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Wine on a budget

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Wine on a budget

We are going to be in the Napa/ Sonoma area for a couple of days next week. In the past, we have found a lot of the wines up there to be over our budget. Any suggestions on 2 or 3 wineries that have a good selection in the $15-$20 range?

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1. Re: Wine on a budget

You can usually be assured of finding selections in the $15-$25 range at the large production wineries, like Beringer, Mondavi, Krug, Kenwood and Sebastiani. The small producers or "boutique wineries" do tend to be pricier. For whites in the price range you're looking for, I'd recommend a visit to the Hess Winery just east of the town of Napa (www.hesscollection.com). They'll have Chardonnay, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc. Getting there from Napa will take you thru some truly beautiful countryside and the tasting room is housed in a visually stunning bldg. that also features a wonderful modern art gallery. On the red side of things, I love Ravenwood Winery no. of the Sonoma Plaza (www.ravenswood-wine.com). They should have a decent selection that inc's Petite Syrah, Carignane, Merlot and Zin. They're located in a pretty, oak-shroaded area, too. But be sure to taste all levels of wine--one of the great joys of tasting rooms is being able to sample premium wines that we otherwise wouldn't be able to afford. Beware tho'--in most cases the difference in quality bet. a $15 bottle of wine and a $30 one is remarkable, and it can be hard to settle for less once you've tasted some of the better ones!

San Francisco, CA
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2. Re: Wine on a budget

The one thing I can tell you is that many wineries in Sonoma especially those in Russian River and Dry Creek (just west of the town of Healdsburg) and several actually in the town of Healdsburg do not charge for tastings. This will save you money vs. Napa and perhaps allow you to splurge on a couple of bottles that you really love.

Upstate S.C.
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3. Re: Wine on a budget

Your budget is a big handicap for most Napa Valley red wines. I would limit myself to wineries in Sonoma County. Cabernets from Alexander Valley. Zindanfels from most anywhere.

That price range gets you into the wineries that already have national distribution - Geyser Peak, Chateau Souverain, Clos Du Bois.

Your best bet is to do your tasting at wineries of your choice, then go to the Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa for your shopping. They have an unending selection with highly discounted prices compared to the same bottlings at the winery. They are located at 3331 Industrial Drive. Follow the UPS trucks to it, else you will get lost.

When I am tasting at a winery, I look for wines that are on special or have no large distribution. Those I buy there.

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4. Re: Wine on a budget

Definitely go with something from Kenwood. I love their Vintage White. It is the complimentary wine given at the Sonoma Mission Inn with your stay there. Cheers! :)

San Francisco, CA
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5. Re: Wine on a budget

Chateau Souveign is a great choice. Excellent wines for the price.

Washington State
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6. Re: Wine on a budget

I thought about this today and there is no reason to only go to wineries that only have $15-$20 bottles of wines. Get a wine tasting guide when you arrive and look for free tasting coupons and use those wherever you can. Raymond is a great place to go. With their coupon they have a free tasting and I know they have many different levels of wines from $8 bottles up to $70 bottles.

As mentioned, Beringer is a great place to tour and taste as well. Their tour is one of the best out there and while their basic tasting is kind of crowded and blah, if they still offer the upgrade to the reserve room, do it. For a few dollars extra you get to taste excellent and expensive wines in a more subdued environment. If the tour doesn't appeal to you, they have comp tasting coupons on their website.

Which brings me to another recommendation. Try doing internet research before you go to find coupons and places that taste for free. Somona dot com and napavalley dot com are great resources for planning from afar.

Have a fabulous trip!!

San Diego, CA
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7. Re: Wine on a budget

In Sonoma, we really enjoyed Hop Klin in Healdsburg. The staff was excellent, the wine was very good, and the prices were terrific. We weren't really impressed with the other wineries in the immediate area.

San Francisco, CA
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8. Re: Wine on a budget

Naven: Curious as to which other wineries you did not enjoy near Hop Kiln. Thanks!

San Diego, CA
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9. Re: Wine on a budget

I shouldn't say we didn't enjoy them, but we thought Davis Bynum, Roshambo and Armida were average wines, but very expensive. Not terrible, just not something I would buy.

San Francisco, CA
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10. Re: Wine on a budget

Naven: I would agree with your opinion on those wineries although Roshambo is a pretty cool spot. Next time you visit try Martinelli, Gary Farrell, Porter Creek, Davis Family and J Winery. Could also try Ridge and Maurtitson in Dry Creek area, both of which are excellent. All of these have great wine although not cheap.