An honest value is something you appreciate when you grow up in a blue-collar house like I did. Dad always joked that Mom had "Champagne taste on beer money," which was partially right. She didn't believe in settling for something inferior even if she wasn't spending a lot of money.
That's one reason I've always had a soft spot for wineries like Pedroncelli. It's owned by an old Italian family that has been in Sonoma County for four generations. They grow their own grapes and, without a lot of fuss, make wine that people can afford to drink every day. While many of California's Italian winemaking families have taken their businesses upscale or have sold to large companies, the Pedroncellis have stayed the course.
It's half-past September and do you know what California winemakers are drinking?
No, it's not a joke. There's an old saying, in fact: "It takes a lot of beer to make wine."
As wine dilemmas go, two of the biggest must be 1) obtaining a rare bottle you're desperate to taste and/or 2) paying for it once you get it. All of us have faced the first one and most of us the second.
I remember the first wine I obsessed over owning: Heitz Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Martha's Vineyard 1985. I waited in line outside the St. Helena tasting room for an hour on the day it was released in 1990. I loved the wine and talked my brother into splitting a case with me, but careful what you obsess over. As it aged, its trademark hint of mint and earth became too pronounced for me, so a few years ago I sold my remaining bottles at auction.