There's talk of a pending grape shortage in the Golden State, and with it, the prospect of rising prices. Don't be concerned unless you exclusively buy California wines.
If California wine prices continue to rise—and that doesn't seem to be a widespread phenomenon—they will do so because of heightened demand. Typically that means brand by brand, not across the board. As it is, California has long lagged the broader wine market when it comes to value anyway. People looking to get the most from their wine dollars shop across borders and oceans.
Time and again it is imports, wines from France, Italy, Spain, Argentina, even Greece, where you can not only find great value but often unique, distinctive wines.
If prices do rise in California for this past vintage's wines, it will likely be among négociant wines. With lousy weather, a small crop and mixed quality of grapes in 2011, big wineries—Gallo, Constellation, Bronco and the like—secured as much wine as they could. That dried up the surplus that usually finds its way into the hands of négociants. Anyone trying to produce a $25 Napa Cabernet with purchased juice was out of luck.
Further offsetting any concern about a grape shortage, vineyards are being planted in other California wine regions. In Paso Robles, one vineyard company told me it amounts to a planting boom. Some areas in California, including Napa Valley and the Fort Ross-Seaview area, along the westernmost reaches of the Sonoma Coast, are running out of space, but the Central Coast and other growing wine regions will pick up the slack.
From what I hear, sales are still slow for many wines, and even if prices for California wines rise, the global wine market offers plenty of options.
Gregory Popovich — Palos Verdes Estates, CA — April 26, 2012 4:01pm ET
Vince Liotta — Elmhurst Illinois — April 26, 2012 7:46pm ET
Gregory Popovich — Palos Verdes Estates, CA — April 27, 2012 12:09pm ET
Louis Robichaux — Highland Village, Texas — May 11, 2012 9:30pm ET
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