The Best Wine: Price vs Quality
Aaron and I have been making wine for a long time. Having grown up living like naked, wild, little kids on the rivers of very Northern California, we learned quickly what money was, and even quicker that we didn’t have any.
How does this relate to wine? Well, after high school, we both moved down to the much fancier Sonoma County and discovered luxury. Getting into the wine business through our uncle allowed us an insider look into the luxury side of the wine industry. We tasted some of the best wines California and the world had to offer. We were able to enjoy these luxury wines, but at a bit of a discount being “in the industry.” The fancy events were a sweet bonus. Rubbing elbows with people who could afford high end wines (at that time we made wines in the $30-75 range) was interesting. Drinking above our paygrade was terrific!
We got a little cozy in this lifestyle, maybe even a little complacent. But as we gained more knowledge about wine and ourselves, we noticed the gap between the haves and have-nots. Did we switch sides of the spectrum? We had been making luxury Californian wines, but did we forget our roots? It is easy to get wrapped up in a soft life and take things for granted. That said, you can take the boy out of the renovated bus, but you can’t take the renovated bus out of the kid…(something like that). No matter how hard we tried to run from our past, we came full circle into making the best wines we could for the best price vs charging what we could get away with. Perhaps it’s a subtle difference, but one we adhere to. This reality threw us on a mission of making wine that overdelivers on value for money. Just because there isn’t money coming out of your ears, doesn’t mean you can’t have some of the best wines in California. We wanted to make wine that was great, but humble, with a good vibe and an affordable price tag.
I am not going to lie, our wines aren’t cheap, but they are affordable. They have value. That value is not just in the wine’s price, it’s in the mentality as well. Here at Lucky Rock Wine Co., we are in-what many people would call- ‘a dog fight.’ We are making California Pinot Noir, and Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc at a price point that is owned by producers with big money; old money, new money… a shit load of money. A handful of large wineries produce most of the wine you see in stores. Our marketing budget is smaller. A small budget makes the fight more of a guerilla fight. It makes us constantly ask the question “What is value?” Below are a few things we like to take in to account when pondering the definition of value and wine. First let us define quality.
Here is the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of “quality”:
"an improvement in product quality" ·
"a masterpiece for connoisseurs of quality" ·
high social standing.
"commanding the admiration of people of quality"
"he shows strong leadership qualities" ·
Value Wine or Wine with Value(s)
As humans (Capitalist ones) we think of value as being high quality for the price paid. But how do you define quality? Is it something that is not flawed? Or, do we need the best wine in the world? Do we want a value wine or a wine with values? Do we want the best wines in the world and will pay anything for them? Or, do we want small production wines that are made by people, not soul-less corporations? Do we want the vineyards with the best fruit no matter what, or are we interested in sustainability and making this world a better place? Do we want to know the winemakers, or do we just want to relax and have a glass of the best wine we can get or the best price?
Why not have it all?! Turns out value is complicated and personal.
At Lucky Rock, we have always done our best to support our friends and their endeavors. We became tired of wine trying to force people to be a certain way to fit the “culture”. You might say we value winemaking, but not the current values of the business. Now, all we must do is continue to give a shit about the people we make wine for, and hope that they give a shit back.
Determining value in a wine
What we have learned over the years is that the best wines are the wines with substance- both in terms of quality of product and values of the company. Does the company you are buying from genuinely care about its product and customers… or is it just looking for a way to extract money from wine drinkers. Over time we noticed that multiple brands made by the same company will taste exactly the same, and we are just not about that.
David vs Goliath
A lot of our friends in the industry, who make some of the best wines we've had, feel that big wine producers are stealing the soul out of the business, and we agree. Maybe it is time to rethink what you value in wine. At Lucky Rock, we value wine and how it is perceived by our customers. When you buy our wine, you’re just paying for the wine, not a fancy name or label (although we think our label is pretty snazzy). Our margins are smaller (not your problem) to get wine to our customers at a good price.
Times are tough in the world right now. It is times like these that make many of us rethink our values. Things are going to get tougher- Every dollar counts. We will continue to put out wines our customers enjoy for the price they can afford. We hope you value wine like we do.