12 American Wineries Making Good, Cheap Wine
The United States has been impressing international wine aficionados for decades now, and for good reason. While the country has a relatively young wine culture compared with the thousands of years of history and tradition of Europe, the technology and sheer will to produce excellent wine has paid off. From as far south and east as North Carolina to Washington in the Northwest, the country is now home to many great value-driven wines. While prices vary by location, all of these wines can easily be found for under $20. Many are less than $10 a bottle.
Montinore is a consistent producer of elegant and terroir-driven wines in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. The certified biodynamic and organic vineyards yield ripe and characterful fruit that translates into full-flavored wines of superb quality. Although Montinore grows many kinds of grapes, the pinot noir is among the top values, easily rivaling wines in the same price point from any country.
At Union Wine in Oregon, the goal has always been to make great wine that is affordable for everyone. The vintners understand that beyond any fancy swirling and sipping, wine is an everyday beverage that should be available to people who don't want to spend a ton of money. The Underwood line, which is available in bottles and cans, is delicious and balanced. Perfect for picnics or a casual dinner, Underwood is hard not to love for its modest price.
Boxwood Estate is leading a winemaking resurgence in Virginia with its goal of fusing the traditions and grapes of Bordeaux with American soil and technology. Staying true to the Bordelais style, Boxwood produces small quantities of red wines made only from typically French grape varieties. The winery boasts high-end bottlings, but also reserves some production for inexpensive everyday wines of distinction.
While not largely known for it, New Jersey is home to some of the country's most beautiful and fertile farmland. The climate and soils are well suited to vitis vinifera, the species of grapes used to make most wine. Alba houses its winery in a stone barn that dates back to 1805, merging old agricultural traditions with modern winemaking technology. Many Alba wines are affordable, in particular its Old Barn line, which is one of the best values for everyday drinking.
Duplin Winery in North Carolina stands apart by making a slightly sweet line of wines from muscadine grapes -- the first species to populate the United States -- instead of vitis vinifera. The perfumed wines are delicate, refreshing, and lightly sweet, which make them perfect for pairing with the rich food of the South. The modest prices make it easy to try this unique style of American wine.
Free-spirited Randall Grahm has been a boundary-pushing leader of the California wine scene for three decades, making fun, flavorful, balanced bottles for which he could easily charge triple the money, if only because of the cult following he has built. Prices remain low, though, accessible for every level of wine geek.
For those who love silky, full-bodied California wines, Cline is a must-know winery. The small family producers in Sonoma County deliver wines with a high-end flavor profile and velvety texture, spanning price points, but with more than one selection in the everyday drinking category.
This California winery takes its name and playful label design theme from its neighbor across the street, Soledad State Prison. As pioneer supporters of screw caps and other technological advances that pass savings on to consumers, Big House has been recognized as providing options for people looking for balanced wines for low prices. The wines are marketed as "so good, it's almost criminal," and they're something of a steal.
Hailing from California, Crane Lake produces nearly 20 wines from different grape varieties. The line is distributed internationally and acclaimed for consistency and value. One of the bigger producers, Crane Lake has the ability to make wine in large quantities, which helps keep prices low. It's a go-to for wine professionals and consumers who prioritize quality and balance but have seriously small budgets.
Hailing from the North Fork of Long Island, New York, this biodynamic and organic winery has long pioneered sustainable farming practices -- and represents the best New York state has to offer in wine. Shinn's 100 percent premium wines span every price point, with value and unique wines at every level.
The iconic winery of New York's Finger Lakes, Dr. Konstantin Frank has a reputation for value, freshness, and consistency. The maker is best-known for its aromatic whites -- in particular a Riesling that has won accolades across competitions and wine rating outlets nationwide. As one of the driving forces in the New York wine industry, the Frank family continues to produce wines at prices everyone can enjoy.
With the slogan "It's just wine, drink it," you know this Washington state wine producer doesn't take itself too seriously. What might not be as apparent is the quality and value it offers. Many Charles Smith wines have won best-value and top-100 rankings. In addition to friendly price points, fun and modern labels encourage younger generations of wine drinkers to skip the intimidation and dive right in.