Some of the best American wines no one has ever heard of come from the states of Washington and Oregon.

“There are some really wonderful wines out there,” says Randy McLaughlin, the director of fine wines for Sigel’s. “And they’re great buys too, as long as you stick with the lower-priced wines. The problem with the high-end wines is that they don’t make enough to keep the price down.”

One reason why Pacific Northwest wines are a better value is that land is less expensive in Washington and Oregon than in California. This means wines from the largest producers, like Hogue and Columbia Crest, are about $2 cheaper than similar California wines.

• Hogue Fumé Blanc 1998 ($7). A white wine from Washington state that goes well with almost anything, and is unbelievably inexpensive. Serve well chilled

• Shooting Star Blue Franc 1998 ($10). Well-known California wine maker Jed Steele uses a little-known French grape, the blue franc, to produce Merlot-style wine in Washington. Serve at room temperature.

• Hedges Cabernet/Merlot 1998 ($12). This blend comes from a Columbia Valley winery known for tasty blends, including a Chardonnay/Fume. Serve at room temperature.


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