Oak Leaf Chardonnay

Price: $3
Maker: Oak Leaf Vineyards, Ripon, California
Varietal: Chardonnay
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, artificial cork
Alcohol: 12.5%
Our Rating: 8.3 out of 10

Oak Leaf Chardonnay is another ultra-inexpensive wine designed to take on Two Buck Chuck. Surprisingly, perhaps, it’s quite drinkable, even if undistinguished. The nose is mild, with sliced green apples and oak. On the palate, there’s more oak than fruit, with weak pear and apple notes. This Chardonnay is saved from failure by having a spicy finish with an acidic bite. The finish is pleasantly long.

This wine is sold through Wal-Mart. I’ve had comments from visitors who have see Oak Leaf wines as cheap as $2. For the price, Oak Leaf Chardonnay is an exceptional value. It may not be what you take to your boss’s house party, but if you need to throw a dozen bottles of white wine in a tub of ice at your family picnic, you could do a lot worse than Oak Leaf Chardonnay.

11 thoughts on “Oak Leaf Chardonnay”

    1. I just got back from Dallas TX love the Oak Leaf Chardonnary from Walmart, I am also looking for in in N.j. lets see if we can both try to find it, I tried Sam’s Club with no luck also Trader Joe’s.

      1. If you’ve got access to a Trader Joe’s, go for the Charles Shaw (same price range as Oak Leaf), or step up a couple of dollars to their whole range of inexpensive but fairly good whites and reds.

  1. We have three retail stores in Central Florida and I have a customer requesting Oak Leaf Chardonnay; who is my distributor? I can be reached at the sandovaln@msn.com email or by phone at 321-223-0773.

    Thank you for your time!

    Nancy Hastings
    Florida Wine & Spirits
    5410 Murrell Rd #221 Viera FL 32955
    190 SW Malabar Rd #111 Palm Bay Fl 32907
    1921 Knox McRae Rd Titusville FL 32780

  2. Oak Leaf Vineyards (Ripon, Calif.) does not really exist as such; instead it is a production facility of The Wine Group, Inc. Oak Leaf wine is the private label non-vintage wine marketed by The Wine Group (the box wine people) only to Wal-Mart stores. (Not E&J Gallo as some reviews contend.)

    Headquartered in San Francisco (about 70 miles west of Ripon), The Wine Group’s labels include such well known brands as Corbett Canyon, Inglenook, Mogen David, Franzia, Almaden and Glen Ellen wines. The firm recently relocated their operations center from San Francisco to Livermore, Calif., about mid-way between San Francisco and Ripon.

    Privately held, The Wine Group was once part of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of New York. And being privately held, its operation and products are kept pretty much secret. It doesn’t even have a corporate website, although it does have brand-related sites. Strange for the second largest wine producer in California (more than 40 million cases produced annually), second only to Gallo.

    Oak Leaf wines are very similar to Bronco’s Charles Shaw wines (affectionately nicknamed “Two Buck Chuck”) which sells for $1.99 at Trader Joe’s stores. Headquartered in Monrovia, Calif., Trader Joe’s 300 stores has sold millions of cases of what the trade calls “extreme value wines.” Due to transportation charges to outlying states, the price can be a dollar more.

    The Charles Shaw label is a brand of the Bronco Wine Company (Ceres, Calif.) owned by John and Fred Franzia (formerly of Franzia Brothers wines.) The Franzias (nephews of Ernest Gallo) sold the Franzia brand name to The Wine Group and started Bronco Wines and they are competitors. The Franzia family, which now has no relationship to Franzia brand boxed wine, has made wine in California for over 100 years. Bronco is California’s third largest wine producer.

    Oak Leaf Vineyards (which doesn’t even have its own telephone number) is one of hundreds of wine brands bottled by The Wine Group in Ripon. It does not release the private labels of the wines it makes but there are many.

    Oak Leaf wines come in five varietals: Cabenet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio/Chardonnay and White Zinfandel. The standard 750-ml bottles with an artificial cork have an elegant label that shows four seasonal oak trees, one for Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.

    We are not one to place a lot of importance on awards since it seems all wineries get them. But Oak Leaf Vineyards did win a gold medal at the prestigious Florida State International Wine Competition and Silver and Bronze at the 2008 San Francisco Wine Competition. Incredible for a $3 wine! And the Summer-2008 edition of “O at Home” magazine (an Oprah Winfrey publication) featured Oak Leaf wine on its cover with the tag line: “The $3 bottle of wine that will blow you away.” On page 19, they picture Oak Leaf Chardonnay and call it “The steal of the season.”

    I like the Cabernet Sauvignon best. It is a full favored, medium body wine with a fruity aroma of berry, spice, vanilla and oak …pretty smooth and no unpleasant aftertaste. This is not a sophisticated wine but a terrific value at $2.97.

    Wine snobs won’t like it because it is inexpensive and comes from Wal-Mart. But the fact is that it is better than one would expect. I certainly have had $10-$15 French wine far worse. Wal-Mart sells out of it fast, so I buy several bottles whenever they have it. So far, it has been consistently good …a problem with low price wines. One bottle is good …the next not so good. It’s perfect for an everyday wine to compliment dine-in dinner or snacks on the patio. Goes with almost anything. I rate it an “80″ out of 100.

    1. You skipped the Oak Leaf Shiraz in your review. I rate it best of all their offerings. The oversight might be that it is not distributed as widely as the others, but is available here in Southern California.

  3. I just went to my Walmart in Maumelle, AR and it wasn’t there. Could it be under another name? They had several wines just not that brand. Thanks so much!!!

  4. I would love to know where I can get 250 bottles of Oak Leaf Chardonnay. I would like to use these bottles of wine for the invitations of my wedding. can you guys help me?

  5. I drink wine daily. One glass with dinner. So as you might expect I’m always looking for drinkable wines in the $5.00 or less range. Good news, a challenger to 2 buck chuck. The Walmart Oak Leaf Shiraz beats out it’s Shaw counterpart by a good margin. In fact It’s the best red at this price anywhere. Nice varietal overtones comparable to the $5-8 Australian imports. The Cabernet is a notch above the Shaw product as well, though both lack any discernable varietal flavor.I’ve got a bottle of the Oak Leaf Merlot I’ve yet to sample. Of all the Trader Joe Shaw offerings at this time (quality varies quite a bit from vintage to vintage and batch to batch), I rate their Merlot best. Their latest Cabernet vintage is not up to their previous offerings.


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