Choosing the best white wine brands can take a little doing, however. Not only are there a plethora of varieties, but there are also so many wineries you’d go dizzy trying to count them.
Where red wine is the face, white wine is the backbone.
White is the delicate to red’s robust. The floral to its dark chocolate. It pairs brilliantly with a nutty salad or a smudge of soft brie.
Here are twelve of the best white wine brands, some I’ve tried, and some on my to-buy list. None of these will go beyond $35, because affordability and delicious wine are not mutually exclusive.
12 of the Best White Wine Brands
1. Cloud Break
Let’s start off the list of the best white wine brands with a highly rated white wine that’s accessible, affordable, and sounds incredibly tasty. Their name alone already evokes strong feelings of quality, since something as simple as a few extra cloudy days can completely transform the flavor of a bottle.
All the classic white wine varieties are available in their portfolio, including a rather interesting sounding ‘unoaked’ chardonnay. One of the details that makes wine so memorable is the aging process, which includes both time itself and the barrel with which the wine rests. I’ve had freshly made wine before, just to see what it tastes like without the extra work, and it was a good reminder why patience is a virtue. Cloud Break’s repertoire straddles the fine line between bright and flavorful, boasting flavor notes that range from easy apricot to more complex toasted oak and vanilla.
I’ve been meaning to add another white wine bottle (or two) to my wine rack this year. You can get your start with today’s best white wine brands, all while keeping your wallet happy in the $8 to $15 range, by trying Cloud Break at their site here or at Total Wine.
California is at it again with white wine varieties that’ll make your toes curl. Just make sure to park expectations at the door!
Blends can sometimes be a dirty word in wine (even coffee) for lacking the complete individuality of a single origin. Olema thinks differently, however, and takes pride in crafting blends that create the perfect balance of flavor, acidity, texture, aroma, and aftertaste.
They source their chardonnay (as well as a chardonnay reserve) from the famed Sonoma County and Russian River Valley. Although the state has been facing some of the worst wildfires seen in history, its 2018 Olema Chardonnay Reserve is a celebration of perfect weather and careful craftsmanship. Their white wine is more intense than the average bottle and contains not just classic tropical and stonefruit flavors, but hazelnut and baking spice notes.
3. Kia Ora
How about another fan favorite? While I’m not one to automatically believe a slew of good reviews (wine palates are too unique for that), I couldn’t help but notice just how positively received this brand was across the board.
Not only is this a wine you can bet will hit some high notes, you can also add a unique origin to the list. France remains the top dog when it comes to white wine varieties, but that hasn’t stopped this New Zealand winery from strutting its stuff. While their portfolio only includes sauvignon blanc, they’re bottles that sound absolutely mouthwatering. Kia Ora’s Signature Marlb Sauv Blanc balances zesty lime with subtle, aromatic herb notes for a finish that no doubt needs to be tasted to be believed.
Just when you thought you got a handle on white wine, here comes another origin and cultivation process to redefine foundations. You can add New Zealand to your origin list for $8 to $12 by trying Kia Ora at Wine.com or at Total Wine.
4. Governors Bay
Continue exploring the New Zealand white wine origin with Governors Bay, a wine brand I’ve been curious about ever since I glimpsed it at Wine Mag.
This winery only has two white wines to its name, but that’s never stopped me from checking out a wine portfolio. If anything, I find myself curious if this is a quality versus quantity situation. An adjective not normally heard when describing white wine varietals is ‘brash’, which is exactly what caught my eye with Governors Bay: light, crisp flavor notes are a favorite, absolutely, but I love to see the line straddled with more ambitious combinations like tomato leaf and guava. Their mouthfeel is also described as more creamy than the average sauvignon blanc, which often skews toward smooth or dry.
5. Firefly Ridge
I can’t help but have a soft spot for one of my first introductions to white wine. Not only was I gifted a bottle from one of my friends, but this was also highly recommended by an employee when I was browsing the wine rack. They also taught me about the difference between pinot gris and pinot grigio, which is helpful in the notoriously convoluted world of wine terminology.
They boast the best of both worlds: an affordable price and a solid result. Their pinot grigio and pinot gris boast all the hallmarks of what makes white wine so memorable: juicy flavors, dry finishes, and a tingling aftertaste. I fell in love with their Pinot Grigio 2017 last year and want to try out the rest of their repertoire next time I shop for groceries. They’re a favorable choice for wine drinkers who don’t like too strong of an alcoholic kick, but don’t necessarily want to drink wine that’s little more than juice. I’ve had that kind of wine. It’s…not great.
Why not gift a bottle to a friend to add a little cheer to the rest of this year? Running at $8, this works as a starting wine for beginning drinkers or an affordable favorite without sacrificing quality. You can find Firefly Ridge at Wine.com or at Safeway.
6. Barefoot Cellars
Back again for round two! While Barefoot Cellars has very tasty red wine varieties, I’ve always found them stronger in the white wine category. Their tendency to prefer bright, crisp flavor notes suits them well in the world of rieslings and sauvignon blancs.
While wine has a rather well-earned reputation as being an exclusionary culture (just look at how much vocabulary you need to learn to get through the door), Barefoot Cellars is the icebreaker at the party. They’ve been doing an incredible job branching out to address several demographics in the wine industry, including new drinkers, casual drinkers, and low-calorie drinkers. Each bottle in their portfolio shows off the best of the grape: their riesling is a sweet medley of nectarine and pear, while their sauvignon blanc is a dry-yet-zesty classic.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Each bottle starts at $5 and doesn’t go beyond $10, well-suited to beginner drinkers or experienced drinkers who could use a few more holiday stocking stuffers. You can find Barefoot Cellars at their site here or at Total Wine.
7. Oro De Castilla
Shake up your origins with a delectable Spanish winery with an impressive portfolio. This award-winning brand has been featured on Forbes, bragged about in the independent publication International Wine Cellar, and is one I’m keeping a close eye on.
Their white wine selection includes verdejo and sauvignon blanc, the former an exclusive variety grown in Spain. Wine Folly has a fantastic breakdown on the particular qualities of the verdejo grape and its unique ability to grow more complex with age (an uncommon feature of many white wine grapes). Oro De Castilla puts great care into detailing the careful environmental changes that affect the flavor and texture of their bottles, with reviewers praising their crisp mouthfeel and mineral-like aftertaste. While many turn to white wine for a dainty and dry experience, this could prove a more unique option to tuck onto the shelf.
A sharp, almost biting contrast to white wine’s more classic soft notes, you can try the verdejo grape for between $7 to $20. You can find Oro De Castilla at their site here (if you read Spanish, that is) or at Wine.com.
8. La Crema
Elegance is a commonly used word for wine, so much so it can start to lose its meaning. For me, it means powerful flavors that still work in coordination rather than fighting for dominance. Their Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2006 is a huge hit in that regard, celebrated for its subtle peach and tropical fruit notes without leaning too hard into tart territory. Not content to stop there, they also offer chardonnay from both Sonoma Coast and Monterey. From sweet papaya to cloying honeysuckle, there’s no white wine classic that isn’t visited.
9. Dry Creek Vineyard
White wine fans will already be very familiar with this name. Their portfolio is an iconic showcase of all the subtleties within these dainty white wine grapes, compared and contrasted to encourage you to diversify your palate.
Dry Creek Vineyard is one of the oldest wineries on the list, their name hearkening to Dry Creek and dating all the way back to the Prohibition days. That means nearly fifty years of representing the unique and powerful qualities of Californian’s soil in crafting unforgettable white wines. Today they continue their legacy with winetasting, wine clubs, and trade events: their white wine portfolio contains several sauvignon blanc alongside chardonnay and the more niche chenin blanc. Nobody will say they’re not adventurous, though, as their 2019 Fumé Blanc has notes not just of lemon and white peach, but ‘fresh cut grass and jalapeño’.
Also located in Dry Creek, Quivira is widely considered to be one of the best white wine brands in the United States. There’s a reason why specialists are often more prized than generalists: they dive deep into a specific subject and take the time necessary to unearth its hidden potential.
Although Quivira boasts red wines and a rosé to their name, they have an impressive selection of white wines to show their devotion to the varietal. They have been highly rated on Wine Spectator and regularly crop on best-of lists for their commitment to complex, subtle, and even spicy white wine. Their most celebrated bottle is their 2018 Fig Tree Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, though I can’t help but want to try their 2018 Alder Grove Sauvignon blanc. It sounds both somehow classic and entirely unique with its mixture of spicy lemon zest and floral notes.
11. Syncline Winery
Washington may not quite have the same reputation as California, but it certainly isn’t for lack of trying. Seattle Mag’s feature on the Syncline Winery has gotten me to review again what my state holds for wine as both a product and a culture.
One of the most interesting aspects of this family-owned Washington winery is their dedication to a more unique climate on top of a lesser-known grape variety. The grenache blanc white grape is as niche as you can get when compared to the classic riesling, chardonnay, and pinot gris. Their bottle sounds like the very definition of a sensory experience, described as having the aroma of wet stone alongside more familiar apple and citrus. That’s before we get into their airy Grüner Veltliner or zesty Picpoul.
Diversify your wine journey with lesser-known varietals that have earned their small, yet dedicated fanbases among today’s best white wine brands. For $25 to $30 you can enjoy Syncline Winery at their site here. They also distribute to Authentic Wine Selections.
12. River Road
We’re rounding out the list with a wine that’s exemplary of the budget-conscious, and flavor-conscious, wine consumer.
Sonoma County and Russian River Valley make a tag team return here, crafting a fruit-centered range of white wines. Their Chardonnay Russian River Valley Reserve is a solid place to start with vanilla and pear flavors wrapped together with a full body. If you want to step a little off the beaten path, though, their chardonnay is a prime contender for the championship with butterscotch and honey flavor notes.
If you find yourself concerned you don’t know enough about wine, lay those fears to rest. We’re all learning something new.
When starting out I had no idea white wine didn’t age like red wine. A store employee had to explain the difference between pinot gris and pinot grigio to me. Wine is a personal journey we take for personal reasons…so why wouldn’t we have personal results? Go easy on yourself and celebrate each new detail. You only have more wine to enjoy!