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Bulk - The Quiet Wine Economy

bulk_wine_tanks.jpgStand long enough by the side of any major highway that traverses one of California's major wine regions and you'll see them: bright, shiny tanker trucks filled with wine. As visible as these trucks are on the roads, their loads represent a part of the wine world that everyone seems content to keep mostly invisible to the consumer.

Consisting of transactions between producers for as little as a few dozen gallons to volumes that would require a convoy of these tankers for delivery, the bulk wine market has become central to the economics of American wine, to the point that many wine producers simply could not exist without it. Yet transactions by the tankload remain quietly behind the façade of romance and family projected by most wineries.

What is bulk wine? Simply put: any amount of wine that some producer wants to sell instead of putting it into a bottle with their name on it. And from the bulk buyer's perspective, it's any amount of wine you can purchase, put into a bottle, and slap your own name on.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud