In my last post I wrote about wine tasting in Sonoma and while I thoroughly enjoyed the day and the wines we tried the experience left me feeling a bit conflicted.
I am very much a wine novice and I had hoped that the trip would help me find some local wines that I like and that I could keep an eye out for. Because when I go to one of my local stores to buy a bottle it's easy to feel overwhelmed. The problem with our trip to Sonoma was that none of the wineries we visited have any distribution in San Francisco. In the case of these wineries, they don't distribute because they do a profitable business selling directly to the public out of their tasting rooms and wine clubs so there is no need to sell their product to distributors.
This is where my conflict comes in. Part of me is glad that these wineries are producing great products and profiting from it, but practically speaking, this means I will never see their wines again. My budget can't afford a wine club membership for even one of these wineries let alone the 2000 plus wineries in California. The success of California wine and the peculiarities of the wine market means that in some instances it's easier for me to find a bottle from halfway around the world than an hour and a half's drive from San Francisco.
Nonetheless, I am not deterred. In the future I will focus my attention on wineries in Sonoma and Napa that also distribute in San Francisco. For me this approach makes the most sense because I'm not just interested in finding good wine to drink, because there is plenty of that. But I am also interested in learning more about the processes that make great wine particularly in the hills and valleys of Northern California.