POSTED ON April 13, 2009 | IN Tasting Rooms, Wine News | BY Joe Becerra

The mood of many a wine drinker these days is not to drink less wine but to search out bargains wines, ones that give the “biggest bang for the buck.” If you visit any of Napa Valley’s finest wineries you are unlikely to find anything in the way of a sale but we did find a couple of wine shops in the Valley where one can certainly find many wine values. If you are a bargain wine hunter, don’t pass up the chance to find some very interesting and not so expensive wines at either JV Wines & Spirits in the town of Napa or the Wine Garage in Calistoga.

The JV Wines & Spirits slogan is “Where the Napa Valley Shops for Wine.” We stopped in recently at JV Wines to view their wine offerings and see what prices were like. The first wine that caught our eye was a Louis Martini Sonoma Cab for nearly $20. Wow, I just bought some of that same wine at my local Costco for $10.99. This just shows you the power of the warehouse store and how it can wheel and deal. But, where JV Wine has the advantage is in the small label. We noticed plenty of unique and boutique wines, ones that we had never seen before. These are small production wineries that do not have a distributor but work directly with a wine retailer. The majority of these interesting labels at JV Wines were priced under $20 a bottle.

We also found something at JV wines we really liked. Instead of the flashy 90 Point signs from the Wine Spectator, Parker, etc. we found staff picks. If you are a regular shopper and find that one staffer has similar wine tastes as yours, this make it easy to take a chance on discovering new wines. JV Wines also has a tasting room, open from 1 to 6 pm on Thursday to Saturday, where one can taste many of these wines from the small wineries.

At the Wine Garage in Calistoga, Todd and Joy Miller have taken a much different approach. The rule of this wine shop is that no wine is over $25. In addition, even though located in the Napa Valley, the wines come from all over California and several other countries. One very nice thing about a small wine shop, where the proprietors work on a daily basis is that they know the wines they sell. You can stop in and say, “I would like a nice red from a small winery to have with my pasta pomodoro tonight. What can you recommend?” More than likely, you are going to get some reliable suggestions.

JV Wines & Spirits is located at 301 First Street in Napa and the Wine Garage is in Calistoga at 1020 Foothill Blvd., #C, Calistoga, CA 94515.


  1. JD in Napa says

    Next time you’re in Napa, stop at Back Room Wines, at Main and 1st. Dan specializes in small producers, both Napa/Sonoma and Europe. Many $20 and under value wines, too. Tasting events are on Fridays from 5 to 8, but there’s always something available at the tasting bar.