Hey all you wine treasure hunters. Have you been to the Grocery Outlet in search of the ultimate wine bargain? There are 133 Grocery Outlet stores across six western states. If you are near one, think about going in and checking out the wine department. You will be rather amazed at the variety of wine labels and the prices of the wine.
I met with Doug Due who heads up the Wine & Beer department for all the Grocery Outlet stores and who is responsible for seeking out wineries and distributors who need to clear wine inventory. As you can surmise, these opportunities are more common these days as the wine consumer has changed their purchasing habits and are buying fewer of the high-end wines.
Each day, Doug and three other Grocery Outlet employees taste and judge the wines that are under consideration for purchase. They taste a set of white wines at 11 am and a set of reds wines at 4 pm. The criteria for judging the wines are quite simple. There are four categories, ranging from must have to don’t want. Sixty percent of the wines they taste are judged to be in the latter category.
The clientele at the Grocery Outlet seems to be of two types. Most of the customers are lower income people that are stretching their food budget as much as possible by finding brand name products reduced by as much as 60%. The second clientele, as Doug puts it, are the wine treasure hunters. Doug marks down the wine on average between 40 and 70% and sometimes even more. He mentioned one wine deal where he purchased an inventory of Sonoma Chardonnay. The price of this Chardonnay was $40 at the winery and the Grocer Outlet sold it for $5. The entire inventory of this wine was sold out within a week. Doug often sees wine treasure hunters in the parking lot sampling wine they’d just purchased so if it is a standout they can go back in and purchase the wine before the word gets out. Wine bargain news seems to travel fast among the wine bargain seekers.
I purchased a mixed case of wine that I will be judging with wine friends over the next week. Doug was kind enough to walk me through the wine section and point out wine that he considers to have a great quality to price ratio. I will report back on what I find.