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Copyright © 2015
Forkmedia LLC

by Fred McMillin
for September 2000

Mt. Palomar

An All-American Tasting


It was an All-American tasting. California wines were pitted against those from five other states, New York, Missouri, Michigan, Oregon and Washington. Each California wine was paired with an outside upstart of the same price. Since California enjoys the most prestige, we wondered if they may be a little overpriced.

Here are the results. The best wine is listed last.


The Twelve Winners

Rank of
Winner Price Year The Wine
  Cal. Other      
12th X   $14 '96 Fetzer Merlot, Barrel Select, North Coast
11th   X $10 '98 Oregon—Duck Pond Chardonnay
10th X   $9 '99 Mt. Palomar Riesling, Appellation—California
9th X   $13 '98 Barefoot Reserve Chardonnay, Sonoma County
8th X   $11 '99 Adler Fels Gewürztraminer, Russian River Valley
7th X   $12 '97 Fieldstone Cabernet Sauvignon, Convivio, Mendocino County
6th   X $25 '98 Washington State—Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay, Cold Creek Vineyard Columbia Valley
5th   X $15 '97 Washington State—Hogue Merlot, Barrel Select, Columbia Valley
4th   X $17 '97 Missouri—St. James Winery, Late-Harvest Vignoles (dessert)
3rd   X $22 '97 Washington—Preston Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
2nd X   $16 '95 Buena Vista Cabernet Sauvignon, Carneros
1st   X $22 '97 Washington—Preston Reserve Merlot, Columbia Valley


    1) Each side won six matches. California did not dominate when matched against the same varietal at the same price.

    2) Five of the six non-California winners came from the Northwest, with Washington State scoring four times.

    3) of all the entries, the two with the most prestige in my opinion were the two Washington State Merlots. and sure enough, when we unwrapped the winners, we found those two Merlots both won their matches, and ranked fifth and first in the competition (Preston was the #1).



In the Battle for Britain (WW II), Roy Andries de Groot was wounded and became blind. However, his great palate survived intact. After tasting 128,500 bottles in 37 states of the USA, he wrote twenty years ago, "The best American Merlot I've tasted was from Preston in Washington State."Looks as though they've not lost their touch.


This page created September 2000