Affordable Red Wines: 5 Red Wines from California

What to do in Napa Valley

As someone who writes about wine (and wine country travel), both on my blog and on sites like Luxe Beat Mag, I have been fortunate to try lots of good wines the past couple of years. But as a regular wine drinker, what I always come back to are good wines that are also affordable. I love a balanced red wine with expressive flavors that evoke the place where they came from.

5 Excellent, Affordable Red Wines

Here in California, good red wine can be expensive, but fortunately, there are plenty of affordable options that will please even those with sophisticated wine taste. These are my picks for excellent, affordable red wines, all from California. They are all under $25, and most are easy to find at your local supermarket or wine store.

Josh Wine Cellars 2013 Merlot5 Excellent, Affordable Red Wines | This Is My Happiness

This is one of my favorite wines right now! The wine is juicy and has a nice mouthfeel–medium bodied, making it easy to drink with food or without. About $12, widely available. I also enjoyed the Cabernet Sauvignon (pictured above) and am looking forward to trying their Pinot Noir. More info here.

Broadside Wines 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Margarita Vineyard

5 Excellent, Affordable Red Wines | This Is My Happiness

I consider the story of Broadside Wines a bit unique in the world of affordable California wines. Brian and Stephy Terrizzi are the vintners behind Broadside, a winery from Paso Robles in Southern California. Brian brings minimalist winemaking techniques, and Stephy brings a passion for bio-organic viticulture (she was recently nominated for winegrape grower of the year in San Luis Obispo County). Their wine grapes are grown sustainably. 

Broadside Wines’ Cabernet Sauvignon shows the couple’s effort to capture a pure representation of the grape varietal and the particular place where it’s grown–with 1000 feet of elevation and a chilling coastal influence, the well-drained soils at Margarita Vineyard provide a balance of stress and sustenance to the rugged vines.

The wine has concentrated flavors and fine tannins, making it a luscious, interesting, yet easy-to-drink Cabernet. Flavors of black currant and blackberries combine with hints of spice and a nice acidity.  This blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot is $25, but their other wines cost less and are also excellent. Available through the winery and some wine stores. More info here.

Matchbook “The Arsonist” 2012 Red Blend

5 Excellent, Affordable Red Wines | This Is My Happiness

Matchbook Wines is located not far from where I live, and it has quickly become one of my favorite wineries for good, affordable California wines (their Tempranillo was one of my picks last year).

The Arsonist Red Blend is a juicy, smooth, deep wine with flavors of blackberry, plum, and coffee. This is a big, rich, yet balanced wine with a long finish. 52% Petit Verdot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot. About $21, available through the winery. Matchbook’s other wines are widely available. More info here.

Matchbook 2012 Tinto Rey & 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

5 Excellent, Affordable Red Wines | This Is My Happiness

Another hit from Matchbook, the Tinto Rey blend showcases the Spanish varietal Tempranillo in this bold yet elegant wine. With flavors of boysenberry and plum with hints of chocolate, this medium-bodied wine has a nice structure and smooth finish. 50% Tempranillo, 27% Syrah, 11% Petit Verdot, 8% Graciano and 4% Tannat. $16.99. It also scored 94 Points and Best of Class at the 2016 Winemaker Challenge International Wine Competition! More info here.

Their Cabernet Sauvignon recently received 95 points and was a Gold Medal winner at the 2016 California State Fair. This is my favorite Cabernet under $20, and it’s easy for me to find it for about $12. A definite steal for the price.

What are your favorite red wines? Any tips for finding good, affordable red wines?


  • Hung Thai says:

    My strategy for red wine: Trader Joe’s 🙂 – There’s just too many brands to try so we just go there and grab some random bottles to try and jot down the ones we like and didn’t like. We’ve created a nice list so far.
    Hung Thai recently posted..Why we decided to do a destination wedding and why you should tooMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      Nothing wrong with that strategy! The selection is overwhelming, so at least at Trader Joe’s, there are fewer to choose from and sometimes they feature some really good values.

  • Kara says:

    For good deals on wines (not just CA), we do quite a bit of purchasing online from Garagist and Last Bottle. Also, there’s also a restaurant in the city called Heirloom Cafe. The owner is a sommelier and does a $30/ bottle club (& a $50/bottle) where he selects 6 or 12 bottles all at that price or lower. We joined and have been experiencing some fun new wines this way.

    • Jenna says:

      Thanks for the tips! I love the idea of that wine club you mentioned. It’s always fun when an expert chooses wines that you might otherwise not know about. The Vintner’s Collective in Downtown Napa curates a selection of their favorite local wines, and you can taste or purchase wines there.

  • You are lucky to live in California when it comes to wine and wine prices! British Columbia is expensive for wine, compared to California (taxes…). When in the Sonoma Valley, we tried some luscious Zinfadels from the Dry Creek area – we really liked those and keep an eye out now for Zinfadels from this region. We’ll have to look for the Josh Cab-Sauv you love — don’t know if we can get that here. But always fun to hear of people’s wine picks :-).
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    • Jenna says:

      Good point about the prices. One thing I love about California wine is that there are so many choices at all price points. And yes, I suspect that it’s cheaper for us to buy it here since it comes from here. I also love Zinfandels from the Dry Creek area. I would love to explore the wine country in Canada one day soon. I have heard so many good things about it.

  • Jpost says:

    Wow…list of top wines…
    One can buy wine at reasonable prices. Here are few tips to make sure you don’t overpay. And remember, when you do find a delicious hidden gem, make sure you buy in bulk before others catch on and the price starts to climb.

    *If you choose a less popular grape that has been overlooked in recent years, you’ll notice that prices plummet.

    *Manufacturers sell direct and overheads are much lower than they are in-store. So you can buy wine online.

    *The wine seller may need to clear stock to make room for a big order. Or perhaps one of their overseas orders has fallen through and they need to make up some cash flow.

  • Kelly says:

    What a great list and good example that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to drink a good wine. When I lived in Paris, their supermarket wine was fabulous. Luckily in CA, we have lots of good options as well. Need to check out a few of these labels that are new to me!

  • Great stuff, Jenna. Thank you! 🙂

  • Erika Toni says:

    Jenna, thanks for writing this post and letting people know that good wines can be affordable. Before reading this post, I always had a myth in my mind that good wines are always expensive, but now that I know some of these, will definitely try them. My favorite is Merlot, so I am definitely going to buy one now. To add to your post, here is a link if someone wants to know more varieties of red wine. And, can you please suggest me a few white wines that are classic, tasty and yes affordable?

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