A Word on Wine at Costco

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winebottles.jpgBy Robert Farmer

I've long been intending to share my thoughts in this space about buying wine at Costco, but there just always seemed to be more pressing and - yes - more interesting. But recently the Costco Wine section has been in the news, and so it seems appropriate to bring it up.

If you follow trends in the wine industry, you may have heard that recently Costco Wholesale Corp. lost its long battle to overhaul wine-distribution laws in its home state of Washington. Costco had originally sued the state for what it viewed as the state's violation on federal antitrust laws as they related to wine distribution in Washington.

After a couple of false-hope early rulings, Costo was ultimately shot down a couple months ago by an appellate court--essentially hampering Costco's ability to offer wines a wholesale prices direct to consumers. The ruling was read in anticipation by many other states, who also hope for a reform in government oversight in their own alcoholic beverage distribution laws. But no such luck. And while it's really too bad in my opinion, the ruling does not impact Costco's impressive ability to stock a wide assortment of top-quality wine from around the region and to offer them, at least somewhat, cheaper than at most other retailers.

My Costco - which is happily just 50 or so miles from the heart of California's Wine Country, never fails to offer a tempting array of vintages ranging from vintage Chateau Margeaux to recent production cabernets from Alexander Valley. Honestly, I sometimes have to remind myself that I'm in Costco. But then, I look up and realize that I'm also within arms reach of a bulk-pack of printer ink and blue jeans for $16 and I've retrieved my sense of place. But--distributions laws notwithstanding--a fine place it is.

I'd love to hear your favorite Costco wine find. Drop a line!

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I've been buying many of the Cameron Hughes selections at the Costco here in Carlsbad, CA for the past few months. I've never been disappointed and often surprised by the quality of these $8 - $12 bottles.

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