Made in America: 20 Wineries Selling 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 will to produce excellent wine has paid off. From as far south and east as North Carolina to Washington state in the Northwest, the country is now home to many delicious, affordable wines. While prices vary by location, wines from all of these producers can easily be found for less than $20 and many under $10 a bottle.
This winery on the South Fork of New York's Long Island churns out delicious wines across a wide array of grape varieties. Alongside higher end wines, Channing Daughters offers a selection of affordable, everyday wines that stand as a good example of what Long Island is capable of producing as a wine region. Its commitment to sustainability is something consumers can feel good about supporting.
Montinore Estate 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 expressive 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 around the same price from any country.
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.
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 wine 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 widely 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 Mill 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 slightly sweet, which make them perfect for pairing with rich food from 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 on 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. Bonny Doon's prices remain low, though, and accessible for every level of wine geek.
At Union Wine Co. in Tualatin, 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.
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 Estate's 100 percent premium wines span a range of prices, with unique wines and good value at every level.
Crane Lake Cellars, part of the Bronco Wine Co., produces nearly 20 wines from different grape varieties. The California 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.
With a history that stretches back to 1965, Barefoot Cellars has had an easygoing attitude toward wine for over 50 years. It offers inexpensive California wines across genres but is best known for sweet and semisweet sparkling wines. The wines, like the owners, aren't overly serious and are exceptionally popular and affordable.
An iconic winery in New York's Finger Lakes region, Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars 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 low prices, fun and modern labels encourage younger generations of wine drinkers to skip the intimidation and dive right in.
Located on the South Fork of Long Island, the sprawling Wölffer Estate Vineyard produces some of the best wine in New York state for storage and aging. The winery makes a variety of labels that appeal to all budgets, including a range of entry-level wines in various styles for under $15. Wölffer is known for fresh and lively summer whites and rosés, which have won numerous awards throughout the years for drinkability and wide appeal.
Paumanok Vineyards is one of the premier wine producers on New York's Long Island, having won numerous awards. Its wines also consistently score well in competitions judged by consumers and critics. The vineyard makes wine in a range of styles with plenty of bottles selling for under $20.
Gruet has earned a reputation for producing some of the best inexpensive sparkling wines in the United States. The winery is located in New Mexico, which actually provides growing conditions favorable to grapes used for bubbly wines. Gruet's wines cost around $15 or less and have become a staple across the country.
Thirsty Owl is situated in New York's Finger Lakes region, which has quickly become a top wine region within the country. Its focus is on riesling, and the vintner is a consistent prize winner offering a line of inexpensive entry-level wines that capture the terroir of the region.
Cannonball is located in Sonoma County, California, sometimes considered Napa County's little sibling. Wine experts, however, often prefer Sonoma wines to the ones from Napa. Cannonball is true to the style of the region, producing rich reds that are full and elegant for under $20.