For International Merlot Month – Frei Brothers Sonoma Merlot


October is International Merlot Month which provides an excuse

to pass along some information and give a little love

to a varietal that is popular everywhere but here. 


 Fun fact: merlot is the second most widely planted grape

in the world, behind only cabernet sauvignon. 


But here in the US, merlot is still trying to recover

from the body blow delivered when the movie Sideways

slammed the entire category waaaaay back in 2004. 

Basic RGB

It’s Wine Thursday!, our weekly look at a

good wine that sells at a reasonable price

and is easy to find at retail or online. 


It took some searching to source a merlot that

checked all of the boxes…especially “easy to find” since

there simply isn’t much domestic merlot available…

but we believe we found one that is worthy of your consideration.




Where it’s from  

Just outside the quaint Sonoma County town of Healdsburg,

you’ll find the Frei Brothers Winery,

appropriately enough on Frei Brothers Winery Road. 

Now part of the huge Gallo conglomerate,

Frei Brothers has been producing well-crafted

and well-priced wines for over a century. 


What it is  

A decade or so ago, domestic merlot dug itself a hole. 

While it was inexpensive, it was also bland, boring and without distinction.

Frei Brothers Sonoma Reserve serves as an example of how affordable

California merlot has stepped up its game.   

This is a dry, medium-bodied package that shows

a good deal of fruit flavors, such as currant and plum. 

You’ll also notice hints of oak, coffee and licorice. 

All of these flavors are subtle…toned down…and blended quite effectively.   

Merlot might not be at the top of your shopping list

but this one is worth an audition,

especially for the price.   


Where to find it   

Frei Brothers is at Safeway and Lucky Supermarket for $14.99. 

The listed price at Total Wine is $15.79. 

It’s at Fred Meyer and QFC for $15.99. 

Walmart’s price is $16.98.  Vons has it for $16.99. 

You can order it from Luekens for $13.99 

Vine Republic sells it for $14.98

Gary’s Wine & Marketplace has it for $14.99

Marketview Liquor’s price is $16.49