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Feb 4, 2009 07:45 PM

Need recs for Barrel Tasting along Wine Road

My husband and I will be heading up to the Dry Creek/Healdsburg area for the Barrel Tasting festival along Wine Road in March. We will be up there just for the day (Saturday, March 7) and were wondering if anyone had recommendations on wineries to go to. Also, since we have to indicate which winery we will be starting off with in order to purchase tickets in advance, what would be the best winery to begin our day?

This list of participating wineries is a bit overwhelming, so any help narrowing it down would be greatly appreciated!


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  1. I usually start at Siduri in Santa Rosa and work my way west and north into Sebastopol and Guernville, then north into Healdsburg.

    But Rafanelli Winery is always a big draw so I may change it up and start there at the opening bell. If you like Zins, this is a good place to begin, and then to Passalaqua, Ridge, Wilson, and Mazzocco. All had good food too last year!

    3 Replies
    1. re: baron45

      Thanks for the suggestions! I was reading the post from last year about Winter Wineland and it said that both that event and Barrel Tasting in March are pretty crowded. Since there are about 7 of us going in total, are there any additonal places you would suggest to avoid the crowds?

      1. re: hmruthi

        Based on previous experience, it seems that most people start south to north since most folks come from the SF Bay Area. It may be better to start way up north and work your way down.

        In any case, other wineries I would recommend are Martinelli, Hartford, Woodenhead, and Dutton Goldfield and Balletto (which share the same buidling).

        If you like Pinot Noirs, I would go to Lynmar, Marimar, Arista, and Inman. Inman is a really small place in an industrial park/office complex but they fly under the radar and wasn't crowded at all when I went last year.

        Lastly, for a kill five birds with one stone tasting, head over to Front St near downtown Healdsburg where there is Sapphire Hill, Holdredge, Davis, Huntington, and Cemellia all on the same block. The first three are especially good---SH for zins, and Holdredge & Davis for Pinot Noir.

        1. re: baron45

          Thanks for the suggestions - they are really helpful in narrowing down our list!

    2. Any other tips or favorites to share? Barrel tasting continues next weekend.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        I visited 15 wineries over Sat/Sun and there were some good wines and good deals too.

        1. A Rafanelli: it was so crowded here-- tasted the barrel samples (with chocolate) but the line to buy and taste current releases was too long so I left.

        2. Mounts: Near Rafanelli and no crowds here. They had barrel samples & current releases of Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Zin. They had a table of salumi and cheeses. All wines were good but I ended up buying a btl of the Zin.

        3. Bella: Same scene as Rafanelli....a half dozen mini-buses didn't help. Tried a couple of Zins and tasted their pulled pork over grits, but the line to the next room was way too long, so I left early again.

        4-6. The next three places were Zichichi, Raymond Burr, and Gopfrich but nothing stood out except for the views and the nice weather. Good brownies and meatballs at Burr, though.

        7. Moshin: Pretty good line-up of wines, chicken/sausage gumbo, and two good deals on close-outs. For $150 a case, there were big discounts on a Zin and a red blend called Promoshin which I bought. No big crowds which was nice.

        8. Copain: High-quality wines but no food and no wine deals. Prices were mostly $35-47. Only about a dozen people at the tasting room.

        9. Foppiano: Food was chevre cheese and some pasta made with Petite Sirah marinara sauce. Wines were Cab, Merlot, Petite Sirah, and Pinot Noir with barrel samples, current releases, and older selections from as far back as their 1990 Petite Sirah. bought some Pinot Noir for $17 a bottle.

        10. Manzanita Creek: Off the rural wine country setting and in an industrial/business park. Saw some folks carrying out boxes of wines to their cars so I figured the wine was extraordianry or there was huge discounts. Good reds and some 50% off deals on 4 wines if bought by the case. Bought one case of their MC2 Zin for $84 a case. Tasty sausages too.

        11. Geyser Peak: Nice barrel samples and tasted some of their current releases with chocolate truffles. No huge discounts.

        12. deLormier/Mosaic: They had some 50% off case deals but the wines didn't suit me. I liked their pulled pork sandwiches though.

        13. Hawkes: Very small operation and I've never heard of them. But they make some really nice reds with the best being their Pyramid Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. It's $60 but it's better than some of the Cabs from Napa Vly at that price range. There is also an extensive collection of teapots in the tasting room.

        14. White Oak: Nice setting with fountains and metal animal sculptures. Wines were good too--they had a 2007 Syrah barrel sample. Their "bail out" pricing specia was a 2004 Syrah for $19.99 which was discounted from $26 (case price was $190 though, or $15.83 each). Food consisted of some sort of pate w/ crackers and some olive oils tasting.

        15. Sausal: No food but the wines were decent. Got the 2006 "Family" Zinfandel for $20.

        That is all.

        1. re: baron45

          We also ended up at A. Rafanelli and Bella and both were quite crowded. I was very surprised to see how many people were at Bella because when I went there in December there was literally no one. We enjoyed the bluegrass band that was playing though, especially the guy who was using a suitcase as his instrument.

          We also went to Michel-Schlumberger, Mazzocco, and Ridge. Michel Schlumberger was definitely our favorite, especially because they had a barrel sampling of a Cab Franc that was amazing. Also, the staff at the winery recommended that we walk out into the vineyards and check out the view, which was truly incredible.

          Thanks for the recs - I would definitely do it over again! Although, I will have to say that going with a large group (there were 7 of us total) can be a bit difficult getting in and out of each winery...