February 1, 2006 - Jack

Wine Blogging
Wednesday #18

This month's theme is
"wine shops that feel the love"
and is hosted by:
Tyler at Dr. Vino's Wine Blog

Check out this month's roundup! (click here)

Perhaps the Greatest Secret in Wine Country is our choice for WBW this month:

Bottle Barn
3331–A Industrial Drive
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
(Open every day) Phone: 707-528-1161

This is Sonoma County's candy store for lovers of both California and International wine. It's (practically) hidden in the same warehouse that houses UPS in an industrial park area of Santa Rosa. The huge, 15,000 sq ft store is a favorite with both locals and tourists. And yes, your Fork 'n Bottlers buy more wine from Bottle Barn than from any other wine shop.

Bottle Barn has the largest selection of Sonoma Country wines in the world. But their selection from the rest of the West Coast is huge, too. To give you an idea, at one time I counted more than 250 Zinfandel. A guess would be that they have between 4000 and 5000 different wines in the store (though I keep thinking it's got to be more than that).

The general manager and wine buyer is Ben Pearson, who I think has an excellent palate. I think he will stock most anything that's an excellent value (such as a good sauvignon blanc from India). He has been looking after my wine needs for quite a while. He's also a wine judge for SF Chronicle wine competition.

Bottle Barn's imports section has grown by leaps and bounds since we moved to Santa Rosa seven years ago. Every six months (or so it seems), they have added a very nice selection of wine from another part of the world. It started with Australia/NZ, then Italy, then Rhones, then Germany/Austria, then Spain, and most recently, Burgundy. Only Bordeaux and Loire reds are meager now. Their sections for Alsace, Loire whites, and ports are also excellent.

Much of the imports section is raided regularly by local winemakers; in fact, that is really why the imports section is world-class - winemakers demanding to drink the best wines from around the world. (The best imports don't sit on the shelves for very long.)

Prices are very low. (Only Costco beats them.) Really. No case discounts. Also, because they are smack in the middle of Northern California's wine country, they are quite adept at latching on to some of the best close-out deals, overstocks, etc., and they really do pass the savings on. They don't jack up prices on in-stock wines which suddenly score a great review, either.

There is a moderate use of shelf-talkers, but these are mainly used on the less expensive wines and are mostly hand-written. (I think some may be put up by the distributors when they stock the shelves.)

Do they have wines cheaper than at the wineries? Yes. Sssssh.
Do they have local wines you've never heard of before? Yes.
Who should you ask for recommendations from? Ben or Jason, in general.
Is this worth a stop when in wine country? Absolutely, particularly before leaving.
Do they ship? Yes... and have shippers in every size, including 15-bottle boxes.

German, Austria, Spain


Port and Sherry

Hundreds and Hundreds of California Cabernets, Merlots, Pinot Noirs, Syrahs, Zinfandels, Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blancs, etc.

Far Niete Magnums
Far Niente & Heitz


2004 Lutea Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley

125 cases made - unfined, unfiltered

Here's a wine I bet you've never heard of before! It is from a new producer who is focusing on organic and biodynamic grapes. Only 125 cases were made of the 2004 Lutea Pinot Noir, their first release. It was recommended by Ben Pearson of Bottle Barn ($23).

Joanne's Tasting Notes: Cherries and cream nose. Bright cherry flavors with elements of dried cherries. Pleasant creamy pinot-esque finish - flowery mid-notes of jasmine. Light integrated acids on finish leaving a clean palate. Lighter style wine - but has depth. Color of wine is almost a dark rose. Jack's: Very pinot noir-like initial taste. Very good acids. Pleasantly light in color and alcohol for California a pinot noir. I wish it was showing more complexity, but I have to cut it some slack because it's so young. Medium-length finish. I will buy some more and age a couple. Excellent value! 3+

Sparkling wines

The bottom of the locked bin -
the old and/or rare wines are here

Alsace (with Loire whites on the very left)

Chablis, Red Burgundy, & White Burgundy

California Cabernets

Some California magnums on display

Italy on the far right

A view of the import corner:
Rhones are in the wood cases

Rhones and country French are on the right, followed by Port and then many rows of California

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