Great California White Wine Deals
Spring is upon us! One of our favorite times of year brings the triumphant return of the color green, sunshine after 4 pm, and white wine! This Spring I've decided to focus on California white wines.
When I’m looking for affordable white wine, I have my go-to regions—Loire Valley comes to mind—but one area I often neglect is California. This is a silly oversight! While California is certainly known for its reds—and for being less-than-budget-friendly—there are many fantastic California white wines to be found that will be sure to please your palate and your wallet.
Given the recent devastating forest fires throughout California’s wine country and the ensuing strain on their tourism industry, I know I am looking for more ways to support our hometown heroes—and these options make it easy.
Read on for 10 fantastic California white wines that will retail at $15 or less:
1. Husch Vineyards Chenin Blanc, Mendocino, 2017
Husch Vineyards is a small family-owned winery, recalling a Loire sensibility with this cool-climate Chenin from Mendocino. Made in the off-dry style often found in Vouvray, this California white wine is a bit headier, almost leaning towards aromatic with rich peach, white floral, and mineral notes.
2. SIMI Chardonnay, Sonoma County, 2016
A classic, creamy California Chardonnay from a winery dating back to 1876. Enough citrus zest and minerality to balance out its richness, complimented by a touch of American Oak to bring a hint of Butterscotch.
3. The White Knight Viognier, Clarksburg, 2015
If you like the aromatics of Riesling but the body of Chardonnay, this is the wine for you. Classic aromas of ripe peach, orange marmalade, and honeysuckle hint at the full flavors of this richly-textured wine. The perfect California white wine to pair with a cheese plate!
4. Brea Chardonnay, Central Coast, 2015
This sustainably-farmed Chardonnay looks to express the cool-climate terroir of the Central Coast while keeping alcohol levels in check. Aged in half French oak and half stainless steel, famed winemaker Chris Brockway delivers a crisp and zesty chardonnay, with flavors of green apple, flint, and lime zest.
5. Ca’ Momi “Bianco di Ca’ Momi”, California, 2016
As the name suggests, Ca’ Momi in Napa Valley is owned by a trio of Italians—and this heritage is reflected in the juice as well. A blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Pinot Grigio, this California white wine was created for everyday drinking and all occasions. Ripe melon mingles with bright citrus, overlaid by a spicy, exotic note.
6. JUSTIN Sauvignon Blanc, Central Coast, 2016
JUSTIN is one of the most well-respected names in Paso Robles red winemaking it even more surprising that their Sauvignon Blanc is so affordable. Originally produced only for their tasting room, JUSTIN Sauvignon Blanc is now distributed nationwide. Whole cluster fermentation rounds out the palate while the nose is expressive with ripe citrus, sweet herbs, and flint.
7. Sean Minor “4B” Sauvignon Blanc, California, 2016
Rebranded from “Four Bears”, this Sauvignon Blanc is easygoing and a bit too chuggable. Light-bodied, crisp, overflowing with juicy citrus and a hint of grass.
Renowned winemaker and “Rhone Rangers” OG Randall Graham has been known to experiment with limited release wines—usually much to the delight of his followers and their palates.
While this is a wine you probably won’t find at your local shop, it is available on the Vivino website for $14.99/bottle. If you’ve had Picpoul before, and chances are you haven't, you probably associate it with aromas of green apple, lime, and secondary characteristics like honey and pleasing minerality.
This is a perfect wine to pair with shellfish or poultry.
9.Fess Parker Riesling, Santa Barbara County, 2016
Started by Fess Parker, the actor who played Daniel Boone and Davy Crocket in the 1950s & 60s, and continued by his children, Fess Parker is an iconic name in Santa Barbara. This is a dry Riesling, with a spicy ginger bite and a cleansing wet stone minerality. Try a glass at one of their tasting rooms (recently renovated) in the Fess Parker Resort in Santa Barbara (then take a bottle to the beach!).
10. Donati Family Vineyards “Sisters Forever” Un-Oaked Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, 2015
The Un-Oaked Chardonnay craze lives on, and with good reason. When producing a value-driven Chardonnay, one can’t spend big money on expensive barrels—which means some producers turn to cheap oak chips (or worse). For my money, in this price point, a fresh yet lush Un-Oaked Chard does the trick. Also, check out their Pinot Grigio—a bit over $15 but one of the few examples of an Italian-style Pinot Grigio out of California.
It should be relatively easy to find a nicely crafted bottle of white wine for under $15. You can still expect to buy from some of the top California wineries between $12 and $15. When you are doing your research, try to find wines that are from single vineyards. This is the best way to avoid cheap bulk wine. You can also hunt for grapes that make great wines but are not commonly known. The Bonny Doon wine made from Picpoul is a great example of this.
Generally, it's better to look for these wines online or at a well-run local wine retailer. The less expensive wines at the major grocery stores tend to be lower quality. Enjoy your search and enjoy the wine. Cheers!