A little bit ago, I posted a new Grape Data Tool tutorial video that showed how to use the tool to evaluate Cabernet Sauvignon in Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma and Napa Counties by price level. In a previous blog post, I posted some findings on Mendocino County Cabernet Sauvignon. I promised to post some of the findings on the other three counties soon after. I realized that I over-booked some client projects, so I've been slow on getting to this, but today I'll examine high-end Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon's pricing dynamics.
As with Mendocino County, Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon mostly sells at nominal prices, instead of at prices that require calculation, as is typical of longer-term contracts. My estimate is that roughly 30% of Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon sells through contracts that are indexed to market rates, inflation, or an escalator.
Roughly 10% of Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon sold at $2,300; roughly 11% sold at $2,500; and roughly 7% sold at $2,749.23. How that last number was calculated, I can’t tell.
To view the chart, you may want to zoom in and/or switch to Google Chrome, which displays my blog better than Firefox, or you can pull up a quality copy here. As you can see in the chart, the premium that Mendocino County’s top Cabernet Sauvignon has been able to command has ebbed and flowed, in relation to the district average.
As you can see in the table, real (i.e., adjusted for inflation) price growth has been stronger for grapes priced around the county average than at the higher-end, though the higher-end has also seen healthy growth. More Lake County grapes are crushed in Napa than anywhere else. I would guess that Lake County’s best fruit, however, is going into bottles with Lake County appellations. This is speculative, but it may be that demand from cost-conscious out-of-county producers has increased at a faster pace than consumer interest in Lake County’s best wines.
The graph shows how inflation-adjusted prices for high-end fruit took off, relative to the county as a whole, between 1996 and 2010. Right now, however, the premium looks to have diminished to roughly pre-1996 levels.