Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

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JordanL
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Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#1 Post by JordanL » July 26th, 2019, 10:56 pm

Recently moved to the Bay Area, I have lived in New York a few years before that.

The thing I loved most about New York was the diversity in wine choices. Very common to be able to try a wine from a country you've never had at a restaurant or at a wine tasting.

From my experience in California so far, there's a pretty strong local influence in wines, and why not!

Before I even started actually liking wine I knew about the big Napa Cabs and the rich buttery Chardonnay. I've since had more restrained versions of these and have really enjoyed these wines.

What else is out there? I've had some very exciting Pinot Noirs in the ~$20 range... Hartford Court Pinot Noir, a Boen (Tri Appellation) just blew me away in that price range.

Intentionally keeping it open-ended. I'm a big Pinot Noir and Cru Beaujolais guy, been liking Rhone Reds more, and just like trying new interesting wines in general.

Price range... I usually buy bottles between $20-30, $50 I consider a splurge bottle, then anything $100+ would be considered a special occasion bottle.
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#2 Post by Ryan A » July 26th, 2019, 11:16 pm

There are now some amazing Rhône producers you should really take a good look at. You will get a large number of suggestions from this group- one of my favorites, with a very good QPR (about $75) so not the $20/$30 you are looking for is Keplinger. She is an amazingly talented wine maker producing extremely high end wines but has launched her own label and is focused on Rhône (about 10 different wines to choose from). Hope this helps.

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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#3 Post by Wes Barton » July 26th, 2019, 11:31 pm

You're in a great area to explore. Some really good urban wineries up the peninsula, in SF, Oakland, Berkeley, etc. Santa Cruz Mountains puts out some world class stuff at often a fraction of the price of those over-hyped regions to the north. There's good quality to the south, from Santa Clara Valley (as in south of San Jose), Monterrey and San Benito. Some exciting stuff going on out in Lodi. Plenty of wine shops have regular tastings. There are a bunch of annual events that are actually worth attending.
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#4 Post by Jason T » July 27th, 2019, 3:15 am

100% agreed with Wes, particularly on the SCM. If your prior reference for all things Cali was Napa and even Sonoma, the SCM is just so different.
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#5 Post by Dan Sch » July 27th, 2019, 4:52 am

In terms of diversity, Sonoma offers a crazy amount of diversity. The pinned thread on Sonoma County has a ton of good suggestions.

I am deficient in my SCM knowledge or experience, but we really like Anderson Valley for both restrained pinots (not every producer) and a fair amount of grape diversity. You will also find things like old vine carignane, like that offered by Porter Creek among others. I consistently find those to be pretty awesome, and they are often under $30.

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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#6 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » July 27th, 2019, 5:21 am

For me, Zin is the best thing that comes out of California. Try some Ridge and Bedrock, but there are dozens of other top-tier wineries beloved by members of this Board, like Carlisle.

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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#7 Post by Cary Rosner » July 27th, 2019, 5:30 am

Stay with Mt Eden and Ridge and you can never go wrong!

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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#8 Post by Albert R » July 27th, 2019, 5:37 am

Definitely give Halcon a try at around $30. Excellent wines across the board with great structure and balance.
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#9 Post by Brian Tuite » July 27th, 2019, 5:42 am

Sonoma County, Sebastopol, Joilie-Laide, diversity.
Sign up for the Sandlands mailing list. Trust me on this one.
Sonoma Plaza, General Hooker House, Bedrock Wine Co, make an appointment.
Sonoma Valley, Santa Rosa/Kenwood, Sugarloaf Custom Crush, Hardy Wallace, Dirty and Rowdy Family Wines PM Hardy here or email him @ hardy at dirtyandrowdy.com. Again, trust me in this.
Mendocino County, Yorkville, Halcon, PM Paul Gordon here.
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#10 Post by Scott Brunson » July 27th, 2019, 5:48 am

Brian Tuite wrote:
July 27th, 2019, 5:42 am
Sonoma County, Sebastopol, Joilie-Laide, diversity.
Sign up for the Sandlands mailing list. Trust me on this one.
Sonoma Plaza, General Hooker House, Bedrock Wine Co, make an appointment.
Sonoma Valley, Santa Rosa/Kenwood, Sugarloaf Custom Crush, Hardy Wallace, Dirty and Rowdy Family Wines PM Hardy here or email him @ hardy at dirtyandrowdy.com. Again, trust me in this.
Mendocino County, Yorkville, Halcon, PM Paul Gordon here.
I was wondering when you would show up. [cheers.gif]
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=97754
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#11 Post by Brian Tuite » July 27th, 2019, 5:55 am

Scott Brunson wrote:
July 27th, 2019, 5:48 am
Brian Tuite wrote:
July 27th, 2019, 5:42 am
Sonoma County, Sebastopol, Joilie-Laide, diversity.
Sign up for the Sandlands mailing list. Trust me on this one.
Sonoma Plaza, General Hooker House, Bedrock Wine Co, make an appointment.
Sonoma Valley, Santa Rosa/Kenwood, Sugarloaf Custom Crush, Hardy Wallace, Dirty and Rowdy Family Wines PM Hardy here or email him @ hardy at dirtyandrowdy.com. Again, trust me in this.
Mendocino County, Yorkville, Halcon, PM Paul Gordon here.
I was wondering when you would show up. [cheers.gif]
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=97754
It was barely 5:30am. I need my beauty rest.
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#12 Post by Brian Tuite » July 27th, 2019, 5:57 am

Brian Tuite wrote:
July 27th, 2019, 5:42 am
Sonoma County, Sebastopol, Joilie-Laide, diversity.
Sign up for the Sandlands mailing list. Trust me on this one.
Sonoma Plaza, General Hooker House, Bedrock Wine Co, make an appointment.
Sonoma Valley, Santa Rosa/Kenwood, Sugarloaf Custom Crush, Hardy Wallace, Dirty and Rowdy Family Wines PM Hardy here or email him @ hardy at dirtyandrowdy.com. Again, trust me in this.
Mendocino County, Yorkville, Halcon, PM Paul Gordon here.
shanewines.com, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Sauv Blanc, value!
Bob Wood - 1949-2013 Berserker for eternity! RIP

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2019 WOTY...

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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#13 Post by CJ Beazley » July 27th, 2019, 6:15 am

Albert R wrote:
July 27th, 2019, 5:37 am
Definitely give Halcon a try at around $30. Excellent wines across the board with great structure and balance.
I’d add Cabot also, right in his wheelhouse price wise.
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#14 Post by Andrew Demaree » July 27th, 2019, 6:28 am

Lots of suggestions to keep you busy. I’ll add Enfield, which makes some very well priced Syrah, Pinot Noir, and Tempranillo, among other things. I’m a huge fan of their ‘Pretty Horses’ Tempranillo and their rosé, both of which are terrific values at $25-30.

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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#15 Post by Scott Brunson » July 27th, 2019, 6:51 am

Easy drive to Occidental for a visit with board member, Kurt Beitler.
(since you like PN)
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#16 Post by Sc0tt F!tzger@ld » July 27th, 2019, 6:57 am

Sandlands


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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#18 Post by Anton D » July 27th, 2019, 11:56 am

Welcome to Northern California!

Now that you are a local, it’s time to spend some “random time” simply exploring the wine country and driving on backroads and stopping at places you have never heard of. Sometimes, paying attention to wine actually limits your exposure! There are all sorts of small jewels that will appear in your path, and there are wines that won’t be that great, but you will be better off for having experienced them.

Some of our favorite experiences have come fro simply driving around and trying things we haven’t run into before. Nice people, good wine, “interesting wine,” the whole gamut.

Treat wineries as you would peyote buttons: roam around, follow the Wine Tao, and enjoy the wineries that present themselves to you.

There’s no solid way to predict where your palate will land with such a panoply of choices, so taste everything and see what your palate decides.

Random wine days are awesome!

Maybe see you there! [cheers.gif]
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#19 Post by GregT » July 27th, 2019, 12:02 pm

Why not go to a couple of stores. The Bay Area has a few good ones - K&L in SF and in Redwood City, Kermit Lynch in Berkeley, Flatiron in SF and I'm sure there are more. Poke around in there and ask for some recs. There is a lot more than just Cab, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. Today I'm going to pour a Lagrein and Trousseau for another friend from NYC. He knows Italian and French wines pretty well, so he needs to see what happens in CA.
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#20 Post by Ron F r e e d » July 27th, 2019, 12:07 pm

Jordan,

Brian has a great list of producers listed above, but I would also add Campesino as a producer to seek out. You might want to also look over the BerserkerDay thread section for ideas as well. Some great producers offer wines easily in that price range.

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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#21 Post by Doug Schulman » July 27th, 2019, 12:08 pm

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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#22 Post by JordanL » July 27th, 2019, 7:28 pm

Anton D wrote:
July 27th, 2019, 11:56 am
Welcome to Northern California!

Now that you are a local, it’s time to spend some “random time” simply exploring the wine country and driving on backroads and stopping at places you have never heard of. Sometimes, paying attention to wine actually limits your exposure! There are all sorts of small jewels that will appear in your path, and there are wines that won’t be that great, but you will be better off for having experienced them.

Some of our favorite experiences have come fro simply driving around and trying things we haven’t run into before. Nice people, good wine, “interesting wine,” the whole gamut.

Treat wineries as you would peyote buttons: roam around, follow the Wine Tao, and enjoy the wineries that present themselves to you.

There’s no solid way to predict where your palate will land with such a panoply of choices, so taste everything and see what your palate decides.

Random wine days are awesome!

Maybe see you there! [cheers.gif]
You may have lost me at the peyote analogy but I agree! I stumbled into the Menlo Park Trader Joes the other day to pick up a snack and was pleasantly surprised to see that they had a tasting room. The guy pouring clearly loved wine and everyone who came in to taste was also clearly a wine drinker. Walked out with a Boen PN for under $20 that is delivering killer value.
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#23 Post by J. Rock » July 27th, 2019, 7:46 pm

I don't think they are as popular with a lot of people on this site, but I really love a lot of the wines coming out of Paso Robles (I'm more into big, full bodied, fruit driven reds), especially their GSM blends and Rhone varietals and even their Tempranillo. From Paso, I really like:

- L'Aventure
- Torrin (also has great Pinot and Chardonay)
- Epoch
- Close Solene (for more "elegant" / French style wines)
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#24 Post by Randy Bowman » July 27th, 2019, 7:54 pm

Jordan there are still a lot of the "east coast" driven European wines available in CA if you need them. You just have to find the retailers that have it. Paso wines are underpriced. A cab from Napa, 12 feet from a Sonoma Cab sells for double the price. Oregon and Washington have great value wines. With Macario Montoya handling the wine making at Educated Guess, you have a consistent Cab at $20 and P/N at $23. You want a big pinot for $20? Hunt down Luli. A sleek pinot for $20, Pike Road from Oregon. Spend just a little more and get a Sineann Oregon Pinot or if your dinner is too big for Pinot, try the Sineann Zin.

Don't fall into the Trader Joe's, BevMo trap unless you research the wines and prices. There is a local retailer near you that usually beats their prices unless it's super mass produced, has a better selection of good wines and will special order wines for you.
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#25 Post by e chin » July 27th, 2019, 8:18 pm

Jordan what area did you land in the Bay Area? That will help determine what area retailer to point you to.
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#26 Post by Sean_S » July 27th, 2019, 8:32 pm

Shameless Plug for Harrington Wines in SF. Open House. This Sunday! 7/28/2019

Come join Ken Zinns, Wes Barton, Al Osterhead, Brian Harrington as well as myself and I imagine a few other berserkers on Sunday to try some exciting wines that break the mold.
unnamed.jpg
Harrington Summer Open House
HARRINGTON SUMMER OPEN HOUSE, Sunday July 28th, 1-4pm

Come on over to the winery in San Francisco for an afternoon of new wines and summer good times. At this one-day-only Open House, we will be introducing freshly-bottled 2018 wines produced from a selection of very unusual grapes. The lineup of white wines for this event includes: Falanghina, a skin-fermented Ribolla Gialla, Verdelho, Malvasia, Greco di Tufo and red wines: Trousseau, Corvina, Graciano, Gamay, a carbonically-fermented Negrette, Freisa, Mourvedre, Alvarelhao, Nebbiolo, Aglianico and Sagrantino. There will also be new bottlings of old school standards such as a stunning new Chardonnay from an excellent Santa Cruz Mountains vineyard, a classically supple Pinot Noir and a beautiful old vine Cabernet Sauvignon. As usual, there will be a table of older vintage library wines to taste. We will also be selling "mystery mix" cases of wine for $100/case. First come, first serve on those mixed cases.
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#27 Post by J. Rock » July 27th, 2019, 8:42 pm

Sorry, I initially didn't read your post closely, and the wineries I mentioned sell wines above your desired range. If you want great wine, you can go to K&L. Wonderful store. Also, JJ Buckley ships out of Oakland and has some amazing prices.

I think Tablas Creek makes some good Rhone style wine for $20 - $30. You also might be able to find some Herman Story
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#28 Post by JordanL » July 27th, 2019, 10:24 pm

e chin wrote:
July 27th, 2019, 8:18 pm
Jordan what area did you land in the Bay Area? That will help determine what area retailer to point you to.
Currently in Sunnyvale. I already go to Artisan Wine Depot.
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#29 Post by JordanL » July 27th, 2019, 10:29 pm

J. Rock wrote:
July 27th, 2019, 7:46 pm
I don't think they are as popular with a lot of people on this site, but I really love a lot of the wines coming out of Paso Robles (I'm more into big, full bodied, fruit driven reds), especially their GSM blends and Rhone varietals and even their Tempranillo. From Paso, I really like:

- L'Aventure
- Torrin (also has great Pinot and Chardonay)
- Epoch
- Close Solene (for more "elegant" / French style wines)
I visited Paso earlier in my wine journey and I don't think I had quite developed the taste for that kind of wine yet. I had a tasting at L'Aventure and I think everything I tasted needed a lot more years to mellow out (was that what I was supposed to take away from the tasting?). Tablas Creek was nice, I think if I had a little more wine knowledge then I would have appreciated what they were doing with the Rhone blends more.
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#30 Post by Anton D » July 27th, 2019, 11:07 pm

Sean_S wrote:
July 27th, 2019, 8:32 pm
Shameless Plug for Harrington Wines in SF. Open House. This Sunday! 7/28/2019

Come join Ken Zinns, Wes Barton, Al Osterhead, Brian Harrington as well as myself and I imagine a few other berserkers on Sunday to try some exciting wines that break the mold.

unnamed.jpg

Harrington Summer Open House
HARRINGTON SUMMER OPEN HOUSE, Sunday July 28th, 1-4pm

Come on over to the winery in San Francisco for an afternoon of new wines and summer good times. At this one-day-only Open House, we will be introducing freshly-bottled 2018 wines produced from a selection of very unusual grapes. The lineup of white wines for this event includes: Falanghina, a skin-fermented Ribolla Gialla, Verdelho, Malvasia, Greco di Tufo and red wines: Trousseau, Corvina, Graciano, Gamay, a carbonically-fermented Negrette, Freisa, Mourvedre, Alvarelhao, Nebbiolo, Aglianico and Sagrantino. There will also be new bottlings of old school standards such as a stunning new Chardonnay from an excellent Santa Cruz Mountains vineyard, a classically supple Pinot Noir and a beautiful old vine Cabernet Sauvignon. As usual, there will be a table of older vintage library wines to taste. We will also be selling "mystery mix" cases of wine for $100/case. First come, first serve on those mixed cases.
Wow!

Awesomer than awesome.

I am so close but so far. Do you guys have an email list?
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#31 Post by C Chen » July 28th, 2019, 12:11 am

JordanL wrote:
July 27th, 2019, 10:29 pm
J. Rock wrote:
July 27th, 2019, 7:46 pm
I don't think they are as popular with a lot of people on this site, but I really love a lot of the wines coming out of Paso Robles (I'm more into big, full bodied, fruit driven reds), especially their GSM blends and Rhone varietals and even their Tempranillo. From Paso, I really like:

- L'Aventure
- Torrin (also has great Pinot and Chardonay)
- Epoch
- Close Solene (for more "elegant" / French style wines)
I visited Paso earlier in my wine journey and I don't think I had quite developed the taste for that kind of wine yet.
Sounds like you still haven't. Lol
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#32 Post by Howard Cooper » July 28th, 2019, 4:10 am

JordanL wrote:
July 26th, 2019, 10:56 pm
Recently moved to the Bay Area, I have lived in New York a few years before that.

The thing I loved most about New York was the diversity in wine choices. Very common to be able to try a wine from a country you've never had at a restaurant or at a wine tasting.

From my experience in California so far, there's a pretty strong local influence in wines, and why not!

Before I even started actually liking wine I knew about the big Napa Cabs and the rich buttery Chardonnay. I've since had more restrained versions of these and have really enjoyed these wines.

What else is out there? I've had some very exciting Pinot Noirs in the ~$20 range... Hartford Court Pinot Noir, a Boen (Tri Appellation) just blew me away in that price range.

Intentionally keeping it open-ended. I'm a big Pinot Noir and Cru Beaujolais guy, been liking Rhone Reds more, and just like trying new interesting wines in general.

Price range... I usually buy bottles between $20-30, $50 I consider a splurge bottle, then anything $100+ would be considered a special occasion bottle.
It is great to try California wines now that you have moved to the Bay Area, but you can find plenty of wines from all over the world in the Bay Area. Try stores like K&L (I think the closest one is in Redwood City) and the Wine Club.
Last edited by Howard Cooper on July 31st, 2019, 5:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#33 Post by Gary York » July 28th, 2019, 6:54 am

$20-$30 in California is not going to be easy. At least not if you want great wine.
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#34 Post by Will Clements » July 28th, 2019, 6:56 am

We drink a lot of the Cep wines from Peay.
Well, we drink a lot of Peay too.
Approximately $25 a bottle and delicious

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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#35 Post by Sean_S » July 28th, 2019, 8:01 am

Anton D wrote:
July 27th, 2019, 11:07 pm
Sean_S wrote:
July 27th, 2019, 8:32 pm
Shameless Plug for Harrington Wines in SF. Open House. This Sunday! 7/28/2019

Come join Ken Zinns, Wes Barton, Al Osterhead, Brian Harrington as well as myself and I imagine a few other berserkers on Sunday to try some exciting wines that break the mold.

unnamed.jpg

Harrington Summer Open House
HARRINGTON SUMMER OPEN HOUSE, Sunday July 28th, 1-4pm

Come on over to the winery in San Francisco for an afternoon of new wines and summer good times. At this one-day-only Open House, we will be introducing freshly-bottled 2018 wines produced from a selection of very unusual grapes. The lineup of white wines for this event includes: Falanghina, a skin-fermented Ribolla Gialla, Verdelho, Malvasia, Greco di Tufo and red wines: Trousseau, Corvina, Graciano, Gamay, a carbonically-fermented Negrette, Freisa, Mourvedre, Alvarelhao, Nebbiolo, Aglianico and Sagrantino. There will also be new bottlings of old school standards such as a stunning fresh Chardonnay from an excellent Santa Cruz Mountains vineyard, a classically supple Pinot Noir and a beautiful old vine Cabernet Sauvignon. As usual, there will be a table of older vintage library wines to taste. We will also be selling "mystery mix" cases of wine for $100/case. First come, first serve on those mixed cases.
Wow!

Awesomer than awesome.

I am so close but so far. Do you guys have an email list?
http://www.harringtonwine.com/
There is a link for the mailing list at the bottom of the page. Harrington does not have allocations. They seem to sell most of their wines through distribution and less direct to consumer. You can order wines directly off their website. I am getting an education every time I taste through these wines. So far from the California norm but so Delicous.
CT: Seanwsmithm3
Summit Rd, Redwood Estates, CA

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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#36 Post by robert creth » July 28th, 2019, 8:14 am

JordanL wrote:
July 27th, 2019, 10:24 pm
e chin wrote:
July 27th, 2019, 8:18 pm
Jordan what area did you land in the Bay Area? That will help determine what area retailer to point you to.
Currently in Sunnyvale. I already go to Artisan Wine Depot.
Try K&L wines in Redwood City. Good staff that can direct you to great choices in your price range. West of Temperance is a producer of tasty stuff at a good prices. Take your time and be open as there is good wine everywhere.

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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#37 Post by Sean_S » July 28th, 2019, 8:17 am

Some others to consider who produce many different wines in the 20-30$ price point are

Birichino from Santa Cruz
(Grenache, Cinsault, Malvasia Bianca, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Chenin Blanc, Carignane, and Mourvedre)

and Ian Brands three labels from Monterey (the winery is in Salinas, and their tasting room is in Carmel Valley) The variety of grapes they work with is as diverse as Birichinos.

Ed Kurtzman's Sandler Wines are outstanding in SF
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Grenache)

I will reiterate what others have pointed out. It's hard to go wrong with Ridge, Mt Eden, or Rhys but those are mostly outside the desired price point. Mt Eden's Domaine Eden label provide very good QPR. These three wineries are right in your backyard and very close to Santa Clara.
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#38 Post by Frank Murray III » July 28th, 2019, 8:44 am

Jordan, why don't you reach out to Jamie Kutch and go taste his wines. He lives in SFO and I see his wines as some of the best anywhere. I also would recommend Ed Kurtzman, who makes Sandler and August West--terrific Pinot Noir and some other things that might interest you. His winery is in SFO and takes visitors. This is my advice, hope it helps.
My WOTY candidates for 2019:
2014 Marie Courtin Eloquence BdB Extra Brut
2017 Rivers-Marie PN Platt SC
2017 Kutch Pinot Noir SC PN
2009 Roederer Cristal Brut
2017 Carlisle Zin Mancini Ranch RRV

My best wines of 2018:
2017 Kutch Falstaff Sonoma Coast PN
2012 Marguet La Grande Ruelle Ambonnay

Kindness matters.

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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#39 Post by Ben M a n d l e r » July 28th, 2019, 9:09 am

Zinfandel, Zinfandel, Zinfandel. Incredible old vineyards abound.

Start at Ridge. Visit their Lytton Springs winery just north of Healdsburg and taste through their wines. Most are $30-40. Their small-production single vineyard zins are all fantastic but Geyserville is the true star - beautiful young and even better with 10-20 years on it.

Bedrock’s Old Vine Zin bottling is reliably delicious at <$25; their more expensive wines are worth the occasional splurge. You can taste their wines in Sonoma proper.

Turley’s “Juveline” is a great value, and, again, their other wines are really worth seeking out. Carlisle you should also try. And don’t miss Rafanelli. Ravenswood is also a good choice for widely available, value-driven zin in your price range.

Pinot Noir has already been well covered here. Try some Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blancs. Hanna ($14) is a great value of the sparky fruit variety. Merry Edwards ($35) is a true classic.

Drive up to Sebastopol (don’t miss the ice cream at Screamin’ Mimi’s while your there) and taste through the Syrahs at Pax. If you like that restrained, savory, low-alcohol style there is more to be found in the Sonoma Coast and Mendocino County areas.
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#40 Post by Tom DeBiase » July 28th, 2019, 9:19 am

My best advice is to try as many different wine varieties as possible. California is doing amazing things with less common grapes from France, Spain, Italy etc etc. You already have a sweet spot for Pinot Noir, give others a try. Here are a couple threads to help you out in your quest to try other wines other than Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet.

https://wineberserkers.com/forum/viewto ... 1&t=161899

https://wineberserkers.com/forum/viewto ... ilit=seven

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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#41 Post by Markus S » July 28th, 2019, 12:33 pm

What's "Tri Appellation"?

Well, where so you even start? Since you are actually IN the area, you'll have a better time telling us what's out there than someone from the right coast who only visits wine areas there every few years. Lots of stuff going on in the New World. Depending where you live, you could even check out wineries on your lunch break! How many of us are lucky enough to do that?
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#42 Post by GregT » July 28th, 2019, 1:06 pm

I stumbled into the Menlo Park Trader Joes the other day to pick up a snack and was pleasantly surprised to see that they had a tasting room.
[wow.gif]

Step one - avoid Trader Joe's, even the Menlo Park store. Go to a real wine store.

Step two - take the advice of Wes, Sean, J Rock and others - don't worry about Pinot Noir and Cab and Merlot and Chardonnay. Places like Sonoma, Mendocino, Paso Robles and others are turning out really nice wines from much more interesting grapes. And you won't find them at TJ's.

Step three - don't feel that you have to like this or that. A lot of people have said to drink Zin. That's fine if you like it and you should know that Zin is one of those grapes that can be very site and vintage expressive so if you don't like two or three that doesn't mean you won't like any ever. But if you really don't like the stuff, drink something else.

Step four - have fun.

That Harrington even would be great. I spent a good part of last night talking up his wines to some friends!
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#43 Post by Ed Steinway » July 28th, 2019, 1:22 pm

Jordan L wrote:
You may have lost me at the peyote analogy but I agree! I stumbled into the Menlo Park Trader Joes the other day to pick up a snack and was pleasantly surprised to see that they had a tasting room. The guy pouring clearly loved wine and everyone who came in to taste was also clearly a wine drinker. Walked out with a Boen PN for under $20 that is delivering killer value.
Draeger's is an upscale market with a store in Menlo Park, and they usually have tastings once a week. +1 on K&L. They have tastings most Saturdays, and those are posted on their website. Welcome to the Bay Area!

Ed

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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#44 Post by David Baum » July 28th, 2019, 1:35 pm

Ben M a n d l e r wrote:
July 28th, 2019, 9:09 am
Zinfandel, Zinfandel, Zinfandel. Incredible old vineyards abound.

Start at Ridge. Visit their Lytton Springs winery just north of Healdsburg and taste through their wines. Most are $30-40. Their small-production single vineyard zins are all fantastic but Geyserville is the true star - beautiful young and even better with 10-20 years on it.

Bedrock’s Old Vine Zin bottling is reliably delicious at <$25; their more expensive wines are worth the occasional splurge. You can taste their wines in Sonoma proper.

Turley’s “Juveline” is a great value, and, again, their other wines are really worth seeking out. Carlisle you should also try. And don’t miss Rafanelli. Ravenswood is also a good choice for widely available, value-driven zin in your price range.

Pinot Noir has already been well covered here. Try some Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blancs. Hanna ($14) is a great value of the sparky fruit variety. Merry Edwards ($35) is a true classic.

Drive up to Sebastopol (don’t miss the ice cream at Screamin’ Mimi’s while your there) and taste through the Syrahs at Pax. If you like that restrained, savory, low-alcohol style there is more to be found in the Sonoma Coast and Mendocino County areas.
Lol guess I'm not the only one with a Screaming Mimi's habit. Last time there I had Gravenstein Apple pie in a cone. Absolute brilliant! Basically apple pie a la mode. It's on my don't miss list up there a long with a twilight round at Northwood

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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#45 Post by Adam Frisch » July 28th, 2019, 1:46 pm

There's a lot of interesting things happening in California wine right now. A lot of the newer generation of winemakers that make more restrained wines, like they used to. You can still get the big Napa ones if you so desire, but there's a whole new tier of interesting producers now. I think it's the best it's ever been. A lot of good suggestions already, but here are a few more I really like:

Alban Vineyards - Syrah legend.
Paul Lato - both his Pinot and Syrah's (especially the Syrah) are fantastic.
Sandhi - anything from Sashi Moorman is good.
Piedrasassi - Sashi again.
Lioco - another vote for these guys, amazingly mineral Pinots.
Bedrock - yeah, the hype is real.
Sandlands - Tegan Passalaqua who is winemaker at Turley's brand.
Dragonette
Kosta Brown
Failla - amazing Pinots and their concrete egg Chardonnay is probably my favorite Chard ever.
Saxum
Pax Mahle
Clementine Carter - Sonja does some really nice Grenache.
Ceritas
Hirsch
Turley - Zin legend.
Raen - one of the Monday grandchildren, supposedly amazing.

In the low-intervention category, California is really booming at the moment with producers like:

Harrington
Martha Stoumen
Inconnu
Donkey & Goat
Dirty & Rowdy
Deux Punx
Broc Cellars
Stirm
Ambyth
Scholium
Arnot-Roberts
Eyrie Vineyards
Tessier
Ruth Lewandowski
Sabelli-Frisch Wines

Owner, proprietor and winemaker (with a little help) at Sabelli-Frisch Wines. I make wine from low-impact vineyards, focus on rare, forgotten, under-appreciated or historic grape varietals. Mission grape is my main red focus. IG: sabellifrisch

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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#46 Post by Wes Barton » July 29th, 2019, 4:00 am

Another + on K&L. Check their schedule online. They get some winemakers in there. Great selection of small CA producers, as well as imports, uncommon varieties.

Get on the Vin, Vino, Wine email list. Open Tues-Sat, they have themed tastings every day, as well as "weekly sampler" offerings. They carry a fairly small, but quality number of CA wines. Much more French and Italian. All terroir-driven.

Robert's Market in Woodside has a great selection of hard to find stuff, and very much worth stopping by.

Waxwing in Belmont is open Friday evenings, as are a brewery and a distillery, and a food truck. One man operation specializing in Pinot Noir and Syrah.

If you get on the August West mailing list, they'll send you a timely email about their open house. Should be later November and include some of their tenant wineries. Highly recommended. Several are Berserker Day participants.
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#47 Post by Gary York » July 29th, 2019, 8:51 am

It is a good idea to explore not so well known grapes from the area. But ultimately you may find, like I did, that for the most part they are rarely equal the European counterparts. And frequently, far too frequently, are much higher in price. On the wine side I am not sure if it is a stylistic choice or if they just have trouble overcoming California. Maybe a bit of both. And on the pricing side, it is certainly understandable that California can be an expensive place to produce wine. Still it is fun to explore and try old grapes from new places.
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#48 Post by Wes Barton » July 29th, 2019, 7:07 pm

Gary York wrote:
July 29th, 2019, 8:51 am
It is a good idea to explore not so well known grapes from the area. But ultimately you may find, like I did, that for the most part they are rarely equal the European counterparts. And frequently, far too frequently, are much higher in price. On the wine side I am not sure if it is a stylistic choice or if they just have trouble overcoming California. Maybe a bit of both. And on the pricing side, it is certainly understandable that California can be an expensive place to produce wine. Still it is fun to explore and try old grapes from new places.
I don't agree. It's all about great sites matching a particular grape (or even the right clones of that grape). Pinot Noir is planted all over California. Most of it is subpar. (Some of the pioneers went through the effort to seek out great sites for it, while the more recent fad involves loads of lemmings planting it willy nilly.) If Pinot Noir were planted all over France the same way, most of it would also be mediocre. Some California sites are excellent for Pinot Noir.

The second aspect is in the vineyard and cellar. You can't just translate what works best for one grape variety to another. Or what works best at one site to another.

Some more obscure grapes have done better here, because where they can be found in Europe doesn't suit them well, and the winemaking is rustic. Some do quite well here, but express differently. You could say like comparing Valtellina to Barolo. There is such a range of microclimates and soils here, it's more about finding the right sites for a grape than there not being any.

IMO, the Sangiovese disaster here comes down to bad winemaking, starting with the picking decision. That's from working with 5 vineyards. All gave great fruit.

That's also from my experience working with dozens of grape varieties. We researched, then experimented with each new grape. We got stuff grafted to appropriate sites. We brought in over 30 varieties that weren't here. A few people have brought bottles of our Nebbiolo to show off to top Piemonte and Lombardy producers. Elisabetto Foradori said our Teroldego was "Very good. Not as good as mine, but very good."

What can be done here is the same as what a new generation is doing in Italy, who are bringing back near extinct grapes and figuring out how best to treat them in the vineyard and tailor the winemaking to their strengths and unique expressions.

A lot of the Italian grapes do well in places that don't suit the French grapes. Land value is a huge part of cost. That's part of why we changed directions. If we continued making SVD Pinots, we'd have to be charging at least $60. A Sagrantino that's just as good? $30. And gee, the in stock Sagrantinos at K&L right now range $35-43.
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#49 Post by GregT » July 29th, 2019, 8:37 pm

A lot of the Italian grapes do well in places that don't suit the French grapes.
And Spanish, Greek, Portuguese, Georgian, etc.

We in the US have built a model based on French grapes, but the US has as many microclimates as Europe and only a small portion of them have been explored for grape growing. French grapes don't do well in every part of Europe and they don't necessarily do well in every part of the States.

Kudos to Wes and the others for looking beyond France.
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Re: Tell me what I should be looking for in California besides Cabs

#50 Post by Gary York » July 30th, 2019, 7:57 am

I will stand by my statement. I have tried dozens and dozens of wines. And for large part there are very few wines from California that can hold up against their counterparts from Europe. And certainly not for the prices offered. Nothing wrong with supporting the home team. But if you are judging the wines, that needs to be put aside. I would encourage anyone interested to taste as much as possible. And reach their own conclusions. I know where I ended up.
Last edited by Gary York on July 30th, 2019, 3:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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