The coming year will present opportunities galore for wine lovers to expand horizons, excite tastebuds and enjoy the wide variety of offerings from California’s multi-faceted wine country.
The 2009 harvest is complete and the wines are resting in tanks and barrels, making the transition from raw juice to finished product. Early signs are hopeful, but the proof will be in what develops in the months and years ahead. Time, and effort, will tell.
Most of the 2009 vintage will not be released for another year, or more, depending on the type and style of wine. The early harvest or nouveau style wines debuted before New Year’s. Young, feisty and anything-but-serious, these wines are meant for immediate consumption.
Next up will be the chardonnay and sauvignon blanc wines, most of which will be released over the next 12-24 months.
Zinfandel and syrah and pinot noir usually show up for drinking in the second year after harvest. The 2009 merlot and cabernet wines will need more time — two or more years after harvest — to become finished wines. Some examples will be aged in barrel for even longer, to give them additional depth and complexity from the prolonged interaction with the wood.
You’ll see bottles from the 2007 and 2008 vintages — now ready for market — offered at tasting rooms and retail locations all over the place. For the adventurous, there will be opportunities to test the new wines before bottling via barrel tastings and special events designed to preview the pleasures to come.
Here are my recommendations for major wine-centric events you can attend over the next few months:
The Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) 19th annual grand tasting will be held at Fort Mason (San Francisco) from January 28-30. There are special winemaker dinners and smaller focused tastings before the grand tasting on Saturday the 30th.. While the list is still growing, ZAP officials expect 250 wineries to participate, with more than 1000 different wines available for tasting.
P.S. I Love You
This advocacy group, P.S. I Love You, supports all things related to petite sirah. Their fourth annual tasting event will be held Feb. 19 at Rock Wall Wine Company in Alameda. Each of the 40 or so participating wineries will pour their best bottles of petite sirah alongside great food from more than a dozen regional restaurants. A limited number of tickets are available online @ $60 apiece.
Savor Sonoma County
The 20th Annual Savor Sonoma Valley barrel tasting event will be held March 20-21. A group of 22 regional wineries participate in this fun event, held every year to showcase the newest vintage. A two-day pass is $55 per person. Tickets are on sale online at the Heart of Sonoma Valley web site.
Later in the year, the big auction events take center stage. Two of the biggest include Auction Napa Valley, the prestigious event put on June 3-6 by the Napa Valley Vintners, and Sonoma Wine Country Weekend on Sept. 4-7. Tickets for the Sonoma event go on sale in June.
Check your favorite winery’s website for information about product releases and other special events throughout the year. For example: I’ve got Feb. 6 circled on my calendar. That’s when Silver Oak unveils the new vintage for its Napa and Sonoma cabernet sauvignon with open houses at its wineries in Oakville and Geyserville from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
What’s your favorite wine event? Share your ideas with me and I’ll include them in an upcoming post.