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What are boutique wines

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Discovering what are boutique wines opens up a whole new wine tasting experience

Discovering what are boutique wines opens up a whole new wine tasting experience

Boutique wines — at the most basic level — are a term used to refer to a small winery and vineyard establishment that provides the public with specialized products and services. We’ve all been in shops like this; they’re quaint, small, with a nice staff to answer your every need on both food and drink.

Compared with the winery behemoths, we can tend to gravitate toward a smaller, more unique and heartfelt setting. Yet, what is the exact definition?

How many cases per year does it take to fall into the smaller category? Don’t larger wineries provide the public with specialized products and services?

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Does the word “boutique” mean that the quality will be superior to that of their lower priced brethren? Does it need to be expensive to qualify as specialized

Today, these bottles of boutique wines have become the go-to drinks, literally the must-haves in the wine world. They’ve achieved somewhat of a cult status. The word itself, though, has become relatively overused and slightly misunderstood in our cultural vernacular.

Below, we’ll take an in-depth look at expert opinions and try to figure out what truly makes a winery special. Is it the name attached to the product or is the product itself and everything — blood, sweat, and tears — that goes into making it truly great?

What Are These Wineries You Speak Of?

As stated previously, these shops can be defined as small businesses which offer specialized products and services for consumers. For our purposes, this is slightly vague, though. According to Robert Giorgione — an award-winning sommelier and wine specialist — it can be defined as a small shop or a specialty department within a larger store.

Giorgione believes that it’s not necessarily about the sales, but of the output and overall size of the production with the winery. To him, the term can be applied if the winery takes part in creating less than 5,000 cases per year. Thus, wineries like Mondavi, Gallo, BeringerBlass, Lange Twins, Constellation, and others, wouldn’t fall under these smaller shop guidelines.

Yet many of the larger facilities/behemoths in the winery world offer smaller, more specialized varieties. Thus, by definition, these bottles would fall under the guidelines. So, does one have to be a small winery in order to qualify? 

What Does It Really Mean?

In order to understand the term fully, it’s important to look even further beneath the surface. For Giorgione, it’s about more than size considerations, price, expectations; it comes down to a certain type of winemaker passion, philosophy, and a hands-on approach to his or her craft.

It’s about a personality to the wine. In the end, for Giorgione, it comes down to three things in order to meet the criteria necessary to be one of these specialized shops:

  • The winery produces in limited quantities: less than 5,000 cases per year
  • The winery is involved in a particular niche marketplace
  • There is passion, individuality, and creativity in the products they make for the public
It isn’t necessarily about the things we would normally think of for boutique wines; it’s really about place, harvest, spirit, individuality, creativity, love, craft, passion, art, and skill. It’s all of these things that come out on that first sip, with the bottle by your side, your significant other stretched out next to you, the day’s problems and toils dissipating so thoroughly.
And maybe, in the end, you don’t need an attachment — a word — to describe these things for you. Maybe you just know — They are innate and they speak for themselves.


New York Cork Report: What Defines a Boutique Winery?

Robert Girogione: Definition of a ’boutique’ winery.

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