Wine clubs like the Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards wine club sometimes hold barrel tastings — usually in the spring or summer, when the weather is good and long before the vineyard is busy with this year’s harvest. There aren’t many more weeks left of summer this year, so if you want to go to one, start planning now.
The difference between a St. Helena barrel tasting and other wine tastings is that the wines all come straight from the barrel. Here you can try last year’s Cab at its earliest stage, long before it’s ready for the bottle. Barrel tastings also sometimes give you the opportunity to buy discounted wine futures — that is, to agree to buy a certain number of bottles as soon as the wine in question has been bottled, in exchange for saving money on the eventual purchase price.
If you don’t happen to know the wine-tasting etiquette, you can’t go too far wrong by following these basic rules:
- Don’t wear perfume or cologne — it distracts from the wine’s aroma.
- Don’t drink too much, and try to eat a little something.
- Generally, behave as though you were at an upscale cocktail party, not a bar.
Barrel tastings at a vineyard near St. Helena
Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards in Napa Valley, a 10-minute drive from downtown St. Helena, holds tastings in its barrel caves, where current releases and library wines may be sampled and visitors can learn all about the process of making and storing the wine. Tastings are $65, but one tasting fee can be waived by joining their wine club or making a $100 purchase. Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards produces excellent wines at prices you can afford. The vineyard is a 40-acre estate just south of Howell Mountain, and has been owned and operated by the Anderson family since 1983. Anderson’s wines are sold online and in five locations in Napa Valley, and many other locations nationwide.
One wine you might want to try at an Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards barrel tasting is the Right Bank. Their first Right Bank, the dark ruby 2008, has an aroma rich with mocha, cedar, blackberries, black pepper and plums. The year 2008 was one of those years where the weather places great stress on the grapevines, reducing yield but producing wines of singular quality — in this case, a red wine with a rich, full palate of mocha, chocolate, espresso, ripe raspberries, black fruit and crushed rocks integrated with sweet tannins. It also has an excellent texture and a silky finish that lingers on the palate for several minutes. This wine is expected to improve for twelve to fifteen years and be good for ten more. Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards doesn’t issue a Right Bank every year. Try their latest Right Bank today.