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How to beat rising wine prices

on 07/06/12 at 8:52 am


Even though many wineries are raising prices, savvy consumers can still stock their cellars on the cheap.

The glass looks half empty for lovers of California wine, as many wineries are expected to raise prices in the coming years. But experts say consumers can still hunt down a wide variety of cheap bottles.

Although consumers have been drinking more wine, California wineries — which produce 90% of the country’s wine — haven’t ramped up production, an imbalance that is starting to push up prices. The cost of Napa cabernet grapes rose 35% last year, even as the region’s total grape supply fell 8% short, according to a report from Silicon Valley Bank.

“We went from a glut situation with grapes to a shortage situation,” says Robert Eyler, the director of the Center for Regional Economic Analysis at Sonoma State University.

Experts say bulk prices are likely to keep rising, and consumers are starting to see those costs reflected on the shelves. Midpriced bottles may be roughly $1 higher by the end of the year; better bottles could see bigger jumps. Within a few years, prices are likely to be closer pre-recession levels.