California wines find hard times

Feb. 4, 2010 at 4:05 PM

NAPA, Ark., Feb. 4 (UPI) -- California wine makers are finding demand is down to the point where high-end bottles are losing some of their pricing power, a wine critic said.

"Wines priced over $300 have encountered considerable resistance, with their mailing list customers dropping off, or taking much smaller allocations," wrote critic Robert Parker in the Wine Advocate.

The wine has not changed, but "sadly, far too many proprietors of high-end Napa wines are in denial, and have failed to recognize the dramatically changing parameters in the wine world of the consumer," Parker wrote.

Many exclusive wines unaffordable to most and pressed in batches so limited that they hard to find are now popping up on retail Web sites, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

But pricey wines are not the only sector of the industry in a slump. Industry analyst Jon Fredrikson of Gomberg-Fredrikson & Associates said shipments of all wine from California fell last year for the first time since 1993, and they fell "by a whopping 4 percent or 4 million cases," the Times said.

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