Back in 2007-'08 the premium wine industry was seeing historic levels of interest in and purchasing of cult wines. The average price spent per bottle was going up year after year, as consumers discovered the joys of drinking and collecting higher-end wines in the boom that followed the success of the movie Sideways. Then the economic headwind knocked the legs out from under many consumers and left the warehouses of artisan producers stacked high with excess juice.
Wine is not just a huge retail product, but restaurants also purchase vast quantities, as well. When they are forced to downsize their inventories and lower the average price point of their wine lists, manufacturers feel the heat from that end as well. Finally, lots of the most expensive wines are traded like futures while still in the barrel. When consumers suddenly became tighter with their pocketbooks, the wineries still had to bottle their wine even without the expected buyers lined up for their product.
As a result, there is now a glut of really good wine out there from the past four or five vintages that producers and distributors are looking to unload at bargain prices. Fortunately, the easiest way to take advantage of this situation still keeps your money in the local market. Odds are, your favorite wine store is being offered great deals from its distributors, and in most cases stores are passing these discounts along to the consumer. Don't be afraid to ask your local winemonger to suggest a good deal on a bottle you would never have considered trying in the past.
People's Wine Market takes a slightly less strictly market-economy approach to the situation. Rather than taking advantage of the huge wineries that are choking on their excess grapes to drive a bargain for consumers, People's Wine Market aims to help small family-run farms and wineries by offering small lots of artisan products direct to the consumer.
According to the People's Wine Market manifesto, they seek to:
Bring you innovative, delicious wine at outlet prices.
Make shipping cheap ($5) or free.
Source from organic, bio-dynamic, and earth-conscious wineries whenever possible.
Cut out as many middlemen as possible — ensuring more money goes to the producers.
Bring you the lowest cost possible without strong-arming the producers into unreasonably low prices.
Run our small, family-owned business as ethically and earth-friendly as possible.
Support small, family-owned businesses as much as we can in other parts of our business. Our boxes come from a small supplier, our web developers own their small business, and we bank with a local credit union.
They accomplish this by purchasing odd lots and extra cases from smaller producers, so you can expect their offerings to change frequently. Prices are extremely attractive, but don't expect to be able to buy any particular wine again any time soon, if ever again. But if you enjoy discovering a new gem or trying something different that you'll probably never find locally, give them a try.