Favorite Local Wines

I’ve listed some of my favorite wines to drink and wineries to visit in Northern California.  Most of them are in the Dry Creek Valley/ Russian River area of Sonoma.  If you want to visit the tasting room, some require you to call ahead to arrange an appointment and always check the website for winery hours.  I have listed the varietals that I am biased towards:  Pinot Noir, Syrah/Rhone, and Zinfandel.

A. Rafanelli– Known For: Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon.  (appt. only)

Copain– Known For: Pinot Noir, Syrah and other Rhone varietals.  (appt. only)

Inman Family– Known For: Pinot Noir.

Marimar Estate– Known For: Pinot Noir.

Ridge– Known For: Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon (Monte Bello).

Rochioli- Known For: Pinot Noir.

Schug– Known For: Pinot Noir.

Unti– Known For: Zinfandel, Syrah, Italian Varietals.  (appt. only)

Ontario Wines

I was able to visit three wineries on my drive from Toronto to Niagara Falls.  VQA is Ontario’s appellation of origin and has hundreds of wineries that dot the area outside of Toronto.  They grow many different grape varietals in the area and they are best known for popularizing a sweet dessert wine called Ice Wine. The winery tasting bars I visited were Foreign Affair, Megalomaniac, and Inniskillin which is famous for their Ice Wine.  My favorite wine was a Pinot Noir from Foreign Affair, but at $45 a bottle, I had to pass on purchasing it and bringing it back to the states.  I also tasted some Canadian wines in bars and restaurants and I can’t say that I’m completely sold on the wines from Ontario but I’m a little spoiled being so close to the California wine country.  Canadian wines tend to be more reasonably priced  in Canada which is nice considering imported bottles at a nice restaurant start around $45.

The Tuesday Night Wine

It’s always hard to find a decent wine for under $10 for everyday drinking.  Here are three recent wines I have purchased (by the case) that are very nice, easy drinking wines.

Mark West 2008 California Pinot Noir, $10, Most Supermarkets

Windy Hill 2004 Single Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, $10 ($9 by the case), Farmstead Cheese And Wine

Marqués de Cåceres 2009 Rioja Rosé, $7, Trader Joe’s

The Thanksgiving Sparkling Wine

Well we managed to do it.  We found a decent sparkling wine for $8!  It’s not an overly complex wine, but it will be a nice complement to our Thanksgiving meal and with the starter of oysters on the half shell.

NV Veuve du Vernay Brut ($8) (K&L Wines)

Dried apricot and citrus.  This is a nicely balanced sparkler for the price.  A nice dose of yeast and lots of bubbles that will pair with everything you’re serving from start to finish.

The Thanksgiving Wine

It’s that time again and this year a lot of research went into finding the perfect Thanksgiving wine.  With the economic downturn this year, I had an added challenge of finding bottles of wine for under $10.  I think I did it!  All the wines I found were under $8 with the exception of a sparkling (I’m still searching, so more on that later).  Our Thanksgiving usually lasts a few days with some of the wine being consumed along with the preparation.  We typically go through about two cases and feed in the neighborhood of 22 people. Continue reading