Shrinking Wine Bottles

Did you hear the recent news? Cereal makers such as General Mills, Post, and Quaker are shrinking their packaging to soften the blow on higher prices. So even though they're putting less Wheaties in each box, we're supposed to feel good about our purchases and not resent the increased costs.

I wonder if this is something we could get away with? Shrink our bottles to make wine drinkers think they're getting just as much for the same amount of money. I'm just kidding of course, but it did get me to thinking about the profitability issue for smaller wineries.

Whenever we talk about pricing around here, hairs are raised, hackles go up, and blood pressure becomes elevated. We have got to be the last winery in California to finally take some price increases. These have been done very modestly and very very slowly (see chart). To be truthful, it is costing us way more to produce the quality of wines we are making today than in the past. Hundred year old vines, fancy French oak barrels, and pedigreed winemaking teams don't come cheap. But, we know we need to wow people with our quality in order to keep them excited.  If we don't, there are another 987 wineries just down the road all vying for a piece of the action. Thankfully, our strategy is working. We're selling out of everything we make. We're getting great reviews and tons of accolades. And the tasting room is filled with folks from all walks of life who want to taste the new releases.  But, somehow we need to become more profitable so we don't end up in the headlines like Chateau Montelena, Stags Leap and Rosenblum Cellars.

It's a baffling question and something we think about quite often.

Suggestions anyone?

| | Comments (4)


Mike McCracken Author Profile Page said:
July 25, 2008 11:54 AM

The price of Fume Blanc has lagged behind the consumer price index since its introduction in 1972. Over the entire period from 1972 through 2007, the CPI increased by 396% while the price of fume blanc rose by 222%. It is not surprising that profits have been squeezed since costs are more closely linked to CPI than the price of wine.

The price of fume blanc in 2007, if fully indexed to the CPI would be $4.50 * 4.96 = $22.32

Would you be able to make money at that rate? How about $19.00, which would still be a bargain?

dcvprguy Author Profile Page said:
July 25, 2008 1:59 PM

Wow, Mike - that's a great point and well researched. I'm not sure we've ever thought about our pricing on that level of detail before. I for one agree that our Fume is woefully underpriced. I'd like to see the price be in the $17 - $18 range priced in the same category as other high end Sauvignon Blancs. Thanks for this info!

Jack at F&B said:
July 25, 2008 8:16 PM

Perhaps $14.50 sauvignon blanc doesn't need to be made in fancy French oak barrels?

Also, if you're always selling out, doesn't that say your price is too low?

I have to say, too, that if you're sauvignon blanc is as good as you say, why the heck are you selling it for under $20?

Kim (aka Wilma) Author Profile Page said:
July 26, 2008 2:30 PM

Oh, how I'd love to sell it for $20! But, with so MANY Sauvignon Blancs out there these days, (from all corners of the globe) it would be hard to raise the price without risking a dip in sales. And that is something we can't afford to do. (Frankly, it was a lot easier when we were the only game in town!!!)

As for barrels, ours is 100% stainless steel fermented. So barrels are not a factor in the production costs, which helps. Still, the wine is a steal, especially when you can find it in CA for even less. Here's a depressing fact. One retailer we know raised the price $1. That's right, $1. Sales came to a near halt. So, it seems we have an perception problem more than anything else 'cause the quality is definitely top notch.

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Kim published on July 25, 2008 8:43 AM.

Wild Boar Pigout was the previous entry in this blog.

Meritage Madness is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


This is a blog about what it's really like to be in the wine sit back, take a sip and enjoy!

about me

our wines

our winery

our events

contact me

privacy statement

favorite posts

A Lifetime in Wine

Top 10 Traits of the Successful Family Winery

The Dreaded Family Meeting

Board Meeting Jitters

Is the Future of the Winery in Danger?

The Case of the Overweight Bottle

Wine and Dementia

Wanted: Talented (Normal) Individual for Family Owned Winery

A Sea of Wine

The Heroes of Our Industry

monthly archives


Hopes & Dreams

Owning a Coastal Cottage

Sailing for 6 Months

Getting a 100 Point Score

Favorite Haunts

Coast of Maine

Dry Creek General Store

Dry Creek Kitchen

Healdsburg Bar & Grill


Sonoma Country Antiques

Baci Cafe & Wine Bar

The Farmhouse

Istanbul's Grand Bazaar

Bad Ass Coffee

Bistro Ralph

Bits of Press

Food & Wine Magazine

The Wine News

Wine Enthusiast

Wine Spectator

Press Democrat

Sunset Magazine

Connoisseurs' Guide

Dan Berger's Vintage Experiences

Cruising World Magazine

Oprah Magazine

The Washington Post

Coastal Living Magazine

Wine & Spirits Magazine

People Magazine

SAG Awards Magazine

Forbes Magazine

Favorite Magazines

Coastal Living

Down East


Country Living

Quarterly Review of Wines

Wines & Vines

Wine Spectator

Wine Enthusiast

California Grapevine

Connoisseurs' Guide

Practical Winery & Vineyard


Vineyard & Winery Mgmt

Blog Buddy List


Hip Tastes

Pinot Blogger

All The Best

Julia Flynn Siler


Winery Web Site Report

The Pour - Eric Asimov

Dr Vino

Steve Heimoff

Start Up Ladies

Good Wine Under $20

Blind Muscat

The Wineroad Blog

Gabe's View

Wine Peeps

Vici Vino

Cellarmistress' Cellar Talk

Uncork Life

WineVine-Imports Blog

The Wine Witch


Honorable Mentions

Wilma Hits The World of Blogs
Most Intriguing New Wine Blogs of 2008
Midwest Wine Guy
Winery of the Month
Julia Flynn Siler
Meritage wines - and a fascinating glimpse into family business
Winery Web Site Report
New Winery Blog: Wilma's Wine World
Start Up Ladies
Insider's View of Family Owned Dry Creek Vineyard
The Glue that Keeps the Whole Thing Going
Atlanta Dish
Blog of the Week
Blind Muscat
The Merits of Meritage
Boston Wine Expo exhibitors, and the reason why winemakers are so darn happy