The United States is certainly not lacking in options for the curious wine lover, with nearly 11,000 wineries operating across the country. But with the ongoing Covid-19 crisis and a slew of devastating fires burning across California and Oregon, American wineries need our support now more than ever.
To help give U.S. vintners a little love, VinePair asked wine experts to name America’s best-kept secrets deserving of more attention. From modest, family-owned businesses, to pioneering producers that have been at the forefront of modern American winemaking, keep reading for a list of gems sure to please.
The Most Underrated U.S. Wineries Recommended by Wine Pros
- Hobo Wine Company
- McBride Sisters Wine
- Lieu Dit Winery
- Kings Carey Wines
- Hope Well Wine
- The Eyrie Vineyards
- Corison Winery
- Teutonic Wine Co.
- Napa Valley College Winery
- RdV Vineyards
- Tatomer Wines
- Hirsch Vineyards
- Big Table Farm
- Ridge Vineyards
- St. Supéry Wines
Keep reading for details about all of the recommended bottles!
“We love Hobo Wine, a company based in Central Coast California. They are a 1% for the Planet member with a major focus on organic, sustainable, low-intervention wines. Some of what they produce are straightforward crowd-pleaser wines (like the Ghostwriter Pinot Noir); others are more of a hand sell (like the White Light, a blend of Tocai Friulano, Riesling, Verdelho, Sauvignon Blanc, and Gewurztraminer). Also, the labels are insane.” —Kylie Monagan, Partner/Wine Director, Civetta Hospitality (Amali, Calissa, Bar Marseille), NYC and Water Mill, N.Y.
“McBride Sisters Collection: The first female Black-owned wine company. They also make some of the most amazing rosés I have ever had! —Lenya Wilson, Level 2 WSET Sommelier, The Glenmark, Glendale, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel, Glendale, Calif.
“Lieu Dit, without a doubt. Not only is the talent behind the winemaking top-notch (Justin Willett of Tyler Winery), but each wine continually over-performs. It’s rare you find a California project focused upon European varietals that is able to stay true to tradition, as well as terroir. If I had to choose, their Cabernet Franc is a perennial favorite.” —Brandon Borcoman, Founder, Vin-Decision, Brooklyn
“There are so many! My favorite right now is Kings Carey; winemaker James Sparks is making some really delicious wines out of Santa Barbara. They make a gorgeous Sémillon, which is not only unusual for Santa Barbara, but has this really beautiful honey note on the palate that’s something special. He’s also got one of my favorite rosé wines from the area. Definitely an underrated winery, and something that more people should know about!” —Gavin Humes, Food & Beverage Director, Scratch Restaurants Group, Los Angeles
“I find it a bit difficult to answer this question, as I believe there are many unique wineries that collectively contribute to the overall movement happening in American wine culture right now. This movement pushes for thoughtful farming practices (i.e., organic or biodynamic), biodiversity, and natural winemaking. I also have a deep respect for those who paved the way for this all to happen in the early days and continue to push and learn. So it’s a challenge to select just one person/winery. However, I do think there are monumental people who are changing the way we think about wine and agriculture in Oregon, such as Mimi Casteel of Hope Well Wine and Jason Lett of The Eyrie Vineyards.” —Austin Bridges, Wine Director, Nostrana, Portland, Ore.
“I’d have to give the nod to Cathy Corison [of Corison Winery]. While she is well known and has been awarded with some very impressive awards, I believe that she is due even more. The Kronos vineyard [is] one of the oldest vines in Napa (planted in the early 1970s). The yields of these wines are incredibly low. That results in amazing concentration. But it is also Cathy’s incredibly in-touch winemaking style that allows her to thrive in such a unique vineyard. She is able to create balance in both the vineyard and cellar to yield wines with pure class and elegance. [The wines are] more red-fruited and floral, with acidity that is quite different than the norm of Napa. If you often lean towards leaner, Old World-focused wines, this is not a wine or producer to miss.” —Thatcher Baker Briggs, Founder and Sommelier, Thatcher’s Wine Consulting, San Francisco
“Teutonic Wine Co. from Willamette Valley, Ore. Everything Barnaby Tuttle makes is incredible, but I’m obsessed with his Gewürztraminer/Pinot Noir blend. It’s an 80/20 blend and a great example of on the nose versus on the palate. On the nose, it’s lychee, floral: all Gewürztraminer. On the palate, cherry and underripe strawberry: all Pinot Noir.” —Brandi Carter, Beverage Director and Sommelier, Elvie’s, Jackson, Miss.
“Napa Valley College’s estate winery. It’s unique in that it works closely with UC Davis to educate, train, and teach current and future winemakers. As a bonded winery, it provides a unique classroom setting in the vineyards and winery, affording students the opportunity to learn and grow. The winery is made possible through the generous contributions from the Napa Valley Vintners Association and the Trefethens.” —Scott Lester, Wine Director, Fellow, Los Angeles
“I enjoy RdV Vineyards in Virginia, an hour outside of the District. Virginia is getting better and better wine but [I] love the ability to visit and meet the people who run the vineyards firsthand.” —Luke Kennedy, General Manager, Proper 21K, Washington, D.C.
“This is a tough question. The first problem is, what ratings are we basing this off of? The second is that there are too many producers that I love that fit this label. But I have to pick, so I’ll go with one red and one white. For white wine, I’m going to go with Tatomer. Graham Tatomer’s Austrian-inspired Rieslings and Grüner Veltliner from cool climate sites along California’s Central Coast are always delicious. … For red wines, I always go back to Hirsch Vineyards in Fort Ross-Seaview. Their perfectly situated site produces the most elegant Burgundian-style Pinot Noir coming out of California today (and I’d even group Oregon in there as well). I’ve never had a bad bottling from Hirsch and while not inexpensive, compared to some of the other blue-chip Sonoma Pinot Noirs on the market, they are really underrated and undervalued. With the climate change threatening the region year after year, I would encourage anyone who hasn’t tasted their wines to do so immediately. In 50 years, when I think back on this time and my favorite wines that were being made in California, it’s the flavor-memory of Hirsch West Ridge that will undoubtedly come flooding back.” —Andrew Pattison, Wine Director, Sushi Note, Sherman Oaks, Calif.
“Big table farm in Willamette, Ore., [a] small, family-owned-and-run vineyard and farm! Clare hand-draws the labels, and Brian produces amazing, organic non-manipulated wines. Power team and wines!” —Jessica Green, Sommelier and Owner, Down the Rabbit Hole Wine Boutique, Sayville, N.Y.
“I’m a huge fan of Ridge Vineyards, based in Santa Cruz. The sheer quantity of wine they produce, from such a wide range of grapes and vineyards, is truly impressive. Very few wineries can remain so consistent across a broad spectrum as Ridge. They are known as single-vineyard Zinfandel specialists, but that’s only one of more than a dozen different grapes they work with in any given year. Ridge bottles upwards of 20 separate vineyards, all historic and some more than a century old. Their commitment to organic farming and transparency in labeling is truly impressive, and should be a reference point for American wine. They are great communicators and advocates for what’s honest and best about farming and winemaking. … Ridge Vineyards’ most famous wine is a Cabernet called Monte Bello. One I strongly recommend trying from them is a red blend called Geyserville.” —Shawn Paul, Wine Operations Director, Foxcroft Wine Co., Charlotte, N.C. and Greenville, S.C.
“There are so many small boutique wineries that offer unique and excellent wines all over the United States. St. Supéry Wines from Napa, Calif., has always stood out to me as the most underrated wine. Though it has gained a great reputation over the past few years, I still believe it is one of the best-valued but most underrated wines out there, especially for its price point. You certainly will not be disappointed, with scores above 90s for most of their portfolio like their Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and a number of blends like the ‘Virtu.’ Again, this is truly a magnificent wine without the hefty Napa prices of most Napa wines. St. Supéry also has a tasting room in Beverly Hills, which is a must-try if you live near the Los Angeles area.” —Piero Procida, Food & Beverage Director, The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Calif.