Valley wine buyers gravitate to values
By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer
After years of paying top dollar for
high-end wines, many Wood River Valley residents are now following a national
trend of seeking out exceptional values in the wine market.
"There has been a noticeable shift toward
value-based wines," said Dodds Hayden, owner and president of the Ketchum office
of Hayden Beverage Co., based in Boise.
Hayden said area wine consumers have
discovered that local distributors are offering an increasing number of
first-rate wines that sell on the retail shelf for $10 to $20—and in some cases,
One of Hayden’s most successful wines is
Yellowtail, an Australian brand that offers several varietal wines for
approximately $7 per bottle in the retail market.
Frazer Ford, general manager of
Ketchum-based J.W. Thornton Wine Imports, said his business is selling less
high-end wines than in the 1990s, when the national economy was stronger.
Boutique cabernet sauvignons from
California’s Napa Valley and costly pinot noirs from France’s Burgundy region
"used to fly out the door," Ford said.
"Now it’s very different," he said. "The
new trend is toward $6, $7 and $8 wines. People really want value."
Ford said the strength of the Euro and the
relative weakness of the dollar overseas have served to lessen the value of many
Craig Spiller, manager of Sun Valley Wine
Co., a retail market and wine bar in Ketchum, said the soft economy and a glut
of wine grapes in the world market have driven wine prices down from their
heights of the late 1990s.
At the same time, the quality of
lower-priced wines has improved greatly, he said.
As for the preferences of local consumers,
Spiller said many customers continue to buy long-popular varietals such as
chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and merlot.
Yet, numerous consumers are willing to
experiment, Spiller noted.
"I’m selling more French rosés than ever
Tom Pyle, manager of Atkinsons’ Market in
Ketchum, said his store’s most popular wine varietal is chardonnay. Zinfandel
and syrah are increasing in popularity, Pyle said.