The Price of Wine: Too Much or Just Enough?


The Price of Wine: Too Much or Just Enough?

Virginia is relatively new in the winemaking world. Whereas other places have been making wine for decades - even centuries, depending on where you look.  Virginia’s viticulture took off in the 1990s, and already, Virginia is gaining notoriety for producing wine above the average cost per bottle. Why is that? Let’s take a look. 

More Labor-intensive 

When we’re talking about the average price of wine, remember that Virginia’s wines are being compared to the $8 bottles produced by mass manufacturers. Those big wineries, with hundreds of acres producing millions of bottles a year, have mechanized large portions of the production process. Tending, gathering, and bottling are all done by machines. 

Virginia wineries, however, like to do things a little differently. Following the path of the traditional European winemakers, many Virginia vineyards choose to do it all manually. They trim, tend, pick, and the bottle almost exclusively by hand. Because this process is more labor-intensive, the prices of the wine have to match. 

Virginia also breeds more molds, pests, and diseases than its competitor winemaking states. Tending the vines is, therefore, a more intensive process than elsewhere. More labor means higher prices. 

Small Scale

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Unlike the big brand wines coming out of large scale California wineries, Virginia wineries are much smaller, family-run operations. Wine production is an expensive endeavor, especially in the early years of opening when you need to recoup the costs of production, labor, and building the new facilities. When you’re a small, locally-owned and operated business, it takes much longer to absorb those costs, which thus means a rise in price per bottle. 

Wine prices are determined by economies of scale. Name brand wines, like Barefoot or Sutter Home, have hundreds of acres of vines, and therefore can produce hundreds of thousands of cases in a year. Hence, these brands sell for less. A smaller winery with only 10-15 acres of grapes will only produce tens of thousands of cases. 

A thousand of anything sounds like a lot! But 25,000 cases compared to 250,000 cases makes an enormous difference in income. 


Some argue, when it comes to pricing, that Virginia wines are overpriced. Instead, consider that Virginia wines are priced according to their quality. Because Virginia wineries are operating on a smaller scale, with more risk one might say, and relying on manual labor, we take more care in selecting the right grapes for our specific regional climate and soil. And in blind tastings, Virginia wines compete with other brands in the same price bracket. It may be more expensive, but you’re buying quality for the price. 

So why buy local? 

Yes, Virginia wines are objectively more expensive than the average bottle from other states, we can’t argue with that. But when you buy a local bottle, you’re supporting local businesses and local business owners. If you come to visit us and select a bottle on-site, you’ll have our in-person expertise and direction to help guide you in your decision-making. We’ll help you determine exactly which wine suits your tastes and needs, so you won’t be left guessing in the supermarket - or worse, buying and regretting. 

You also have the opportunity to meet us and our winemaking family. Buying a bottle of local wine, at a local winery - instead of selecting the cheapest off the shelves at your local grocery store - means you’re building connections and tying our community closer together. How cool is it to say, “I know the owners of that winery?”

Next time you need a bottle for a housewarming, a nice at-home dinner, or just because the taste sounds particularly nice that day, consider stopping by our winery for a delicious bottle of locally-crafted wine. We’re happy to have you, and are here to help make sure you select a wine that’s just right for whatever your occasion. 

Joba Designwine, winery