The Wandering Wino Blog

World of Pinot Noir


There are always a lot of wines to choose from, and it can be difficult to know what are suggested purchases without having tasted a wine. Few are willing to spend $30, $50, or more on a wine, hoping it will be money well spent.

Vintages change, picking decisions change, blendings can change, and sometimes even winemakers change. I am fortunate enough to taste many wines each year. Some wines I taste at various events and dinners, some are samples sent to me, while others may be tasted in the tasting room. When I see a wine scores a 95 or a 90, they both communicate one thing to me. These are wines well worth drinking and bringing to the dinner table.

This is my annual post for what I call, "Wines that will blow up your skirt." No scores here. These are simply wines that were in my glass at some point in the past year, and I hope to drink them again. 

I do not include wines like the vintage Grand Cru Bordeaux, or some library vintage, but wines that are (mainly) available and price approachable (many under $45).These are the wines that are well worth buying, drinking, and wines that one would be proud to bring to a party. 

At the end of the day, if it's a great wine, who cares the score. Just drink it!


 An excert from my last years post is worth repeating. "Do you recall the hints of anise, honeydew, or baking spice you tasted in a wine once 6 months ago? In many cases I do not, but I do recall getting really excited about a particular wine. I also get happy when I see bottles I recognize as wines I have really appreciated. Wines that blow up your skirt is about these types of wines, so no tasting notes, just kick butt wines that deserve attention and I hope to be in my glass again!"

I believe in quality to price ratio, meaning, I want my wine to taste like I am stealing a little for the price. My definition of value is pretty simple. Value does not mean low cost, but that the winery could charge more, and the wine would still be considered fairly priced. Not every wine on this list fits in that category, but the vast majority over deliever for the price in my opinion.


2010 Native9 Pinot Noir Rancho Ontiveros Vineyard Santa Maria Valley CA $64

2011 Thomas George Pinot Noir $60

2012 Thralls Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Bucher Vineyard $45 (Mistakenly not included in initial post)

2011 Flowers Sea View Sonoma Coast CA Pinot Noir $70

2011 Bianchi Santa Maria Valley CA Pinot Noir $36

2012 Davis Bynum Pinot Noir Clone 115 Sonoma County Russian River Jane's Vineyard $55 (Mistakenly not included in initial post)  

2012 Koehler Santa Ynez Valley CA Grenache $20

2012 Lafollette Sangiacomo Vineyard CA  Pinot Noir $42

2012 Landmark Santa Maria Valley Solomon Hills Vineyard Pinot Noir $50

2012 Bella Glos Pinot Noir Dairyman

2010 Zaca Mesa "Z cuvee" (Red Rhone Blend) $20 (Winery on my short list consistently offering a very big bang for the buck.)

Jorian Hill Wine

2012 Jorian Hill Rose Ballard Canyon CA $18

2012 Jorian Hill Viognier Ballard Canyon CA $24

2012 Hitching Post Pinot Noir Pence Ranch Santa Ynez Valley CA

2009 Shai Santa Ynez Valley CA "Adomo" (Red Rhone Blend) $35

2012 Lindley Sta Rita Hills CA Pinot Noir

2013 Storm "Steen" Santa Ynez Valley CA $28 (Ernst Storm is gaining more and more well deserved attention) (This wine will make you think and want more.)

2012 Storm Pinot Noir  John Sebastinano Vineyard Sta Rita Hills CA $50 (Mistakenly not included in initial post. Rock star status that should be on a short list.)


Garnet Pinot Noir

2010 Garnet Pinot Noir Roders Creek Vineyard Sonoma Coast $29.99 (Drinks like $55+)

2010 Garnet Pinot Noir Monteray County (This is one of the biggest values on this list) $15

2012 Plan B Cellars Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara Vogelzang Vineyard Grenache $31 (Last vineyard in Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara growing Grenache )

2011 Bianchi Santa Maria Valley Gary Vineyard CA Pinot Noir    

2012 Sunland Vintage Lodi Teradego $34

2012 Four Brix Zinfandel Paso Robles CA

2012 Magnavino Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley CA


Navarro Vinyards

All of these Navarro wines are very modestly priced and sure to over deliver. 

2013 Navarro Anderson Valley CA Gewurztraminer $16.00

2013 Navarro Anderson Valley CA Pinot Blanc   $15 (Sold out)

2013 Navarro Anderson Valley CA Edelzwicker $16  

Palmina Malvasia Bianca

2012 Palmina Santa Barbara County Malvasia Bianca $20 (Drink this with your holiday dinner, or while cooking. This is the drink and do anything but drive kind of wine)

2013 Respite Cabernet Sauvignon Rose Alexander Valley CA $20 (Best Rose of the year)

2012 Adelaida Cellars Pinot Noir HMR Vineyard Paso Robles $40


Grassini Sauv Blanc

2013 Grassini Sauvignon Blanc Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara CA $28

2012 Brewer-Clifton Hapgood Chardonnay $60

2007 Mosby Sagrantino Santa Barbara County CA $28

2011 Mosby Cortese $18.00

Andrew Murray Vineyards

What a line up from Andrew Murray!

2013 Andrew Murray Vineyards Esperance Rose $20

2013 Andrew Murray Vineyards Enchante (White Rhone Blend) $25 (Drinks like $40)

2012 Andrew Murray Vineyards Cinsault $40 (sold out)

2013 Andrew Murray Vineyards  "Tous les Jours" Santa Ynez Valley Syrah $13 (Drinks like $25+)

2012 Andrew Murray Vineyards Watch Hill Syrah $30 (Drinks like $45+) (Sold out)


James River Cellars

2013 James River Cellars VA Gewurtztraminer $20

Grace estate

2012 Grace Estate Winery VA Cabernet Franc $23 (Drinks like $45+)

Veritas Viognier

2013 Veritas Viognier Monticello VA $24 (Small addition of Peite Manseng makes this one all the more interesting)

2010 Stolpman Vineyards Roussanne "L'Avion" Ballard Canyon CA $38 (I think about this wine a lot. Mainly wishing I was drinking it.)

Kaena Grenache Larner

2012 Kaena Grenache Tierra Alta / Larner Vineyard Ballard Canyon, CA (A Santa Barbara County's producer who focuses on Grenache, and very well.)

2010 Larner Grenache Ballard Canyon CA $40 (Look for wines from this vineyard, as some would consider thier fruit amongst the best)


2011 MacPhail Pinot Noir Sundawg Ridge Vineyard Anderson Valley CA $49

2011 MacPhail Pinot Noir Tourlouse Vineyard Anderson Valley CA $49

2011 MacPhail Pinot Noir Pratt Anderson Valley CA $49

Tooth & Nail

2011 Amor Fati Santa Maria Valley Syrah (I think I said "wow" several times while consuming)

2010 Amor Fati Santa Maria Valley Grenache 

2011Tooth & Nail Fragrant Snare (White blend) (Fun easy drinking wine that would please many.)

2011 Forces of Nature Tempranillo

2012 Forces of Nature Chardonnay

2012 Forces of Nature Zinfandel

Starlane Cabernet

BARREL SAMPLE: 2013 Starlane Cabernet ******(Watch this wine score BIG and bring lots of "Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara" attention)******This might just change everything for the better of Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara.  I believe it is that significant. 

2013 Starlane Sauvignon Blanc Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara $22

Two Shepherds Wine

The Two Shepherds wines are consistent standouts.

2012 Two Shepherds Trouseau Gris (Orange wine) Russian River, CA (Sold out)

2011 Two Shepherds Syrah/Mourvedre Russian River CA (Sold out)

2013 Breaux Vineyards Viognier VA

Hosmer Winery Finger Lakes Riesling

2013 Hosmer Winery Finger Lakes NY Riesling $15 

2011 RN Estate Pinot Noir Solomon Hills Santa Maria Valley CA

2012 Domaine de la Côte Pinot Noir Sta Rita Hills Wenzlau Vineyard (Mistakenly not included in initial post)

Big Basin Lester Pinot Noir

2011 Big Basin Lester Family Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir $44 (Buy it!) 

Brain and Baker

2011 Baker & Brain "Pendulum" Syrah/Grenache Monterey County CA $35 (Lots of value)

Ryan Cochrane Pinot Noir

2012 Ryan Cochrane Pinot Noir Solomon Hills Santa Maria Valley CA $43 (Keep an eye on this winemaker)

Beckmen Ballard Canyon

These three Beckmen wines are standouts in a sea of wines.

2011 Beckmen Syrah Purisma Mountain Ballard Canyon CA $48

2012 Beckmen Syrah Purisma Mountain Ballard Canyon CA $48

2012 Grenache Purisma Mountain Ballard Canyon CA $30

Malibu Family Wines

2009 Semler Grenache Malibu CA $30ish (You won't believe this kind of wine is coming out of a very young Malibu AVA)

Ghost Hill Pinot Blanc Willamette Valley OR $25 (Lots of people were talking about this at World of Pinot Noir)

2012 La Fenentre Riesling $20

2012 Tatomer Kick On Ranch (Los Alamos/Santa Barbara County CA) Riesling $25 (Likely last meal wine for many)

2010 Buttonwood Santa Ynez Valley (Los Olivos District AVA to be) CA Cabernet Franc $26 (Organic vines offering some of the best wine values) 


Zotovich Syrah

2011 Zotovich Estate Syrah Sta Rita Hills CA

Zotovich Viognier

2013 Zotovich Viognier Sta Rita Hills CA

2011 Zotovitch Pinot Noir Sta Rita Hills CA

Liquid Farm White Hill

2012 Liquid Farm White Hill Chardonnay Sta Rita Hills CA $40

2012 Hillard Bruce Pinot Noir Sta Rita Hills CA $40 (taste/get the line up)

Siduri Pinot Noir

2011 Siduri Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Sonatera Vineyard CA (Holy Crap Good!)

2012 Siduri Sierra Mar Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands


Magnolia Court Merlot

2012 Magnolia Court Merlot Paso Robles CA $14 (Take notice the low price, big value)

2011 Saarloos & Sons "1950 5 Year Anniversary" Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon Ballard Canyon CA (Almost sold out. I had this with smoked brisket burnt ends)

2012 Saarloos & Sons "Wife" Granache Blanc Ballard Canyon CA $42 (All wines have a good story and seem to keep getting better.)

J Wrigley Reisling

J Wrigley Vineyards Riesling Willamette Valley McMinnville OR $20 (Limited vines planted for a very special family member.) 

J Wrigley Vineyards Pinot Noir Willamette Valley McMinnville OR $45

Crawford Family Wines

2012 Crawford Family Wines Chardonnay "Tin Roof" Sta Rita Hills CA (Single best wine I tasted at a wine event.)

2012 Crawford Family Wines Pinot Noir Sta Rita Hills Zotovich Vineyard CA (This Zotovich vineyard seems to be a theme among many great wines.)

J Vineyards Sparkling

J Vineyards Healdsburg CA Rose Bubbles $38

2012 Zinke Grenache Thompson Vineyard Santa Barbara County $25ish


2009 Qupe Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley CA $40

2009 Qupe Roussanne Bien Nacido Santa Maria Valley CA $40


2012 Archium Cellars Rose Santa Barbara County $20 (sold out)

2012 Archium Cellars "Haven" Grenache Stolpman Vineyard Ballard Canyon CA $42 (Unbelieveable how these two small production winemakers are doing such great wines so quickly.) 


2012 J WIlkes Pinot Blanc Santa Maria Valley $15 (Great value)

2012 Talley Vineyards Chardonnay Arroyo Grande CA (I have not tasted the lasted Pinot Noirs, but typically highly suggested.)


2012 Ampelos Cellars Pinot Noir Sta Rita Hills CA $35ish

2010 Ampelos Cellars Syrah Sta Rita Hills CA

2013 Ampelos Cellars Viognier Sta Rita Hills CA $25


2009 Tercero Wines Syrah Ballard Canyon Larner Vineyard CA $35ish

2013 Tercero Wines Mourvedre Rose $25

2013 Tercero Wines Verbiage Blanc (Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Viognier) $25


Turiya Petite Verdot

2009 Turiya Petite Verdot Santa Barbara County $85 (Very easy apporachable). 

Hyland Estates

2012 Hyland Estates Gewurtraminer Willamette Valley OR $25

2011 Hyland Estates Pinot Noir Willamette Valley OR

2012 Hyland Estates Pinot Noir "Corey" Willamette Valley OR $60

Jamie Sloan WInes

Recently tasted these Jamie Sloan wines at Santa Barbara County's Celebration of Harvest and a highly suggested line up of wines.

2013 Jamie Sloan Sauvignon Blanc Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara CA $28

2012 Jamie Sloan Chardonnay "Aloysius" Santa Maria Valley Sierra Madre Vineyard $47 

2012 Jamie Sloan Pinot Noir Sta Rita Hills CA $49

2012 Presquile Santa Maria Valley CA Sauvignon Blanc $22 (This winemakers wines are on a short list of Santa Barbara County wines to seek.)

Cebada Pinot Noir

2011 Cebada Chardonnay Santa Ynez Valley $39 (The vineyard is so close to the Sta Rita Hills border, you can toss a rock across it from this "Santa Ynez Valley" vineyard.)

2011 Cebada Pinot Noir  Santa Ynez Valley $42 (Drinks like $55+)

Lamoreaux Landing Riesling

2012 Lamoreaux Landing Finger Lakes Riesling $19.99

Gypsy Canyon

2012 Gypsy Canyo "Trois" Pinot Noir $95 

Center of Effort

2009 Center of Effort Chardonnay Edna Valley $30 (Drinks like $45+)

Solomon Hills Chardonnay

2012 Solomon Hills Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley $45ish (A real standout among many other great wines)

Au Bon Climat Chardonnay

2011 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay "Pioneering" Santa Maria Valley CA $35

2010 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley CA $35ish

Ramey Chardonnay

2011 Ramey Chardonnay Sonoma Coast Platt Vineyard 1.5 liter $125 or 3.0 liter $300

Saude Creek Vineyards

2013 Saude Creek vineyards Traminette VA (Pair this with sushi or Tai seafood)

Roark Wine Company

Roark Wine Company "Craigslist Cuvee #2" Red Table Wine $15ish (sadly sold out, but check him out, as his wines tend to over deliever in value.)


2012 Transcendence Chardonnay Sta Rita Hills Rancho Santa Rosa Vineyard CA $34

2012 Transcendence "Parea" (Red Rhone Blend) Central Coast CA $34 (They could be charging more and it would be well worth it.)


Sanford Pinot Noir

2012 Sanford Pinot Noir Sta Rita Hills Sanford & Benedict Vineyard CA

Stoller Pinot Noir

2010 Stoller Reserve Pinot Noir Willamette Valley OR 

Bella Glos Pinot Noir

.2012 Belle Glos Russian River Pinot Noir "Dairiyman" 

True Myth Edna Valley

2012 True Myth Edna Valley Chardonnay (This is that perfect restaurant wine by the glass, low cost and styled to please a wide range of Chardonnay drinkers)

Fulkerson Reisling

2012 Fulkerson Estate Semi-Dry Riesling Finger Lakes NY 

Ken Volk

2009 Kenneth Volk Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley Bien Nacido Vineyards CA 

The Ojai Vineyard Grenache

2011 The Ojai Vineyard Grenache John Sebastiano Vineyard Santa Barbara County CA 

2008 The Ojai Vineyard Syrah Whitehawk Vineyard Santa Barbara County

Fig Mtn Beer

Above photo provided by Figueroa Mountain (All others taken by Shawn Burgert and copyright protected) 

Many wine drinkers are also beer drinkers. There are few things more satisfing at the end of a day of wine drinking than a cold beer. This stellar Figeroua Mountain brew from Santa Barbara County, well, it reminds me of the old American muscle car classic, the El Camino. This beer is infused with Sauvignon Blanc must. So we have a beer with wine influnces and this reminds me of the El Camino. Is it a car, or is it a truck, it's an El Camino. This beer delivers and I could not resist including it to cap off your day of wine drinking.

Figueroa Mountain Brewery "Biere De Menage" 22 ounce bottle $13