 Helluva and RSM Vineyard pinot noirs and their 2014 Late Harvest Riesling dessert wine.
The only problem? We ended up buying several cases of wine and some futures. Not a bad problem to have however.