Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Cheapskate Wine Taster: Free and Cheap Wine Tasting in California's Wine Countries

Time to make a new list. Those of you who know me well know I don't like to throw money away. Maybe 'Cheap' is not quite the right term.  I just like to get my money's worth.

For example, I might think $12 is way too much for a mediocre burger and fries but I don't have a problem spending into the three digits for a spectacularly prepared lunch like we might get at Taste up in the Amador wine country.

That's how it is with California wine tasting...I don't really have a problem with a winery that charges me a small fee, say $5 dollars or so, to taste wine as long as they let me apply it to my purchase.  I do have a problem with the many wineries in this state now charging $15, $20, $25 or more to have just the slightest taste of their product and then have the audacity to tell me I can't apply that to my purchase. 

I've been ranting on that particular subject for years.  Now it's time to fight back.

Lets celebrate the wineries in this state that are not trying to rip you off.  Here's a list that I hope to keep growing of vintners and dealers in the Golden State where you can still taste for free or a token 'money back when you buy' fee.

And, finally, be a good wine these great wineries, and their friendly tasting policies, by buying a bottle or more while you're there.

CUCAMONGA VALLEY (about 40 miles east of Los Angeles)

Galleano Winery, Mira Loma - My favorite Southern California winery. Great wines and a refundable $5 fee for five tastes.  You are free to share, too. Bring a picnic, borrow a couple of glasses and enjoy an al fresco lunch with a great bottle of wine at their lovely, historic, and relaxing picnic area.

Joseph Filippi, Rancho Cucamonga - Same as above. $5 refundable fee for five tastes. Not quite as nice to visit as the Galleano folks but still an historic winery in an area where they hang on by a thread.


San Antonio Winery, Los Angeles (with branches in Ontario and Paso Robles) - Free for the day's three tastings. More for artisinal wines.


Bogle, Clarksburg - Beautiful winery with some outstanding wines. Another great picnic destination in the Sacramento River delta. Free tasting.

Delicato, Manteca - Large winery right next to Highway 99, can't miss it. Free.

Michael David, Lodi - $5 for five tastes, applicable to purchase.


Heitz Cellar, St. Helena - Free.

Mason Cellars, Napa - Lower priced Napa Valley wines and free tasting.

Sutter Home, St. Helena - Bargain label run by the Trinchero family in the heart of the valley. Free, extra charge for library wines.

Vincent Arroyo Windery, Calistoga - Free tasting for parties of 4 or less.


Amador 360, Plymouth - a wine collective, featuring local wines from winemakers too small to have tasting rooms. $5 tasting fee, refundable.

Drytown Cellars, Drytown - Small winery with very good wines and two friendly, the other sometimes grumpy (unfortunately, grumpy dog has passed - Ed). Free

Renwood, Plymouth - is probably the best known of the wineries up here. $5 for five tastes, applicable to purchase.

Sobon/ Shenandoah Wineries, Plymouth - Two wineries, one tasting. Sobon is also the oldest, continuously operating winery in the state.

Story Winery, Plymouth - Our favorite winery in the world. Awesome wines, best picnic area anywhere, great and friendly staff. $5, applicable to purchase.

STATEWIDE (and beyond)

Total Wine and More stores offer weekly wine tastings. There's a catch, there's a fee and you can't apply it to your purchase but it's only a penny.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

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