I was strolling through Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa the other day and I noticed a display of budget wines with an ever-growing selection of imports. It occurred to me that those on a tight budget who like to shop Sonoma County wines have a dilemma.
Most of the Sonoma County wines that score 90 points or higher from wine critic Robert Parker are in the $15-plus range, while imports snagging those scores are $9 to $12. Scores aside, you can get tasty wines from Chile, Argentina and Spain for $5, while most Sonoma County discounted wine begins in the $8-range. “I’m not saying it’s right,” said wine buyer Ben Pearson. “It’s just the way it is.”
Of course, Pearson said, some domestic wines are thriving in the $6 to $8 range, and leading the pack are brands from the Bronco Wine Co., with its bottling facility in Napa. Pearson said these brands – which include Napa Ridge, Napa Creek and Laurier — aren’t getting 90-point ratings, but many have won medals in competitions. He said other domestic wines faring well are from megabrands like Clos du Bois and Geyser Peak.
When the quality is the same and the price is the same, Pearson said people do tend to buy local.
How much effort do you make to buy Sonoma County wine? How much effort should we make? As my son would say, “what are your thinkings on this?”