chateau montalenaOne of the questions I am frequently asked is whether there is a correlation between price and quality in the wine market. My answer is yes but only a rough correlation with lots of exceptions.

Tyler Colman at Wine Searcher has a great post up today breaking down the cost of producing wine and comparing expensive wine with the cheap stuff. And it is clear that there is a correlation between the cost of production and price.

The most stunning figure is this:

According to the 2013 annual crush report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a ton of grapes from the most bountiful district in the Central Valley averaged $340 while a ton of grapes from Napa averaged $3684 (a ton of Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa averaged $5474).

Part of that differential reflects the cost of land in Napa and its reputation as a premier grape-growing region. But clearly differences in climate and soil matter. To claim there is no correlation between price and quality would suggest there is no difference between Napa grapes and Central Valley grapes and that just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

At any rate, there is lots of fascinating detail in this article. Anyone who buys  wine should read it.