Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon with grilled ribs.
Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon with grilled ribs.

Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, California

Cost: $9-11

What: The history of Concannon and Cabernet Sauvignon are intertwined, going back 130 years. So it is no surprise that this wine is a winner.

The grapes selected from California Central Coast vineyards produce an outstanding wine at a great price. This is a hearty, well-balanced wine with a rich nose of dark berries.

This tastes like a Cab you would find at a much higher prices, with lots of plum and blackberry tastes and hints of pomegranate and tobacco. It is a very pleasant wine, with some depth and complexity.

Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon.
Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon.

The blend is 80 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 15 percent Merlot and 5 percent Petite Sirah.

The wines from selected vineyards provide blending diversity because of the many microclimates available. Cool region grapes provide fresh fruit nuances and warm region grapes add depth of flavor and complexity. About 60,000 cases were produced.

Winery: James Concannon and his wife Ellen founded Concannon Vineyards when they moved to the Livermore Valley in 1883. It was among the first California wineries to produce Bordeaux blends.

The winery also introduced Petite Sirah to America in 1961. It is known for its Bordeaux blends and its Rhone style blends.

The family practices sustainable farming and green technology. It is part of the Conservancy winegrowers who have placed their land in a legal trust to protect the land against development.

When James Concannon founded the winery, the California wine industry was young and winemakers were exploring which varietals were best suited to the region. Concannon went to Bordeaux to learn about winemaking and vineyard management.

He brought back Cabernet Sauvignon cuttings for planting in California. His first wine made primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon was bottled in 1886. An infestation of the root louse phylloxera destroyed those vines in the 1890s.

Concannon returned to Bordeaux and brought back the healthiest, phylloxera-resistant Bordeaux varietals. Those plants are still producing grapes today in Livermore Valley.

Two generations later Jim Concannon worked with the University of California at Davis to develop Cab clones that were resistant to phylloxera. The final result was the registration of Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon clones 7, 8 and 11. They became the backbone of California’s Cab plantings and are the most widely planted in California today.

The development of these clones is considered Concannon’s greatest contribution to the California wine industry.

Fourth generation vintner John Concannon continues to produce Cabs in each of its five production tiers: Heritage, Reserve, Conservancy, Selected Vineyards and Glen Ellen Reserve. The winery also produces many other varietals at a wide range of prices.

Grilled baby back ribs with all the trimmings.
Grilled baby back ribs with all the trimmings.

Goes with: It was a beautiful fall evening, so my wife Teri and I decided to eat dinner on the back porch. I grilled pork ribs marinated in North Carolina vinegar sauce. (I actually brought the sauce back from Lexington, N.C., center of the eastern Carolina barbecue universe.)

I needed a bright, fresh wine that would take on the ribs and the tangy sauce. I’m glad I chose the Concannon Cab because it nicely matched the sharp taste of the sauce and the sweet taste of the pork. We also had mashed potatoes, peas, snow peas and salads.

This wine also would go well with a wide variety of foods, including steak, beef stew, pizza or strong cheeses.


  1. Michael Ryan Reply

    Dennis — Wasn’t sure how else to contact you. We just bought a Concannon last night due to your review. I’d had it before the night Billy got inducted into the business hall of fame — that was the Marriott’s choice of a pour the night the boss was being feted! Hope you’re doing well!

    • Dennis Sodomka Reply

      Hi Mike,
      Hope you liked it. Whatever your thoughts about the wine feel free to comment on it here.
      My email is if you ever need to reach me. Hope things are going well.

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