While scanning the New York Times today (my usual Sunday morning ritual, coffee in-hand), I ran across an interesting winebiz article by Nicole La Porte about Cameron Hughes, the American equivalent of a négociant — meaning, a guy who neither owns the vineyard nor the winery, but buys wine in-bulk to re-label under his own brand. It’s an old profession, particularly in France, but has gained acceptance here in the States as a good way to bring very good wines to market — for a lot less money.
The extreme example of a négociant wine is Charles Shaw wines (known by most as “2 Buck Chuck”) from the folks at Trader Joes; The other end of quality spectrum are the private bottlings of Kermit Lynch.
Négociants here in the States often get a lot of flack because they don’t subscribe to the Grand Passion of investing huge sums of money into vineyards and winemaking equipment. As Nicole says in the article, “it is notoriously difficult to make a profit on a vineyard, and some wealthy owners pour money into tending grapes knowing full well that they may lose money for years.”
Cameron is one of the rare few in the winebiz who seems to have found the magic balance of bringing very good wines to market, something that wine lovers can enjoy for a fair price, while making enough money to grow the business. That’s pretty cool in my book.
Check out Nicole’s full article here:
Michael Horne, CS
Los Gatos, CA USA