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Why We Are The Best For Your Palate and Your Wallet



CONNOISSEURS' GUIDE to CALIFORNIA WINE, acclaimed by the Los Angeles Times as the "oldest, most prestigious reviewer of California wines", shows you the wines to buy and helps you avoid the wines not worth your money. We pull no punches in our detailed, hard-hitting reviews and tell you about every wine's availability, aging potential and the foods that go perfectly with it.


Every monthly issue of The GUIDE brings you hundreds of detailed, exacting reviews. We started CONNOISSEURS' GUIDE three decades ago with one goal in mind-to write accurately, insightfully and authoritatively about California and West Coast wine.



CONNOISSEURS' GUIDE enjoys a national reputation for its objectivity, expertise and integrity. We review wines in rigorous blind tastings at our own tasting table. We buy the wines we taste from independent retailers here in the San Francisco area rather than focusing on wines the producers provide. It is more expensive to do it that way, but it guarantees that what you read is what you get when you pull the cork on a wine reviewed by the GUIDE.



The GUIDE gives you the results of every blind-tasted wine, not just the chosen favorites. You will learn precisely why we get excited or bored, turned on or turned off by every wine we taste. And we absolutely avoid the highly questionable practice of reviewing wines tasted at the wineries with the labels showing and the winemaker and owner at our elbows.



In addition to the wine reviews that lie at the heart of every timely, monthly issue, the GUIDE goes behind the scenes to show you why the wines turn out the way they do, to provide continuing guidance about how wines have aged and to examine how California and Pacific Northwest wines stack up against their peers from around the world.


Our COLLECTORS' CORNER tastings of older wines that have been carefully aged in our own cellars and our CALIFORNIA vs. THE WORLD sections bring you broad-ranging and incredibly informative coverage. Every monthly issue alerts you to GOOD VALUES, and our BEST BUYS IN THE MARKET column calls your attention to wines that are simply too good to pass up.



The GUIDE is written by Publisher/Editor Charles Olken in collaboration with Associate Editor Stephen Eliot. Mr. Olken co-founded CONNOISSEURS' GUIDE in 1974 to focus specifically on our emerging region because no one was then serving the needs of California wine consumers and collectors like himself. Mr. Olken is also co-author of the CONNOISSEURS' HANDBOOK of CALIFORNIA WINES, a wine columnist in newspapers in California and a frequent judge at international wine competitions. Stephen Eliot also serves the Senior Wine Instructor at the California Culinary Academy.



When it comes to California wine, Connoisseurs' Guide leads the way. No other publication has been more widely praised and supported than the Guide. We live here. We know the wine country backwards and forwards, and we are in the vineyards and wineries every week-not a couple of times a year. We cover California wine comprehensively and authoritatively. Perhaps that is why so many people have called us "the best for the West".

"Connoisseurs Guide has no peer when it comes to covering the complex California wine scene."-San Francisco Chronicle


"No one does a better job with California wine than Connoisseurs' Guide."-Robert M. Parker, Jr., The Wine Advocate


"The best written wine publication in the United States."-Linda Murphy, Decanter Magazine


 "When it comes to California wine, I rely on Connoisseurs' Guide."-Peter Morrell, Morrell and Sons Wine Merchants, New York City


"The fairest, most rigorous wine evaluation process I have ever seen."-Kent Rosenblum, Rosenblum Cellars



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Inside the Current Issue

Although holiday festivities have come and gone, we begin another year of Connoisseurs' Guide with a selection of new Zinfandels, Sauvignon Blancs and fortified dessert wines that, in themselves, are cause for continued celebration. And, as always, we take a moment to briefly glance back on what 2021 meant in the ongoing saga of fine California wines and remember the top wines that graced our tables this past year.

We are among those who hold that Zinfandel deserves a place on the roster of the world's important wines, and there are so many stunning, immensely satisfying Zins now being made that they cannot be overlooked by anyone who believes that fine wine is a necessity of life.

When it comes to fine, white-wine values, Sauvignon Blanc ranks among the best with a far-reaching variety of styles from invitingly fruity to involvingly complex, and finding well-crafted renditions priced for everyday enjoyment requires no effort at all.

A glass of something strong and sweet is our favorite way to end a good meal, especially in chilly winter months, and January's selection of remarkably good local offerings reminds that fine examples of fortified dessert wines are not exclusive to Portugal and Spain.

There are good and not-so-good years. Though the one just past had its high points and low, it was, on balance, as we look back at how 2021 unfolded, a time when lovers of good West Coast wines had much to celebrate.

We tasted thousands of new wines in 2021, and, while a great many earned high recommendation, there are several that stood out in the minds of Stephen, Charlie and Lynne who each offer their personal choices as the most memorable of the year.

It is not news that Cabernet Sauvignon can be expensive, but as this month's Best Buy recommendations remind, that does not mean that all well-made examples come so dear that they are rare treats to be opened only on special occasions, and our latest shopping list of wines long on value includes sparkling wines that will not strain post-holiday budgets.