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There are a number of factors used to price a wine, but the main ones in order of importance are overall quality, availability, and production cost. If you’re wondering why the wine’s age wasn’t mentioned as a pricing factor, that’s because a wine’s age only contributes very slightly to price, and that small contribution is mostly related to scarcity, not age itself. You can’t age a mediocre wine into goodness – it just does not happen that way.
In general, high quality and therefore high priced wine is recognized very early in the winemaking and aging process.  We usually can tell even before grapes are harvested from a particular vineyard whether the wine made from that fruit will be great or not. What indicates quality? Small berries, deep color, a well-managed low-vigor vine canopy, absence of disease, and taste/tannins of the pre-harvest fruit all pretty much tell us what we’re going to get in the finished wine.
Do we get surprised sometimes?  Yes, but for the most part we know early how good the vintage will be.  Most certainly after about three months into a new wine’s life, it’s already shown its potential.  How can we justify charging a very high price for a wine only two or three years old?  Because its quality is set and we can predict from experience how it will age.  Unless we for some unusual reason think it will fall apart with age, we’re generally confident that a great young big red will be a great mature one.
As a wine begins its journey through the sales life cycle, when first released there is usually abundance, so quality (as our tasting panel sees it from pre-release discussion) determines price.  Sometimes, our internal winery judgement of quality differs slightly from our customer base, so we adjust the price down if our sales numbers are cold. With very fast sales compared to other wines on our list, the price may be increased.  These variations in demand drive the price to line up with wine quality in the eyes of our customers – you ultimately as a group determine or at least strongly influence price.
Later in the cycle when supply gets low, price tends to increase – classic supply/demand price impact.  This same influence comes into play if a winery has a “cult” wine that boasts status everybody wants.  In this case, the higher price is driven by high demand instead of low supply. Sometimes a winery can charge several times the initial release price of a wine when it reaches “last-drop” status.

The emotional demand for an individual bottle can become astronomical if you can’t get it!  Same effect as scarcity, just on the opposite side of the equation. On the other hand, if every winery up and down the street has the same wine variety with similar quality, prices are depressed due to high supply and competition.  Don’t you just love capitalism?
The third most important driver of wine price, production cost, has some effect but less than you might think. For our direct-to-consumer winery model (wine sold mostly through tasting room & wine clubs, the Temecula standard) it costs us much more to create and run the retail environment than the cost of producing the wine. Among the production inputs to make a bottle, fruit cost is the highest contributor.  We spend a huge amount every year to ensure we grow the best fruit, which makes the best wine, which allows us to charge a premium price. Still, if you think about it, even this factor goes back as a contributor to quality, the overwhelmingly main factor in price.
So, bottom line – don’t become obsessed with a wine’s age to decide what you want to pay for it.  Seek out quality.  Taste it!  If you like it, trust your senses and trust that if it’s a good young big red it will age gracefully.  Drink the lighter ones earlier, the bigger ones later.  Great wines start great and finish the same way!

Doug Wiens, Director of Winemaking


Yes! Here at Wiens our winemaking team uses many different winemaking techniques and practices. One thing we are well known for is our blends. We blend throughout all stages of the winemaking process–whether it is in the vineyard while picking “a field blend,” combining two press loads after fermentation, or using two or more wines that were aged separately in French and American oak prior to bottling.
Something that we have done from time to time over the years is a practice known as a co-fermentation. A co-fermentation is when two or more grape varietals are crushed together into the same fermentation vessel and fermented together. This is commonly done in the north of Rhone and known as a “Cote-Rhotie” where they use Viognier and Syrah grapes. When blended together, the white grapes can enhance aromatics and soften tannins.
Sometimes we like to ferment Pinot Noir and Petite Sirah together. By fermenting our Pinot Noir with Petite Sirah, we can build stronger color chains and increase the color stability of the delicate Pinot Noir. The advantage to this is that you will get stronger, darker color and gain tannins, which will extend how the wine will age. Blending this early on makes it so that the flavors of the different grapes can develop and create a more complex wine and become one.
If this all sounds good and makes for better wine, why doesn’t everyone do it? This is becuase there are some disadvantages to blending this early, such as locking yourself into a certain blend at the start of fermentation that may limit your possibilities for blending after fermentation. There are also certain restrictions on what and how much you can use depending on how a wine is labeled. If you want to label a wine by the grape varietal you used, then it would have to contain at least 75% of that varietal. Another thing to consider is where the grapes come from–are they from different appellations (Temecula or Lodi)? The predominate appellation (85%) will determine where the grapes are from on the label of the bottle. If you making a blend based on a certain style like a Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Fanc, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot) or a Rhone style GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) this will also determine what you can blend together.
Something some people consider as a simple question: “will these grapes actually work together?” is easier said than done, right? Blending is definitely a Reflection (pun intended) of the artistic side that a winemaker masters over years through trials and errors. Salud!

Brian Marquez, Assistant Winemaker


Flat lay composition with delicious wine on grey background

First things first, I am not a doctor and cannot be quoted for medical advice.  This is just one man’s take on how these popular conceptions relate to wine.

Throughout my years in the wine industry I have heard many different people making statements about how they cannot drink a certain wine because they have some sort of allergy. These have run the gamut from nut allergies, to various types of fruit allergies, and the “I don’t drink sweet wine because I have a sulfite allergy,” to various diet restrictions and myths. So, here are a few myths I would like to shed some light on.

Grapes are the only fruit we use to make wine. The descriptions you see on a wine label or on tasting notes are subjective descriptions of flavors and aromas. There are never any pineapples, coffee, or toasted nuts added to the wine. A winemaker will use these descriptors as a guide for you, the taster, to get a glimpse of what a particular wine is like. The flavors and aromas in the wine come from the grape variety itself, oak ageing, and winemaking practices such as fermenting at different temperatures to produce thiols or esters.

For those looking for a low carbohydrate wine and/or “Keto” wine: Most wines are relatively low-carb compared to other alcoholic beverages. Wine is typically fermented to relative dryness, so almost all the sugars have been converted to alcohol. If a wine is sweeter and has any residual sugar, then there will likely be more carbohydrates in the wine. *A note from Johnny Science: Take the residual sugar level in grams per liter (g/L) x 0.15 = grams of carbs per 150 ml serving.

“I only drink dry wines.” This is one of my favorites. Occasionally I will over hear someone talk about how he or she only drinks dry wine, and then rave on about a wine that has noticeable amount of RS (residual sugar). Wine is never 100% dry. Even a bold dry red wine can have 0.2% RS. A little bit of RS can balance an acidic wine or smooth out a tannic wine and make it more drinkable. RS in wine is not detectible under 0.8% to most people. Being masters of the dark arts, winemakers may use a touch of RS to balance a wine while the sweetness goes undetected. So thank you, Professor Snape.

And finally on to sulfite allergies. I often hear, “sulfites give me headaches, is this wine sulfite free?” Sulfites are a naturally occurring characteristic in fermented beverages, including wine, so no wine is completely sulfite free.  By law, wines. with over 10ppm (parts per million) must state “contains sulfites” on the label, so even wines with no added sulfites may be labeled “contains sulfite.” Winemakers use sulfites because they slow chemical reactions that cause wine to go bad.

A wine that has a high pH and low acid will require more sulfite than a wine with a low pH and higher acid. White wines are typically in the range of 10-40ppm, and red wines are in a range of 40-75ppm. Typically, the younger a wine is the more likely it is to have a higher sulfite level. As wine ages the sulfite will dissipate. There are other products in our day to day life that contain sulfites at much higher levels. Orange juice may contain close to 300+ppm, and dried fruits can have upwards of 1700ppm. While a small percentage of the population has sulfite allergies or sensitivities, this may not be the
culprit behind your red wine headache. Histamines may actually be the cause. Foods that have been fermented or aged may have higher levels of histamines such as tofu, tempeh, champagne, red wine, ketchup, and aged meats. Histamines can cause inflammatory flushing and wakefulness at night. A good thing to remember is that you are drinking alcohol, and this can lead to dehydration and headaches, so drink plenty of water when imbibing. And if you do happen to have sulfite sensitivity, it might be worth trying a beautifully aged wine as opposed to a young one.

I hope this debunks a few things for my fellow wine enthusiasts and opens you up to trying a few new wines.

Brian Marquez, Assistant Winemaker