Fear not consolidation in the wine industry!
In business media circles it’s "consolidation" that has been the buzz word when the wine industry is covered. Over the past few years we’ve seen winery gems such as Etude, Stags’ Leap, De Loach, Louis Martini, Franciscan, Mount Veeder Arrowood, and other small producers snapped up by bigger wineries. They we see icons such as Beringer and Mondavi purchased and brought into the fold of the giant producers.
The concern among some is that this consolidation in the wine industry will diminish the number of small, quality-oriented producers as well as give the giants a strangle-hold on the market.
Dan Berger, perhaps America’s most astute wine writer, offers one example of why the boutique winery will never be eclipsed and will always be here to provide us with interesting, personality-driven wines that make us all cherish this industry. In his latest issue of "Vintage Experiences" (which I will write on a bit more later) he notes that there are a tremendous number of new brands emerging. And while he notes many of these are coming from the large wineries, there are also a large number being created by winemakers who move on from larger wineries to found their own: Dan Goldfield (Dutton-Goldfield), David Ramey (Ramey), Doug Nalle (Nalle) Dan Moore (Arista), Mike Martini (M-Squared) Tony Soter (Soter).
Consolidation in the wine industry should be of interest to those with money in the stock market. But it has no bearing on the small, personality-driven wineries that keep us interested in wine. Don’t worry about it.