Don’t look for the term “boutique winery” in the dictionary — it’s not there! But most wine enthusiasts can agree on that the boutique image includes a passionate artisan vineyard, perhaps family-owned, fiercely individual, with limited production and unique style.
There are other ways to distinguish a boutique winery from large-scale, commercial wine producers. In an article on Chile’s vital small winery movement of the past 20 years, Wine Enthusiast defined “boutique” as operators producing 10,000 cases per year or less. Comparing them to the Chilean wine industry leaders whose “blueprint has largely been conservative and driven by volume,” Wine Enthusiast praised the boutiques for “infusing spirit, individuality and entrepreneurship” into the industry, along with extending the boundaries of Chilean wine country. The Eat Boutique blog simplified the definition even further, writing, “Recently, we’ve asked ourselves a pretty fundamental question. Is the number of bottles a winery makes or the simple fact that the vineyards happen to be in the middle-of-nowhere enough to make it boutique? The short answer is probably, ‘Yes.'”
EB also gave “boutique” cred to wineries that produce tens of thousands of cases. They made the call based on whether “the winemaker was still passionate about his/her craft, the vineyard manager knew every vine, exactly when to harvest the grapes, how delicately they should be crushed… the whole wine operation just had a sense of purpose that transcended the ‘business’ of producing wine.”
By any definition, boutique wineries are a “thing” worldwide. Israel provides another example, with Israel 21c presenting a list of “Israel’s Top 10 Boutique Vineyards.” Closer to home for American oenophiles, the Napa Valley has a stronghold of wineries that define — and market — themselves as boutiques. The Escape Here blog tapped into the joy of small-volume wineries with a selection of “6 Awesome Boutique Wineries to Visit in Napa,” all defined by their distinct local flavor and family feel.
Just a few of their suggestions include Del Dotto Vineyards, a small-batch, family-run vineyard, and Black Stallion Estate Winery, which set up its wine-making operations in the remains of the indoor race track in 2007.
While the wine world is embracing the David and Goliath tone of the “small versus large” winery debate, boutique wineries cannot fairly be termed “trendy.” The concept is more of a throwback to the days before the growth of wineries and commercialized wines. The boutiques, which focus on limited production and regional distinction, are seen more as a challenge to the current trend of huge “name” wineries. A classic example is the Four Graces winery in Oregon, which produced the distinctive Four Graces Pinot Gris 2015. Founded by the Black family (and named for their daughters) from the purchase of an existing vineyard in the Dundee Hills of the Willamette Valley in 2003, the winery is sustainably farmed and produces rich, elegant, delicious and complex wines.
The Four Graces quality vintages point up the next logical question in the boutique v. commercial winery debate. “Does being a boutique winery make you better?”
In many cases, yes, for reasons ranging from the staff’s enthusiasm and ability to forge personal connections to the very nature of wines created as part of a limited run. “Each one of them will be unique and distinct, unlike dull, mass-produced consumer wines,” the Eat Boutique blog noted. “At a boutique winery, the owner or winemaker is likely involved in every step of the winemaking process, from planting to bottling. He or she might also be available to drink and discuss wine with you when you visit. You won’t find that at larger, corporate wineries.”
Vinome is here to connect you with the best boutique wineries from California, New York, Oregon, and Washington. These wineries go way beyond what you’d find at the grocery store – which is precisely why Vinome chooses to carry wines specifically from smaller producers Plus, with Vinome, you never pay a markup, only the winery direct price and delivers your wine right to your doorstep! You can rate and review your new wines from Vinome, which will allow us to better match you with future wine selections.