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Is Pinot Noir Recession Proof?

Prices for premium Pinot Noir seem to inch up with each vintage. The average price for all of the Pinot Noirs reviewed in this issue is $54. The economy is in the doldrums and seems to be worsening with each bit of bad news that surfaces daily. As report published in (May 7, 2008) by Silicon Valley Bank’s Wine Division (500 wineries were polled in California, Oregon, and Washington) indicated that high-end wines above $15 a bottle may suffer a decrease in sales over the next year. Premium wine sales have been growing around 20 percent a year for some time now, but the growth rate may drop into the low teens. This has not seemed to detour new Pinot Noir producers from entering the fray. How will we know when we are in a Pinot Noir recession?

You know there is a Pinot Noir recession when……

You walk into your local fine wine store and there are more sales associates standing around than customers in the store (I have noticed this recently).

More wine cellars are for sale on the auction market or at least being paired down (a real observation of late).

A new business surfaces called “Wine Repo Man,” which hauls off your wine to pay your bills.

People begin recycling their empty wine bottles (you can get $6.50 per dozen depending on the color - green glass is hard to recycle)

Wine lovers begin selling their used corks.

Restaurants stop selling their highly marked-up wine as cash-strapped customers bring their own.

The ridiculous acceleration in wine auction prices begins reversing (may not be observed as the many billionaires who buy cult wines have an inexhaustible thirst and bank roll).

The press begins predicting doom and gloom due to high wine prices in a weak economy.

Two Buck Chuck becomes Three Buck Chuck.

Sales of half bottles increase.

Wineries start offering 0% financing for 12 months for Pinot Noir purchases.

Wineries start shipping wine by horse-drawn trailers.

Wineries start cellaring wine for customers (they can’t afford to drive to pick it up or pay for shipping).

And finally, winemakers begin drinking even more beer.

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