Wine Country Values

There are values galore across wine country and they come in an array of different shapes, sizes and attitudes.

Prices are down across the board in just about every wine category. Bargains are everywhere, but I haven’t seen anything  quite as appealing as a special offer from wine, beer and spirts giant Diaego that includes discounts of greater than 50 percent on most of its labels. Some of the top brands include Chalone Vineyards, Rosenblum Cellars and Sterling Vineyards.

The only hitch — the deals are only good through Friday (May 7). To register, click this link and use “Patricia Danby” as the referring employee. Let me know what you find.

Wine of the Week: Vivacious Virginia Viognier

I’m a reluctant fan of viognier, an alternative to chardonnay that has made some inroads in California from its origins in France. I like the unexpected, but never expected to like a viognier from Virginia. Most California versions I’ve tried are lightweights, so I wasn’t expecting much when I pulled the cork on my first East Coast viognier.

It turns out Virginia makes some decent wines, and the 2006 viognier from Cardinal Point Vineyard in Afton, Va., is an exceptionally good one. I got the Cardinal Point bottle as a gift and now I’m looking for more!

This viognier has the body of a moderate-weight Napa chardonnay with a taste of Bosc pears combined with the tartness of a New Zealand sauvignon blanc covered by a nose of sweet grapefruit — a hot three-way combination that matched up well at dinner with salmon simmered in olive oil and finished with some of the wine. The 2006 retails for $24, but the newest release (2008) is available from the winery for $18.

The only catch —  state law does not allow direct sales by Virginia wineries to California!

Service as a Value

Some values have little to do with cost and much more to do with availability. I’m a member of a half dozen wine clubs, mostly because it gives me access to small lots of wine that are generally not available to the public. Most clubs provide discounts to members, who commit to purchasing some minimum amount of wines on a periodic basis.

One of my club memberships is at Lucas Winery, an award-winning Lodi zinfandel specialist whose wines are tightly allocated. I get opportunities to purchase the mainline wines, which are great, but it’s also nice to be offered special small production wines that are not sold through normal retail channels. If you haven’t checked out your favorite winery’s club selection, now’s a good time to take a look at what’s available.

The Value of Suds

An era, it seems, has passed right before my eyes.

Anchor Steam brewery was one of the first big names in the microbrewery world. Fritz Maytag bought the company in 1965 and saved it from bankruptcy. The 20-something appliance company heir (his family also owned Maytag blue cheese) turned the  beer business into a success. Anchor became an example that hundreds of microbrewers  have emulated over the years in a nationwide trend toward smaller production, higher quality brewing.

Fritz Maytag

Anchor’s unexpected sale (terms were not disclosed) was announced last month. The new owners (Griffin Group) got the brewery and also acquired Maytag’s Anchor Distilling, which makes Junípero gin and Old Potrero Whiskey. Maytag, now 72, held onto another liquid asset, his York Creek Vineyards in Napa.

I met Maytag in an interview for one of the first stories I wrote after moving to San Francisco in the early 1980s. I was struck by his plan to grow better, not bigger, and improve quality while preserving an icon in the brewing world. Maybe it’s time to go back for another interview, this time about the wine business.

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One Response to “Wine Country Values”

  1. Rick Says:

    Dear Friends,
    Surprise! Virginia wineries can sell direct to California consumers after jumping through a hoop or two. You can order Chateau Morrisette’s Viognier here:
    http://thedogs.com/index.php?pr=viognier
    Cheers!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: