Riki Reinking is a musician whose gigs at wineries have given her a view of the tasting habits of baby boomers and millennials, two generations that appreciate wine.

This weekend’s highly popular Wine Road Barrel Tasting may provide a perfect window into the choices and experiential style of these two populations –– experienced, older palates and zealous, newer tasters.

Reinking, 58, was the lead singer of the Karma Band before it disbanded last year, and she kept a keen eye on how baby boomers and millennials experienced the Wine Road Barrel Tasting. Here are her general impressions:

#1 Tasting Agenda

The baby boomers show up and park themselves at one winery for a few hours. Meanwhile the millennials are more likely to come in waves on buses; these roving tasters are in and out of wineries in roughly 40 minutes because they have quite a few stops on their route.

# 2 Fashion

Both populations tend to dress up for the occasion, but females in the millennial camp may end up carrying their high heels in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. Walking in vineyards is not so easy in heels, something their moms figured out long ago.

3) Playlists

The Karma Band had to constantly read the crowd to serve whichever population was restless. The baby boomers’ comfort zone tends to fall in hits from the 1960s, 70s and 80s, a la Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, light rock and well-known songs. Millennials will want to sprinkle in some newer and more energetic music like Adele, Train and Fastball, popular music found on the radio. But millennials also appreciate music from the roots of rock and roll. The common denominator is the Beatles. “If you play something from the Beatles,” Reinking said, “you couldn’t go wrong.”

The Wine Road Barrel Tasting is this weekend, March 2-4, and March 9-11 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. For detailed information about the participating wineries, etc., visit www.wineroad.com.

Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5310.


Cabernet Sauvignon, the venerable statesman


Rodney Strong

Rodney Strong, 2015 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.5% alcohol, $20. ★★★★

This is a cab that clearly overdelivers. It has generous fruit — black cherry and black raspberry — with herbs and spicy oak. It has good structure with firm tannins and a nice length.


J. Lohr, 2015 Hilltop, Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.9%, $35. ★★★★: This is a pretty cab with black raspberry fruit, herbs and spice, and the flavors meld together seamlessly. The cab has good balance, ripe tannins and a lingering finish. It’s well-crafted.

Duckhorn, 2014 Three Palms Vineyard, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.9%, $98. ★★★★: This is a gorgeous cab with notes of black raspberry fruit, and notes of cinnamon and clove in the mix. It has a soft and supple texture, with ripe tannins. Nice length. Striking.

Cliff Lede, 2015 Stag’s Leap District, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 15%, $78. ★★★★: This is a striking cab with complex aromas and flavors. It has notes of jasmine, black currant, blackberry, cinnamon and black pepper. The Cliff Lede has bright acidity and great balance. Top rate.

Justin, 2015 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5%, $25. ★★★1/2: This is a savory cab with dried herbs at the forefront, while cherry and black currant fruit play backup. What melds it together is a hint of caramel. Smart.