I love October in Sonoma County, because it means the Harvest Fair is here! I’ve attended every year for the past 10 years to taste the top scoring wines. In addition, I enjoy checking out the monster-size pumpkins, the decorated cakes, visiting all of the sheep, goats, cows, horses, and pig pens, listening to the music, and always catching the Grape Stomp before I leave.
Afterwards, I head to some of my favorite wine stores in Sonoma County, because they have great deals on the Harvest Fair medal winning wines. The two stores I always hit are Bottle Barn and Olivers, because they have some of the best prices and great displays. My strategy is to purchase a bottle of every Best of Class and Gold Medal wine under $16. I then invite friends over for a BBQ and we try them out. Each year I find a favorite wine and end up going back to buy a case or more.
This year’s best gold medal wine, in my humble opinion, for under $16 was the 2006 Leveroni Merlot from Sonoma Valley. It is a plush mouthful of ripe blackberries and plums with velvety tannins, good acid, and a very long pleasing finish. It tastes like a $60 merlot for only around $12 at our local stores. I’d encourage you to give it a try. As a former merlot drinker who succumbed to the seduction of pinot noir, this merlot has tempted me back to the roost.
Following is a table of the 14 wines below $16 that were either Best of Class or Gold medal winners.
|Best of Class||Kenwood Vineyards||2009||Pinot Gris||Sonoma County||$14.00|
|Best of Class||Leveroni Vineyards||2006||Merlot||Sonoma Valley||$16.00|
|Best of Class||Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery||2008||Chardonnay||Sonoma County||$12.99|
|Best of Class||Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery||2009||Unoaked Chardonnay||Russian River Valley||$14.99|
|Best of Class||Trecini||2009||Sauvignon Blanc||Russian River Valley||$14.99|
|Gold||Healdsburg Ranches Winery||2009||Chardonnay||Russian River Valley||$15.00|
|Gold||Kenwood Vineyards||2007||Zinfandel||Sonoma County||$16.00|
|Gold||Kenwood Vineyards||2009||Chardonnay||Sonoma County||$14.00|
|Gold||Long Gamma Cellars||2007||Red Wine||Sonoma County||$12.00|
|Gold||Pedroncelli Winery||2007||Syrah||Alexander Valley||$14.00|
|Gold||Pedroncelli Winery||2009||Chardonnay||Dry Creek Valley||$12.00|
|Gold||River Road Vyds & Winery||2009||Pinot Meunier||Russian River Valley||$16.00|
|Gold||Valley Of The Moon Winery||2009||Pinot Blanc||Sonoma County||$15.00|