These days, I don’t find much time to stop and rest while chasing down the next best thing in wine, juggling vintages and traveling to the corners of the globe all in search of great wine. It’s always a thrill, traveling to the greatest wine producing regions of the world and building lifelong relationships with the premier winemakers across the world.
It felt like I’d just returned from my trip to France as I was boarding a plane with a group of Heinen’s Wine Consultants bound for California wine country. There are few places in the country like Napa and Sonoma, and truly no better place for seeking out and building relationships with the country’s top winemakers and vineyards. These relationships with winemakers allow us to consistently deliver the best wine and wine values to you.
During our stay, we focused almost exclusively on tasting chardonnay, cabernet, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc and zinfandel. I have to say, we found some of the best quality wines that I’ve come across during my travels. Our vendor and winery partners understand what we’re after and consistently deliver the best of the best for our customers!
Of course, tasting wine is a big part of these trips and it’s always great to have a group of experienced wine professionals to weigh in on the decision making. We easily tasted over 200 wines from everyday wines that sell for around $8 to as much as $200 or more, and everything in between.
After all of our tasting we pared those down to a selection of 15-20 wines that we felt offered both the absolute best quality AND great value.
So many of our visits along the way deserve recognition, in fact all of them do, but our visit to one of our Vineyard Partner Wineries at Alexander Valley Vineyards stands out. The owner, Hank Wetzl, and his family were incredibly welcoming to us and even hosted a dinner for us in their back yard! They are incredibly wholesome and down to earth people. Hank has just about as much fun raising chickens and growing lettuce on the property as he does growing grapes. He even has a stand at a local farmers market every week, where does he find the time to do that? He’s just that kind of guy.
Much like Heinen’s, family and quality have been and continue to be the core values driving Alexander Valley Vineyards. As one of the premier wineries in Sonoma County we’re proud to have them as one of our premier Vineyard Partners.
Another standout winery is Schug Carneros Estate. We actually visited this incredible winery a few years ago on one of our previous trips. The Schug wine portfolio is a superb representation of quality and value. It’s very difficult to purchase a bottle of wine that delivers such a true representation of each varietal at the great prices the winery has allowed us to pass on to you.
It’s no coincidence that both of these wineries have tight knit families leading their businesses. We think they’re a perfect match for us at Heinen’s, and for all of our customers looking to enjoy the experience of great families making great wine.
In terms of overall winemaking from the region, I’m happy to report that 2015 appears to be shaping up to be another tremendous year for California following suit in 2012,2013 and 2014. A great 2015 will give California wines 4 consecutive years of exceptional quality and volume. While most of California is battling one of the most serious droughts on record, grapevines continue to thrive as they don’t require very much water to produce fruit. Although nothing is guaranteed, it looks as though the major wine producing areas of California will be in fair shape for at least the next few growing seasons.