Barrel Tasting In Yakima Valley- Who Knew?

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barreltasting.JPGIt may come to your surprise, but Spring Barrel Tasting is a celebratory time of year in Washington wine country. It's the largest wine festival in Washington's wine country, a celebration of spring, new wines and a peak at the warm summer months ahead. The winemakers and staff are on hand to mingle with visitors, conduct tours and answer questions. Most open a barrel or two of future vintages for sampling. Many wineries have live music, appetizers and just a festive mood of celebration.

Tasting straight from the barrel is needless to say, a unique experience that any wine lover should enjoy and appreciate. A recommended event to do this would be the Yakima Valley Spring Barrel Tasting taking place April 23-25, 2010. This event also includes cooking demonstrations, winemaker dinners, vineyard tours and education on pairing food and wine. Click here for more information on this not-to-be-missed event!
As the event grows and more wineries come on line, a little pre-planning helps to best enjoy the festivities. Here are a few tips to help make the celebration fun for all.
Make it Social: Gather friends and get a limo or join an organized tour. It's best to plan at least one night stay. If you do not hire a professional driver, designate a non-drinking driver and be sure to treat that driver like a king or queen by buying their lunch and a bottle or two to enjoy at a later time.

Plan Ahead:
Wineries and wine organizations have different offerings and fees (or no fees) during the weekend. Doing a little research beforehand can go a long way.  For a list of wineries that include fee, tasting and touring info, click here:

Pack a picnic:  Many of the Yakima Valley wineries have picnic grounds or plan on eating lunch at one of the wineries that will be serving food. A good meal helps you to regain your palate and provides a needed break

Try something new: Tasting from the barrel is very different then trying a finished product out of a bottle. Talk to the winemaker and staff. Ask about the flavor, process and how the wine will taste when finished. It's a great time to gain a greater appreciation of the winemaking process.

Timing is everything: Friday and Sunday tend to be quieter so visit on those days. The weekend prior, many wineries host a pre-barrel tasting event and while there is less entertainment, the crowds are smaller, the pace is less hectic and you can spend more time talking to winery staff.

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