In Vino Veritas
It isn't news any more that the economy is bad, though news organizations eke out their living by dwelling on the details, and necessarily so. But there's still a lot of wealth out there, or at least a certain Argentine winery hopes so.
I got a press release not long ago from the winery, which is a little odd since I'm on no one's wine beat. "Whether it's Valentine's Day, a wedding, anniversary, company gift or simply because, the gift of one's very own barrel of wine is hard to beat," the release starts. "And now it is much simpler than one might think."
It's true, I would have thought that buying a whole barrel of wine would be a complicated task. Maybe you can get one at Costco -- I've never seen one there, but those stores are like whole other continents, with unexplored byways and nooks, so who knows. But even so, that would only be the beginning of your task, since you'd have to have it transported to your dwelling and then installed. Could be some McMansions have room for wine-barrel storage, but the rest of us would have to rearrange our laundry rooms in inconvenient ways.
No need for such logistical pains-in-the-ass with this program, however. The release further states that "via [the winery's] website, customers can craft their very own wine brand. The customer gets to choose the type of barrel (French or American oak), has complete creative control of the design and name of the label -- perhaps one's own name or a company name? -- and, once bottled and labeled, the wine is shipped to the customer's preferred location. Each barrel provides approximately 300 bottles of wine and can be filled up to three times, and the program also includes a two-night stay at the lodge located on the estates."
You have to go to the winery web site to get the low-down on pricing. The top-end barrel is a French oak Seguin Moreau for $6,200*, while the more budget-minded can have an American oak Victoria for $5,500*.
True to most pricing in brochures, however, there's that pesky asterisk: "Price does not include U.S. tax + shipping which is estimated to be $1,500. Price includes the barrel, wine, labor, bottling, and labeling. Must be 21 or older to order." That last part is a reasonable precaution; you wouldn't want high schoolers running up a wine-barrel charge on mom and dad's Platinum Amex.
I wish them well, even though the whole idea seems so pre-2008. Still, I hope they sell some barrels, despite the fact that the market's probably off just a bit.