Saying "No" To Negociants: The California Wine Club Celebrates 20 Years Of Staying True To Original Vision Of Premium, Artisan Wineries

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As the wine industry faces a downturn, some opportunists are cashing in on the overproduction of juice and blending juice rejected by other wineries to create a new wine. Unknowing buyers are then purchasing these wines without realizing how they were produced. The California Wine Club (which only offers premium, artisan wine) offers its tips on what to look for when buying wine and how to decipher the label.

As California's wine industry faces the "worst downturn since the early 1980's" (Entrepreneur magazine, March 2010), opportunists are cashing in on the overproduction of juice. These "negociants" take juice rejected by other wineries, and blend them to create a new wine. Retailers and some wine clubs, out to make the biggest returns on their products, create fancy labels featuring non-existent wineries and then often tout these bulk wines as "handcrafted" blends.

However, it is still possible to find great wine, from real wineries at a good price. The California Wine Club offers only premium artisan wines bottled by working, family-run wineries. Founders Pam and Bruce Boring have sent small-production wines to their club members for 20 years and have never wavered in their commitment to either their customers or the wineries that supply them.

"The wine industry can be big business, but it can also be a labor of love," says Bruce Boring, founder of The California Wine Club. "Our goal from the very beginning was to discover smaller wineries that put their hearts and souls into their vines and create exceptional wines. There are no mystery fruit or bulk wines sent by our club."

How does the average consumer know if the wines they are buying are "real" versus bulk? Boring has a few tips that will help anyone decipher the often-intimidating wine label:

  •     "Cellared by" means the winemaker who bottled it did not produce the wine. It usually indicates the wine was purchased from another source
  •     "Vinted by" is a legally meaningless phrase, often indicating that the winemaker purchased the wine in bulk from another winery and bottled it
  •     "Bottled by" means the wine may have been purchased ready-made and simply bottled by the brand owner
  •     "Made and bottled by" indicates the winery crushed, fermented and bottled a minimum of 10 percent of the wine in the bottle
  •     "Estate grown and bottled" means the grapes were grown and the wine was made on site. Keep in mind that not all wineries use estate grown fruit and may "produce and bottle" the wine, using fruit from other sources.
  •     "Produced and bottled by" indicates the winery crushed, fermented and bottled at least 75 percent of the wine in the bottle, your best bet for a great choice

In a down economy, consumers seek value for their dollar. The California Wine Club, by working directly with the wineries, is able to offer exceptional wines without ever resorting to negociants or bulk wine. In addition, when members find a wine they truly love, they may reorder that wine up to 50% off the retail price.

About The California Wine Club
Since 1990, The California Wine Club has offered its members hand selected artisanal wines from real working family wineries. Bruce and Pam Boring created The Club with the idea that it would help people experience wines they might not otherwise find locally. Over 12,000 members receive a little bit of wine country at their door each month with the 100% guarantee it will be something they will like. More information about The Club is available at http://www.cawineclub.com.

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Jenny Heller
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