Top 4 Summer Beach Wines

Drink, Wine

This post comes courtesy of Jenny Johnson, a member of Williams-Sonoma’s Merchandise Operations team. 


Do you have a favorite wine for the beach — or any other summer destination? Are there one or two that you always have on hand to enjoy yourself or to share with friends?


I do! The wines I’m featuring here won’t break the bank and will appeal to a wide range of tastes. They can be savored on their own, with snacks or alongside a summer meal.


Every summer since 2004, I’ve been fortunate to spend a week with a group of great friends at a family beach house on the Jersey Shore. One of my favorite experiences, now a tradition, of the vacation is the trip to the local liquor store. That’s when we choose wines to stock the refrigerator in the garage and the sideboard next to the dining table. There are a wide range of palates to please, and I do believe the liquor store looks forward to our annual visit very much.


Here are two of my favorite whites, a red and a surprise find from last summer thrown in for good measure.


How to Grill a Whole FishOyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc I am a huge fan of Sauvignon Blanc — New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in particular. Everyone seems to know Kim Crawford and Cloudy Bay, which we purchase for the garage refrigerator stock. I really encourage you to try Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc if you can find it. I like the balance of crisp citrus zest and tropical flavors that light up on your tongue. Truly delicious on its own or perhaps paired with a warm crab dip.
How to Grill a Whole FishOyster Bay Pinot Noir Oyster Bay also makes a fine Pinot Noir. If you happen across a bottle, do pick it up. It is a full-bodied, fruity wine with soft, light tannins — delightfully drinkable with or without snacks. One of my friends makes a killer caramelized onion dip that we demand every vacation, and I think it’s the perfect pairing for a Pinot Noir in the summer. Of course, burgers or steaks from the grill are also wonderful, especially when accompanied by olive oil- and rosemary-roasted fingerling potatoes, dusted with flaked kosher salt and fresh-cracked pepper.
Conundrum White WineConundrum White Wine I am also a fan of Conundrum Table White, an amazing value for a well-crafted blend of California whites. It is silky smooth and sometimes vaguely sweet. I really enjoy a cheese platter or any roast chicken with this wine. The roasted chicken and bread salad from San Francisco’s Zuni Café comes to mind . . . yum!
Kim Crawford Unoaked ChardonnayKim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay My unexpected find of last summer was Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay, apparently the wine that started the company. I paid well under $20 for the bottle and was immediately impressed upon my first sip. Fresh and zesty, this wine lets the fruit simply shine through. It has a gorgeous golden color that glows in the glass. This would be excellent with fresh seafood, although I don’t think our bottle managed to survive until our traditional clam and lobster feast.


No matter what your favorite wines may be, they are somehow better when shared with good friends on a leisurely summer afternoon. Don’t you think?


Tell me, what are your must-have summer wines?


About the author: Jenny, of Merchandise Operations for Williams-Sonoma, is a U.S. Navy brat raised mainly in New Zealand. She has a passion for travel, food and wine. She is especially happy when able to combine all three. The love of travel is inherited from her father. Her Kiwi mother, a self-taught gourmet cook, has inspired many a food adventure, and the year she spent studying in Dijon, France truly broadened her appreciation of wine.

6 comments about “Top 4 Summer Beach Wines

  1. Adam

    I’m glad to see you mention Conundrum in your list. My friends keep giving me grief for buying it but now I can’t point to this and say if William Sonoma approves it then you can just stick a cork in your criticism. Thanks!

  2. Marilk

    I tried Conundrum over the weekend and loved it! And I’m definitely more of a red wine drinker, but this was really good. It was perfect with my ahi tuna.

  3. Barb

    A few years ago I was on vacation in Spain and fell in love with the local sparkling wine. Served ice cold on a HOT beach it was heaven in a glass. The sun, sand, surf, bubbles, gorgeous bar waiters in tight swimsuits, it’s a combination I’ll never forget.

    So now when I’m headed to the beach I always have a cooler full of ice and either Cava or Prosecco. All I’m missing is Javier in his little red Speedo!

  4. Jenny Johnson

    @Lisa – Thanks! I’d love to know what you think of them after you have had a chance to try them.
    @Michelle – Thank you for sharing! I will definitley be on the lookout for the Happs wines in my local shop so I can try it, especially the Fushsia.
    @Adam – You are welcome!
    @Marilk – I am so glad you tried the Conundrum and liked it. And thank you for the suggested food pairing. I can’t wait to try the ahi tuna with a glass (or two).
    @Barb -Thank you for sharing such a delightful memory. It does indeed sound heavenly. Not too long ago the Williams-Sonoma Wine Club had an extraordinary Cava available for purchase. There isn’t one available now, but I happen know there is an excellent Prosecco currently offered in the Wine Shop section of the Wine Club – Adami Garbèl Prosecco, NV, Italy
    You might consider trying it.


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