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The VinDiego Wine & Food Festival is 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 14, at Liberty Station. Courtesy photo
Columns Taste of Wine

Taste of Wine: You name it … Joel Gott’s got it

Joel Gott’s got the magic touch. The wine brand is everywhere and in a lot of price ranges. He’s one of those Napa Valley entrepreneurs who focuses on finding the vineyards that will sell him grapes at the biggest bang for the buck, in California, Oregon and Washington, then he makes it, bottles it and markets it at fantastic low prices, mostly under $20. For a Napa brand, that gets my attention.

Every once in a while, you come to realize that there are brands like Joel Gott that are contrarians, offering a three-year-old Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon like the 815 brand for just $12!

I hosted a number of themed house parties lately and poured a number of Napa’s most reputable reds at least four times the price of the Joel Gott 815 Cab.

The Joel Gott wine brand is everywhere and in a lot of price ranges. Courtesy photo

Most guests pointed to Gott for a repeat pour.

There is little detail about Joel Gott on his website, but a lot about his 17 wine varietals led by the 815 Cabernet Sauvignon, harvested in 2015 from his wine grape sources and brought to Napa Valley for production.

The brand was started in 1996 with 5 tons of Zinfandel fruit purchased in Amador County and bottled in 1997 with his girlfriend, Sarah, a winemaker in Napa Valley, who later became his wife and life-partner in the brand. He quickly went into the bottling of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Chardonnay, all priced at about $15. Along with the growth of the wine, over the years he has opened gourmet burger restaurants in the North Coast, in Napa and in San Francisco as well as other wine related projects.

It is fascinating to understand his “secret” of flavor at a price-point so low. His 815 for instance has premium fruit from eight different vineyard appellations: Napa for complexity, Lake County for minerality, Sonoma for a touch of spice and so on. It’s like a United Nations of California fruit wrapped into an elegant balanced wine. The elements were all aged in oak individually for 18 months, tasted frequently, then blended together to balance the characteristics of each vineyard, Gott once said.

I mentioned lots of prices and we wrote earlier on the value, low-end wines.

There is a small production, mostly Napa Valley Cabernet with power, body and well-structured tannins from the hills in the southeast of Napa Valley that is named Gott 14, from the 2014 harvest. A tiny bit of Malbec and Petite Verdot are blended in for spice and balanced acidity ($52.99). Robert Parker, the nation’s top critic called it full-bodied, lush and ready to drink now.

For a roundup of all the Joel Gott wines, go to

Sixth annual VinDiego Wine & Food Festival

VinDiego is the best to see and be seen in San Diego and it’s coming again from 3 to 7 p.m. April 14 at Liberty Station in the Point Loma district. Top-shelf wineries from California throughout the Pacific Northwest will come together and be paired with top local chefs in an afternoon of wine and food tasting and live music and dancing in a San Diego style outdoor park setting. While there, help out some charities by competing in the Silent Auction for premium wines and accessories.

More than 300 wine selections are ready for your tastes and comments with names like: Niner, Ahnfeldt, Fiddlehead, Opolo, Round Pond and way more. And say hello to restaurants like: Arterra, Marina Kitchen, Seasons 52, Solare, Solterra, The Barrel Room and Village Vino. Musical headliners are Jimmy and Enrique.

For more details and tickets, visit You can also call (760) 805-2131.

Wine Bytes

• Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas has a Rhone Valley France vs. California wine seminar and shootout from 6:30 to 8 p.m. March 23. You’ll be introduced to GSM blend, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre from both countries. Light appetizers served. Cost is $49. Call (760) 479-2500 for your place.

• Schramsberg is spotlighted at the next wine dinner at The Barrel Room in Rancho Bernardo at 6 p.m. March 28. This is some of the best bubbly sparkling wine around.  Wine expert Krystie Zarlin will present. Cost is $90 per guest. See 

• The newest and hottest North San Diego restaurant and bar is the new Wildwood in Vista. The emphasis is great comfort food and great live music. You want live music with your dinner, you’ll find it here, six nights a week. For more, go to or call (760) 758-1513.