We really do have a very diverse wine industry here in the Sonoma Valley. There are the tasting rooms on and around the Plaza, the standalone wineries throughout the Valley and the clusters of industrial-park wineries over on Eighth Street East. These businesses are visible parts of our lives here and of the economic fabric of the Valley.
There is also a significant part of the wine industry here that is not so visible, companies based here doing business making and selling wines without the Plaza tasting room and the stately winery surrounded by rolling hills of vines. In fact, the best place to find the wines from these companies is at your local Safeway or Whole Foods.
One of the most prominent and successful of these companies is The Other Guys, a company owned and operated by one of the oldest and most familiar of our Sonoma wine families. August Sebastiani, great-grandson of Sebastiani Vineyards founder Samuele Sebastiani, runs The Other Guys and manages a portfolio of creative, interesting wines marketed as “everyday luxuries.” The wines are available nationally and the company has grown steadily, successfully and quietly from its formation over a decade ago as a division of August’s father’s Don Sebastiani & Sons, which by the way has its own terrific stable of brands that I am sure you would recognize (check it out at donsebastianiandsons.com). In 2010, The Other Guys was spun off and is now a separate company.
Here are some of the labels from The Other Guys you will most likely find in the wine department of your favorite market.
Hey Mambo: These are blended wines that according to the label are “blended to captivate.” Wines include the Swanky White, Dry Rosé and the Sultry Red.
Leese-Fitch: Named for the historic 1836 Leese-Fitch building located on the Sonoma Plaza where The Other Guys were based for a time. (I also had offices upstairs in that very cool building in a previous life when I was running “Appellation” magazine). Wines produced include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.
Moobuzz: Wines under this label are “from the land of milk and honey,” and designed to showcase the wines from the California Coast. Wines produced include Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Pennywise: These wines are crafted to be well structured wines for the table. Wines produced include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.
Plungerhead: These are fun, flavorful reds that are perfect for summer foods. Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel bottlings from Lodi and Dry Creek Valley are produced.
The White Knight: This label showcases spicy, interesting white wines that are intended to be great alternatives to Chardonnay. Wines produced include Viognier from Clarksburg, Riesling from Lake County, Pinot Grigio and Moscato.
So why, aside from the local connection, do I tell you about The Other Guys and companies like it? Because the wines are good, they are reasonably priced (well under $20 for most) and best of all they are available at the stores where we all shop. Stock up for the summer!
For more information on The Other Guys and its wines, visit www.togwines.com
Greg Walter, a Sonoma resident for more than 20 years, has been in wine and food publishing for more than 30 years, 15 of which were spent as a senior editor and later president of Wine Spectator magazine. Today he writes the PinotReport newsletter (Pinotreport.com) and publishes books through his Carneros Press imprint (Carnerospress.com).