It’s official since last week, Wine.by.Alex is now on YouTube! And today you’re watching the first episode of #Askwinebyalex!! 🥳🥳
To start this series, I want to cover a question I’ve heard a lot during my teaching!
Do you ever feel lost about the various types of businesses engaged in wine production?
Yes? So let’s talk about the 8 different types of wine producers you need to know.
An estate produces wine exclusively from its own vineyards, these vineyards are fully owned by the estate. They can vary in size from tiny holdings to very large areas, so as their production. Estates have a complete control over their process of production, from the vines to the moment of bottling the wine. Therefore they are able to control quality at all steps and produce the style of wine that they want. They also market the wines themselves and sell them directly to consumers. The bottles from these producers typically have a capsule where you can see the letter R, meaning « récoltant ».
Growers only concentrate on producing grapes in their vineyard. These vineyards are often very small and cannot buy expensive equipment to produce wine. Or they don’t want to market and sell their production on their own. So what they do as that they focus on growing the best possible grapes that they will sell to a winemaker or a merchant. They often have contracts, ponctual or long-term.
Some of the above growers may be able to produce wine from their own grapes, but aren’t able or don’t want to mature and bottle it. So they sell their wine to a merchant that will mature, bottle, market and sell the wine to consumers.
Initially merchants, or négociants, bought wine to grower-producers to mature, bottle, market and sell it under their own names. They had no control over viticulture and fermentation so now they mostly buy grapes from growers and transform it into wine. They often have long-term contracts with their suppliers and offer them technical support to ensure a high-quality production.
Some merchants are what we call grower-merchants. They own vineyards and produce wine from their own grapes. Alongside this typically high-quality production, they also buy grapes or wine from other growers that they’ll sell as lower quality wines.
The bottles from the three previous producers typically have a capsule where you can see the letter N, meaning « négociant ».
Co-ops are owned by a group of growers. These growers produce their own grapes and then make and sell their wines under the co-op’s name. They work as a group instead of individually, which enables them to produce wine with better equipment and expertise. Co-operatives allow them to have also have access to better marketing, packaging and sales. Their size can vary as well.
Now in North America, there are two special new types of producers: Custom Crush facilities and Virtual winemakers/wineries.
CUSTOM CRUSH FACILITY
Mainly found in California, custom crush facilities are like co-operatives, except growers don’t own the facility. They pay it each time they use it. So they grow their own grapes, then hand them to the facility. The facility’s winemaker make the wine according to the growers’ requirements and give the finished wine back to the growers, who now has to market and sell it.
Virtual winemakers don’t own vineyards or winemaking equipment. So they buy grapes and rent custom crush facilities to make their wine.
Conglomerates are very large wine companies that own the largest wine brands in the world. They cover a full range of price points and a wide variety of styles and customers. They often own several businesses from production (estates, merchants) to distribution.
Well, that’s all for today! I hope this helped! Now you know the 8 types of wine producers 😉
Now, I’d love to hear from you.
Do you pay attention to who’s made the wine when buying some? Have you ever struggled with these terms?
Leave a comment below to let me know! 👩🏽💻
Thank you so much for watching this episode and I’ll see you soon on Wine.by.Alex!
P.S.: Don’t forget to share the questions you ask yourself all the time. I’ll answer in the next videos each week! 😘