Retailers, consumers and prices
Restaurants fight recession with wine
Wine sales at restaurants and bars are falling as diners trade down to less expensive options or skip wine altogether to save a buck. But some restaurants are cooking up contrarian strategies to squeeze sales from the vine.
California Pizza Kitchen took its wine list more upscale and wine sales followed.
The pizza chain launched the new wine list on Oct. 5. It includes Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay, La Crema Pinot Noir and Stags’ Leap Merlot for around $10 a glass.
“This is us going back to our roots. When we first opened CPK, (in 1985) part of the concept was we that we would have familiar wines at unfamiliar prices,” said Rick Rosenfield, CPK’s co-chief executive officer.
Morton’s steakhouse, on the other hand, is working the downturn in fine wine prices to its advantage.
It is hitting auctions as luxury restaurants clear cellars and striking exclusive relationships with wineries like Charles Krug, Gundlach Bundschu and Liverano when they have unsold premium wine.
Its limited-time Krug 1881, which sells for around $13 a glass, is the restaurant’s top-selling Cabernet, said Tylor Field, Morton’s vice president of wine and spirits.
While wine sales at retail continue to outpace those in restaurants, Charles Krug’s Peter Mondavi Jr said the winery recently has made inroads at restaurants like Smith & Wollensky, Roy’s and Landry’s.