20 Value Wines for Restaurants?

2006 Alamos MalbecI read an interesting post over on Steve Heimoff’s blog recently. For those that don’t know Steve is the long time West Coast Editor for the Wine Enthusiast. The topic highlighted restaurants that pride themselves on serving local foods and the accompanying wine lists which, at times, tend not to be all that locally focused. Steve had some thoughts to share given the recent commentary and articles from Eric Asimov of the New York Times and Jon Bonne of the San Francisco Chronicle. Two main reasons for steering clear of local wines seem to be cited: 1) The wines don’t compliment food, sacrificing balance for power and 2) Price. The dialogue continues asking where the affordable local wines on these menus are. The answer most likely is in your local supermarket. As a restaurant patron I can agree with the first but the second largely seems an excuse. Just today I paid $9 for a glass of Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc, price for a bottle: $9. Plenty of quality Sauvignon Blanc from California to be had at that price; including one of my favorites the Geyser Peak. Given that example, I see it more a matter of managing perception. It’s one thing to charge $10 a glass for a foreign wine that the vast majority of people have never heard of. It’s another to do so for the wine that was just on sale at your local supermarket. Anyhow let’s get to the good stuff…

Within Steve’s post he goes on to call out some “wonderful, balanced, food-friendly California wines” that also happen to be affordable. Confession, Steve only mentions 19 wines but 20 just sounds so more intriguing. What was even more intriguing to me is that I hadn’t had any of these. How about you? I am going to see if I can’t track some of these down. In the mean time I would love to hear your thoughts on any you’ve tried. Here’s the list:


  • Eberle 2006 Vineyard Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, $18
  • Napa Family 2006 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, $10
  • Lyeth 2006 Merlot, $11
  • Rendition 2007 Petite Sirah, $9


  • Educated Guess 2007 Chardonnay, $17
  • Toad Hollow 2007 Francine’s Selection Unoaked Chardonnay, $13
  • Mandolina 2007 Pinot Grigio, $14
  • Charles Creek 2008 Riesling, $18
  • Brass Tacks 2007 Riesling, $15
  • AutoMoto 2007 Riesling, $13
  • Jekel 2008 Riesling, $11
  • Sterling 2007 Vintner’s Collection Riesling, $10
  • Bogle 2007 Riesling, $9
  • Beringer 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, $16
  • Robert Hall 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, $15
  • Concannon 2008 Selected Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, $10
  • Tercero 2008 Camp 4 Vineyard Grenache Blanc, $18
  • Bedarra 2008 Beachfront Sauvignon Blanc-Chardonnay, $18
  • Insatiable NV White Wine, $10

If you are interested in tracking any of these wines down at a retailer near you, give WineZap or Wine-Searcher a try.

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