Wine clubs like the Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards wine club are known for barrel tastings, where wines are tasted right out of the barrel. At these events, you can try last year’s vintages at their earliest stage and try to make a guess as to how good they will be when they’re ready to be sold.
At barrel tastings, you can buy wine futures at a discount. That is, you agree beforehand to buy a certain number of bottles of wine once the wine has been bottled, and 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. Tastings are $65, but one tasting fee can be waived by joining their wine club or making a $100 purchase.
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, cigar box and violet perfume, and a long and satisfying finish. The ’11 Èloge 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.