Once, a long, long time ago, Legh Knowles Jr., explained the official meaning of a wine depletion. (Wine sales analysts would tell you that once a wine travels from the winery to its distributor, it's been "depleted.")
In winebiz talk, the affable chairman of Beaulieu Vineyards elucidated, an official wine depletion comes after, and only after, a wine is opened and consumed and when the toilet is flushed.
That may sound a bit crude, but up until the point at which a wine is drunk, or at least opened, it is still in inventory somewhere.
It could be in a winery tasting room, or a warehouse or in someone's private collection. But so long as it's in inventory means it is in someway clogging the system. And that's one factor in today's sluggish wine economy. Those who have cellared wines, and built inventories, have eased off on buying and are drinking down their cellars. Until they start buying again in earnest, the wine logjam will persist.
It's hard to know how many people have cellars and how much wine might be stowed away there. I recently ran into a few collectors who boasted of having thousands of bottles in their cellars. One person professed to have a 14,000-bottle cellar. The other person really didn't know, except that it was a lot.
When Knowles was explaining an official wine depletion to me, he had another point in mind, which goes to the heart of modern wine styles. It is in a winery's best interests that its wines be easy to drink. Time was when some vintners insisted their wines needed a decade in the cellar before drinking. So people bought cases, cellared them and suddenly had plenty of that wine and no motive to buy more.
The modern wine style is not only designed for immediate gratitude but also to encourage people to buy more, not stockpile, or build up inventories.
The bonus is these wines are aging far better than wines of earlier generations. But because people enjoy these wines in their youth, they drink them rather than cellar them, which is what winemakers really want, even if they sometimes forget. Until a wine is consumed, it's still in inventory somewhere.
Michael Myette — Sacramento, CA USA — August 18, 2010 7:24pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — August 18, 2010 7:49pm ET
Jamie Sherman — Sacramento — August 18, 2010 8:33pm ET
Jerry Rosenblatt — Montreal, Canada — August 18, 2010 8:54pm ET
Richard Wattles — Fillmore, CA, USA — August 18, 2010 9:19pm ET
Tom J Wilson — Canada — August 18, 2010 10:16pm ET
Joe Downs — Vason Island, WA — August 19, 2010 12:10am ET
Don R Wagner — Illinois — August 19, 2010 6:07am ET
Jordan Horoschak — Houston, TX — August 19, 2010 7:41am ET
John Kmiecik — Chicago, IL — August 19, 2010 8:37am ET
Harvey Steiman — San Francisco, CA — August 19, 2010 10:05am ET
Jay J Cooke — Ripon CA — August 19, 2010 11:58am ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — August 19, 2010 12:21pm ET
Chris A Elerick — Orlando, FL — August 19, 2010 12:56pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — August 19, 2010 1:02pm ET
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento, CA — August 19, 2010 2:06pm ET
Marc Liberts — Santa Barbara, CA — August 19, 2010 2:16pm ET
Derek Olson — Chicago, IL — August 19, 2010 3:06pm ET
Marchello Chacchia — Connecticut — August 19, 2010 7:25pm ET
Chris Haag — vancouver, bc — August 20, 2010 12:28am ET
Brian Adams — Glenview, IL — August 20, 2010 2:50pm ET
Robert Jaszek — Chicopee, MA — August 20, 2010 3:50pm ET
Marchello Chacchia — Connecticut — August 20, 2010 7:10pm ET
John Wilen — Texas — August 20, 2010 8:24pm ET
Brad Lundy — Los Angeles — August 23, 2010 12:01pm ET
Rob Lentini — Alexandria, Virginia — August 24, 2010 1:19pm ET
Sandy Fitzgerald — Centennial, CO — August 24, 2010 1:35pm ET
David Dickson — Sacramento, CA — August 24, 2010 3:00pm ET
David W Voss — elkhorn, Wi — August 26, 2010 5:00pm ET
Richard Wattles — Fillmore, CA, USA — August 27, 2010 2:34am ET
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento, CA — August 27, 2010 3:49pm ET
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions