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Archive for Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Expect to see a barrel of wine bargains in 2010

December 23, 2009

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— Vintners and analysts predict that 2010 will be a very good year for wine lovers.

“Everybody is looking for a deal and I think that mentality is going to persist. We still have the ’05 and the ’06 vintages in the pipeline and that’s a lot of wine,” says Eric Titus, partner in Titus Vineyards in the Napa Valley.

He also expects 2010 to be a better year for premium wine. “There’s cautious optimism.”

No question 2009 was a tough year, especially for people making wines priced at $20 a bottle and over. Wine Institute President Robert P. Koch’s prediction for 2010? “Hopefully, more sales.”

Some top trends to watch for in 2010:

Vintage values

In 2009 consumers boasted about how much they’d saved on — not spent on — a bottle of wine, and that’s expected to continue. With premium grape prices plunging this year as demand for high-end wines withered, a lot of fruit went for rock bottom prices and Titus and others expect to see premium Napa Valley grapes showing up under new names as growers who couldn’t sell all their fruit release their own bottlings or high-end wineries sell their surplus under alternate labels.

Wine shop wonders

Sales of high-end wines have stalled, which means some big names are going to be going for cut-rate prices. Titus expects that will cause some excitement among collectors. “There’ll be a certain amount of gloating over that,” he says with a laugh. Previously impossible-to-find wines, the kind people signed up on waiting lists to buy, are expected to continue to be more available.

Wired wines

You’ll hear it on the grapevine, and on the Facebook update and the Twitter feed as wineries discover the marketing potential of social media. “More folks are going to jump into this,” says Judd Finkelstein of the Judd’s Hill winery in Napa, who has been posting short, humorous videos on the Web, “Judd’s Enormous Wine Show.” “Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, all that good stuff. It helps me not only get my winery some notice, but lets people see who I am, the person behind the wine. I feel that’s become much more important.”

Red, white and green

Koch predicts the trend of sustainable wine growing practices will grow. In January, the San Francisco-based Institute plans to roll out a third-party certification program.

Winery woes

What’s good for consumers isn’t so great for producers. “There’s a lot of pain out there,” says wine consultant Jon Fredrikson. “People are struggling; most will get by.” How fast and how far the market will come back is “the big question,” he says. “Are we going back to the heyday? I’m not so sure it’s going to happen quickly.”

Quality quaffing

Critics are giving good reviews to the ’07 vintage, coming on the market now. “It’s becoming more and more of a dream market,” says Fredrikson. “You’ve got fabulous quality being offered at discount prices. You’ve still got wines from around the world pouring in, many at discounts. I think we’re going to see a spurt in consumption, because at some point people are just going to cave and start buying these wines.”

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