Tin Barn Vineyards – Beautiful Wine in a Storage Facility

8 Jan

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Tin Barn is one of a a funny group of negociants working out of warehouses on a side street a mile or so off the main square in Sonoma. It would be easy to pass up, since there is none of the beauty of viewing the grounds of one of the big estate vineyards. But Tin Barn makes some very good wine and can be a fun experience.

As you can see, it’s really a tin barn.

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Inside is a cozy tasting room with a view of the winemaking and storage facility. There will be no tour bus groups here, as there is seating for maybe 4 people. Instead you’re usually alone with the host pouring their entire lineup of 6 wines. The owner/winemaker is almost always there and if he’s not too busy he’ll give you a quick 5 minute tour of the facilities. On one of our trips, he even gave us a barrel tasting of last year’s vintage awaiting bottling.

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It’s all much more natural and relaxed than a typical Napa winery tour. At the big wineries, there are professional guides who have nothing to do with the actual winemaking who give you a regimented walkthrough. But everything is scripted, even a barrel tasting (which is usually an upgrade you pay for by choosing the upgraded tour). At Tin Barn, you are getting a peek at an actual working winery and you often get to talk to the guy who does every step of the winemaking.

Oh, and the wine is pretty good. I’d say it’s relatively straightforward techniques without too much manipulation. The focus is single-vineyards in Sonoma. They have a Sauv Blanc, a Pinot, a couple Zins, and a Cab. It’s a small, focused line-up that doesn’t stray into stuff that just fills out the menu.

I appreciate that they do a really pleasant (and cheap!) SB, instead of another flabby Chardonnay. Their SB is citrusy and goes well with food. It has a touch too much alcohol (almost 14%), but not too bad.

Unfortunately, they stopped doing a Syrah. This used to be one of my favorite Sonoma value wines at less than $30 and really balanced between spice and fruit.

The Zins are pretty interesting. If you’re nice they might offer a couple squares of dark chocolate to accentuate the differences in the two bottlings.

Overall, I found Tin Barn one of the places I liked to go back to in Sonoma. After you’ve done tours of some of the bigger wineries and their gaudy castles (like Ledsen), it’s nice to go to some place where the focus is on the quality of the wine. So if you don’t mind sipping and spitting in a storage shed, give Tin Barn a try.

Tin Barn Vineyards
21692 Eighth Street East #340
Sonoma, CA 95476
(707) 938-5430

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