POSTED ON March 9, 2009 | IN Tasting Rooms | BY joe

Stonehedge Winery is one of those wineries I mentioned in my last post that I referred to as a “Tasting-Room-Only Winery. “They do not own any vineyards and custom crush at a nearby facility. The owners of the winery are the Shahabi Brothers, whose family immigrated to California from Iran and began a successful wine import business specializing in French Wines. The brothers live in the Napa Valley where they oversea the business of the Stonehedge Winery. The tasting room is comfortable and spacious and located at 1004 Clinton Street in Napa.

Most of the tasting rooms in the town of Napa are boutique wineries, with the majority of the wines made from the Napa Valley. Stonehedge is different on two counts. The grapes are sourced from a variety of California wine region, not just the Napa Valley. The wine production is more on a larger scale than a boutique winery with a wide distribution and three different series of wine labels. To give you an idea of how big their distribution is, several of Stonehedge wines are currently found in over 200 Trader Joe’s stores across the U.S.

Shahin Shahabi

Shahin Shahabi

I found all the wines I tasted from their Terroir Select and Reserve labels to be well made with well-defined characteristics. The tasting room manager also pointed out that the 2004 Terroir Select Petite Syrah was awarded a double gold or best of class at the recent Chronicle competition. The wine maker is Jon Alexander-Hill who also makes decisions on selecting the various vineyards for the Stonehedge wines.

A couple of days later, after my visit to Stonehedge tasting room, I looked for the Stonehedge wines at my local Trader Joe’s. I found four Stonehedge wines, all with the black label which signifies their Reserve wines. I was absolutely dumbfounded to see an astonishing difference in the price of the wines at TJ’s verses what is the price listed on their Website. For example, the Stonehedge Reserve 2003 Reserve Zinfandel is listed for $34 but is $12.99 at TJ’s. Could be this be the exact same wine I wondered? I could see no difference in the label so I am assuming so.

This would indeed be a significant value for consumers to bypass the tasting room or the winery’s Website and head straight for a local Trader Joe’s. Not all the Stonehedge wines are sold at TJ’s and as luck would have it the Terroir Sauvignon Blanc I enjoyed in the tasting room was nowhere to be found at Trader Joe’s. So, if these are the same identical wines, how does TJ’s pull this off? Is this a lost leader or the fact that it buys so much inventory they can wheel and deal for a great price? Something does not quite mesh here.

Comments

  1. Mike Beltran says

    Why so inexpensive?
    Perhaps the wines are end of bin: next vintage is ready to release. Selling dirt cheap is good for us, but might put a dent in their image for folks who paid full boat for their wines. I have found their wines to be well made, but not totally honest with where the fruit comes from. When the label says prime vineyards, why can’t they say where? They must bottle a lot since they are bottled at many different locations. They do a lot of business with Tradre Joe’s and make some of their private label wines. As long as they are a good dollar value, who cares. 🙂
    Mike