In addition to celebrating the workers, trade unions and the United States labor movement, Labor Day also means it’s time for one last outdoor bash to celebrate the waning days of summer.
While there are plenty of wines that fit the bill when firing up the grill, any time you’re entertaining a large group of friends and loved ones, affordability is as key as flavor. And there’s no better way to celebrate working people of this country than exploring the of the vast world of value U.S. wine.
You’ll see plenty of under-$25 selections on this list from heavy-hitting wine producing states like California, Washington and Oregon, but also keep an eye out for a selection of worthy bottlings from America’s heartland, along with other and lesser-known wine regions from across the nation. Take a chance on these interesting bottlings from places like New Mexico, Texas, Michigan, Virginia and New York’s Finger Lakes region.
Kick back and enjoy the long weekend, laborers. You’ve earned it.
Iris Vineyards 2015 Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley); $24, 92 points. Here’s a sensational value in a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir from a truly great vintage. The rich ripe fruit-led palate mixes plum, cherry and orange flavors. Tannins are supple and smooth, acids crisp and clean, and everything remains in perfect balance throughout. Editors’ Choice. —Paul Gregutt
Morgan 2016 Cotes du Crow’s Red (Monterey); $18, 91 points. This blend of 52% Syrah, 44% Grenache and 4% Tempranillo is always one of the best price point bets in the region. Savory aromas of pomegranate, boysenberry, tar, charred meat and dried thyme lead into a palate layered in purple flowers, marjoram and dark-berry fruit. Editors’ Choice. —Matt Kettmann
Matchbook 2016 Estate Bottled Cabernet Sauvignon (Dunnigan Hills); $15, 90 points. This wine blends subtle spices with rich fruit for a seductive flavor profile. It maintains a velvety texture on the palate and through the lingering finish. Flavors of blueberry and baking spice give it plenty of personality. Best Buy. —Jim Gordon
Murphy-Goode 2016 Pinot Noir (California); $15, 90 points. Delicious cherry and plum flavors are accented by touches of black tea, rhubarb and forest floor in this complex, medium-bodied wine. It’s slightly soft in feel, but has light tannins and enough acidity to give it some snap. Best Buy. —J.G.
Foris 2016 Pinot Noir (Rogue Valley); $20, 90 points. There’s a strong thread of roasted coriander in both scent and flavor, snaking around tart raspberry fruit and buoyant acidity. This is all estate-grown fruit from a winery that almost always over-delivers at this price point. Editors’ Choice. —P.G.
L’Ecole No. 41 2017 Old Vines Chenin Blanc (Columbia Valley); $15, 91 points. Old-vine Chenin Blanc is becoming increasingly rare in the state as vines are pulled out to replant more profitable varieties. What a shame. The aromas here offer notes of freshly sliced pear, cantaloupe, banana, melon rind and papaya. The bone-dry palate brings an abundant tropical-fruit flavor and a strong sense of acidity. It lingers on the finish. Best Buy. —Sean P. Sullivan
Chris James 2017 Cuvée Blanc White (Willamette Valley); $16, 90 points. A blend of Müller-Thurgau and Gewürztraminer, this aromatic elegant white wine offers Muscat-like aromas and flavors. Part of the blend was an orange wine, and it colors the final product, as well as adding candied apricot and orange flavors, supported with fresh, juicy acids. It’s an unusual and quite charming wine. Editors’ Choice. —P.G.
Lamoreaux Landing 2016 Round Rock Vineyard Riesling (Finger Lakes); $24, 90 points. Sourced from a five-acre plot on the east side of Seneca Lake, this Riesling is bright and focused on the nose in tones of limestone, white blossom, underripe peach and green apple. There’s a zesty feel to the light-bodied palate, offering a well balanced mix of stone fruit and racy lime flavors. —Alexander Peartree
Huston 2016 Chicken Dinner White (Idaho); $16, 89 points. A blend of Riesling, Muscat Blanc and Roussanne, this shows aromas of sliced yellow and green apple, with floral and spice notes. The palate is bright and fresh, full of mango, pineapple and citrus flavors. It brings a lot of fruit forward appeal—a very fun wine. —S.S.
St. Julian 2016 Reserve Late Harvest Riesling (Lake Michigan Shore); $13, 87 points. Aromas of pollen, wildflower honey and peach are enticing on the nose. This off-dry wine is ripe yet balanced, with flavors of orange, peach and juicy mango. The ripe melon finish is charming and clean. —Fiona Adams
Seven Hills 2017 Dry Rosé (Columbia Valley); $18, 91 points. A very pretty pale peach color, the aromas offer vibrant notes of watermelon, hard cherry candy, peach and an herb grace note. The palate shows depth while remaining light on its feet, with a tart flavorful finish that sails. Editors’ Choice. —S.S.
Charles & Charles 2017 Rosé (Columbia Valley); $12, 90 points. This wine is a pretty, pale-salmon color. Aromas of strawberry bubblegum, herb, tropical fruit and citrus peel lead to dry fruit flavors, full of papaya, guava and pink-grapefruit notes with a tart finish. It flat-out delivers. Best Buy. —S.S.
A to Z 2017 Rosé (Oregon); $15, 90 points. Pretty, light cherry candy in color, this tart, dry rosé is principally Sangiovese. Floral aromas introduce its strawberry-inflected fruit. It’s juicy and lingers on the palate, making it a splendid match for a picnic featuring fried chicken. Best Buy. —P.G.
Anthony Road 2017 Rosé (Finger Lakes); $16, 90 points. Delicate wet stone, white flower and tart red-berry aromas mark the nose of this wine. The medium-bodied palate boasts crunchy strawberry, tangy mineral and pepper tones, with vibrant acidity and a fuzzy, phenolic finish. —A.P.
King Family 2017 Crosé Rosé (Virginia); $21, 89 points. Aromas of watermelon, rosewater, geranium, grapefruit, strawberry and rooibos carry the nose. Soft and lively in feel, it has a smooth texture that is met with proper acidic lift. —Carrie Dykes
Llano Estacado 2017 Signature Rosé (Texas); $10, 89 points. Enticing aromas of strawberry and freshly squeezed lemon juice are accented by white pepper on the nose of this blend of 34% Cinsault, 31% Carignan, 22% Mourvèdre and 13% Grenache. Ripe pink grapefruit and strawberry flavors are sunny on the palate, backed by juicy lemon-lime acidity that leads into a clean, zesty finish. Best Buy. —F.A.
Bonny Doon 2017 La Bulle-Moose de Cigare Fizzy Pink of the Earth Sparkling (Central Coast); $8, 90 points. This bubbly pink blend is one of the better canned wines on the market, regardless of style. A blend of 57% Grenache, 18% Grenache Blanc with bits of Mourvèdre, Roussanne, Carignan and Cinsaut, it shows rounded watermelon, nectarine and grapefruit-rind aromas on the nose. The palate is crisp with strawberry, melon, red-apple and tart plum-skin flavors. —M.K.
Korbel NV Blanc de Noirs Sparkling (California); $14, 90 points. Elegant and plush, this wine is both light and rich at the same time, as it combines a fine mousse of bubbles with good fruit and spice flavors and a creamy texture. Everything is well-blended and harmonious as well as concentrated enough to have a long and lightly ripe finish. Best Buy. —J.G.
Sofia NV Méthode Champenoise Sparkling (Monterey County); $23, 90 points. Clear hay yellow in color, this bottling shows fresh and supple aromas of nectarine and Asian pear. The palate combines citrus, stone fruit and Pink Lady apple flavors, all presented with a very consistent, persistent mousse. —M.K.
Barefoot Bubbly NV Brut Cuvée Chardonnay (California); $10, 88 points. Well balanced, dry and somewhat restrained in fruit flavors, this is a classic style of brut that will please a lot of different palates. It has tiny bubbles that persist in the glass, an elegant, crisp mouthfeel and a clean fresh finish. Best Buy. —J.G.
Gruet NV Sauvage Blanc de Blancs Sparkling (America); $18, 88 points. This 100% Chardonnay sparkler is full of lemon, yellow apple and pizza dough on the nose. Tart green apple, ripe grapefruit, orange and lemon show on the palate, with delightful carbonation carrying the flavors. This is a perfect party pour.—F.A.