Sonoma County is made up of diverse landscapes, elevations and microclimates. This makes it the perfect place to produce a number of exceptional, varied wines, with excellent bottles at a fraction of the price of their more famous neighbors to the east. Here is a list of recommended selections from around Sonoma County that can all be enjoyed for under $20, whether you’re looking for white, red, rosé or sparkling.
Ferrari-Carano 2015 Fumé Blanc (Sonoma County); $14, 90 points. With searing, upfront acidity, this wine takes on a briny character that accents the high-toned lemon zest and melon notes on the palate. Aged only in old French oak and stainless steel, its fruit remains fresh and unencumbered through the finish. Best Buy. —V.B.
Amici 2014 Olema Chardonnay (Sonoma County); $15, 90 points. This white is a study in unexpected complexity and pleasure. Quince, sulfur and grapefruit notes define it best, as supple minerality and gravelly texture provide dimensionality. Best Buy. —V.B.
Cannonball 2015 Sauvignon Blanc (Sonoma County); $15, 90 points. A steal for its price, this wine is refreshingly quaffable, with a sublimely textured palate of preserved lemon and nectarine. It’s both lush and surprisingly complex. Best Buy. —V.B.
Sivas-Sonoma 2015 Sauvignon Blanc (Sonoma County); $17, 90 points. Integrated acidity and ripeness allow for a Good & Plenty licorice-like note, accenting the fresh apricot and white peach flavors in this lovely, easygoing sipper. —V.B.
Noble Tree 2014 Chalk Hill Estate Chardonnay (Chalk Hill); $18, 90 points. Medium-bodied and tightly integrated in terms of oak, this wine imparts favorable anise and pear characteristics, with a lively spritz to the acidity that provides freshness. —V.B.
Simi 2015 Chardonnay (Sonoma County); $19, 90 points. This offers great value for the quality, a mix of salty brine, stone and caramel apple that delves into more voluptuous dabs of pineapple. Light-bodied and food-friendly, it shows focused acidity and restrained oak. —V.B.
Kirkland Signature 2014 Signature Series Chardonnay (Russian River Valley); $13, 88 points. Ripe and tropical in pineapple, papaya and guava, this is a medium-bodied style of the variety, lightly oaked, which shows tart lemon on the finish and a lingering accent of anise. It is a screaming deal for the price. —V.B.
Folie à Deux 2015 Pinot Gris (Sonoma Coast); $18, 88 points. This wine has a touch of perceptible sweetness on its tropical nose, yet tastes dry, showing a straightforward approach to this crisp, coastal-grown variety. Apricot, melon and guava wrap around a lightness of body and texture. —V.B.
Taken Wine Co. 2015 Complicated Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast); $18, 88 points. Stylistically focused in its clear embrace of fruit and cool-climate acidity, this balanced white is honeysuckle-inflected, with steely pear and orange blossom elements, unfettered by oak. —V.B.
Kenwood 2015 Chardonnay (Sonoma County); $13, 87 points. Rounded and likable, this is a bang-up deal for a wine of fine quality, textured, light and fruity in stone fruit and pineapple. —Virginie Boone
Alexander Valley Vineyards 2014 Wetzel Family Estate Grown and Bottled Syrah (Alexander Valley); $20, 91 points. This affordable wine offers tangy oak and tannin along with vibrant red fruit. Leather and juicy black plum add to its soft layers of flavor. —V.B.
Picket Fence 2014 Top Rail Red (Sonoma County); $16, 88 points. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec is a steal, offering a robust touch of char on the front end aromatically before unleashing bright red fruit and soft tannin. Ultimately light bodied, it retains just the right amount of grippy tannin to give it some bite. Editors’ Choice. —V.B.
Owl Ridge 2012 Tyto Red (Alexander Valley); $18, 88 points. Soft, layered and reasonably complex, this red blend showcases juicy black cherry, cassis and a wealth of dried herb. A good value for the quality, it’ll serve a gathering well, or do its job as a weekday wine. —V.B.
Highway 12 2014 SRB Red (Sonoma County); $19, 88 points. This is a fun, flavorful blend of 63% Merlot, 14% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot and 4% Malbec. Soft, juicy red fruit meets sizable tannin and leathery oak laced in vanilla. —V.B.
Goyette 2014 Pinot Noir (Sonoma County); $20, 88 points. This is a light, delicately crafted and affordable offering of the variety, a good value for the quality, that delivers nuanced layers of raspberry, strawberry and rose petal. —V.B.
Camp 2015 Zinfandel (Sonoma County); $18, 87 points. A youthful, light-bodied and exuberant expression of the variety, this shows raspberry, vanilla and currant flavors, with a tangy tartness of citrus on the palate. Oaky tannin comes through on the finish. —V.B.
Burnside Road 2014 Zinfandel (Sonoma County); $18, 87 points. This leathery, full-bodied red is rich with blueberry cobbler, coffee and smoked meat flavors. Soft and round in structure, it tastes robustly varietal. —V.B.
Toad Hollow 2016 Eye of the Toad Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir (Sonoma County); $14, 90 points. Candied cherry and tangerine are welcome flavors in this crisp, dry and exceptionally light and easy-drinking wine. It’s bright and long-lasting in refreshment. Best Buy. —V.B.
K Squared Cellars 2016 Rosé (Russian River Valley); $18, 90 points. Fermented in stainless steel barrels, this wine is a vibrant red hue, with strong dried cherry, cranberry and orange aromas. Full-bodied and concentrated, it’s a dry and substantial rosé. —V.B.
Korbel 2013 Natural Sparkling (Russian River Valley); $16, 88 points. This is a voluptuous sparkling blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay that is made methode Champenoise. Spritzy on the palate with a freshness of acidity, it offers a balanced blend of green apple and strawberry. —V.B.
Last Updated: May 4, 2023