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High-Priced White Wines Compete for Retail Space

Spring is here, and this year winemakers are on a mission to convince retailers to make room for white wines that are above the popular $12–$15 price point.

Anthony Walkenhorst, winemaker at Kim Crawford in New Zealand, is bringing 20,000 cases of the Signature Reserve Sauvignon Blanc to the U.S. market, with a SRP of $25. The unreserved Sauvignon Blanc has an average retail price of $15 a bottle.

Walkenhorst says the higher-priced release takes Kim Crawford’s flavor profile “to the next level,” and will find space in stores.

“We don’t see Kim Crawford’s Sauvignon Blancs competing for shelf space because each wine has a different price point and sales focus,” he said. “Sauvignon Blanc as a category is undergoing premiumization, which means that more shelf space is opening up for luxury-tier wines, making room for both the Kim Crawford Core and the Signature Reserve Sauvignon Blancs.”

High-end Riesling is also trying to find more room on shelves. Raimund Prüm, winemaker and owner of S.A. Prüm, whose holdings are in Germany’s Mosel region, was in New York last week and claimed Riesling is the “perfect grape. It goes nicely from the dry all the way to the fruit and to noble sweet.”

To prove it, Palm Bay International is bringing in more than 20,000 cases of Prüm’s wines from both the non-estate R. Prüm Essence, with an SRP of $12.50, and the estate-grown Prüm Blue, with an SRP of $23. Palm Bay is also bringing in a few cases of other single vineyard Rieslings that will carry SRPs of $50 to more than $250 per bottle.

Didier Séguier, winemaker for Grand Cru Chablis house William Fevre, hopes his $25 entry-level Chablis will help educate consumers on what differentiates Chablis from other Chardonnays. New York-based Maisons & Domaines Henriot is the importer.

It remains to be seen if high-end white wines will catch on with the majority of U.S. consumers, but the industry’s push confirms the trend of wine premiumization shows no signs of slowing down soon.