In this series, The Conscientious Consumer in Quarantine, I’m going to point to some of my favorite producers, wineries that are owned by individuals human beings, human beings who use their wineries to employ other people and feed their families, human beings whom I would encourage you to support with your patronage. Wineries make money primarily in two ways, namely by selling wine and by having visitors. Both of those revenue streams are being deeply slashed during the Covid 19 pandemic, as restaurants are closing and, in many if not most instances, tasting rooms have been asked to close down for the time being to help stop the spread of the disease. The following wines are wines I encourage you to purchase online to help support these small producers so that, when this is all over, they will still be there for all of us to visit.
Sparkling wine is probably most often thought of as a compliment to celebration, and perhaps rightfully so. Good sparkling wine is light and playful and, well, just fun. Having said that, it’s also serious wine, and the difference between good bubbles and bad is pronounced, as many of you have surely experienced. As the first full month of quarantine draws to a close, I think about all of the milestones, the birthdays, the anniversaries, the graduations, and more that either will happen or already have happened via Zoom, and in thinking about those celebrations, I wanted to share a few wine recommendations from a few of my favorite small producers. Raise these glasses of bubbly in honor of your upcoming accomplishments knowing that by purchasing them you’ve helped a great little winery stay in business!
Frank Family Vineyards Brut Rosé — $55
I got to sit down with winemaker Todd Graff a few summers ago for a piece I did on the 25th anniversary of this fantastic little winery, and boy was it a lot of fun! Todd is a neat guy, a very talented winemaker, and he has a passion for sparkling wine. It comes out in this, and all, of FFV’s excellent sparklers. Visit frankfamilyvineyards.com to acquire these beautiful bubbles.
John Anthony Vineyards “La Dame Michele” Blanc de Blancs — $55
John Anthony is another one of my favorite little producers, and if you’re ever in downtown Napa their tasting room is an absolute must-visit. While I love their reds, this sparkling wine has long stood out to my friends and I. Light, playful, complicated, it’s a tribute to the quality and diversity of wines coming from this producer, and why I like them so much. You can get it at johnanthonyvineyards.com.
Mayo Family Winery “Laurel Hill Vineyard” Blanc de Blancs — $40
Sonja and I visited Mayo Family Winery on our honeymoon. While we’re in love with their Barbera and their Cab Sauv, the last time we were there this sparkler really jumped out at us — and not just for the really sexy label (though you have to admit, it’s pretty great). This wine checks all the boxes and then some, is reasonably priced, and is produced by a small family-owned winery in Sonoma. What’s not to love? Get it at mayofamilywinery.com.
Meadowcroft Blanc de Blancs — $34
I feel like every time I write one of these, I’m gushing about my friend Tom Meadowcroft. It’s not my fault I love great wine, and not his fault that he makes so much of it… or maybe it is? Well, regardless of fault, Tom makes great wine, and this sparkler, a relatively new offering from Tom, has fast become one of Sonja and my favorites. Trust us on this one. You can get it at meadowcroftwines.com.
Monticello “Montreaux” Brut — $50
This wine totally caught Sonja, I, and a couple friends off guard last spring in Napa. True “Champagne” style from start to finish, we had gone there in search of their killer Cabs and Pinots, but left as huge fans of these beautiful bubbles as well. Get it at corleyfamilynapavalley.com. You won’t regret it!
Robledo Family Winery “Cuvee Brut” — $45
Robledo is another Sonoma producer that Sonja and I first became acquainted with on our honeymoon, and we’ve been huge fans ever since. This age-worthy sparkling wine is one we like to keep on hand in the house, though admittedly we’re out at the moment. You, like us, can order (more) at robledofamilywinery.com.
Schramsberg Brut Rosé — $47
While I listed them in alphabetical order, one could argue that I saved the best for last. While all of these producers are amazing, when it comes to sparkling wine no American producers has more experience or history than this one. Schramsberg is the second oldest winery in the Napa Valley, and their profound focus on Sparkling wines — though they also produce some very nice Cabernets and Pinot Noirs under the J. Davies label, is part of what makes them special. Their caves are very worthy of a visit the next time you have the opportunity, but until then I recommend this wine — and all of their others, which you can purchase at schramsberg.com.
There you have it — an opportunity to support some great little wine producers as you prepare your celebrations for the month of May and beyond. These sparkling wines are all excellent, and while you’re shopping I’d suggest you check out their red, white, and rosé offerings as well. You can’t go wrong with these guys, and you’ll be helping them stay in business during a difficult time, which is important as well. As always, thanks so much for reading, have a wonderful weekend, and have a terrific start to May!