Friday, January 23, 2015

A Peek Into the Business of Wine


The wine business can sometimes be a complicated thing to understand, especially when you start to get to know the vineyard and winery owners and their employees. It’s not uncommon at all to attend a wine tasting and see one vineyard owner pouring wine for a another winery owner. Your first thought, if you are like me is, why is thisguy promoting a product from another business. Well let me throw a concept at you, let’s say that you are a very successful vineyard and winery and you have another winery move in down the road about a mile or so. Your first thought is CRAP!! More competition, on further investigation you learn that the winemaker is someone that you have admired for many years. So after a week or so you wander down the road and introduce yourself and of course take them a bottle of your best. They bring out some bread and cheese and before you know it you are great friends, now you’re thinking that once people learn that a world class winemaker is just down the road from you that it will draw a lot of people right by your driveway. Amazing how fast an attitude can change, right?

Anyway, you learn that the new winery will need to purchase fruit for the first several vintages until their vineyard matures. Now, this is where it gets interesting, you offer them a deal on some of your excess fruit which brings in enough extra cash to make improvements on your equipment which increases your production from 1000 cases a year to over 1500. The only catch is they will only buy from you if they can sell their product so you find yourself pouring their wines at events as well as your own label. This is the case with many wineries, I have found that even though they might compete, you will rarely hear anything bad about any winery from a competing winery, and you will also discover that many winemakers make wine for multiple wineries.

How many times have you said, this wine tastes just like the wine that I had the other day but the label was different “right”. Well how about this scenario, you have a new vineyard manager and he does an amazing job, because of his efforts you are able to get top dollar for your fruit and your wines are the best that you have ever produced. So when it’s time for his bonus you ask him what he wants and he says the first 50 cases of the Rhone style blend off the bottling line. You think about it for a bit and you say done deal. So now he slaps his label on it and you now have two exact wines at completely different prices and different labels. That is just one of many scenarios, many wineries offer custom labeling which complicates the market even more.

At the end of the day the only thing that matters is how much is the wine worth that I am drinking right now. Not monetary value, but quality. There has been many a blind tasting that was won by the least expensive wine competing.

Cheers!

 Jack

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