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Business Beat


Wine Snob* says, “I know you are but what am I?”

All the good names were taken and the wine doesn’t care

By Paul Goguen

Lindsey Blanchard and Ryan Kuhlmann visited our beloved Sonoma Valley some fifteen years ago, fell in love with the place and decided to start a wine label. It’s a fantastical idea I have often considered myself, in many places that I have been lucky enough to visit — but swap winemaking for wine-drinking. After some inspiration and a lot of hard work they gave birth to Wine Snob*, an unpretentious label producing some snooty-tasting wines. Blanchard and Kuhlmann don’t take themselves too seriously, as the name jokingly implies, and know that mastering vinification takes time. Gaining more and more experience each year while working with their winemaking team, their goal is to make the best California wine possible at the best price point while having some fun along the way. Another ambition has been to ship affordable California wines back to the Midwest to friends, family, and a substantial number of snobs who order their juice online. Over the last eight years, they’ve found themselves learning everything from planting, winemaking, label design, and tasting room layout. Fermented offerings include a 2015 tempranillo, 2016 chardonnay, 2018 pinot noir and a refreshing 2020 rose´ (because something good had to come out of that dumpster fire of a year). They have other wines available that are worth checking out, and none cost more than $30.

With a name like Wine Snob*, it seems inevitable they might encounter a customer who says something like, “I only drink natural wines that are irrigated by unicorn tears and harvested under a full moon by carbon-neutral drones. Is that what we are doing here?” It is also worth noting that the famous “Judgement of Paris” in 1976 was made possible by some of the biggest wine snobs of all time. A line from the snob played by the late Alan Rickman was immortalized in the 2008 movie “Bottle Shock,” who proclaims to a California winemaker, “I would like to taste your chardonnay.” So I guess in the end, wine snobs aren’t so bad after all — and this one is quite remarkable. The Wine Snob* tasting room is located at 969 Carquinez Ave., a convenient two-minute walking commute from Blanchard and Kuhlmann’s home in Glen Ellen.

Hours: Wednesday, 12 p.m.–6 p.m., Thursday through Sunday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.