Barrel Tasting 2020 – all the details

Beth Costa on Dec 4, 2019

To all Wine Road wineries –

For those of you not familiar with the details of Barrel Tasting and are considering participating, this information may be helpful.

This is the link to sign up on Eventbrite, use the password Barrel2020

Questions – please contact the Event Manager – Debbie Osborn


This is the current link on our website with info for visitors – we will update with winery lists, the event map and program.

This will be our 43rd Annual Barrel Tasting!

March 6-8 & March 13-15, 2020
11:00-4:00 each day

We promote Barrel Tasting as an opportunity get into the cellar, sample wines still in the barrel and buy futures.

“For visitors, it’s a unique opportunity to get into the cellar and experience what a winemaker does, as they taste through their barrels, making blending decisions and tasting how their wines are progressing in the aging process. Those that attend Barrel Tasting get an insiders view of the winemaking process. They can meet and talk with winemakers and owners. At most wineries, they will have the opportunity to buy futures. Many wines are so limited they will sell out as futures! “

Last year 4500 tickets were sold the 1st weekend (one day after we were flooding) and 3300 were sold for the 2nd weekend.
We typically have about 100 wineries the 1st weekend and 80 the 2nd,
This is NOT a huge event, when you consider 100 starting locations and our 30 mile radius (Alexander, Dry Creek and the Russian River AVA).

We are clear on all printed and online promotion material that NO buses are allowed at Wine Road events.
Wineries also have the option to indicate if they do not want groups of 8 or more.

We find that many buyers arrive 2-4 days ahead of time, get appointments at their favorite wineries and place orders early. People do arrive with spreadsheets in hand, picking up futures from last year and then ordering more this year! YOU can take advantage by inviting your buyers to come early – give them an incentive.

Ticket buyers are told their Barrel Tasting ticket will cover tasting all of the barrel samples at each winery, however many wineries will charge a fee to taste current vintage wines. We ask wineries to please “check off” the box in their sign up form, if they will be charging for current vintages. Customers need to know if advance what to expect at YOUR winery.

We expect a customer to have the opportunity to sample a minimum of 3 wines at each winery – which can be 3 barrel samples or a combination of 1-2 barrel samples and 1-2 current vintages, for their ticket. No one wants to show up at your winery and sample one barrel wine, then be charged for all other tastings.

– Wineries may sign up for just the first weekend or both weekends. Not just the second weekend.
– Wineries may sign up for Fri, Sat & Sun. or just Sat & Sun.

On the sign-up form wineries indicate if they will be selling futures or just offering barrel samples.
You must have barrel samples to participate in this event.

We indicate on the program and ticket page which wineries are participating on Friday.
FOR SURE, people will buy a ticket from a winery NOT participating on Friday, then decide they want to start on Friday. We ask all wineries to be prepared to check people in if they show up on Friday. You may not have your barrel ready, but you can check them off your RSVP list, put their wristband on, give them a glass and send them on their merry way. You may have 1 person do that, it will not be overwhelming.

Supply hand-out will take place the Wednesday March 4th, from 9:00-3:00 at the Wine Road warehouse on Grove Street in Healdsburg.

You will be given: Your RSVP list, glasses, wristbands, map, detailed program, event signs. We are not providing any sort of Designated Driver mugs. The $5 fee they pay is a donation to the food bank. We hope that each winery provides some sort of beverage for Designated Drivers throughout the day.

Event Reimbursements

(These are requirements based on our status as a 501(c)6 non-profit

• Reimbursement is for food for guests (not staff meals).
• Does not include food prep time, staffing, serving supplies, etc. Only food items.
• Catering bills must clearly state the food that was provided to the guest, how many servings and at what cost.
• All-inclusive food costs is not sufficient for reimbursement (For example: “Meatballs $1,500” – instead we need “200 Meatballs @ $2 each = $400 for Barrel Tasting”).
Wine Road Reimburses up to $500 for FOOD for event participants and $10 for DD Drinks, per weekend. It is important that you provide Designated Driver Beverages.

Providing food for Barrel Tasting is NOT a requirement, just an option. If you list it in the program, a Health Permit will be required.

Online Tickets go on sale the Tuesday after Winter WINEland (Jan. 21) via Eventbrite and end Monday March 2nd.

– ALL participating wineries MUST be prepared to sell tickets at the door and process the credit card transactions on your POS system.

– There are NO Comp Tickets for Wineries nor any industry discounts

– There are NO Friday Only or Saturday Only tickets. Just Weekend (Fri, Sat, Sun), Sunday Only or Designated Driver.

As with all Wine Road events, each winery is limited to 50 people for check-in (though you can sell more at the door). This helps spread out the crowd, and keeps the Sonoma County planning department satisfied that one road is not overrun at any given time.

SIGN UP IS ONLINE ON EVENTBRITE. If you do not submit your form online we will NOT include your name on the list of participating wineries. We use this online form to create the list of wineries AND the list for the Eventbrite Ticket Page.

Sign up for Barrel Tasting is December 2 -13 on Eventbrite, where you will fill out event and program details. The program will show your name/contact info and space for you to list up to 6 Barrel Sample wines. Also a few check off boxes – for example if you charge for current vintage wine, customers will want to know this in advance.

You don’t have to have your Barrel Samples listed when you sign up, Barrel Sample information will be due by February 1st.

We use the information submitted to proof our printed program, online list of wineries, google event map, and the ticket order page – if you have an (*) here, it will be on ALL of those places. We will not go back and change all of those if you change your mind about the (*).

Event deadlines:

Each event has deadlines for sign up, program entry, etc. These deadlines are set in place to allow time for the Event Manager to set up a Ticket Page, Event Participant Lists, Event Maps (both online and printed), Website listings, and create Programs. This is all necessary to do well in advance to allow for editing, formatting and ordering of programs and maps.

Once the ticket page is set up and live no edits can be made to the winery list, including adding new wineries, that is due to the Eventbrite platform. It comes down to this, once we have sold tickets, you can’t change the details, or it’s a misleading to customers, so Eventbrite does not allow it.

All supplies and accounting sheets need to be returned within two weeks of the event ending. All food reimbursement forms and catering bills etc, must be submitted within 30 days of the event ending.

Do not hesitate to contact the office if you have any additional questions about the event – reach out to

We will be organizing an informational seminar for Barrel Tasting participants in January. We will have your peers share their tips for making Barrel Tasting a success at their wineries.

Wine Road invests about $25,000 to advertise and promote Barrel Tasting on a variety of print and digital platforms.

This year you will have the opportunity to order BARRRE TASTING POSTCARDS in advance for your wine club shipments. Our postcard order will be placed Dec. 27. We are happy to pay for and print as many cards as you need to fulfill your mailing needs. That being said, we are not going to order an excess unless you confirm you want them. Sending out the postcards will be a great way for you to invite customers to your winery for the event. You can let Debbie know how many cards you would be able to use.

Posted by Beth Costa