But how much does it cost to make wine?
More and more often I find myself answering this question. In reality, however, it is presented to me differently. I wonder why supermarkets have such low prices and why the price in the cellar or in the wine shop of small producers is higher.
Doing the math if I wanted to produce 20,000 bottles of Barbera it would cost me more than 4 euros per bottle. So I would have to resell the bottle for at least 8 euros.
But back to the point, how did I calculate those € 4, how much does it cost to make wine?
For a small producer it is often very difficult to understand exactly the total cost, especially in the first phase of the vineyard, because there is the father's work, because the land belonged to the grandfather.
To overcome the problem of the cost of grapes, let's assume that they buy grapes on the market. Let's say we want to produce a barbera.
Today Barbera goes from 0.8 to 1 € kg
The average yield is about 0.7 so simplifying, let's say that the cost per grape affects 1 euro on the cost of the bottle.
Then the grapes must be transformed and it takes suitable spaces, machinery, an oenologist and man hours. Let's say this affects, at least 1.5 euros. Then we have to bottle it, label it and keep it in the cellar until it is ready. So not only out-of-pocket costs, but also capital immobilization. Think of the Barolo al Barbaresco that spend 4 years between barrels and bottles. Or the classic method that requires daily human intervention even when the wine is in the bottle.
Returning to our Barbera we say that even here we have an incidence of 1 euro, perhaps something less.
Now we have to sell the product and do marketing. Let's say we are good and we can spend 0.5 euros. But we are already at € 4. Then we have the taxes and maybe a margin.
Now how do you sell a bottle of Barbera for 3 euros at the supermarket?
Going back to the previous reasoning for the quality of the grapes we should have a downsizing force. In these cases the grape harvest is done mechanically and often without paying attention to the tightness of the bunch. As for the oil, different squeezes can be applied with an evident cost reduction. The wine in this case is made in the cellar and not in the field. I'm certainly not talking about borderline situations, all regular from a regulatory and consumer safety point of view. These are the usual practices of filtering and reverse osmosis that, let's say, enhance color and flavor to your liking.
There are clearly economies of scale for all phases.
Certainly someone like Enoitalia, of the Pezzolo family that produces 97.5 million bottles will have a different incidence on the costs for the purchase of bottles and labels. It will certainly have a different impact on marketing costs (it certainly does not spend 48 million euros ...).
Then in the market there are the logic of the large-scale retail trade, there are the large exporters and the wineries themselves apply cellar emptying policies which then certainly affect the price charged and the perceived value.
There are products that are also valid at the supermarket and this is certain but if you want to buy a wine with the scent of the land from which it is born, then you must be willing to pay a price.
Unfortunately, wine often tastes of wine and we are forgetting this.