Unless you’re a wine connoisseur, finding the right bottle can be tricky. It’s generally accepted that the more expensive a bottle of wine, the better it is.However, Ryan O’Connell fromNakedwines.com says belief is prompting winemakers to up their prices, sometimes unreasonably so.
Nakedwines.com is a customer-funded winery that helps independent winemakers set up a business.
O’Connel, a marketing manager-turned winemaker says that the day he entered the production side of wine, he began spotting patterns — ways that winemakers could potentially take advantage of consumers.
Here are three main indicators he gave us to tell whether or not you’re paying too much for a bottle of wine.
1. Award competitions
It doesn’t take much to convince the average wine buyer that a medal means high-quality.
“In the industry, we all know that medals and competitions of that sort, especially in the U.S., are pretty much luck-based. So many competitions award medals to 80 percent of the entrants, that it’s just kind of a money machine for the people running the competition,” O’Connell says. “Those medals are worth about as much as the blue ribbon on a PBR.”
He says that large production wines can pay a lot of fees to rack up awards in easy competitions. Good indicators of a trustworthy wine competition include locality, a diverse panel of judges and a low percentage of awards. Several good competitions O’Connell mentioned were the North Coast Wine Challenge and the International Wine Challenge.
2. Bottle packaging
Like most products, winemakers can get away with higher pricing just by spending more on the packaging. To tell if you’re paying for the packaging or the wine, O’Connell recommends feeling the weight of the bottle first. He says some companies use heavier bottles to make people subconsciously spend more.
Another embellishment winemakers add is the punt, or the indent on the bottom of the bottle. Luxury wine punts usually measure about 1.5 inches, which means more money spent on design. Although larger punts make for more stable shipping, O’Connell says it’s a pretty good indicator of how much effort was put into the packaging.
Even things opacity and color of the glass can cost extra. O’Connell says once you’ve noticed the differences once, it becomes easier to pick them out in the store.
“If you’re buying wine for $10-15 and it’s got expensive packaging, you’re probably putting more money into the packaging than the grapes. If you spend $100, then there’s a fair chance that the winemaker just spent a ton of money on the fruit, AND a ton of money on the packaging,” he says.
3. Regional acclaim
When buying wine from a famous region, you’re paying for the region’s brand just as you’re paying for the bottle.
“If a region is really world-famous, then it’s probably spent a lot of money achieving that world fame,” O’Connell says. “Then everything gets more expensive as a result of that marketing expense.”
Not that those regions don’t deserve their reputation. But O’Connell believes that it’s hard to extricate the costs of the marketing from the costs of actual wine production.
As a work around, O’Connell suggests finding a region nearby that makes a similar style of wine. You may end up paying a quarter of the price you’d find for a celebrity region.
For beginners, find some local wine stores. Talk one-on-one to winemakers who can open up some bottles and let you taste their wines. Once you familiarize yourself with the different regions and their tastes and prices, you’ll be able to better understand what you’re getting with your money.
Ryan is in Napa. Muse filled in and helped Joe and I entertain our Visitors! She takes them for long walks around the vineyard. We always knew she had the potential to do more! and here she is!.. doing a wine tasting … and lunch… “Raclette and Charcuterie” with a bottle of Naked100 2011!
Joe raised his glass to our Naked 100 Share Owners! I do to!…but someone has to take the pictures! Cheers!
“Some Naked people came to pick up their wine last week, and we all had a blast!”
I admit it was somewhat alarming to hear these words coming from Liz during my first few days at O’Vineyards. I was going to have to live with these people for several weeks, so I needed an explanation. Luckily Ryan had previously posted about the Naked Wines Angels, who are the main actors in O’Vineyards’ new vineyard share program. One hundred “Angels” rented some of O’Vineyards vines and are paying Naked Winemakers Ryan and Joe O’Connell to see these vines through wine fruition. Now, the Naked Wines Angels are streaming in one by one to pick up their wine. If you are still confused, they are perfectly normal people–properly clothed and everything–they just went that extra mile because they really like our wine.
Michelle and David, Naked Angels
So, meet Michelle and David. They are Naked Angels. Liz and Joe had the pleasure of meeting Michelle and David (I unfortunately was not here yet) when they stayed at the B&B around two weeks ago. They enjoyed a tour of O’Vineyards and shared good times and good food around the Winemakers’ Table. As Michelle very poetically puts it in her TripAdvisor review: “We arrived strangers and left as friends.” They also reportedly arrived as fully clothed and sober angels, and left as…
So a lot of people have asked what I’ve been doing in California for three months. It’s been tough to be away from the vines for so long (even if the weather here is really beautiful, I miss my vent Cers).
Well I can finally announce that Naked Wines is coming to the USA, and we’re beta tasting. You might have heard of beta testing, when software companies do a partial early release to gauge public reactions before the real launch. Well if Silicon Valley has beta testers, Napa Valley deserves beta tasters! We’ve spent months and months and months recruiting winemakers and crowd-funding new wines. I can’t say everything yet because we’re just in the beta tasting phase. But soon we’ll reveal everything (again totally naked!)
Anyway, if you’re an American reader and fortunate enough to live in one of our participating states, you can apply to be a Beta Taster at nakedwines.com. On your application, you’ll probably want to mention that you know me and look forward to having my wines available in the US.
So, I’ve been pretty cagey about this but here’s the official announcement:
Ryan O’Connell is moving to California for part of 2012. The company I’m working with in California is looking for new wines and new business opportunities and they think I can help. I think I can help too. 🙂
I’m leaving tomorrow. I’ll be travelling back and forth from the US to Languedoc all year, so I’m not totally detached from the vineyard and the region I call home. And my very competent parents will continue their stewardsship of O’Vineyards in my absence.
I’ve started a new blog called kidnapa (because I’m being kidnapped to Napa) which will probably have a lot of articles comparing France and California or just talking about the west coast of the US.
Love That Languedoc will continue (largely as an aggregator site). I am also accepting guest posts so let me know if you’d like to contribute to that blog.
This blog will continue to have posts about O’Vineyards and all the random wine junk I think about that doesn’t fit on my other blogs.
Wish me luck.
I feel really good when my wines receive positive comments and I brag about them in this blog. However, I still feel strange bragging about nice things that get said about me. But my parents assure me that the Internet exists in large part to brag about your exploits.
So uhm Robert Joseph, who wrote/edited a lot of the reference materials we used long before we ever owned a vineyard, was contributing to the Grenache Symposium. And then we met again at a Sud de France event. And he said something very nice about me on Twitter. So I’m going to use this space to blush and say thank you to him and that I’m very flattered.
And maybe this is a place to mention that I am only interesting in this region thanks to the support of my friends and community that allow me to get their message out on the web. In a way, this is about how cool YOU all are.
Here’s to discovering many others of greater import to this beautiful region! 🙂
I usually tell people I’m an American making wine in the south of France but the truth is that I’m a dual citizen or at least I was born that way. It gets tricky because I let my French passport expire, and trying to convince the French government that I’m still French was a hoot and a holler (a phrase I’m afraid to teach anybody over here since they’d probably pronounce it:”Ay ‘oot an’ ay ‘oh-lehr”).
To get a new passport I had to show them a National ID. To get a National ID I had to show them a passport. You know the drill. Well now I can show them both! In the end I had to prove to them that I had NOT renounced my French citizenship after turning 18. As it turns out, it’s rather hard to prove an absence of an act, but surrender isn’t in the French dictionary. …not when it comes to bureaucracy!
Somebody remind me when this is about to expire.
So, above is my mandatory sourire-sans-dents face. The photo booth encouraged me to look happy but reminded me that smiling is not allowed if the photo is to be used for an official government ID. And those joint stipulations were thought-provoking. I reflected quietly upon the true nature of happiness while the photo booth timer ticked away. First photo was a botch.
What was even more distressing was the second photo when the photo booth knew I was smiling. I guess the computer in there can tell the difference between my pearly whites and my wan face.
The third picture I tried keeping my eyes wide and my teeth hidden, while expressing some degree of joy. That sickly smirk is now my official identification in France. I got the best of it in the end I suppose… unless this is all a roundabout way of getting me to look exceptionally smug in my official French ID. Clever system, clever.
Sometimes, I take a weekend day off and just do a nice all-day wine tasting with one of my retailers. Which retailer depends on where I’m staying and what I want to do that night. This past Saturday was at The Butcher’s Block in Sarasota. I got some video footage that should demystify my job and help people realize exactly how glamorous and fantastic being a winemaker can be. ugh. 😀
I just got the royal treatment for security checks, but at least they didn’t put me in that dark little cavity searching booth. I should be able to go back to Tampa on time and maybe even get the wine in. Things are looking up. I even found a receipt with some leftover computer time on it so I get to give a lil update.
Domaine O’Vineyards, located in the North Arrondissement of Carcassonne, is just minutes from the Carcassonne train station, the Medieval City, and the Carcassonne Airport.
GPS coordinates: 43.259622, 2.340387
Wine, Dine, Relax at our Boutique Vineyard
Unique thing to do in Carcassonne
Wine Cellar. Winery Visits. Wine Tasting.
Wine & Food Pairing
North Arrondissement of Carcassonne
885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou, France
Tel: +33(0) 630 189 910
Best by GPS.
Follow the signs to Mazamet/ Villemoustaussou using the D118. At the end of the last straight part of D118, you will come to a roundabout with the Dyneff gas station.
Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
Look out for the second road on your right, Avenue des Cévennes which curves up hill (about 1km) to Avenue de la Montagne Noire on the left.
At the last juction, bear left. the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.