Can you find tasty domestic wine for $5 a bottle?

It’s a quandary, according to local retailers, who say most domestic wine begins in the $8-range while tasty imports from Spain, Chile and Australia can be $5 a bottle.

And yet, the answer is a resounding yes. As long as you shop with a strategy. Here are some savvy shopping tips:

Shop for big format bottles. Whether they’re jug wines like Carlo & Rossi or Cribri or magnums like James Arthur Field or Gallo’s Barefoot, they’re roughly the equivalent of $5 a bottle.

Shop for wine from megabrands like Clos du Bois and Geyser Peak, both of Geyserville, or Bronco Wine Company, with its bottling facility in Napa.

The Bronco labels Coastal Ridge, Forestville, Estrella, Dona Sol and Crane Lake all have a suggested retail price between $4 and $5. How does Bronco manage to compete head to head with imports? Harvey Posert, spokesman for Bronco Wine Co., said the large winery has “enormous efficiencies of scale and owner Fred Franzia runs a tight ship.”

Traversos in Santa Rosa sells Crane Lake Cellars 2005 petite sirah and 2006 sangiovese for $399. It also carries Harlow Ridge, 2007 Harlow Ridge, 2007 Sauvignon Blanc for $5.99. “These wines go well with food and could compete with wines in the $10 category,” according to co-owner Michael Traverso.

Yet another tip is to scout for bottlings with fruit from the Central Valley, most notably Lodi, and/or look for discontinued or “close out” bottlings. Producers are just looking to move the wine, not necessarily make a profit.

What do you think? We’re doing a newspaper story on this and we’d love your input. Can you find tasty domestic wine for $5 a bottle? If so, what are your trade secrets? Your best finds?