Wine Conundrum: Consumer vs. Industry
As a frugal consumer I am always on the look out for the best value available for my dollar – whether the purchase is a car, an electronic gadget, or more importantly – a quality bottle of wine! I don’t know about you, but I like to experiment and expand my knowledge whenever possible. I am always looking for that next bottle that really stands out. Not the one that says “OK” but the one that says “wow”! Of course, by the same token, I want it to say “wow” without breaking the bank:-)
Now I suspect that for the most part 2009 will not be remembered with fond memories especially if you were one of the people or one of the wineries, wine distributors or retailers adversely affected by the economic downturn. So finding that quality bottle of wine at a reasonable price point is more relevant than ever.
With that said, I will look back with fond memories regarding some great deals I was able to make during 2009 primarily due to a glut of inventory in the distribution channel. In some cases, wines that normally sell in the $25 range were available for purchase for around $10, while other bargains a result of wine sold and re-branded with a new label.
So did I find a lot of wines with that “wow” factor? After all .. we are speaking about wines that normally sell for over $25 a bottle. To be fair, not all the time. Price in wine does not determine quality or value of and by itself. Good wine simply means it has no defects. Great wine on the other hand means that not only was it free of defects, but in addition it had balance, aromatics and taste that for you as an individual is very attractive. Said another way … wine is somewhat subjective – what is “wow” to one may not be to another. With that said, in several cases the new find was more than memorable – it was great!
But here’s the conundrum: While I take a lot of joy in finding those bargains from a consumer point of view, I am concerned about what the loss of profitability is doing to the wine industry players – to the growers, to the producers, and to general distribution as well.
Unless the costs are decreasing with the price, someone is losing money. Now I am not concerned about the global conglomerates or the huge regional distributors who have to give up a margin point or two. I am concerned primarily with the small family growers who may lose contracts or renew at very low price points or the quality winery that was already working on a shoestring, who may be driven out of business.
I know that in life and business it is survival of the fittest. Natural selection is normal – businesses come and they go. However, I have had the pleasure of meeting or interacting with many small produces who genuinely take tremendous pride in their work and their product. It would clearly be a shame to lose that enthusiasm, not to mention the quality wines that are produced.
So will I strive to pay more per bottle? Not likely. As with the majority of consumers, 2009 emphasized a need to pull in the reigns – search for the best buys and conserve capital. But I am hoping that those most adversely affected will be able to weather the storm. There are already too many players whose main focus is solely or mainly profit, so my concern is with the outfit – be it large or small – that focuses on quality and takes great pride in the product they produce.
Good luck … and let me know how I can help.