Craft Wine vs. Mass Market Wine

by Taryn Lachter

The craft vs mass market debate has been hot for a while now in regards to the beer industry but it’s also very relevant for wine.

You might be asking yourself “But what’s the difference? Isn’t it all wine?”

Well, dogs and cows are both large, cute, furry, four-legged animals that live on farms, but we would never consider the same, now would we? 

The craft vs mass market debate has been hot for a while now in regards to the beer industry but it’s also very relevant for wine. You might be asking yourself “But what’s the difference? Isn’t it all wine?”

Well, dogs and cows are both large, cute, furry, four legged animals that live on farms, but we would never consider the same, now would we? 

According to the Craft Wine Association, Certified Craft Wine is a commercially available, limited-production wine most commonly in production runs of 5,000 cases or fewer. Mass-market refers to any wine that is produced in a larger quantity than 5,000 cases. 

On the surface, there is nothing wrong with either of these categories and neither group guarantees that the bottle you’re drinking is any sort of quality. Like craft beers, the craft wines will likely be a little harder to find, maybe a touch more expensive, although the price also isn’t an indicator of quality. 

Craft wines are typically produced on smaller properties with leaner teams who are doing a whole lot of work with not a lot of support, hence the higher prices. There is generally a more intense attention to the vines and the vineyards, not to mention many of them have interesting takes on methodology and technique.

Over 15% of wine consumed around the world comes from just ten producers – which is a pretty insane amount when you consider how much wine we drink! These are mass-market wines; bottles that are produced by the hundreds of thousands. They’re available everywhere because they go through the large corporate distribution channels. They can afford to produce huge batches so their prices tend to be lower, making them more attractive to larger populations of people.

Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you find a bottle you love and it’s mass-produced, that means you can find it anywhere you go! Techniques and standards are automated at these facilities so you can usually expect the same result from each bottle you buy whereas craft vintners don’t always have the mechanisms to create that kind of consistency. Although that kind of variety can make it interesting and unique.

There are upsides to buying mass-market and craft wines – it all depends on your taste and style, and where you are in the world.



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