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Old 06-16-2011, 07:39 PM   #1
Rolly
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Default Why do winemakers make way more $ than brewers?

Just curious why pro brewing pays peanuts compared to winemaking. I live in CA wine country and most winemakers I know are making between 75k and 150k. Brewers on the other hand have to move all over the country and maybe make 50k if they are lucky. And this is with education and years experience being equal. Please discuss.

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Old 06-16-2011, 08:05 PM   #2
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Are you speaking in terms of profitability for the winery/owner, or just an employee working there?

A couple thoughts:

Assuming the former, I'd think it has to do with available supply. I've never made my own wine (I don't really like wine anyway) but from what I understand an average wine needs to age much longer than an average beer. Assuming equal demand for beer and wine, less supply means higher price.

Couple that with the fact that, at least in my experience, I run into far more wine snobs than beer snobs who are not only willing to but insist upon paying top dollar for wine, thus a winemaker can charge above and beyond to make up for the decreased sales from supply.

On the other end, I think the BMC domination of the market makes it ridiculously hard for a craft brewer, lacking the lower operating cost of BMC-esque economy of scale, to stay profitable. The big macros are profitable as f**k.

Owner of brewery or winery makes more money, more ability to shell out to the employees.

No data, just my own thoughts. I may well be wrong.

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Old 06-16-2011, 08:19 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qhrumphf View Post
far more wine snobs than beer snobs who are not only willing to but insist upon paying top dollar for wine, thus a winemaker can charge above and beyond to make up for the decreased sales from supply.
My thoughts exactly.
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Old 06-16-2011, 08:25 PM   #4
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I for one am glad that a premium 750ml bottle of beer is only $11 (for say a St. Bernardus Abt 12 which is easy to get anytime and A+ in my opinion) instead of some insane original amount, or even worse increased 2-4x's that original amount due to speculation and hording.

FWIW I like wine, if you know what you are doing you can get great wine for $30/bottle sometimes a little less, and very acceptable wine for half that. I suspect wine making may have a bit more overhead too since grapes seem like they are harder to tend and more sensitive to environment than barley.

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Old 06-16-2011, 08:37 PM   #5
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My original post was referring to employees and not owners.

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Old 06-16-2011, 10:00 PM   #6
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I doubt the field workers picking the grapes are making $100,000 a year.

Also keep in mind that in California the cost of living sucks (as you probably know being in CA yourself).

Lastly, wait for a 'bad year' in terms of grape harvest/vintage. One bad year of weather can close a winery forever...which doesn't happen with beer.

Plus most breweries aren't growing and processing all the raw goods, unlike a winery, so their materials cost is lower, and it regrows itself annually so its actually an investment unlike grain and hops.

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Old 06-16-2011, 10:15 PM   #7
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Wine snobs with deep pockets...even the royal wedding had wine but no beer.

The funny thing is, 2 Buck Chuck beats out just about every wine, every year but a snobby wine connoisseur would NEVER be caught drinking it...

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Old 06-18-2011, 04:49 AM   #8
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I think it really boils down to howmuch of an impact the winemaker has on the final product vs. The brewwer. Brewing is about crafting fantastic recipes and QC, while winemaking is much more about making gut choices about which wines to blend and how much. Unlike beer, there is not really any scientific basis for how a certain wine should taste, just the personal opinion of the winemaster.

Just the humble opinion of a homebrewer/vineyard employee

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Old 06-18-2011, 05:53 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zamial
The funny thing is, 2 Buck Chuck beats out just about every wine, every year ...
This isn't remotely true.
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Old 06-18-2011, 07:14 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolly
My original post was referring to employees and not owners.
I know one wine maker/owner (I live in northern california, mendocino county), another wine maker employee, and I know the ex-head brewer for Ukiah Brewing Co, our towns awesome organic brewpub.

My friend Danielle who owns his operation is a millionaire, but I don't think that's what were talking about. The wine maker (Cesar Toxui label) im guessing makes about 40 grand a year maybe 50 but not more. Now the brewer, he was getting d!cked. Straight up. He was making amazing delicious beers that they sell anywhere from $5 a pint to $8 for a 12pz pour. $12 bucks an hour is what his boss grudgingly paid him. I think there's a perception that wine is "fancy" and so it attracts people with cash who aren't concerned with how much of it they spend.
Beer drinkers on the other hand, tend to be less wealthy and more down to earth. And if we can't find any good beer then dammit we'll make our own. I sure wouldn't want to do it for a living though
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