Barrel Tastings of St. Helena

Wine Club

Barrel tasting - St. Helena, CA

One event that wine clubs like the Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards wine club are known for is the barrel tasting. A barrel tasting is a lot like other wine tastings, except that all the wines come straight from the barrel. At these events, you can taste last year’s wines at their earliest stage and try to make a guess as to how good it will be when it’s judged ready to be sold.

When you’re going to a barrel tasting, the usual rules of wine-tasting functions apply. Don’t wear strong-smelling perfume or cologne, don’t act like you’re in a bar, and don’t drink too much, especially if you’re visiting more than one vineyard and they aren’t serving food. A designated driver might also be a good idea, just in case. If you’re trying to decide which wine to taste, pick something you’ve never had before.

Buy wine futures at a barrel tasting

At barrel tastings, you can often buy a wine future at a discount. A wine future is much like any other futures contract — you agree beforehand to buy a certain number of bottles of wine as soon as the wine has been bottled. By committing yourself to the purchase ahead of time, you save money on the eventual purchase price. Barrel tastings are usually held in the spring or summer, when the weather is good and long before the vineyard is busy with this year’s harvest.

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 Anderson’s Conn Valley is the Èloge. The most recent bottled vintage, the 2011 Èloge, is an elegant wine with an aroma and taste of black cherry, plum, cigar box, licorice and violet perfume, and a long and satisfying finish. Despite being the newest Èloge offered by Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards, the ’11 vintage is destined to become one of the rarer vintages, because low temperatures and storms reduced that year’s yield. There’s no better time to buy a bottle than right now.