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Costco - are they going California artisan wonky on me?

I've noticed on my past couple of visits that my local Costco in the Marina del Rey/Culver City area of California has actually been offering some pretty dear stuff - stuff that I usually associate with more serious artisnal efforts.

Joseph Carr Merlot was had in the wine department last week - all gone now. I don't recall the exact price, but I think it was around $12. Today, I was in the market for cheese. I had to go to Costco to pick up some bulk stuff, and was planning on heading to our local WF to pick up some cheese preferably from Marin County. Costco's cheese selection is lightyears better than a few years ago, but still, one expects to see relatively basic versions of some cheeses and others from sources I've never heard of before. I scanned the section and among the giant brie wheels and huge wedges parm regg I spotted some bleu cheese wedges with the label of Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company. Yes, I know I can get this at places like Whole Foods and Bristol Farms, but Costco? IMHO, that's a very reputable artisan cheese company.

Has anyone else found little hidden artisan gems in their local Costco?

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  1. Up here in the Bay Area, I was surprised to see large tubs (maybe 3x the regular tubs) of Bellwether Farms creme fraiche for around $6.

    1. I've seen alot of gourmet jams, marmalades and jellies. Maybe they've always been there and I just haven't noticed.

      4 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        According to the wine rep I spoke with, your hunch is correct. He says there's often stuff like this in various Costcos. Distribution can be fickle, as this depends on the source, quantities and transportability. He said that makers of artisan products occasionally look to unload inventory. Sometimes Costco's buyers are approached directly, and sometimes the buyers find out through the grapevine. He says the little gems show up with no rhyme or reason, and are just buried amongst the other items. He says to just keep an open mind and sharp eye out for these items.

        1. re: bulavinaka

          Best food item I've ever "discovered" at Costco were some Wisconsin Woodsgrown White Gingseng (Jumbo)

          1. re: ipsedixit

            WOW - what a find! Were they at "Costco" prices?

            1. re: bulavinaka

              If I recall correctly, they were something like $140 for a pound.

      2. I've found even more gems at Costco. com The artisan cheeses have been available online for a few years now. Corrently the porchetta, proscuito and saffron are at great prices...along with most everything else. I really think they see if certain things sell well online before putting those items in the stores.

        1. Don't know if it qualifies as an artisanl gem but a couple of years ago they carried Chaorce Cheese for only $5.99. About half the cost of any other place. We hit it repeatedly and gave some away too. They haven't carried it since. We do make an effort to always check what's in their cheese section on every visit.

          1. Not only do they have Point Reyes blue, but the price per lb is excellent. Also, I found some great wines at excellent prices as well.

            1 Reply
            1. re: cstr

              I think I picked up the Point Reyes blue for $9 and change/lb. I also picked up a few bottles of Quinta do Vallado Douro for ~$15/bottle. Not from California (Portugal), but a really nice wine.