What is Claudine Wines? Are you a winery?
- Claudine Wines is a "micro-negociant." A negociant is someone who assembles the produce of other smaller growers and winemakers and sells the result under its own name. We have relationships with premium wineries across California and purchase their surplus barrels, put the Claudine label on it, and sell it to you at a fraction of the wine's original cost. So no, we are not a winery or winemakers ourselves. We simply bring you wines from the best wineries and winemakers and offer them at tremendous value. Learn more in our About Us page.
Is there always surplus wine from top producers? How do you get your wine?
- Pretty much, yes! The amount of grapes produced from each acre of land (yield) varies significantly based on the growing conditions. In great years, there is an abundance of wine; in lean years, there is less. Another variable is the blend. One year, a Cabernet Sauvignon might have 20% Merlot or Cab Franc blended in and the next year, only 5%. Demand, on the other hand, doesn’t easily flex based on supply, especially for allocation-list $100+ bottles of wine. Take the COVID-19 global pandemic, for example. Restaurants have wine but no customers to drink it, meaning a diminished demand for wine in a top sales channel. For examples of how we sourced a few of our wines, check out the "How We Get Our Wine" section of our About Us page.
I’ve taken Econ 101. Why can’t the winery just adjust the price to meet demand?
- In the global recession circa 2008, wineries held ”fire sales” (the kind we see facilitated by websites like lastbottlewines.com or winewoot.com). This option, however, damages their overall brand, and can upset loyal customers who already paid full retail price. Discounts also don’t work well for wineries that utilize an allocation list type system.
Why can you offer your wines at a lower price than the original winery?
- The economic model between Claudine and the original winery are simply different. Claudine has no physical space, owns no expensive wine machinery, spends next to nothing on marketing, and operates only with very small lots to avoid storage fees. We also are able to buy the wine for pennies on the dollar, since wineries often are looking to move this wine ASAP to make room for new wine that must be stored. Ultimately, we found a way to create value in an inefficient industry and pass this value on to our customers.
Is it really the exact same wine?
- Claudine sources barrels of wine that are ready for bottling. We do not go on the bulk market looking for wine, but rather have relationships with wineries directly to find surplus wine that they had intended to use - no "cellar scraps" here. In many cases, our wines are 100% identical to what you'd buy from the original winery. In other cases, we buy barrels that were not included in the final blend (we meticulously taste each before buying to take only the best ones.) With each project, we are as transparent as possible on our product page but do reach out if you have questions.
Are there other brands that do the same thing you do?
- Yes and no. The concept of being a “negociant,” is centuries old. More recently, Cameron Hughes has built a business buying large quantities of excess wine from fine wine producers and bottling it under his own label. Where Claudine Wines differs is that we can make our model work with 3-5 barrels and we source exclusively from the creme-de-la-creme wine producers.
How can you ensure quality year to year?
- We taste the wine directly from the barrel to ensure that we are only sourcing top-quality wine. We turn down anything less than great to spare your palate (and wallet) . And while we keep our projects small to maintain the most rigorous quality control, rest assured - the breadth of relationships across the wine industry allow us to release year after year.
How do you ship? What precautions do you take during the hot summer months?
- UPS Ground is our standard method of shipping. We also offer 2-day Air - just reach out to inquire. From June through September, we use cold-chain logistics and ship all orders via temperature-controlled trucks. These trucks leave once a week from our fulfillment center in Napa. Please allow 7 to 10 business days for your shipment to arrive. While it takes longer, this temperature-controlled delivery ensures that the wine arrives without heat damage and for some orders, we'll also include an icepack if needed.