Cool fall weather has retailers stocking heavier red wines and crisp whites while navigating supply chain issues. “We expect Spanish reds, whites, and sparkling wines to be poised for growth this fall,” says Gary Fisch, owner of Gary’s Wine & Marketplace in New Jersey and Napa Valley. “We recently hired a Spanish wine buyer with the goal of expanding this category.”
Fisch also anticipates significant growth for Portuguese wines, such as Gota Bergamota ($15 a 750-ml.) and Silk & Spice Red Blend ($10). Rhône wines are also poised for gains at Gary’s. “Rhônes are very suitable for food and roasting,” Fisch says. “One of our favorite picks from Rhône is the 2018 Emmanuel Darnaud Crozes-Hermitage Les Trois Chênes ($30), which overdelivers for its price point. These wines smell and taste like fall.”
In addition, the 2018 Cabernets are hitting Gary’s shelves, including the 2018 Gary’s Napa Collection Cabernet Sauvignon ($40) and the 2018 Stag’s Leap Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon ($56). Gary’s is stocking the 2019 Burgundy vintage as well, with offerings like Louis Jadot Pouilly-Fuissé ($25) and Olivier Leflaive Les Sétilles White Burgundy ($22). “There is a beautiful freshness to these wines, and they age exceptionally well,” Fisch notes.
Supply chain challenges, meanwhile, continue intensifying due to a shortage of commercial truck drivers, warehouse labor, glass, and aluminum. “Many producers we speak to have issues finding glass, labor, and trucks for transporting goods,” Fisch says. “We are making larger buys when products become available in anticipation of distributors experiencing stockouts.”
Shortages have also been affecting France 44 Wines & Spirits in Minneapolis over the past six months. “Our suppliers are frequently sending us orders with half of our items missing because they lack the warehouse staff to load them onto a truck,” says wine specialist Karina Roe. “In some cases, trucks don’t come because there’s no one to drive the route. This creates a cascading loop of everyone jumping to buy an alternative product, which affects the planned depletions on substitute items. It’s a mess and is impacting all parts of our business.”
The situation is creating new opportunities, however, and France 44 has sharpened its focus on wines from Spain, Germany, Austria, and non-Champagne sparklers. “We hope to keep developing these areas of the store through the fall months, especially with their ability to pair with seasonal flavors,” Roe notes.
Popular German wines at France 44 include Fritz-Müller Perlwein Rosa Trocken ($20 a 750-ml.) and Koehler-Ruprecht Kallstadter Riesling Kabinett Trocken ($24). Austrian wines are led by Meinklang Prosa sparkling rosé ($22) and Stadt Krems Kremstal Grüner Veltliner ($19).
Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay also do well in cooler weather at France 44. “The majority of those sales come from domestically produced wines,” notes wine specialist manager Dustin Harkins. “My staff usually has some gems up their sleeves to sway consumers to try new things.”
Despite supply chain challenges, retail wines sales are poised for continued growth. “We’ve seen a steady increase in wine sales as a percentage of our overall business over the past six or nine months,” Roe says. “Not only are our customers purchasing more wine, but they’re also purchasing more expensive bottles. We see this trend continuing, and even escalating, through the upcoming holiday season.”