How Does a Winemaker Buy Wine?

by Chris Russell, Contributor

Coming face to face with a wall of wines at your local shop can be an intimidating experience. Should you select by price? Favorite varietal? Prettiest label? With so many options and just the shelf talkers to go on, you may feel paralyzed by the possibilities.

If you made wine for a living, though, you might have a different perspective. Kiley Evans, winemaker here at 2Hawk Vineyard & Winery, shares how he shops for wine.

“Most of the wine I buy, I buy online,” relates Kiley, who largely shops for new wines to try rather than old favorites. He finds it’s easier to discover something fresh and exciting on the Internet due to the wider selection and competitive pricing.

Choosing Something New

Kiley takes a straightforward, threefold approach to seeking out new wines:

1) Sample a variety you like from a producer you haven’t tried yet.

This is a great way to learn more about the differences between producers and perhaps even find a new winery you enjoy. For example, if you’re familiar with Chardonnay, you’ll have a baseline to compare against when sampling it from a new winery. This will help you identify nuances distinctive to that winery and may give you a sense of whether you’d like their other wines as well as deepening your appreciation of how varietals can vary from region to region and winery to winery.

2) Try a wine you haven’t sampled yet from a producer you enjoy.

Tasting a new offering from a producer you trust allows you to compare and contrast their wines as well as different vintages of the same wine. You may find their 2016 Viognier is a tad dryer than their 2015 Viognier, allowing you to hone your palate to those subtle differences and notice them more easily in the future. Don’t be afraid to take notes!

3) Find something intriguing.

If you really want to strike out in a new direction, find a wine that looks interesting and fun, even if only to say you’ve tried it. This might involve an unusual take on an old favorite, something you’ve heard of by reputation but never tried, or simply a wine that captures your imagination. You may end up exploring a wine type or region of wine you never would have expected!

Does Price Matter?

Yes and no. Wines and wineries with exemplary reputations tend to command higher prices. Similarly, wines that are aged longer or hail from a more in-demand region reflect those factors in their price. Spending more doesn’t guarantee quality, however, and prices in a retail shop are often inflated compared to what you’d pay the winery directly.

For Kiley’s part, he finds himself purchasing wines in the $25–$40 per bottle range most often, and he regularly enjoys a sparkling wine that can be found for $7. For those who like shopping online, there’s plenty of inexpensive options to explore and enjoy. You certainly don’t need to spend upwards of $200 to find a bottle you’ll enjoy.

Can I Shop for Wine Online?

There’s a good chance you can! Most states now allow wineries to ship wine directly to customers. Some wineries limit the areas where they’ll ship for logistical reasons or to protect the quality of the wine. Before making any plans, it’s a good idea to check whether your state allows wineries to ship wine directly to consumers as well as whether the winery you’re interested in ships to your state.

Learn More

We hope you feel equipped to make your next wine purchase with confidence. In future entries, we’ll dive further into the fine details of what you’re tasting in your wine, and why. Are there any topics you’d like to learn more about? Please let us know!

Meanwhile, if you’d like to know more about Rogue Valley wines, here are a few ways:

  1. Did you know 2Hawk Vineyard and Winery has an online store? You can browse our selection of handcrafted Southern Oregon wines and purchase directly from us when you see something you like.
  2. Visit our tasting room to sample our current wines.
  3. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with the latest happenings.

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