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When I started writing Uncorked five years ago, the most common question was, “Can you recommend a great bottle of wine?” Today, the question is the same, with a few more words … under $20.

The answer is a resounding “yes.”

With the wine industry responding to consumer demand and changes in the economy, as well as shifting perceptions (great wine doesn’t have to be expensive) inexpensive, quality wines are easier to find than ever. Readily available in most retail shops, wines from California and Australia are great places to start.

It wasn’t long ago that the phrase “inexpensive Napa Valley Cabernet” was a true oxymoron. But many existing producers as well as newcomers are shifting their focus from cult winemaking to everyday winemaking.


  • 2009 Cline Cellars California Viognier, California (about $11 retail)
  • 2008 Bogle Vineyards Merlot, California (about $10 retail)
  • 2009 Renwood Lodi Viognier, California (about $12 retail)


  • 2009 Seghesio Winery Pinot Grigio, California (about $19 retail)
  • 2009 Estancia Chardonnay, California (about $15 retail)

In the latter part of the 20th century, when the rest of the wine world was busy creating premium wines in the $50-$100 range, Australian producers were standing in an oversupply of grapes. This overabundance, along with consumer response, led to the Land Down Under garnering a reputation for quality, inexpensive wines. Today, Australia continues to offer great values, but with a larger than ever oversupply of grapes, consumers should remain with reputable producers who consistently offer quality wines.


  • 2008 Lindemans Shiraz, Australia (about $10 retail)
  • 2009 Yalumba Y Series Riesling, Australia (about $13 retail)


  • 2008 Jim Barry Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon, Australia (about $23 retail)
  • 2008 Grant Burge Miamba Shiraz, Australia (about $21 retail)