Kitchen sink wines can be a fascinating bunch. Winemakers tend to love making them since it engages their creative side, consumers love them since they’re generally less expensive and they have cool names that are great for grabbing you on the aisle. And then there’s usually a cool story behind the wine.
Shannon Ridge, founded by Clay and Margarita Shannon, formerly sold their Lake County grapes to huge wineries like Trinchero and Kendall Jackson. But in 2008, they made a play to create their own, affordably-priced wine label. A virtually unknown grape region that grows outstanding Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County lies only about an hour north of Napa County in California. But the land costs a LOT less so the Shannons sell all their Lake County wines under $25.
They own 1,000 acres in this wine region, with about 600 of these meticulously planted to 15 different grape varietals. Clay researched the correct sun exposure, soil structure and clone (read “Send in the Clones“) for each one to maximize flavor and even ripeness.
The remaining part of the ranch is devoted to wildlife and to their grass-fed lamb and sheep enjoy it all (they sell the meat too). Clay also uses his sheep for some vineyard maintenance. Check out the video on the website’s front page.
Down-to-earth, friendly farmer Clay Shannon wears Wrangler jeans pretty much every day. Thus, the fanciful name of this red blend made from Zinfandel, Barbera, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo. All those layers of flavor create a mouthful of wine. It’s a super tasty, bold red with lotsa fruit and supple tannins that don’t beat your tongue against your gums. Blackberry, stewed black cherries, plum, soft leather, fragrant vanilla and cocoa. Medium bodied and easy to drink, this wine is a steal at $18.
Sweetness: 1 out of 10
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Price: $14- $18
Occasion: Tasted at a restaurant in Sonoma County.
Availability: Online and at independent retailers
Food pairing: Braised dishes like Osso Buco or beef short ribs, cheeses like Barely Buzzed