We bring the Burgundian micro-negociant model to California, sourcing wine from premium wineries under the Claudine label. This concept is not entirely novel (the French have been doing this for centuries), but what makes us different is:
1. We keep our projects really small (~75-100 cases at a time) because this is where the value is. At larger volumes, brokers get involved.
2. We work only with the best of the best. Think allocation-list labels you’d see on the wine list at Michelin 3-Star restaurants or rockstar winemakers you read about in the latest Wine Spectator. We get access before others because of our network and reputation for keeping sources discreet.
By avoiding the costs that traditional wineries face, we offer luxury wine without the luxury premium.
Each wine has a unique story. Here are a few examples.
During the 2017 fires in Napa Valley, several wineries tragically burned down. One winery owner decided not to rebuild, leaving their unbottled vintages suddenly available for sale. We stepped in and bought their pristine Atlas Peak Cabernet and Chardonnay.
With the global pandemic of COVID-19, restaurants shut down across the country. Wine destined for restaurant lists suddenly needed a new home. We were able to buy barrels from an iconic producer, sourcing a 96+ point wine at incredible value.
Not all stories require a seismic event. Every year, the amount of wine produced changes based on growing conditions and blending decisions. Yet demand is relatively fixed, especially for premium wines that retail for $100+. Storing inventory is expensive, and deep discounts (e.g. via "flash sale" sites) hurt the premium brand image.
We step in to provide a better alternative. We still sell wine for 30-70% off, but the discreet nature of our relationships allows us to access phenomenal wines.
As a micro-negociant, Claudine sources barrels of wine that are ready for bottling. The wines are the exact same ones used by the winery - no “cellar scraps” here. We meticulously taste through each barrel and take only the best ones.
Our model also means that the vineyard and winemaking decisions are left to the experts - including one who was named one of the “9 best consulting winemaker’s in Napa” by Robert Parker. The wines reflect purely the winemaker’s intent.
Ultimately, the difference between our wine and the original winery’s wine is the name on the label. Oh, and also the price.
How it all started
Lance and Brian first set foot in Napa Valley in 2008 and were instantly enamored with the wine culture. The first thing they recognized was that some of the most amazing wines in the world were being produced in California. The second thing they understood was that those very same wines were really expensive.
The two brothers took many trips back to Napa over the next few years, making regular stops at their favorite wineries and following recommendations to try out new ones. In time, they developed close friendships with people in the industry, and in 2013, one of those friends reached out with a very interesting business proposition.
For the first time, Brian and Lance were offered barrels – not bottles. They seized the opportunity to purchase surplus cabernet sauvignon from a very exclusive, very high-end winery on Diamond Mountain. They learned how to bottle, ship, and even got the proper license to sell wine. Still, they only planned to distribute their wine to close friends and family.
As it turned out, those friends told other friends, and Brian and Lance discovered they could provide a service that many people valued and enjoyed. And so, they decided to turn their small operation into a veritable wine business, called Claudine Wines.
A 15-year Army Vet and a recent graduate of MIT-Sloan School of Management, I have turned a passion for serving others and understanding business opportunities into Claudine Wines!
A physician based in San Francisco, I am spoiled by the easy access to all the great wines of Napa and Sonoma. I enjoy curating the best ones and producing them for Claudine Wines!
Our grandmother, Claudine Crowley, was born in Missouri in 1918. A child during the Great Depression, Claudine learned and continued to embrace frugality in her everyday life. While she routinely protested her $10 per month water bill, she rarely pinched pennies when it came to her family. Claudine was an exceptional woman and she played a substantial role in our life. She taught us that great things are possible and that it’s okay to have high expectations, even on a low budget.
This idea was our inspiration and remains a fundamental value at Claudine Wines. We work exclusively with quality producers and winemakers, carefully selecting only those projects that provide a significant value to you, our customer.
Our label design incorporates Claudine’s very own signature. It was taken from a letter she handwrote to her husband, Allen, then an Army officer serving in World War II.
Claudine passed away in 1999. We remember our grandmother fondly and raise our glasses to her often. As Claudine used to say, “It’s five o’clock somewhere.”
Cheers to you, Claudine.