Saturday, November 21, 2009

What Is This World Coming To?

My brother in law sent me a message on facebook the other day asking me about the new Seven Eleven wines that are coming out, and what I thought about the whole concept. Honestly, I thought he was joking until I read an actual AP news release. Then I realized the joke is on us consumers.

It all really started with Charles Shaw and his release of “Two Buck Chuck” a few years ago. The world was shocked that wine could be made, bottled, corked, and delivered to the grocery near you for two dollars retail. Consumers just about broke the doors down on their local Trader Joes stores to buy a few bottles.

Since then we’ve seen this behavior hitting the retail market like the H1N1 virus in a small Midwestern college. Locally, Alberstons has done it with several labels on their shelves, and WalMart hit the shelves with Oak Leaf last year. You won’t hear me writing negative comments normally, but this trend is really starting to “get my goat”.

The honest truth about this is that there are glutted wine markets throughout the world. The industry has outgrown the market, making a mountain of grapes the size of Mount Shasta. The worst culprit is the average California grape grower. They dump the juice on the market at below production prices rather than pulling their vines and planting something else more profitable.

Bulk vintners such as the California Wine Group, owners of Glen Ellen and Corbet Canyon, buy up the cheap juice. They source cheap foreign glass and corks, and serve it to the gullible American public as “good wine”.

What makes me really ticked is that the average Joe consumer out there has no idea what “good” wine is. So, when the marketers tell them that “Two Buck Chuck” is a wonderful wine with hints of blah blah in it, the public believes them. The truth is any wine that is under 5 dollars is probably not worth bottling.

Some more “truths” for you while I’m at it. While the corporate yahoos are out there concocting these schemes, someone actually has to deliver it, put it on the shelves, and bag it for you at the register. Since the entire market is built on profitability per unit, the people who do this are actually providing all of this labor at a loss, putting local jobs at risk.

What’s more, by training the public that cheap wine is good wine, the entire wine industry is dumbing down on quality. If the public believes that “Two Buck Chuck” is good wine, rather than the skunky vinegar that it is, then the market stagnates on price point and eventually good wineries can’t afford to produce a quality product.

I realize now, that I’ve probably ticked off my friend Michael, who owns the Seven Eleven in Hermiston. I’m not out to hurt him. Please, go there and purchase some of his newly released cheap wine when, and if, it comes in. At the same time I urge you to purchase some of the selections that I helped him stock that are good, well priced wines, including several reasonably priced local wines. By purchasing truly quality products from our stores we are supporting ourselves locally, and telling the corporate idiots to taste their own wine.


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