Go outside California. Lots of good stuff out there that doesn't have the bloated price tag for just being grown in Napa or Sonoma.
Argentina, Chile, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, etc. all have some great wines for decent prices.
Is it time for the sequel to the Great Malbec Craze?
Peachy Canyon's Jester. It's a blend of 4 reds (I'll post which when I get home). Not easy to find. About $15/bottle. The guy at the little market where I always find/buy it told me it wasn't going to be available for another month, and I left sad and empty handed. But then a week after that I was at Costco and they had it and I almost crashed my cart when I turned the corner and saw it. I should have picked up a case of it...dammit.
Norton Malbec to be specific. Still a great wine for under $10 and carried by Cost Plus and Bevmo.
South America also has some good tempranillos for those whole like Spanish rioja but want a cheaper alternative.
Yeah, I believe it was the '02 we were drinking back then.
if you can still find it around... i bought practically all of the bottles at my local Cost Plus.
Casa Lapostolle - Cuvée Alexandre 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon.
dark fruit and a bit chocolaty... this thing has got some real legs!
a fantastic Chilean cab that retails for about $17 bucks. i haven't tried the 2005 but i got it for a wine snob friend of mine for her birthday and both she and her husband felt that it was as good as the 04.
grill a couple of steaks and enjoy!