Best everyday CA Cabernet direct buy?

I know there have been a few discussions on this but I still haven’t found what I am looking for. I can go to Total wine and buy Whitehall Lane, Hall, Honig, Faust, Turnbull, or Frank Family ($25-$40range). If you buy direct from these you actually pay a premium. I would love to find a good cabernet in this price range. There is plenty Syrah and Zin that fit (Halcon, some Turley, Bedrock, Carlisle), is cabernet that much more expensive/temperamental to grow or is it purely the popularity?

The search continues…

With Karl Lawrence exiting, there is few options. You have Myriad Napa, Quivet and Jones Sisters, but that’s slightly out of your range at $60. Congruence now has an entry level Napa thats quite nice in 2010.

Actually for 40 and under you’re outta luck, directly.

I’d suggest Ridge Santa Cruz/Estate Cabernet. It looks like they’re selling the 2010 for $45. I’ve also been able to find it widely in half bottles. You can probably pick up older bottles in that price range you mention.

My second suggestion would be half bottles where you can get 'em. I feel like California Cab is one of the things I see in that smaller format a lot.

My third suggestion would be to buy the Zinfandel and Syrah you mention instead of the California Cab.

I was going to suggest the same

a big +1 on this recommendation, great wine for the money. Can be regularly had for less than $40. Id also add another SCM recommendation with the 09 Domaine Eden cab, for under $30

Cab is unfortunately the cash cow in Napa, therefore it is going to be expensive compared to other grapes by ton price even before vinification. Add onto that the “prestige” and prices get jacked again. For the direct market, like Mike said above, there really isn’t anything I can think of at your price point that you would not be better off buying locally to save on shipping.

If you are willing to go up a few dollars, I am a fan of Hollis right now. Paul Hobbs is the consulting winemaker. So, if you like his style of wine, check them out.

And this is very accurate information as well - as suggested above, go for some Zinfandel! It’s far less expensive, and more reliable (IMHO), and better with food, typically, than most CA cabs.

Is anyone in Southern California growing decent Cabernet? I always think of it as a Northern CA grape…

Justin does a fairly good job with it. I have liked both the Isosceles and Justification bottlings from them.

Paso Robles is not Southern CA - it’s pretty squarely central CA

As for Southern CA, you’d have to go to Temecula and check out the wineries that make cab there.

I think anything south of the Bay Bridge SoCal for wine making.

Eh, that’s kind of what I figured. I’ve been to the Temecula region a couple times while visiting home in San Diego, but wasn’t particularly impressed.

Tex–I was thinking Santa Barbara or further south. Paso Robles is close though and Justin is widely available. I’ll have to check them out at some point.

Santa Barbara has many interesting varieties, but Cabernet Sauvignon really hasn’t had the success everybody was hoping for out there. Happy Canyon produces some of the better grapes, but the cabs are still not terribly special, particularly when compared to the other great wines there.

I have and love all of the names mentioned above, probably my top three QPR for Napa. This seems like an untapped market. We know it can be done by looking at the names listed above?!? They must make a profit when selling to retail, why not offer a case of the inexpensive cab to customers on the mailing list??

Haha, that is a good one.

Most wineries will never undersell their retail pipeline.

Even if it isn’t retail vs. direct, strange no one has tapped into a market where there would be plenty of buyers. I would think that someone like Hayfork/Lewelling or Larkmead would offer this.

In all seriousness, it does not make sense to me to buy a $30 bottle of wine and spend $5 to ship. In that market, I hit up Costco, Spec’s and Total for my needs. Granted, I won’t see low production or boutique wines at that price point at those locations, but I am good with that as those wines are not in that bracket anyways.

For me, the under $40 wines are ones that I find locally that are recent release. And, I am fine with that.

I don’t get the desire to buy direct rather than from stores, since, as others have pointed out, it’s rarely cheaper direct than from the store, plus you are then paying shipping as well.

As far as good cabernet in your price range, I would look at Domaine Eden (around $30), Mount Eden Estate (around $45), Sojourn (around $35) and Dehlinger Claret (around $35) as some more traditionally or balanced styled examples.

The real winning play at that price point is to go on auction sites and buy good-but-not-collector-hyped California cabs from the 1990s. You’d be amazed at how many great 1990-2000 cab there is out there from good producers for a song these days, if you aren’t chasing the collector wines, and most of them are not collector wines. You can find really good wines for half their release/retail price that are right in their prime, plus before the style got as ripe and oaky as it did from roughly 2001 forward.

You make some good points. It just seems strange that if you already have a built in buyer why not offer it? Do they think it would cannibalize their current sales? There are a lot of wineries that have the $45-$60 “second” wines: 29 has CRU, Spottswoode/Lyndhurst, Quintessa/Faust, Kapcsandy/Endre. I would love to find that direct buy of a $30 Chappellet signature or Robert Craig Affinity.

Some of the most supported or talked about list are in that $ range: Bedrock, Carlisle, and Turley. Just the wrong grape.

Chris, I’m a fan of your posts, but I’m surprised you have raised this (much asked) question.

  • I source wines direct that can not be found in stores
  • Most of the wines that I purchase direct are below the price they would command on the secondary market
  • Provinance
  • Direct support of favorite producers