Lava Cap Barbera $15.29 and Bliss Sauvignon Blanc $10.99

We have two excellent wines, a red and a white to recommend for this week. The Lava Cap Barbera is from the Sierra Foothills near Placerville. The Bliss Sauvignon Blanc is from the Hopland area of Mendocino County.

Lava Cap Barbera

Lava Cap Barbera from El Dorado County

Are you looking for something a little different in red wine, a change of pace? The 2017 Lava Cap Barbera El Dorado County is a superb choice. I found this little sleeper of a wine while perusing the Total Wine Website. We have been to the Lava Cap winery and have previously enjoyed many of their wines. Lava Cap is a small winery with limited case production, so ordinarily you do not see Lava Cap wines in wine shops.

The price of the Lava Cap Barbera at Total Wines is $15.29 if you mix or match a purchase of six or more wines. At the winery, the price is $25, and the Wine Club price is $20. Wow, so much for being part of a wine club!

I get a boatload of beautiful blueberry flavors and other dark fruits. There is also a touch of vanilla, but it is balanced and not overpowering. The Lava Cap Barbera is medium bodied and comes in at 14.5% alcohol. That alcohol is higher than its Italian Barbera counterparts, usually a lighter style wine. The Lava Cap is a generous wine and will go nicely with a meaty pasta or pizza dish and red meats.

Lava Cap Winery is a family-owned winery with a first vintage date of 1986. In the area around Placerville, there are several small family wineries, but Lava Cap is one of the most recognized. Their vineyards are in a place where the lava from the formation of the Sierras once flowed. The soil formation is an important factor in the quality of the Lava Cap wines. The Wine Enthusiast rates the Lava Cap 2017 Barbera at 91 points, I will go with 90. I will go back to Total Wines for more of this beauty.

Bliss Family Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc

Mendocino County Sauvignon Blanc

From Mendocino County comes this tasty Sauvignon Blanc. Lemon and lime, and a nice dose of acidity, will please your taste buds. It is a gentle and dry white wine. It is my style of Sauvignon Blanc. It’s much like the Sauvignon Blanc styles of Sancerre and Bordeaux. It is much the opposite of the New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs that abound with grapefruit and gooseberry characteristics.

The Bliss is at Weimax Wines in Burlingame for $10.99. It is $14 at the Bliss Family Vineyards online wine shop. As far as I can find, Weimax is the only wine shop that sells the Bliss in Northern California. 89 Points for me. Pair it with seafood or any dish that improves with a squeeze of lemon or lime. Stop in at Weimax and enjoy one of the unique wine shops of the Bay Area.

Other GoodCheapVino topics to enjoy

Tomato Bruschetta begs for a dry white wine like the Bliss


  1. The El Dorado and Amador county wineries seem to be producing more Barbera every year. (Would you know if this is in fact true?) I am going to look for the Lava Cap Barbera. I’ve visited the winery and have enjoyed other Lava Cap wines over the last 20+ years. My favorite Barbera from the region is produced by Jeff Runquist (and is also found at my local Total Wine). Finally, Joe, you are right, the style produced in El Dorado and Amador is significantly different than Italian Barberas. I enjoy both styles and hope that Barbera will continue to increase its presence here in CA.

  2. Nice duo of wines. The Barbera is very well structured and has a mineral fruit combination that begs for Italian style dishes. The bread in the pictures looks tasty.

  3. I have taken and enjoyed your newsletter for several years now. Lately I have noticed that you seldom feature wines available at Trader Joe’s, Safeway, Costco and other venues with multiple locations around the state. Since I live on Monterey Peninsula many of the Bay Area-based wine stores aren’t accessible to me so I’ve been considering unsubscribing. Just wanted you to have the feedback, and thank you so much for your generosity with your tasting notes!

    • Joe Becerra says

      Maren, Thanks for your comment. Because of some comprising health issues in our family, I am limiting myself to shopping online and either having the wine delivered or doing a curbside pickup. I very much miss Trader Joe’s, Costco, and Safeway wine departments. I am relying on some of my wine partners to suggest and recommend wines. I hope to return soon to the wine departments of the Bay Area and beyond.

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