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Been drinking less expensive wine lately?

You're not alone. Most industry sources (see "related links") suggest that although wine industry growth slowed significantly after September 11, unit sales could be perceived as only slowing by 1%-2%. What's really happened, in a nutshell, is that although high-end (over $20/bottle) wine sales have experienced quite a dip, the $8-$20 dollar wine has enjoyed brisk sales, with smart buyers exploring the excellent values that have always existed in this range, especially with European wines.

Other Market Patterns:

Interestingly, for just about every market segment in which a slowdown is seen, there's been compensation in another segment. For instance, where restaurant & hospitality consumption of wine was off by as much as 25%, retail store sales of wine & hard liquor for home consumption typically offset this slump industry-wide, with a resulting decrease in sales estimated to be around 2% for 2001. This is not to be confused with figures for decreased growth. Higher grape prices in most areas of California are putting a squeeze on profits, especially for smaller players.

Throughout 2002:

The general industry buzz is that wine sales both nationally and globally should remain on the rise. However "the bubble" has passed, according to most reps to whom we've spoken. Look for some consolidation to happen in the industry in general, with rough going for some specialty vineyards that don't have a solid base for their particular market. This has always been a unique aspect of wine-related alcohol sales -- The top 25 brands represent just 7 percent of sales worldwide. In the case of beer and hard liquor, the top 25 brands garner 31 percent and 18 percent of sales, respectively.

Joey's Picks For Wines Under $20.00...

Moshin Vinyards-
Russian River Valley 2000 Pinot Noir, Lot 4 Selection
- Only 325 Cases Made! - $13.99

Finca Luzon Merlot, Spain - Joey Says: "...If ever there were a perfect Merlot..." $9.89

Etin, Spain - 2000
Old-vine grenache, unfiltered.
Looking for something a little different? $14.29

Cotes du Rhone du Vieux Chene (Grives) - You can always count on even an average Rhone to offer some bang for the buck - $9.99

Sicilia Colosi -1999
Messina, Italy - $8.99

Sources & Links for this Article:

•Cawg.org -
California Association of Wine Growers, Feb. 2002

•The Street -
10/13/2001

New York Times
December 5, 2001 - find a reprint here