The joy of opening that special bottle, one which has been saved for just the right occasion, is always wonderful. America produces some of the world's best wines, and it is not hard to find something which will fit a celebratory mood (check out our Sparkling Wine collection if you need some ideas!). However, wine isn’t only for celebrations and special occasions. Wine is for everyday life; to enjoy with friends, weekday dinners, even in the bath. Getting a bottle you know you are going to love, but that won't break the bank, can be a challenge. Luckily, there are some incredible US producers who are working hard to bring outstanding and affordable options to the market, so we can enjoy American wines in the same fashion as we do European - with abandon and abundance!
Here we have curated a list of 5 amazing American wines which are all under £20.
Varner Wine’s Foxglove Chardonnay
Coming from the Southern Central Coast of California, Varner wines have a strong emphasis on low-intervention practices. This means the focus of their process is on the grapes and vineyards’ characteristics. The Foxglove Chardonnay is no exception - the lack of oak allows the citrusy and peachy fruits to really shine though. They are accompanied by honeysuckle, a touch of pineapple and vibrant, refreshing acidity. The grapes come from vineyards in Santa Barbara County (97%) and Paso Robles (3%), all above 630ft up, with beautiful sandy loam soil. This environment is perfect for growing expressive and well ripened Chardonnay grapes - so no wonder the producers at Varner want to focus on them!
Food Pairing: This Chardonnay is very fruity and fresh; we love it with all things fish - think cakes, pie or pasta! Add in a slice of lemon and a fresh salad for a great summer lunch.
Shop Varner Wine’s Foxglove Chardonnay now, £18.
Scotto Family’s Grace Bridge Pinot Noir
The Scotto Family have been in the wine business for 5 generations now, with Salvatore Dominic Scotto producing the family's first wines in Italy in 1883. His son, Dominic, moved to Brooklyn in 1903, where he sold homemade wine from a horse-drawn cart. The first Californian harvest was in 1963 (props for making it through prohibition!). It is still a family owned and managed wine producing company, and the expertise really shows. Their Pinot (blended with 3% each Syrah and Alicante Bouschet) is sourced from the Pinot-friendly cooler vineyard sites in Monterey and Sonoma. A lighter style than many Californian wines, it is full of classic fresh raspberry and red-fruit characters with a hint of spice from a short time in large oak barrels.
Food Pairing: This lighter, slightly spiced Pinot will go very well with a chicken and mushroom pie or pasta dish.
Shop Scotto Family’s Grace Bridge Pinot Noir now, £12
Pine Ridge’s Clarksburg Chenin Viognier
Gary Andrus founded Pine Ridge Vineyards in 1978, and today the winery owns estate vineyards in five Napa Valley nested AVAs: Stags Leap District, Howell Mountain, Oakville, Rutherford, and Carneros. Because of this, their Chenin Viognier blend is one of the few wines in the category which can claim Napa Valley AVA status. The chenin (around 3/4 of the blend) is picked early for freshness, while the Viognier is left a little longer on the vine and contributes richness and a touch of weight. A rare blend which produces a wine that is both sophisticated and easy to enjoy. Creamy and fruity, it's perfect as a classy aperitif.
Food Pairing: One to get out before the meal hits the table - it works very well with pre-dinner conversation and nibbles. If you want it to see you through the night though, light dishes are your friend: crab cakes or quinoa and pea salad are the winemakers recommendations.
Shop Pine Ridge’s Clarksburg Chenin Viognier now, £18
Poppy Paso Robles Cabernet
Poppy’s Cab Sauv is grown in a family owned vineyard in Paso Robles; those in the know will get very excited by this location. It still represents excellent value, and this wine from Poppy certainly punches above its weight. It's rich and extracted, bold and deep, a wine for lovers of big reds. It's far from sweet and sappy though, the fruit is fresh and accurate, making this a textbook and highly accomplished wine. If you know what you like, this wine will tick all the right boxes for you.
Food Pairing: Enjoy this wine right now with savoury meats like roasted lamb or braised short ribs, or it would be perfect with a hearty winter casserole, or to relax with on a Sunday evening
Shop Poppy Paso Robles Cabernet now, £16
Gnarly Head’s Old Vine Zinfandel
Gnarly Head's Old Vine Zinfandel is made using hand-selected grapes sourced from some of the oldest vines in California; in the Mokelumne River area of Lodi. Lodi has an ideal climate for growing exceptional grapes – warm summer days and cool nighttime breezes from the ocean, in addition to sandy, well-draining soil. This gives an intense and full-flavoured wine, with a core of rich, jammy blackberries and mocha flavours with layers of spice and vanilla balanced by complex French and American oak toast.
Food Pairing: Try pairing this bold wine with braised short ribs, chicken enchiladas or dark chocolate.
Shop Gnarly Head’s Old Vine Zinfandel now, £16