In tough times, we continue the search for good, inexpensive wines.

McKinley Springs is located in the southern section of the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. The winery is one of a number of Washington wineries with a multi-generational history of farming in the state. Louise and Bob Andrews moved to the Yakima Valley and began farming shortly after World War II. In 1980, they planted grapes. Since then they have provided fruit to numerous wineries throughout the state, including Andrew Rich, Northstar, Syncline, Hogue, and Columbia Crest. The Andrews’ son Rob now serves as grower for more than 2,000 acres of vineyards. McKinley Springs Winery was established in 2002 to provide wines from estate fruit at value price points. Doug Rowell serves as winemaker.

Wines of Substance was founded by Waters Winery winemaker Jamie Brown and Gramercy Cellars winemaker Greg Harrington. The winery focuses on providing quality varietal bottlings at pocketbook friendly prices. The labels are eye-catching black and white with Periodic Table-style letters representing the variety. The winery’s website shows the complete table which you can rotate and spin to your heart’s delight (or get yourself a t-shirt). Click on one of the symbols on the table and it flies at you and provides a description of the wine as well as a link to .pdf tasting notes with extra space to write notes. Substance was recently named one of the top ten ‘Hot Small Brands‘ by Wine Business Monthly (They define ‘small brands’ as less than 150,000 cases. Yikes!).

Randy Leitman started the Randall Harris label more than ten years ago. Leitman is a negociant with no bricks and mortar facility – or even website. Randall Harris produces approximately 4,000 cases annually.

Renegade Wine Co.’s wines are made by Trey Bush at Sleight of Hand Cellars. The back of the label irreverently reads, “Glasses? We don’t need no stinkin’ glasses.” While this wine won’t blow your doors off, it doesn’t need to at this price point. It is a well put together pizza wine (Plates? We don’t need no stinkin’ plates!) that provides a lot of bang for the buck.

McKinley Spring Syrah Horse Heaven Hills 2005 $15
Rating: + (Good) Nose is somewhat muted with chocolate, coffee, and floral notes along with blue and black fruit. Taste delivers with a dollop of fruit and a persistent intensity straight through the finish. Drinks like a considerably more expensive bottle. Syrah co-fermented with 3.5% Viognier. Aged 18 months in French and American oak (20% new). 14.2% alcohol. 374 cases produced. Recommended. Purchased from Full Pull Wines for $13.49

McKinley Springs Viognier Horse Heaven Hills 2008 $15
Rating: + (Good) Almost completely clear in color. A lightly aromatic nose with floral and mineral notes along with white peaches. Crisp and clean on the palate with an acidic finish. Alcohol seems a bit heavy on the palate at times. Needs food to fully express itself. Aged in stainless steel sur lies. 14.6% alcohol. 225 cases produced. Purchased from Whole Foods for $150 (just kidding, $15)

Wines of Substance Syrah Washington State 2008 $15
Rating: . (Decent) An quiet but intriguing nose with blueberry, blackberry bush, and touches of carob. A fruit-filled, clean palate with a citric uptick on the finish. 13.7% alcohol. Purchased from Pete’s Seattle for $14

Randall Harris Merlot Columbia Valley 2007 $10
Rating: . (Decent) Fairly light in color. A pleasing, aromatic nose with a bowl of red currant, raspberry compote, and wild blueberries with a dusting of chocolate. On the palate, dry and tart with a lot of fresh fruit flavors. A hint of sweetness at the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Purchased from Pete’s Seattle for $9.39

Renegade Wine Co. Red Wine Columbia Valley 2008 $8

Rating: . (Decent) Nose is marked by raspberry Newtons, berry, and a touch of earth. On the taste, strawberry and raspberry flavors mark a solid but not particularly complex wine. Has a pleasing zing of acidity that would breathe some extra life into pizza or pasta. A bit under-ripe at times on the nose and taste. Doesn’t quite stand on its own but doesn’t need to at this price. 67% Syrah, 14% Grenache, 14% Sangiovese, and 5% Merlot. 14.1% alcohol. Purchased from Esquin for $8

See other Five Under Fifteen wines here.