Front label of 2019 Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Knights Valley Meritage Lot #100

TJ’s Mystery Meritage Wine is a Winner

Fast facts:

  • 2019 Trader Joe’s Reserve Meritage Lot 100, Knights Valley, Sonoma County, California ($12.99 @Trader Joe’s,  California)


So often in our reviews we discuss whether a vintage is too old, and whether the wine may have passed.  This is especially true for white wines but applies to red wines as well.  In the case of this week’s Thirsty Thursday wine, we were concerned if it was too young!

After all, this wine is made from fruit that was still hanging in a vineyard some 15 months ago. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for aging and expensive oak regimens, but that is part of the reason it can be sold for $12.99.  But any concerns about the vintage being premature vanished after a delicious sip or two.

Tasting Notes:

A solid weekday wine that won’t break the bank. Nose of cocoa powder and red and dark fruits introduce flavors of vanilla, baking spices, chocolate and tobacco. Finishes dry with soft tannins. Nice pure fruit expression uncomplicated by heavy oak or fake flavors from additives.  Would pair well with light and dark meats alike as well as lightly spicy dishes and soft cheeses. 


Front label of 2019 Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Knights Valley Meritage Lot #100
Trader Joe’s keeps the components of the blend a secret, but the result is a harmonious, pleasant wine that’s a winner.


Where in the world is Knights Valley?

Knights Valley is an AVA located on the far eastern edge of Sonoma County where it abuts neighboring Napa. As such, it is the warmest AVA in Sonoma and – like Napa – features volcanic soils.  It is best known for producing grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. The term Meritage indicates that this is a red wine blend using only the grapes approved to be used in the wines of Bordeaux, France. These are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Carmenere and Petit Verdot.

See if you can locate it on this map of Sonoma:


Map showing Knights Valley AVA in Sonoma County
Far from the cooling influences of the Pacific and on the Napa border, Sonoma’s Knights Valley is uniquely positioned to grow world class Meritage/Bordeaux red wine grapes.


Rural and remote, it’s still worth a visit.

Today 30 growers manage 2,500 vineyard acres in Knights Valley, which earned AVA status in 1983. The Knights Valley AVA abuts the Alexander Valley AVA to the west, Chalk Hill to the south, and cozies up to Calistoga, in Napa Valley, to the east. The only practical access to the valley is via twisty sections of Highway 128 through mountainous terrain. Suddenly the road straightens out in a high valley, where it’s bordered by stately oaks draped with Spanish moss.

But pack a lunch and some water, there isn’t much else except grapes in Knights Valley.


If your weekend preparations find you shopping at your local TJ’s, also keep an eye out for our Lucky 13 list of TJ’s wine. It’s a shopping list comprised of our most recent reviews.

If you’re headed to Costco soon, you can find our most recent reviews of Costco wines here in our Lucky 13 list of Costco wine finds.



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