If you are in one of the markets served by the Trader Joe's chain, you currently have the opportunity to benefit from the misfortunes of others. De Loach Vineyards of Sonoma County is an established and reputable one, producing enjoyable Zinfandels, Cabernets, Pinot Noirs (and some well-regarded Chardonnay, if you really must drink the stuff). Unfortunately, De Loach is one of the victims of the slump in the California wine business, and was driven to file a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition this past May. One of the upshots of that filing is that Trader Joe's was able to purchase De Loach's entire inventory, and an array of those wines can now be found in Trader Joe's stores. I have not sampled most of them yet, but I will recommend them nonetheless based on the strength of the brand and the deep discounting for which the Trader is known. The price to quality ratio should be very favorable.
The De Loach wines are not about to disappear from the scene, despite the winery's woes. De Loach was the 15th largest winery in Sonoma County when it filed for bankruptcy, and the family has now entered into an agreement to sell the brand, the winery and the remaining inventory to the American subsidiary of French wine concern, Boisset . This is not the first time Boisset has picked up the assets of a good winery struck by trouble: it took over the Lyeth winery following the death of its founder, Chip Lyeth, in an aviation accident in 1988. At that time, the Lyeth winery was making progress toward establishing itself as a top flight producer of Bordeaux style blends, red and white, from Sonoma County.* The post-Boisset Lyeth wines are not up to that standard (and are no longer made exclusively from Sonoma County grapes), but they are still -- again contradicting the canard that such things don't exist -- good California wines under $15.00. Boisset's longterm plans for the DeLoach brand have not yet been disclosed, but should bear watching.
[*Someday, I will undoubtedly hold forth on the reasons why Sonoma County is to be preferred to its heavily hyped and, yes, oft-overpriced eastern neighbor, Napa.]
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