A favorable factor for the American wine consumer is that good grape harvests and a poor international economy has resulted in growers having to sell their products at a loss, or even to give them away, to open space for next year’s crop.
The result is that bottlers are now importing good to outstanding wines into the US at less than the costs of production. I first noted this trend when larger than usual numbers of bottles of imported wines at mass market stores were being marked down to about $4.00 to move them off the shelves. This mark-down impacted all brands from all countries with various degrees of discountings.
Next, California growers were left with more grapes than they could reasonably bottle and store. They sold them to anyone who would take them. This resulted in the Oak Leaf brand buying these up and producing a variety of inexpensive wines. I first noticed this brand at mass-market stores in 2009, and their market position has increased this year.
The Lucky Duck wines now bring the impact of the international grape glut to North America. The Lucky Duck wines that I have seen originate in Argentina, Peru and Australia. These wines would generally sell for at least double that price, and some much more than that. They represent an opportunity to try some now inexpensive, but excellent wines.
The alcohol fuel market is expanding, and it is tempting to say that these grapes should be distilled into fuel-grade alcohol. This is possible, but is a terribly inefficient way to make alcohol-based fuels. Sugar cane or even corn, bad as it is, are better feeds for alcohol production.
The growers are up against the proposition of giving their grapes away, not harvesting them, holding their wines until the market improves or selling their wines for whatever they can get to make room for next year’s crop.
Stock up and enjoy these wines while they are here, realizing that these represent the vintages of desperation for the world-wide wine industry. Should you buy them and drink them under these circumstances? Yes. The hope is that these inexpensive, but good, wines will boost sales and attract new wine enthusiasts who will support higher prices when the economy improves.