life.winepicks-pd-022617#1) This is the 40th anniversary of the tasting, and the focus remains on the sneak preview of the barrel samples and the pure potential of these wines over time. Those who like what they taste will be inclined to purchase “futures” or barrel samples that require another 12 months or so of aging before they’re bottled.

#2) The barrel tasting is a spring rite of passage that appeals to the procrastinator as well as the planner. If you don’t want to commit yourself, you can go on a whim, pluck down $, grab a glass and taste away. On the other hand, you can let the weather make the call. And if you decide to opt out, you can simply taste vicariously through Twitter.

#3) For those who are determined to go, half the fun is planning the route. Search out your favorite wineries, most treasured varietals or those wineries with the best entertainment. Color code your map and enjoy each sip en route.

#4.) There has been plenty of generational sniping between Baby Boomers and Millennials in the past. Will this be a year where there is more or less of it? Who knows? But one tip from those who want to dodge over-zealous tasting is to show up on the Friday events.

#5) The event gives people a peek at the backroads of Sonoma County — the Russian River, Dry Creek, and Alexander Valleys. The barrel tasting has become an international affair, with people coming from many states, as well as several countries. The limousines snaking through the winding roads always makes me smile, reminding me Sonoma County has guests.

The Wine Road Barrel Tasting is March 3-5 and March 10-12, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. For detailed information about the participating wineries, etc., visit

For five great wines to look for go here.

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