The best affordable Sonoma County wines for the holidays
There is nothing more delicious than finding a wine bargain, especially during the holidays when extra expenses abound. In Sonoma County, we’re fortunate to have easy access to an abundance of worthwhile wines made right in our own backyard.
While it has become more challenging to find affordable Sonoma County wines — because of the rising cost of grapes, land and production — there are still plenty of wallet-friendly options out there. You just need to know where to look. That’s where we come in.
We spoke to some favorite local wine retailers to get their recommendations on the best wine buys this holiday season. Whether you’re looking for a Sonoma County sparkler or a Petaluma Gap pinot noir, we have you covered — all for under $30 a bottle, and sometimes for $20 or less.
Bottle Barn, Santa Rosa
Recommendations by Barry Herbst, wine buyer
“During my tenure at Bottle Barn, I’ve always been able to find a solid number of great wine values made in Sonoma County,” said Barry Herbst, wine buyer at Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa. “They’re often made by smaller, family-owned wineries with low overhead; no sales team; and no expensive grape contracts. That said, I’m often surprised how some of our larger producers can also deliver quality wines at very affordable prices.”
Herbst’s holiday wine picks:
Barn Raiser, Sparkling Brut NV, Sonoma County ($16.99): “It’s nearly impossible to find a sparkling in Sonoma County under $25, let alone $20, and this a winner. Double Gold winner at the L.A. Invitational Wine & Spirits Challenge,” Herbst said.
Domaine Allimant-Laugner, Cremant d’Alsace Rosé NV ($15.99): “This has been our bestselling sparkling wine in the store for at least a decade. Super-consistent every year, bright, crisp and very well-balanced. 100% pinot noir.”
Francis Coppola Diamond Collection, 2021 Sauvignon Blanc ($15.99): “This wine was the Sweepstakes winner at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. Bright, fresh and complex. A shining star among sauvignon blancs right now.”
Wild Hog Estate, 2016 Pinot Noir, Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma County ($18.99): “A little-known producer (Daniel Schoenfeld) who makes great small-lot wines on the Sonoma coast. He’s been making wine 40 years and we’re probably his only account.”
Miro Cellers, 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon, Coyote Ridge Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County ($19.99): “A Double Gold winner at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. Winemaker Miro Tcholakov makes wine for Trentadue and this is his side project,” Herbst said. “Very classic cabernet sauvignon, not overly ripe or heavy in alcohol. Just delicious.”
Bottle Barn: 3331-A Industrial Drive, Santa Rosa; 707-528-1161, bottlebarn.com
Oliver’s Market, Sonoma County
Recommendations by Richard Williams, wine buyer
“As with any wine region, Sonoma County has both high-end wines and reasonably priced wines, but price is never the sole indicator of quality,” said Richard Williams, wine buyer for Oliver’s Markets in Sonoma County. “It’s extremely important for us to keep our prices competitive, and having a sizable warehouse allows us to purchase in large quantities to keep our prices down. While we do sell wines that cost hundreds of dollars, we stand behind the fact customers can purchase excellent quality wines for any occasion that won’t break the bank.”
Williams’ holiday wine picks:
Dry Creek Vineyard, 2021 Fumé Blanc, Sonoma County ($12.99): “Year in and year out, this is one of the most popular wines on our shelves! Wonderful citrus notes on the nose, with hints of mandarin orange and lemon verbena on the palate and a vibrant, crisp finish. Delectable,” Williams said.
Balletto Vineyards, 2021 Teresa’s Unoaked Chardonnay, Russian River Valley ($18.99): “The key word here is unoaked. This is a beautifully balanced wine that has had its versatility expanded by letting the fruit show through. Citrus and minerality give the wine complexity. No end to the food pairing options here.”
Rodney Strong Vineyards, 2021 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Sonoma County ($15.99): “Winner of Best of Class/Double Gold at this year’s Sonoma County Harvest Fair, this juicy and fresh rosé has mouthwatering strawberry notes with vibrant acidity. Great as an aperitif or with a wide range of dishes.”
Martin Ray, 2021 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast ($17.99): “Looking for a wine that pairs perfectly with everything from salmon to turkey to pork or even a celebration roast? Look no further,” Williams said. “Earthy notes combined with plum and spice cry out for food. This wine makes the meal!”
Beringer, 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Knight’s Valley, Sonoma County ($26.99): “With all five Bordeaux varietals in the blend, this is the quintessential holiday wine — especially if prime rib is on the menu. Dark fruits and cassis aromas give way to dried herb and cocoa with spice notes on the finish. A classic.”