Barrel tasting in Sonoma Country has become so popular, it now will have its own month. The first annual Barrel Tasting Month will be March 2007, with scores of Sonoma Country wineries offering a variety of unique opportunities for visitors.

Barrel tasting is a growing trend that gives visitors a rare chance to experience young, unfinished wines before they’re released to the general public. Those willing to gamble on the outcome can buy bottles that may become nearly impossible to find. People who enjoy wine can collect vintages from small family wineries and large, well-known producers.

For the entire month, wineries will be celebrating the year’s harvest by offering samples of future releases. Wineries throughout the county also will be hosting special events such as winemaker dinners, exclusive tours and live music. The natural pairing of wine and cheese also will be celebrated in 2007. The First Annual Artisan Cheese Festival will take place March 9-11 at the Sonoma County Sheraton in Petaluma. It’s the first festival in California to focus on the artisan cheese industry, and will feature approximately 20 of Sonoma Country’s world-class cheesemakers.

“Sonoma County Barrel Tasting Month will be a terrific winery experience for visitors,” says Honore Comfort, executive director of Sonoma County Vintners. “It’s a unique opportunity to discover the art of winemaking, talk with the winemakers, and taste wine straight from the barrel. This month is a celebration of Sonoma County and an open invitation to visitors to come into our cellars and wineries and meet the people who make our wines.”

Sonoma County is a premier wine growing region with a diversity of soil and weather conditions (micro-climates) perfectly suited for specific varietals. The county boasts 13 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), more than 250 wineries and grows dozens of different grape varieties. The annual grape harvest represents 61 percent of the county’s total agriculture, which is no surprise considering the area’s history. Grape growing has been an integral part of Sonoma County since the early 1800s when Russian colonists and Spanish Franciscan Fathers planted the first vineyards.

Find more information at the Sonoma County Barrel Tasting website.

Technorati Tags:
sonoma county wineries, sonoma county vineyards, barrel tasting, artisan cheese festival