Calling all wine drinkers! Based on the latest reports, it might be time to stock that cellar. Here's what wine professionals predict for the future of wine prices in the U.S.

By Karla Walsh
February 26, 2020

Due to oversupply, especially in California, American grape and bulk juice prices will drop to their lowest levels in more than five years, according to the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) 2020 State of the Wine Industry Report. Why should you care? It means you’ll find better-quality American wines at lower prices, as winemakers try to win back millennials who are leaning toward craft cocktails, craft beers, and spiked seltzers and other Americans experimenting with a sober curious lifestyle.

On the heels of tariff fears, this is happy news for wine lovers. The gist of that tariff talk: The French and American governments agreed to avoid the potential 100% tariffs on non-bubbly (still) wines under 14% alcohol and all sparkling wines. That means a 25% still wine tariff is the only one likely to remain...for now, according to The Dallas Morning News.

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These Wine Prices Will Be Decreasing, According to Wine Professionals

“On the domestic wine production side, we’ve seen a major surplus of bulk wine and excess grapes due to record-setting harvests the past couple of years. This has led to the price of bulk wine significantly dropping—specifically Pinot Noir and Chardonnay—which has translated to much higher quality wine available for lower prices,” says Zach Pelka, CEO at Une Femme Wines and the CFO at Old Friend’s Hospitality Group. 

Related: How Long Is Wine Good After Opening?

The majority—if not all—of the surplus is found at large corporate vineyards like the ten largest who dominate up to 50% of total wine sales, according to Wine For Normal People author Elizabeth Schneider. (These big companies were the focus of the SBV report.)

Pelka points to the excess grapes in Napa as a potential for innovation. He believes new brands can enter the market with less investment, and Gretchen Skedsvold, co-owner of Henry & Son, a wine store in Minneapolis, agrees. 

Vineyard owners who are considering ripping out their vines or leaving them uncultivated present an opportunity for existing small grower-winemakers to grow,” Skedsvold says.

These Wine Prices Will Steadily Climb

Still, since retailers and restaurants need to balance that 25% tariff increase in many European wines, you’ll likely only see the price shift at warehouses and stores that sell mainly big brand, less-than-$30-per-bottle wines. 

“Many importers and distributors have portfolios with both European wines and American wines. The threat for potential tariffs will compromise the buying power and money distributors have, thereby affecting the entirety of the wine industry worldwide,” says Rachael Lowe, beverage director at the Levy Restaurant Group in Chicago, including Spiaggia (which just so happens to have an epic 42-page wine list).

Pelka expects most U.S. wine prices to stay relatively stable, as sellers aim to balance that 25% increase in the cost of foreign wines.

For the Best Wine Deals in 2020 Stock Up on These Varietals

According to SVB, American versions of these wine types are declining in popularity, meaning there will likely be even higher supply and lower demand. So if you’re seeking a deal, look for these styles—especially from California. (Feel free to stock up via these 6 sites where you can buy wine online and have it delivered today!)

  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Noir
  • Red blends
  • White blends
  • Pinot Grigio
  • Merlot

Related: The 10 Most Popular Wines in America, Ranked

But remember: Price isn’t all you should be considering with your wine purchase, Lowe cautions.

“We need to keep supporting wine from all over the globe in order to continue seeing them in our markets,” she says.

Skedsvold suggests sampling your way around more obscure wine regions (Slovenia, Croatia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and the Republic of Georgia) and heirloom varietals (Pet-Nat, orange wine, Napa Gamay, Cinsault, Verdelho, Touriga Nacional, and Vermentino) for more unique options that will earn you major entertaining cred.

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