MikeL's Guide to WA Wineries
This page will hold tidbit "factoids" that I find interesting. Over time, it will grow slowly, and become organized better...
- Varietal labeling - Federal
Federal law allows 25% to be of another variety, 25% from another
region, and 5% from another year.
- Varietal labeling - Oregon
Oregon law is more stringent than federal -- it requires 95% to be the
stated variety. (I do not know if OR law regulates the other
- Bottle fill levels & taxes
The Federal government very closely monitors bottle fill levels. They
will take random bottles from a producers lot, and check that the
bottle is filled to 750ml. You might be glad to hear this, assuming
that the government is ensuring that you're getting all you pay
for -- that they're checking that bottles are full.
However, this is not why! They're testing to make sure the bottles
are not overfilled, as this would mean insufficient tax was
- WWC & taxes
The Washington Wine
Commission is paid for by a tax on every bottle of wine
sold in WA State -- yes, including wines not made here. This means
that when you buy a bottle in WA State, of, for example, California
Zinfandel, or a French white Bordeaux, you're paying to help promote
WA State wines.
- It takes approximately 16 lbs of grapes to make 1 gal of
wine. This is dependent on the condition of the grapes, and the
- A single plant will provide approximately 20 lbs of
grapes. This is dependent on the varietal, the condition of the
grapes, how severely the plants were pruned, etc -- this is an
extremely rough number.
- In 1998, Yakima Valley white grapes started (non-renowned
vineyards) at $0.40/lb ($800/ton), red at $0.45/lb ($900/ton). Better
quality reds are more likely to be $1250/ton. Some vineyards with "a
name" routinely charge $1800/ton. Prices will change according to
varietal, vineyard and year, but this will give you a "ball park
figure". (1999 prices were fairly similar, slightly higher.)
- A normal wine bottle holds 3/4 liter (750 ml). A normal case of wine
is 12 bottles, thus a case holds 9 liters.
- There are 3.79 liters/gallon, thus, a case holds 2.37 gals.
- Using the lowest likely value of $0.40/gal, and the rough value of
16lbs/gal, we get $6.40/gal of juice.
- $6.40 / 2.37 = $1.69 (dollars/liter); that times 0.75 is $1.27,
thus the minimum cost of the grapes in a normal bottle of vinifera
wine is about $1.27 (in 1998).
- Bottles themselves (just the glass), cost about $0.50 each in
smaller winery lots (eg. a few thousand).
- Labels (self adhesive stickon are more expensive) are likely to
cost at least $0.25 in smaller quantities.
- Corks cost about $0.15. (I'm not including capsules as not all
wineries use them, even though most do.)
- So, a single bottle costs the winery an absolute
minumum of $2.27; that's just for the ingredients and
- Tons of grapes per acre is dependent on many, many factors, but as
a general rule of thumb expect approximately 4 tons per acre.
Premium wines will typically be 2 or 3, jug wines may come from
vineyards as high as 8 or 9 tons per acre.
- Using the earlier value of 16lbs/gal, we get roughly150
- For a rough conversion of tons of grapes per acre to gallons of
wine produced, we get (probably conservative and very rough)
150 gal/ton * 4tons-per-acre = 600gals/acre.
- Thus, very, very roughly, each acre produces
about 253 cases of wine (600gals/acre / 2.37gals/case).
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