Under the Radar Sparkling Wines

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Who doesn’t like a little bit of bubbly? And who says it has to be only for special occasions? As the weather starts to warm up, we encourage you to think outside the wedding/anniversary/New Year’s Eve box and figure out ways to get more sparkling wine into your life. Get creative and find reasons to celebrate with bubbles any day of the week, because why not?

With that in mind, we want to share five under the radar sparkling wines for you to enjoy, because Champagne is not the only sparkling region that’s tickling our taste buds anymore.

A Bubbles Club Sampler

Liana Estates
2750 Las Amigas Rd.
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 302-1160
Trip Advisor: 5 stars; 1 review
Tasting price: Reservation required and starts at $25

While Liana Estates has only been around since last October, sisters Lisa and Ariana Peju are no newcomers to the wine game. Their parents are also vintners and owners of the award-winning Peju Winery. After years among their family’s vines, the sisters struck out on their own when they bought the Acacia Winery and 100 acres of vineyards at the end of last year.

Their Bubbles Club is for the true sparkling lover offering quarterly three, six, or 12 bottle wine shipments containing their blanc de blancs, brut, and sparkling rose. Membership also comes with 10 percent off purchases of one to 11 bottles, 20 percent of purchases of 12 bottles or more, and a bevy of other exclusive membership perks.

Insider Tip: Liana Estates is more than a typical tasting room with typical pairings. Their newest pairing experience features mini cupcakes from local bakery Kara’s Cupcakes. They have hand-selected four mini cupcakes that complement four Liana Estates wines. Whether you’re looking to celebrate a birthday, romantic getaway or girl’s weekend, this tasting is the perfect combination of fun and sweet!

Brut Force

Black Star Farms
10844 E Revold Rd.
Suttons Bay, MI 49682
(231) 944-1270
Trip Advisor: 4.5 stars; 82 reviews
Tasting price: Please call for more information

When you think wine, you probably don’t think Michigan. But Black Star Farms is one of a growing number of vineyards that’s putting Michigan wine country on the map. Located on the 45th Parallel, which is approximately halfway between the equator and the North Pole and includes the California wine regions as well as the wine-making regions of Portugal, Spain, and those of the Middle East and Asia. Black Star Farms’ wares includes fruit sourced both from their own vineyards and from partner growers in the region.

This sparkling Midwestern gem offers a few different options for bubbles, but we recommend their 2010 Brut Cuvée which is offered for the affordable price of $25. The wine is a blend of chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot blanc. It’s a fresh, light wine with “floral aromas and crisp fruitiness” and is recommended for smoky or salty appetizers.

Insider Tip: If you just can’t get enough of those Michigan sparkles, book a night or two in the cozy and romantic Inn at Black Star Farms. Saves you from figuring out how to get home safely after your tasting, right? Plus, who could say no to a nightly hospitality hour with wine and hors d’oeuvres?

A Drop In The Ocean

Iron Horse Vineyards
9786 Ross Station Rd.
Sebastopol, CA 95472
(707) 887-1507
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars; 209 reviews
Tasting price: Starts at $25

Let’s head back West to Iron Horse Vineyards in Sonoma County and their lovely, lovely wines. Iron Horse is a small, independent winery that boasts the distinction of having its sparkling wines served at the White House for five consecutive administrations. You can’t really argue with that kind of pedigree.

So if you’re looking for a special treat, either for a summer birthday or maybe just because you’re feeling yourself today, check out their Ocean Reserve. It’s a limited edition, vintage blanc de blancs with flavors of orange zest, Tahitian lime and minerality in the nose, and lime, tangerine, and creamy richness on the finish. And they donate $4 per bottle to the National Geographic’s Ocean Initiative, so you can feel good about your indulgence.

Insider Tip: If you like your bubbly with a view, you’re going to love the outdoor tasting area, backdropped by the vineyards and rolling hills. Check the schedule ahead of time and you might even get some of their famous oysters.

New York State of Mind

Dr. Konstantin Frank
9749 Middle Road
Hammondsport, NY, 14840
(800) 320-0735
Trip Advisor: 4.5 stars; 447 reviews
Tasting price: Ranges from free to $35 per person

For our next sparkle, let’s hop on over to Dr. Frank Wines in the Finger Lake Region of New York State. The vineyard was founded by Dr. Konstantin Frank, a Ukrainian immigrant with a PhD in viticulture. Dr. Frank is credited with changing how grapes were grown in the Finger Lakes and essentially putting it on the map as a destination for wine lovers.

But when it comes to bubbles, don’t miss the 2012 Chateau Frank Blanc de Noirs. It’s a full-bodied, sparkling wine with aromas of spiced citrus, stone fruits, and fresh dough. They recommend you drink it with Cajun shrimp or asparagus spears, but we bet it’s great on its own too.

Insider Tip: Say hi to Meaghan Frank on your visit. She’s the fourth generation in her family to manage the winery.

Yes Way Rosé

Gruet Winery
8400 Pan American Fwy NE
Albuquerque, NM 87113
(505) 821-0055
Trip Advisor: 4.5 stars; 95 reviews
Tasting price: Call (505) 821-0055 for more info on tastings.

Gruet is a French name, but this sparkler hails from the red hills of New Mexico. It was founded by a Frenchman, Gilbert Gruet, who traveled to the American Southwest in 1983 and discovered a rich climate for vineyards. He and his family decided to plant an experimental vineyard in New Mexico and eventually two of his four children also moved to the U.S. to run it. Today you can purchase a wide range of vintage and non-vintage sparkling wines and few still wines as well.

If you’re going for a perfect sip with friends this summer, don’t miss the brut rosé. It’s a full-bodied sparkler with fruity, berry flavors and a “zesty” finish. Rosé all day, am I right?

Insider Tip: The tasting room isn’t on the grounds of the vineyard. They have one in Santa Fe and one in Albuquerque. But don’t worry! Their lovely host, Kevin, will take care of you in their Albuquerque tasting room.

Bio: Emma McGowan is a full time freelance writer who doesn’t have a wine rack because she never manages to keep a bottle full long enough to need one. Check out more of her writing at emmamcgowan.com.