Many of us answer the repeating polls on top five producers in our cellars. Very few explain why. I am listing my top six producers - six because they make up 50% of my decent sized cellar - what I like from them, and why I buy them year to year, often without knowing what they’ll taste like but having confidence in the winemaker that it’s in my wheelhouse. I am hoping the extended group will do the same - which could encourage trying something new that just seeing a percentage or number may not. Give it a try:
I have an 800+ cellar. I have about 80 producers in that mix, with at least 40 producers being two bottles or less. My top six make up roughly half of the total bottles:
Sojourn: I started buying Sojourn around 2007, before I ever heard of a wine board. I personally consider Craig a friend though I only talk to him a couple of times a year. Their Pinot is just what our palates enjoy. This is not only the most purchased, but the most consumed. The Sangiacomo vineyard Pinot was our “go to” wine, I hesitate to say a $50+ dollar wine is a daily drinker, but it is great year after year. Some years their other RRV or Sonoma Coast SVD wines wow us (the Gap’s is usually good as is Ridgetop) but the Sangiacomo is consistently great. Their Cabs are also consistently good and for some reason I only buy a couple of them a year. The GIII and Proprietary Cuvee are usually very good fruit-forward wines. I usually buy a case at each release, with a bottle or two of their very good Chardonnay in each case.
Myriad Cellars: A virtual tie with Sojourn at around 10% of my cellar. I started buying in the 2006 vintage after an introduction by my brother Ken. Mike and Leah soon became friends. We’ve shifted from Syrah drinking, but I think his Dr. Crane and GIII wines are among the best made, and don’t let him hear this but the pricing is very fair for what he puts in the bottle. I also buy other wines made by Mike, including Patine Pinot, Quivet Cabs (LPV is very good), and some Carters. But, I always buy about two to three cases a year of Mike’s various wines.
Rivers-Marie: I obviously heard about this wine here on WB. I think my first purchase was 2007 vintage. The Pinots are consistently great, particularly the Silver Eagle and Occidental Ridge Pinots. These are are second most consumed even if we by a little less than we do of the top two. These are not full-throttled like some others, but are consistently great year in and year out. Of course the basic blend is a great daily drinker, but there is something about Silver Eagle I really like. The Cabernets are stellar, with the blend being a very good primer for their wine, and the Panek being my favorite of the SVD’s. I don’t buy much Chardonnay, but theirs is about the best we buy - the new Joy Road is very good as is their J. Thieriot Vineyard designate.
Kosta Browne: I think this is a larger percentage as it is more of a special occasion wine and thus purchases outnumber consumed. I think I made the appellation list for the 2008 vintage and just made the SVD list about two years ago. Often brought to dinner with friends or tastings where the hosts are not total Enophiles but will recognize we brought a nice bottle without having to “educate them” (not intending to sound snooty) on why we consider the smaller producers good wines. The SC and RRV blends are consistently good, and they have dialed things back since about 2008. My favorite of the SVD’s is Keefer Ranch, which I am allocated very little.
Rhys: I am not sure why my purchases outweigh consumption. Started buying after hearing about what Kevin was doing there - I think around 2009 vintage was first purchase. Visited a couple of years ago and was thoroughly impressed. Our favorites are the Bearwallow (Anderson Valley) and Swan Terrace. These wines are consistently very good and their customer service is fantastic (as are all of those I purchase from - do me wrong and I usually stop buying).
Realm Cellars: Realm rounds out the top 50% of my cellar with about 56 bottles. Usually a special occasion wine, my favorites are the Bard (Cab heavy Bdx blend), Dr. Crane and To Kalon (which i buy to bring to my best wine friend’s who greatly appreciates this). I have been buying since I met Wendell and Juan around 2007. While their wines are definitely fruit-forward, their balance and mouth enveloping flavor profile gets me every time.
So, tell me about why your top five (or so) are your favorites.