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Apr 30, 2012 03:01 PM

What do producers/wineries do with their peaked wines?

I assume they cut deals and sell them to distributors or retail shops at discounted prices but at some point they have to discard them or they run the risk of peaked wines tainting their good name, right? Can anyone shed some light on this for me? If they do sell them do they stipulate they are only shelf stable (for lack of a better term) for a limited time?

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  1. By "peaked wine," do you mean wine that has aged and is now fully matured?

    Keeping the conversation on American wineries . . . .

    Historically, Cache Phloe Vineyards will release its 2015 vintage Sonoma Chardonnay when the 2014 is sold out, and not before -- so there is no need to worry about bottles of the 2014 still sitting in the winery's warehouse (aside from the few cases set aside for the winery's library). Some wineries have fixed calendar dates for their releases -- Jean Deaux Cellars will release their 2015 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon on February 1st, just like they do every year.

    Historically, you're quite right about cutting a deal and selling them at a huge discount -- we used to say, "That's why Texas exists" . . . also, "That's why Trader Joe's exists." Back in the 1980s, 1970s, 1960s, etc., California wineries would dump wines in Texas or sell it off to TJ's at half-price (or less), but not until the wine was a couple of vintages old -- i.e., the current release of Pinot Noir may be the 1982, but the 1980 or 1979 might show up in Texas or at TJ's for half price.

    Today, that doesn't work. The wine trade is too well known, too internet based, and too much harm can come from someone seeing that normally $50 label selling for $19.99 -- even in Texas! People there now actually drink and enjoy wine . . . and Trader Joe's has a much higher profile in the 21st century than they did in the 1970s . . . .

    What happens now is slightly different. Quite often, as the vintage may be coming to an end, and there is still wine in the winery's warehouse (that is, it hasn't all been sold to wholesalers across the country), a winery might offer incentives for additional sales in an effort to push through the rest of the vintage prior to the next release. For example, the winery might work with the wholesaler to offer a special by-the-glass program, or a special discount of (for example) 15% on 3 cases of Cache Phloe Chardonnay -- versus the standard 10% off on an assorted 10 case buy.

    Etc., etc., etc.

    8 Replies
    1. re: zin1953

      Or does peaked mean 'over the hill' to the OP?
      Like if Cache Phloe finds a rogue case of 1992 Chardonnay hiding back in the warehouse...


      Jean Deaux Cellars - hahahaa!

      1. re: zin1953

        US wineries often sell off "end of vintage" cases to their wine club members at exTREMEly attractive prices.

        1. re: ChefJune

          True. Some do. Others are more intent on having members buy the *new* vintage, and so will attempt to sell off the wines to wholesalers and, thus, restaurants and/or retailers. It all depends upon the winery, the size of their production, their reputation, etc. -- no one size fits all.


        2. re: zin1953

          Thanks zin1953 and very interesting. A local wine shop was running a special price on a merlot from a reputable producer at a significantly reduced price and then I noticed the vintage - '00. I tasted it and it seemed to be fading and it just got me thinking.

          1. re: lynnlato

            If they were selling a 2000 Merlot, it is very possible that the wine shop found it stuck in its warehouse somewhere and needed to get rid of it, or they got it at a good deal from someone else. I once was in a wine shop (many years ago before the shop had a computerized system for inventory) and found a very good deal on a 10 year old Cabernet that the owner told me had been mistakenly stacked under some boxes of records in their warehouse and they found it when they were cleaning out the papers.

            1. re: lynnlato

              The 2000 may have "faded" before it was bottled.

              A few years back i attended an invitation-only AVA tasting in Napa Valley with one of the best palates I've ever encountered in the world. We had a choice of vintages to drink at one particular winery's table. The server asked my friend if he'd like a pour of the 2000, and he replied, "No, because I live here." The server split a gut laughing, because, among Napans at least, the 2000 was almost uniformly thin and awful. Sure, there are exceptions, but not many. And now, 12 years later? Fuggedaboutit.

              I've noticed deep discounts at certain stores, only to find the wines had been improperly stored and were now toast, or from a literal fire sale, or organic wines that had faded (these go quickly), or other wines that were otherwise unstablized and had lost their flavor. After getting burned several times, I know never to buy these deeply discounted wines.

              1. re: maria lorraine

                Ha! Thanks Maria. I, too, now know. ;-)

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  . . . or Hurricane Katrina (as but one example).