Known for its sweet yet buttery taste, Chardonnay is the most popular wine in the U.S. – accounting for 21% of table wine purchased for restaurants. Simple to grow, Chardonnay grapes dominate over 97 thousand acres in California. If the wine is so popular, then how can some bottles be so expensive?
Location of where the wine is produced plays a major role in the price. If the wine comes from a top-quality wine region, such as the Dijon area of France, there will only be a few bottles produced per year. Better soil grows better grapes, which makes a region sought after.
Another factor is whether the winemaker is buying or planting their grapes. In California’s Napa Valley, it costs $6,000 per acre to plant vines. Most winemakers purchase grapes from other vineyards to reduce production costs. But, depending on the grape, producers will still spend between $1,000-$2,500 per ton of Chardonnay grapes. Each ton produces two barrels and makes 25 cases or 300 bottles of wine.
If a producer decides to use an expensive barrel, such as oak, the price will increase. Depending on where the wood is sourced, a barrel can cost anywhere between $360-$3,600. So, the next time you’re wondering how a bottle of wine can cost more than a 3-course meal, remember everything it took to get to your table.