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Investing in California wine: slow but steady gains

Top-end wines from the Golden State are performing well and have great potential, but global distribution and awareness are still key challenges.

There has been buyer and trade enthusiasm for California’s 2018-vintage releases, yet there is still a sense of the region finding its way on the international fine wine market.

Releases of top Cabernet Sauvignon and ‘Bordeaux blend’ wines from the 2018 vintage have added some spark to the California sector of the market this year. ‘We’re seeing much stronger demand for blue-chip 2018s than we did for the 2017s,’ said Ryan Woodhouse, domestic wine buyer for K&L Wine Merchants in the US.

California Scarecrow 2018

Scarecrow 2018

The Bordeaux Index View

Fine wine & spirits specialists Bordeaux Index kindly sponsor this section of Decanter, and provide their view on the market here. They can be found at bordeauxindex.com

The headline on California is that market prices have stabilised and in some cases begun to improve, following a challenging 12-18 months where a material weakness in sterling disrupted the UK market for these wines. However, at the same time, there has been little by way of catalyst for an upsurge in buying interest – 2018 was a strong vintage, but release prices were higher and there is some back vintage stock on the market at similar levels.

Has increasing distribution via La Place de Bordeaux shown signs of achieving its ultimate aim: greater participation from collectors (and perhaps also investors)? It is still early days, but releasing some of the top Californian wines alongside a disparate group of other global wines of varying significance is – logically perhaps – not necessarily achieving the aim as effectively as other routes might. Indeed, we question whether more of a classical, coordinated, California-only campaign via selected specialist merchants could have more significant merit.

Bordeaux Index

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