Global Brands

If a farmer reared and slaughtered a total of 380,000,000 turkeys a year would you question just how they produced that volume? Would you question a wine made by a company that produces over 380,000,000 bottles a year, or do you think that is different?

Most small producers make and sell just enough to make a living and in a good year maybe enough to invest in new equipment, barrels or land. Dominique Ay in Gigondas, for example, will produce around 13,000 bottles a year; that’s just over a thousand cases. There are many much smaller producers. In Europe this is the norm.   They are farmers and they care about what they are doing and they care about their land.

Over the last few decades though we have seen the rise of global brands. These are wines with a multi-million dollar marketing budget. They are commodities and have little relationship to the land.  In most cases the grapes (or pulp) are contracted in from other growers.  They are owned my multi-national companies who care about immediate profit above all else. It is no surprise that, with one Chilean exception the top 10 are all from America and Australia.

Here’s the top 10 global brands ranked by their 2013 production. Just look at the volume!

  Brand Country Owner Volume (in 75cl bottles)
10th Jacob’s Creek Australia Pernod Ricard 79.2 million
9th Beringer USA Treasury Wine Estates 86.4 million
8th Lindeman’s Australia Treasury Wine Estates 86.5 million
7th Sutter Home USA Trinchero Family Estates 134.4 million
6th Robert Mondavi USA Constellation Brands 142.8 million
5th Yellow Tail Australia Casella Wines 150.0 million
4th Hardy’s Australia Accolade Brands 158.4 million
3rd Concha y Torro Chile Conch y Torro 163.2 million
2nd Gallo USA E & J Gallo 180.0 million
1st Barefoot USA E & J Gallo 202.8 million

The number one brand is from America but has some European wines in its portfolio, however given that Gallo recently sold more southern French Pinot Noir than is grown in southern France, who knows what’s in the bottle

Gallo produce 382,800,000 bottles a year! Almost 30,000 times more than my little producer down in Gigondas. Mind you, Dominque and his dog manage the vineyards themselves.

France, Italy and Spain together still produce about 50% of the world’s wine. Europe as a whole produces around 75%. The total production is about 35,000,000,000. So the global brands represent less than 4% of total production. Global brands, though, represent 29% of all Australian wine production.  That’s astonishing! Almost a third of the country’s wine is made by just 4 companies two of which are American and one is French.

If you think processed food is great or that Turkey Twizzlers are wholesome then go ahead and drink branded wine but don’t be taken in by the marketing.