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Beyond the expected

California dreaming

By Madam Cholet 23 April 2010 26

I have been searching for sometime now to find Californian wines being retailed in Canberra. To date I have had absolutely no luck, apart from a few bottles of fairly expensive stuff at Vintage Cellars. We have been glugging away at French, Italian, German, Chilean, and even a French wine that was apparently the mother of Californian vines, but have just drawn a blank on anywhere that might sell Californian.

I know it sounds a bit high falutin’ but our interest was piqued by a wine show on SBS in recent times. Would love to give some of them a go.

I’m originally from the UK and Californian wines are readily available there.

What’s the problem here though?


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California dreaming
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madamcholet 1:37 pm 25 May 11

Good to see more info on this. I have noticed in very recent times that Dan Murphys seems to be dipping a toe into the Californian market.

Have also noticed many more recommendations in food publications for (shock horror), FOREIGN wines.

We are still on the look out for more though so will peruse the site. thx!!

usawinesdirect 11:26 am 25 May 11

I invite all the sceptics and uninitiated to “stick their toe’s in the water” and try some of our good American wines! I’m always happy to speak with those interested. I lived in California for seven years importing and marketing Australian wines. It’s about time we did something for them!

LSWCHP 10:10 pm 23 May 11

I’ve been savouring good Australian wine for 25 years now. I’ve also spent a helluva lot of time in California surrounded by wine lovers, and have tried many fantastic California wines. I would love to get my hands on some of those beautiful chardonnays and pinots. If you ever get a chance to try some of these drops grab it with both hands.

I’ve always presumed that shipping wine to Australia from California would be a “snow to Eskimos” deal, which explains the lack of such products in our bottle shops. It’s a great loss.

CoffinRX2 8:54 pm 23 May 11

Im an ex rep for the best selling NZ wine in the world ….. and currently in the US at the moment for a wedding in california, and about to spent the next week in Sonoma County for the wedding

Ive tasted lots of CA wine here, … and $$$ for $$$ it really doesnt stack up value wise at all

astrojax 7:29 pm 23 May 11

agree with many others, californian wines in general are not quite as nice as general aussie and so has not been an attractive import exercise for anyone – that said, california makes soe wonderfully buttery chardonnays (which we rarely do) and the zinfadels can be a tasty drop, so good luck sourcing them but be prepared to pay more than you’d expect to pay for a similar standard domestic bottle.

p1 6:47 pm 23 May 11

Holden Caulfield said :

usawinesdirect said :

Hi There, You might like to look at our website usawinesdirect.com.au for a good selection of wines produced in the US at fair prices. We ship Australia wide via Australia Post. Our customer service phone # is 1300 USWINE (87 9463) or shop online.

1300 U SWINE … didn’t think that one through very clearly.

That’s a pig of a number.

Jethro 5:43 pm 23 May 11

As with almost any other retail purchase I would suggest buying online.

Holden Caulfield 5:17 pm 23 May 11

usawinesdirect said :

Hi There, You might like to look at our website usawinesdirect.com.au for a good selection of wines produced in the US at fair prices. We ship Australia wide via Australia Post. Our customer service phone # is 1300 USWINE (87 9463) or shop online.

1300 U SWINE … didn’t think that one through very clearly.

usawinesdirect 3:32 pm 23 May 11

Hi There, You might like to look at our website usawinesdirect.com.au for a good selection of wines produced in the US at fair prices. We ship Australia wide via Australia Post. Our customer service phone # is 1300 USWINE (87 9463) or shop online.

Clown Killer 11:07 am 24 Apr 10

Plonk (now at the Fyshwick Markets) is the best wine and boutique beer shop in the ACT

I guess that’s why I have been let down so many times when I’ve gone there.

Sure they can get something in if they don’t have it in stock – but so can you local IGA. I’ve found their range of wines to be somewhat underwhelming and often inconsistent (like their buying bin ends). Their range of local wines is great but their prices aren’t competitive when compared to purchasing of the local producers mailing lists.

They’re certainly good for beers although with many of the non-bottle conditioned beers you probably have to take a chance that they haven’t been sitting on the shelf for a while.

As for Californian wines, the Nappa and Sonoma regions make some outstanding wines: Stag’s leap, Clos du Val, Freemark, Ridge, Mayacamas and Chalone (south of San Francisco so not actually part of the Nappa)but these are wines that in their premium guise will stand toe-to-toe with the best wines from Bordeaux, the Italian super-Tuscans and Australia’s super-premium offerings. Expect to pay (and be rewarded for paying) northwards of $200 a bottle for the ‘reserve’ wines.

For your day-to-day reds and whites in the sub-$50 a bottle range the pickings will be exceptionally slim for the reasons that many have already alluded to. Australian wines are simply too competitive both in terms of price and quality to make it worthwhile exporting the mass market labels.

Thoroughly Smashed 10:03 am 24 Apr 10

Trunking symbols said :

A shop which has the name “plonk” doesn’t exactly strike me as a destination for wine conosseurs. In fact I’d be surprised if they sold anything more exotic than Chateau Cardboard.

Haha, you poor fool…

Pommy bastard 9:36 am 24 Apr 10

Imported wine from the other side of the world has little to recommend it outside of snob value.

Everything James and Oz said about Californian wines could have been said about their Aus equivalents, and possibly more so.

harvyk1 9:17 am 24 Apr 10

Californian wine makers have little interest in exporting to Australia… Apparently we are hard market to export wine to as we already have a strong wine industry and the exchange rates don’t help very much (they know they will either be very expensive or they will make a loss)…

This is at least according to the wine maker I met in SF last year (whilst drinking the wine they made, which was very good :)…

ramblingted 8:07 am 24 Apr 10

Trunking symbols said :

grunge_hippy said :

doesnt plonk at the fyshwick markets claim to have stuff from overseas?

A shop which has the name “plonk” doesn’t exactly strike me as a destination for wine conosseurs. In fact I’d be surprised if they sold anything more exotic than Chateau Cardboard.

You would be surprised then….

outdoormagoo 7:44 am 24 Apr 10

Ohh I’m an uppity pube who won’t shop at a place called plonk

Well for your information, unlike vintage cellars and jim murphys the guys at plonk actually know their stuff. They also sell the wines from the local region that no-one else has. As a wise fanatic it is my chosenn place to get good wine and not the $15 bottles of mass produced crap that Vintage cellars have.

If you wish to try Californian wines try buying off the net or go to Sydney. That’s my preferred option as most the bottle shops in Canberra stock rubbish when it comes to imported wine.

Would I be right in guessing you watched Oz and James

TheVirulentOne 7:20 am 24 Apr 10

Always great to see people commenting on things they know nothing about – “A shop which has the name “plonk” doesn’t exactly strike me as a destination for wine conosseurs. In fact I’d be surprised if they sold anything more exotic than Chateau Cardboard.”

Plonk (now at the Fyshwick Markets) is the best wine and boutique beer shop in the ACT, by far. Want a Canberra region wine, go there, no-one else stocks that diverse range.

What they don’t have much of is California wines – my interest was also piqued by the recent James & Oz Wine Adventure on SBS, and I’ve had little luck finding any decent Napa or Sonoma wines. But the exchange rate is great, so a trip to California is on the horizon !

Trunking symbols 7:24 pm 23 Apr 10

grunge_hippy said :

doesnt plonk at the fyshwick markets claim to have stuff from overseas?

A shop which has the name “plonk” doesn’t exactly strike me as a destination for wine conosseurs. In fact I’d be surprised if they sold anything more exotic than Chateau Cardboard.

Pork Hunt 6:58 pm 23 Apr 10

Fully agree with Wraith and Holden.
Have you tried the grog shop at Oak’s Estate (the old Nissen hut at 4 McEwen St). Hope this helps.

grunge_hippy 4:18 pm 23 Apr 10

doesnt plonk at the fyshwick markets claim to have stuff from overseas?

troll-sniffer 3:28 pm 23 Apr 10

Nothing wrong with Californian wines but they’re no better than cheaper local equivalents. There’s no mystery that I can see.

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