Image of barrels stored away

Pouring your Syrah from a bottle?  Pshaw!  During Temecula’s annual Barrel Tasting event, coming up on February 3rd and 4th, bypass the bottle, and sample vino straight from the oak, just like a winemaker.

A Barrel Tasting presents a rare opportunity to bypass the standard wine tasting, and sip wines that are still aging, before they are bottled and released to the public.  A nifty glass device called a wine thief retrieves the vino from inside its oaken home, and transfers it into your glass.  We non-vintners get to taste wine-to-be, while it is still maturing.  The young vino provides insight into the wine's flavor profile, aroma, structure, and how it will evolve over time.

Wineries often share this experience with industry experts, but rarely with non-wine-snob aficionados like you and me.  The annual Barrel Tasting is a unique time for the winemakers to showcase the evolution of their upcoming releases to a broader audience.

Most of Temecula’s 54 wineries are participating in this year’s Barrel Tasting.  Here are some notes on some of the wineries I will be visiting…

1. Danza Del Sol, located on the De Portola Wine Trail, crafts delicious bold reds, invigorating whites, and several noteworthy dessert wines.  One of my go-to red blends is the 2020 Super Tuscan.  It pairs well with classic Italian dishes like Margherita pizza with fresh tomatoes and basil or a hearty lasagna.  Daringly adventurous winos like me pair dark chocolate with a sprinkle of Italian herbs as a dessert alongside this wine!

2. Leoness Cellars, also located on the De Portola Wine Trail, offers a broad range of wines appealing to a spectrum of different preferences.  Their 2022 CS White Merlot presents a delicate and uncommon expression of this ubiquitous varietal.  Enjoy it with roasted duck, grilled salmon, or even a gourmet pizza topped with fresh tomatoes, basil, and a hint of garlic.  It also combines nicely with a variety of cheeses like Brie or Gouda.

3. South Coast Winery Resort & Spa is a multi-time California Winery of the Year recipient, offering one of the most comprehensive wine lists in Temecula.  Winemaking team Jon McPherson and Javier Flores produce all the usuals – such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Syrah – but also some more obscure varietals like Verdelho and Touriga Nacional.  If you visit, take home a supply of the 2016 Wild Horse Peak Cabernet Sauvignon; it pairs beautifully with herb-infused roasted lamb, grilled steak with a black cherry reduction, or a pasta dish featuring a tomato-based sauce and grilled vegetables.

Check out the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association to view the list of all participating wineries on specific days, ticket prices, and more.

Purchase tour events tickets directly from Grapeline Wine Tours, either for the whole package (tickets and transportation) or for transportation only:

February 3, 2024 Barrel Tasting Options

February 4, 2024 Barrel Tasting Options

Get out to Temecula Valley Wine Country and spend a day among the vineyards, savoring unfinished barrel wine samples, including newly-released wines, paired with delectable food samplings.

~ Kay Syrah

Wine Country Guru Gal

 Official Blog