I met a Cosentino winery representative a few years ago after making a sizable purchase of their proprietary Napa wines. Considering all of the consolidation going on in the industry, I had to ask this individual whether Cosentino was still privately held. Sheepishly he said they had recently made the decision to partner with some other small wineries in order to compete with the mass marketers.
I have since learned that the historic Cosentino Winery failed in 2010, a casualty of the recession, and it was bought in bankruptcy by Vintage Wine Estates in 2011. So it was already a mass marketer in its own right when I had my conversation with the rep. Vintage Wine Estates markets twenty-five or so wineries including Swanson, Girard, Clos Pegas, B R Cohn, Buried Cane, Viansa, Delectus, and even Gougenheim from Argentina.
We're writing about Cosentino because we just received five reds from The Wine Series by Cosentino, a line of Lodi sourced wines with names like The Cab, The Chard, and so on. The wines are really quite good and retail in the sweet spot economically. Even though I'm not a fan of either Lodi or Zinfandel, The Zin is the best in the line and recommended to all who are reading this.
Wine Business Monthly is a publication that issues an annual "Top 30 Wine Companies" list that is interesting in the same way going to a horse race is if you're a sharecropper with a mule. You don't envy the participants so much as you stand in awe of the spectacle. Here are the top eight:
1. E&J Gallo Winery
2. The Wine Group
3. Constellation Brands
4. Trinchero Family Estates
5. Bronco Wine Company
6. Treasury Wine Estates
8. Jackson Family Estates
I'm stopping at eight because you have to subscribe to WBM to get the whole list. Wine Curmudgeon.com analyses the list and concludes that these top thirty wine companies make 90% of the wine consumed in America. They represent .04% of the wine companies in the country. The top three companies make more than half of all wine sold here which means the other 7,400 wine companies in America are competing for the remaining 40% or so.
I am sure Vintage Wine Estates is on the list somewhere. As for the mass marketing of wine in general, I guess it is what it is.