7 Sips: Local Summer Wines Under $20

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7 local Bay Area wines under $20. Photo: Andrea Kissack

Hot summer nights may be few and far between in San Francisco, but for the rest of us the thermostat is still rising.

And for the wine lovers among us that means cooling down with crisp, lightly chilled, refreshing wines. Even folks living in the foggy city, still sipping Malbec in the middle of summer, might want to think about an easy drinking white, or dry rose, to bring to the beach or the next East Bay BBQ.

There are so many good summer wines but not to overwhelm, here are 7 that caught my fancy this summer. You can sip them by the pool (um, not allowed at city pools), drink with a summer salad or pair with foods hot off the grill. You should also be able to find these wines without having to make a trip to the winery. Have a favorite local summer wine? Tell us.

Eight Arm Cellars, The Argonaut. 2012 North Coast Sauvignon Blanc, $13.50. Photo: Andrea KissackEight Arm Cellars, The Argonaut. 2012 North Coast Sauvignon Blanc, $13.50
Berkeley winemaker Ian Boltin is back with his lush summer white. He has sourced 97 percent Sauvignon Blanc from Suisan Valley but it’s the 3 percent Viognier from Capay Valley that really makes for the big, spicy mouth feel. This bold, acidic white would go well with cheese and would stand up to a spicy dish, as well. Or, just drink some Argonaut by itself when the temps are edging upward. Boltin makes a very good Syrah as well.


Find it: The Wine Mine, Oakland

Honig, 2012 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, $17. Photo: Andrea KissackHonig, 2012 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, $17
Honig has been consistent in making one of the better California Sauvignon Blancs. Even folks who are not a fan of the varietal often come around after tasting this fresh crisp white. I know I did. Honig’s Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc is far from the brash, overly grassy New Zealand style. It has just the right amount of herbaceousness, tropical fruit flavors and minerality. If you want to splurge, their 2012 Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc, for $27, is excellent.

Find it: Most grocery stores

Bokisch, Lodi Garnacha Blanca. $14.99. Photo: Andrea KissackBokisch, Lodi Garnacha Blanca. $14.99
Let's give Lodi some love. The small Sierra foothills wine region is overshadowed by its bigger wine country neighbors, Napa and Sonoma, to the west. But Lodi still grows, and makes, some pretty darn good wine, especially Zinfandel. Now more folks are branching out into Spanish varietals like Markus Bokish who is getting a lot of accolades for his wines. This medium-bodied Spanish white has lots of acidity and stone fruit flavors. Its a nice refreshing wine that shouts summertime.

Find it: Wine on Piedmont, Oakland

Dashe, 2012 Dry Creek Valley Rose. $19.99Dashe, 2012 Dry Creek Valley Rose. $19.99 The Jack London waterfront district is home to several urban cellars, including Dashe. Michael and Anne Dashe have been sourcing Sonoma grapes and making exceptional wines since 1996. Their Vin Gris (rosé) is dry with some minerality, spice and strawberry flavors. This is a rosé that a white or red wine drinker would like.

Find It: Bi Rite, San Francisco

Robert Mondavi Winery, 2011 Napa Valley Fume Blanc $20Robert Mondavi Winery, 2011 Napa Valley Fume Blanc $20
This dry fume Blanc is fresh and citrusy and would go well with warm temps, seafood or a spicy dish. Also, its not bad for a birthday toast. Robert Mondavi, the man whose name is synonymous with American wine, would have turned 100 this year. This is the wine he famously “invented.” In the late 1960s, California’s Sauvignon Blanc wines were seen as sweet and unexceptional. Mondavi wanted to make high quality Sauvignon Blanc in the French-style, but with the name’s bad reputation, he instead created Fumé Blanc.

Find it: Most grocery stores

Pietra Santa Winery, Sacred Stone. Red Blend. $10Pietra Santa Winery, Sacred Stone. Red Blend. $10
This light, Italian red blend from Hollister drinks well in the heat and the folks at the winery suggest pairing it with a grilled tri-tip sandwich. It's surprisingly lush and crisp for ten bucks. Expect red cherry flavor and a little acidity and spice. This wine gets bonus points for having a drawing of nearby Pinnacles National Park on the label.

Find it: The Wine Mine, Oakland

Rodney Strong, Charlotte’s Home. 2012 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc. $12Rodney Strong, Charlotte's Home. 2012 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc. $12
This is estate grown Sauvignon Blanc from Alexander Valley. It's aromatic (smells pretty) and is dry with flavors of pear and melon, at least that's what i get. Charlotte's Home isn't my favorite on this list but its a nice, reliable, affordable wine. It's one of those go-to summer whites that's easier to find than the foods it pairs well with like heirloom tomatoes and Burrata cheese.

Find it: Trader Joes