What is Craft Wine?

Over 50% of wine sold in the U.S. is made by one of three wine conglomerates
Don't be fooled into drinking mass-produced wine

How to drink great craft wine every time

We've all heard of Craft Beer and many of us have proudly joined the Craft Beer movement thumbing our noses at the mass-producers of the world who dominate the shelves.  Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) has become a symbol of indie culture - a brash statement against corporate domination, limited consumer choice, and an increasingly homogeneous population.  In wine, many of the same factors are at play as in the beer industry, big wine is just a lot more clever than big beer.  I can tell you how to drink great craft wine, every single time.

What if I were to tell you that "big wine" accounts for over half of all wine sold in the U.S. each year?  But wait, you carefully select cool, artisanal brands at your local retailer and rarely select the exact same wine twice, so you can't be supporting big wine, right?  Wrong.  The 3 largest wine companies (who you probably can't even name) account for over half of the wine sold at retail in the U.S. each year.  You're probably thinking, "so what?", but doesn't it make you feel just a little bit angry that the cool, artisanal winery you just purchased a wine from isn't actually either cool or artisanal, but rather a brand and story created to trick you into thinking there's good wine inside the bottle - when it's actually just mass-produced plonk?  I thought so.

So what is Craft Wine anyway?  As it says on our wineries page, "craft wines are united by the passion and detail that go into their creation.  You'll know it when you taste it."  To go a little deeper, craft wines are wines you'd only be able to otherwise buy at a tasting room or boutique wine store.  They are generally produced by small, independent producers (more "grape farmers" than "fat-cat vineyard owners"), though some of the bigger houses do make some awesome craft-style wines.  Craft wines share a couple key features - aside from being delicious, they tell a story, especially of the people who produced them and the land from whence they came.  What does this mean to you?  Craft wines vary greatly in style because the winemakers aren't trying to please the masses, but rather producing the most beautiful expression of wine they can.  This generally results in a very diverse and interesting array of wines.  From full-bodied, oaky Cabs and killer old vine Zinfandel to super-interesting, and refreshing white blends and Chablis-style Chardonnay, we've found some of the best producers in the country and give you access to their wines everyday without having to worry about paying an arm and a leg for shipping.  We're happy to share our discoveries with you and love hearing your experiences with our wines - shoot us an email at wineguide@winestyr.com and don't forget to spread the word by sharing on facebook and twitter below.  The safest way to get great craft wines every time is by shopping at Winestyr, but if you're in a jam follow the simple rules below to ensure better purchasing.  Cheers and happy imbibing!

Selecting better wines:

  • Shop at a better retailer - knowledgable salespeople not only help you select great wines, they can also help you learn about wine and make pairing suggestions
  • Spin the bottle - pick up the bottle and look at the back label.  Do you see the name of the producer?  Pay special attention to the words "Grown, produced, and bottled by"  Hint: mass-produced wines usually only include the location!
  • Look at the front label - look for the word "estate" which generally isn't mass-produced wine.  Other good indicators are location.  The more specific the location is, the better the odds that you aren't holding mass-produced plonk.  Example:  Knight's Valley Sonoma County > Sonoma County > California.
  • Listen to your "winedar" - if a brand seems too cute or too good to be true, or if the label is just too cool, you're probably looking at a boardroom-created brand!  Don't be fooled.
  • The taste - if you've selected wisely, the wine in the bottle will be much more interesting than mass-produced plonk.  When you take a sip, pay attention to mouthfeel (more luxurious - not watery) and flavor (deep and complex as opposed to sweet, fruity, and boring)

Robert Wilson


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