Do you need a winemaker for wines under $2?
Is it really all that important to shell out hard earned cash for a "Certified Master of Wine" [CMoW] to produce wines at the $1.99 price point? TESCO is doing just this, though the winemaker will be in charge of wines in the range of $2~$40/btl.
But really, I mean how many people would return a wine that was $1.99 if they found it a bit "off" or "different" from a previous bottle? How many cases of the stuff would you need to produce (and sell) to recoup the salary you're going to give that winemaker? Certified Masters of Wine don't just fall off the trees, now do they...
Fresh & Easy to Launch 25 New Wines (TESCO)
"Over the next three months, Tesco's small-format U.S. grocery chain, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, will introduce 25 new wines, 15 of which will be exclusive to Fresh & Easy, and crafted by a Certified Master of Wine, the company said.
The new local and imported wines range from $1.99 to $40 per bottle.... [t]he new wine selection includes a California Cabernet from Sonoma, a Malbec from Argentina, sparkling wines from Italy, and a Tempranillo-Shiraz and Ribera del Duero from Spain..."
I'm assuming the CMoW will be involved with each of the 25 wines to be carried...and I don't want to totally deflate the reasoning behind having the CMoW involved as there are more pricey wines in the range, but the MoW designation is vastly different than a MS or PhD in Enology or Viticulture [see here for a good description]. What this implies is that neither TESCO nor Fresh & Easy will be getting into the wine business by owning a winery...rather that they will be sending their CMoW to various existing wineries with the mission of having said businesses make custom wines for their exclusive retail. Think of the symbiotic relationship between Trader Joe's and Two Buck Chuck. One produces, the other sells exclusively.
This is a double-edged sword. While the winery might sell more of the low-end wine it produces with this scheme, it could also end up cutting the consumer base it normally relies on. If the wine is of decent enough quality, some of its' prior consumers may opt to "trade down" and purchase the cheaper wine with the idea the price is low due to lack of a national marketing program or need to support a brick-n-mortar winery facility.
Custom made wines have been in play for quite some time, from restaurant specific offerings, to airlines, cruise ship companies, tour groups, etc. I don't know of a winery which ever went out of business by participating in these deals before, so the threat of this sort of thing going badly for the winery seems very limited...in fact wineries would prefer to do this in a way because the retailer is contracting with them for the wine, and thus wineries see the cash for the transaction without having to figure out how to get it out the door.In the end, the wineries are happy, the retailers involved tend to be happy, and the consumer - who gets wine of a quality they like at perceived basement prices - also is happy.