Friday, February 25, 2005

Hottest brands of 2004

Wine Business Monthly has named its hottest brands for 2004:

1. Red TruckCline Cellars (Sonoma, California)
2. Cartlidge & BrowneGreenfield Wine Company (American Canyon, California)
3. Sevin Deadly Zins Michael David Winery (Lodi, California)
4. Oliver WineryOliver Winery (Bloomington, Indiana)
5. Angeline Wines Martin Ray Winery (Santa Rosa, California)
6. Rock RabbitPurple Wine Company (Graton, California)
7. Three Thieves BanditThree Thieves (Lodi, California)
8. Sofia MiniNiebaum-Coppola (Rutherford, California)
9. Screw Kappa Napa Don Sebastiani & Sons (Sonoma, California)
10. Graceland Cellars Signature Wines (Oakland, California)

Their 2003 list included:

1. HRM Rex-GoliathSmith & Hook and Hahn Estates Winery (Soledad, California)
2. McManis Family Vineyards(River Junction AVA, Ripon, California)
3. Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery(Sonoma, California)
4. Castle Rock Winery(Palos Verdes Estates, California)
5. Black Oak Chateau Diana (Healdsburg, California)
6. Jewel Collection Jewel Wine Company (Lodi, California)
7. Tin RoofMurphy-Goode Winery (Geyserville, California)
8. Three Thieves(Lodi, California)
9. Jest RedHambrecht Vineyards and Winery (Healdsburg, California)
10. J Garcia Wines Allied Domecq (Geyserville, California)

Although the 2004 list is limited to "small" brands, its clear that the trend that started in 2003 is continuing. Brands that have some personality or somehow strike a chord with consumers are continuing to see strong growth. Clever packaging that makes a bottle stand out on the shelf is more important than ever. What will be interesting, however, will be to see which of these brands will still be around after 2005. Many of the wines on both the 2003 and 2004 lists have been supplied from cheap, excess bulk wine that the producers of these brands have been obtained for below-normal prices. As this oversupply continues to "dry up", conventional thinking says that it will be difficult for many of the producers to find wine at prices that continue to make it economical to continue to sell their wines at these cheap prices.

However, non-conventional wisdom says that one thing that we've learned from the Aussies is how to make better wines from lesser grapes. Traditionally, wines made from Central Valley grapes went into boxed wines, White Zin, Woodbridge, etc. However, many of the new brands may be able to use modern winemaking techniques to continue to supply their brands.

Time will tell.....


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