You’re going to think I’m nuts. I could name all sorts of super small wineries discovered recently … nope. Enough of that with more learned experts here! We’re going lowbrow! No brow!
Ahem. Went to Flemings for dinner the other night (steakhouse) and got a glass of Pinot Noir at happy hour for maybe $11. Turns out, it was Silver Gate. Available from Saratoga Wines for $6 a bottle. Lodi fruit, some American Oak. YES! I said it. American Oak. C’mon, for $6 a bottle, you’re normally looking at that Tilia Malbec on the bottom shelf at Total Wine, or the chicken wine (y’all know what I mean, that Rex Goliath next to the Tilia).
Judge me not! Seriously, who else is tired of spending $25-$30 a glass for some drinkable restaurant Decoy, when the wine you really want to drink is at home, from great little wineries discovered boots on the ground in Sonoma, or through Berserker Day. Or, a killer Mayacamus you’ve been hoarding, or a really super Silver Oak (what-evah to the American Oak police, give me an earthy musty silky Silver Oak, Alexander Valley please, any day of the week, or French me with the ripe cherry fruity consistent loveliness of their Twomey Russian River Pinot Noir). I’ll drink a little cheapie Silver Gate at happy hour and then finish the evening at home with what’s exciting.
Now, moving into the more commercially available wine that you’ll find for $12-30, depending on varietal. Near and dear to my heart — and everyone’s heart if they visit wineries in CA - is Ron Rubin Winery, which will buy any California winery an AED to save the life of someone who has a cardiac event and needs a defibrillator. To date, he’s bought about 350 defibrillators for CA wineries, at his own cost. Pretty amazing. He sells River Road and a couple of other affordable labels through Total Beverage. Talented young winemaker Ed Morris (cooperage background, and a real talent for coaxing quaffability and consistency into approachable wines that give you something to talk about).
In fact: every California winery should know about Ron Rubin and his Trained for Saving Lives program, in addition to the wine itself. Wineries from Charles Krug to Fogline to Ovid to Grgich to Verite, etc. Trained For “Saving Lives” - Ron Rubin Brands