Wine tasting on a budget

March 27, 2009 5:01:37 PM PDT
Getting ready for the wine tasting season can be exciting and expensive. To enjoy wine tasting during this recession, consider barrel tasting and buying "futures." Jim Ryan, winemaker at Concannon Vineyard in Livermore Valley, can give you tips on barrel tasting:
  • Consider each barrel tasting a "snapshot" in the development of a wine. Flavors you taste now will mellow and blend as the winemaker finishes and bottles the wine.

  • With the first taste of wine from the barrel, ask yourself: "Do I want to take another sip?" If so, you should consider purchasing "futures" of this vintage, which means you will pay now for wine that will be bottled for you when the winemaker determines it is ready.

  • Many wineries offer a discount on futures, so barrel tasting can be a way to save money on wine if you are willing to wait for it

  • Don't be afraid to spit. Spitting out wine before swallowing is a good way to taste a variety wines over the course of a day without becoming impaired.
A whole bunch of East Bay wineries are presenting their first annual Barrel Tasting Weekend March 28-29.

The Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association will present its first annual Barrel Tasting Weekend March 28-29, 2009. More than 20 wineries will offer a barrel tasting experience to each guest with ticket. Ticket price is $20 per person in advance and $25 at the event, and includes a Riedel glass, barrel tasting at each participating winery and a map of participating wineries. Tickets for sale starting March 2 at

Taste wines right out of the barrel, meet winemakers, and more. Each winery will host a unique experience during barrel tasting weekend including at least 1 barrel sample for each ticket holder. This is your chance to pre-purchase wines before they have even bottled.

Participating wineries & activities include:
Bent Creek Winery
Big White House Winery
Charles R Vineyards
Chouinard Vineyards
Concannon Vineyard
Crooked Vine Winery & Stony Ridge
Cuda Ridge Wines
Deer Ridge Vineyards
Eagle Ridge
el Sol Winery
Garré Winery & Café
Les Chênes Estate Vineyards
Livermore Valley Cellars
McGrail Vineyards & Winery
Murrieta's Well
Page Mill Winery
Retzlaff Estate Winery
Tamás Estates
The Steven Kent Winery
Wente Vineyards Estate Tasting Room
White Crane Winery
Wood Family Vineyards

Barrel Tasting Weekend & Passport Launch
Saturday, March 28, 2009 - Sunday, March 29, 2009
12:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Livermore Valley Wine Country

About the guest:
Jim Ryan, Wine Maker, Estate Manager, Concannon Vineyard in Livermore Valley. 20 years in the wine business working for large and small wineries. Focused on sales and marketing at this time, Jim has years of experience in running wine production facilities and vineyards. He also has years of experience as a General Manger of a wine wholesale distribution house. He has worked in most established wine regions internationally and have experience with the global as well as regional wine markets. Jim holds B.S. in Fermentation Sciences at UC Davis (internationally renowned program for wine making). He is a registered member of the Royal Guild of Master Sommeliers and a Certified Wine Educator.