August means two things to Washington wine lovers: it starts the countdown to harvest, and it's Washington Wine Month at state liquor stores.
For those looking to stock up on inexpensive Washington wine, the latter can be a highlight of the year. We have been studying this year's list from the Washington State Liquor Control Board, and deals abound.
There are two parts to the list: first are 105 wines that are on sale for anywhere from 4 percent to 46 percent off their normal prices, and second are 75 wines that are special to the liquor stores this month.
Let's examine the bargain list first.
For those looking for great deals, there are 85 wines for under $10. Of these, 28 are under $6, and six are under $5.
Top bargains abound from two producers in particular. Covey Run's chardonnay, cab-merlot, Gewürztraminer, riesling and sauvignon blanc are $4.99 each. Columbia Crest's Vineyard 10 White also is $4.99, while its Gewürztraminer, riesling and sauvignon blanc under the Two Vines tier are $5.48 each.
Red wine lovers have plenty from which to choose, including Hyatt Vineyards' cab-merlot ($5.49) and merlot ($5.99), Covey Run's cab and merlot ($5.99 each), Hogue Cellars' Red ($5.99) and Washington Hills' merlot, syrah and Rainier Red ($5.99 each).
Columbia Winery's Cellarmaster Riesling is the top bargain at 46 percent off its normal price at $6.99.
There are six large-format wines on sale this month. Washington Hills sells riesling, chardonnay and merlot in a three-liter box for $16.99 each, which works out to $4.25 per standard 750 milliliter bottle. And Stimson Estate Cellars has its popular 1.5 liter chardonnay, cab and merlot for $9.98 each, working out to $4.99 per standard bottle.
The winery with the most bargains is Columbia Crest, which has 19 wines on the list, 10 of which are reds. Crest's wines range in price from $4.99 to $11.49. Overall, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates has 49 wines on the list, spanning seven brands.
The state's "special purchase list" includes 73 wines and two ciders not normally carried at the liquor store.
Covey Run again offers the deepest bargain, selling its red and white table wines for $4.99 each.
Brown Box, a brand of Silver Lake Winery in Woodinville, sells three wines in three-liter packages. The chardonnay, cab and merlot are $16.99 each, or $4.25 per standard bottle. Columbia Crest has 1.5 liter wines, including pinot grigio, chardonnay, cab and merlot for $11.99 each, or $5.99 per standard bottle.
Though not necessarily priced for the bargain bin, Chateau Ste. Michelle is selling some of its top-end vineyard-designated wines at the liquor stores, including its Cold Creek Vineyard chardonnay ($21.99), Cold Creek Vineyard cab ($25.99), Cold Creek Vineyard merlot ($25.99), Canoe Ridge Estate chardonnay ($18.99) and Canoe Ridge Estate merlot ($18.99).
Collectors also will want to consider this one: Seven Hills Winery, one of Walla Walla's oldest and finest producers, has its cab on sale for $22.99.
Easily the most unusual wine on the list is from Chocolate Shop, a brand of Precept Wines in Seattle. Its chocolate wine is a red wine blended with dark chocolate, and it's on sale for $9.99. Sounds dangerously good.
Those looking to take their discounts even deeper should plan to purchase at least six bottles, as the price will drop another 10 percent. So for example, a mixed case of wines at $4.99 will run just under $66.
Many wine retailers and grocers also celebrate Washington Wine Month with special discounts, so check out your favorite wine merchant as well.
To download the entire list of liquor store bargains for Washington Wine Month, go to www.winepressnw.com/wineknows.
*Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman run Great Northwest Wine, a website that provides news and information about the wines of Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho.